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Crack down on employees being classified as contractors.

The Fair Work Ombudsman (FWO) recently launched legal action against a transport company where it claimed the company had incorrectly classified employees as contractors. “If employers misclassify employees as independent contractors and pay flat rates that undercut entitlements, they face serious consequences such as court action, hefty back-payment bills and penalties,” Ombudsman Sandra Parker said in a statement released on 6 January.

“Businesses who need information on whether an employment relationship exists should contact us.”

Ms Parker’s comments came as the Fair Work Ombudsman (FWO) announced that it had begun legal action against Brisbane-based Boske Road Transport, alleging the company had underpaid four of its drivers a total of $63,803, by classifying them as independent contractors instead of as award-governed employees.

The regulator said that the four drivers worked for Boske for various periods between March 2016 and August 2018 and were engaged as independent contractors.

However, it has alleged that the drivers should have been classified as employees, as they drove company-owned vans, wore company uniforms and worked hours as stipulated by the company.

As a result, the drivers were paid between $7,460 and $32,486 less than they would have been under the relevant industry awards, including through the omission of annual and sick leave entitlements as well as penalty rates.

One of the individuals was engaged as a long-distance driver, who the FWO alleged was also underpaid by not receiving a cents- per-kilometre entitlement.

The anomalies came to light during an investigation sparked by requests for assistance from workers.

The FWO is seeking full backpay, with interest and superannuation, on the amounts it claims were underpaid, in addition to penalties being applied against Boske. An initial hearing has been scheduled in the Federal Circuit Court for 22 May 2020.

No one is pretending this is not a complicated area. However, any such arrangement needs to be documented at the very least to give it the best possible chance should the arrangement by tested from a legal perspective.

Employers seeking assistance in clarifying this issue on contractor arrangements need to contact TTIA on (02) 9264 0011.

When overtime applies under the Timber Industry Award 2010 The overtime provision in the Timber Industry Award 2010 provides that employees are entitled to overtime if they work outside the award’s span of hours (being 6:30am to 6:00pm) or if the employee works in excess of their ordinary daily number of hours. Overtime is paid at the rate of time and a half for the first two hours and double time thereafter.

When calculating overtime, a general principle in most modern awards is that each day’s work will stand alone. This means that if an employee regularly performs overtime everyday each week for two hours, the total weekly overtime will be 10 hours paid at the rate of time and a half (or 150 per cent times the employee’s hourly rate). If the same employee worked three hours a day of overtime every day during the week, the employee would be entitled to 10 hours at the rate of time and a half and five hours at the rate of double time (or 200 per cent times the employee’s hourly rate).

As indicated above, the award’s span of hours are from 6:30 am to 6:00 pm and the overtime provision provides that if an employee works outside the award’s span of hours they will be entitled to overtime. For example, if an employee is asked to start work earlier at 6:00 am instead of 6:30 am, the employee would be entitled to half an hour of overtime at the rate of time and a half.

Whilst this article is focused on the Timber Industry Award 2010, each modern award will determine when overtime applies and the span of hours in each award is different, so employers need to check the overtime provision within their employee’s applicable award when calculating overtime because of these variations between the modern awards. For example, in some awards, such as the Silviculture Award, the span of hours in this award differs from the Timber Industry Award 2010. The hours of work are between 5 am and 5 pm Monday to Friday, although the provision for overtime is the same.

The TTIA employers’ Hotline can be reached on (02) 9264 0011.

Brian Beecroft, Chief Executive Officer

May 13, 2020 / by / in ,
QAA News

QAA – actively representing and promoting the development of professional arboricultural standards; the lead industry body supporting the tree care profession in Queensland and Northern NSW since 1992.

Rain At Last!

As fickle and cruel as the seasons can be, many areas of eastern Australia have finally received very welcome rain in recent weeks and a welcome reprieve from the fiercest fire season in living memory. Some areas a little too much rain and many areas still yet to receive significant fall totals. Many dams in rural areas are full again and many storage dams have received inflows of some significance. Drought declarations are still in place but once again, the resilience of Australia’s trees, most particularly its native tree species, is just stunning to behold as they seemingly kick back into life and keep Arborists busy.

Is my tree dying? Are burned trees safe to retain? Will they survive? Leaves on trees showing significant stress. What is their tipping point? Will they recover? These are just a few of the questions fielded by Arborists working in drought and/or fire affected areas in recent months.

As if to remind us, the recent sight of a large burnt tree trunk section washed up on one of Surfers Paradise’s main beaches provided a salient juxtaposition between of the recent devastating fires in the nearby Hinterland and the torrential rain which followed shortly after, which washed such a huge log so far. Steamy heat heralding the 2020 cyclone season! 2020’s summer season has had it all for Aussies.

The resilience of Australia’s native species reminds us that there is much to be thankful for and Queensland and QAA in particular are ready to welcome visitors!

Extending A Warm Welcome

QAA’s Executive, led by President Bill Wilcock, proudly extends a warm welcome to fellow arborists from around the nation and around the world as they arrive on the Gold Coast for Arboriculture Australia National Conference from May 14 – 19 2020! This is a fantastic opportunity for Queensland’s local arborists who find the tyranny of distance prevents their travel to Conferences further afield difficult. Do take this opportunity to discuss the challenges Arborist’s face in their day-to-day work with fellow colleagues. Checkout new climbing gear or learn new techniques. Check out new diagnostic technologies and machinery to improve efficiencies and work safety and learn more about the new industry initiatives including MIS (Minimum Industry Standards) developed by many Arborists around Australia and driven by Arboriculture Australia for the benefit and safety of everyone working in the arboricultural industry.

Extending A Warm Welcome

A number of QAA members have been involved in the identification and management of an Avenue of Honour. As Anzac Day approaches once again, it is poignant to reflect on the spirit of those instrumental in establishing these living memorials to those who did not return from war service, originally for WWI, and subsequently for fallen Australians in all subsequent wars. Recognition also goes to the amazing David Lawry of Treenet who initiated and drove the AoH project. (See more at www.avenuesofhonour.org). If you know of an Avenue of Honour not yet to be listed on the AoH register you can contact Glen Williams (Treenet) directly via webpage treenet.org or via QAA’s Office and we will be happy to put you in touch. To be involved with this project and see some of the restored Avenues come to life and find recognition once again is truly rewarding.

QAA’s Workshop & Training 2020

Make sure your entry is in for the upcoming QTCC and practice events! This annual competition is not only your chance to be selected to represent your State at the National and ISA Climbing Competitions, it is also an invaluable opportunity to hone your skills, learn new skills and to learn from the best of the best!

Practice Day: 20 June – Colmslie Park Reserve, Morningside

Competition Day: 24th – 25th July – Nixon Park, Oxley

Who can enter: All interested climbers!

There is something for all levels of expertise!

How to enter: Via QAA App or QAA webpage

Registration close: 1st July 2020

Discounted entry fee: 1st May 2020

*All entrants must preregister to allow for pre-event gear and eligibility checks.

Strictly registered entrants only! No registration – No competition!

Interested but not a QAA Member? Contact QAA Office at (07) 3821 1488 or via email at [email protected]

QAA Executive continues to work to bring training to all areas of Queensland. Keep an eye out for upcoming training sessions in north Queensland.

Please contact Bec Dalton in QAA’s Office  if you know of a potential training opportunity,you run a Company who can provide training relevant to arboriculture, local Council or organisation and you need a hand to realise an (training event) opportunity to bring new skills and improved safety techniques in your local community.

QAA is a volunteer-based Association, inclusive of all abilities and industry participants, from Groundie to Climber Practicing Arborist, Consulting Arborist, apprentice starting out or those nearing retirement, Business Owner or aspiring to own your own business.

No matter where in Queensland or northern New South Wales you are located, QAA offers Members State level representation and an accredited Training and Workshop Programme which caters for all Members and for anyone interested in undertaking a career path in Arboriculture.

QAA Events Calendar 2020 April 2020

Easter

When: April 10-13

ANZAC Day

When: April 25

Where: Avenue of Honour project

MAY 2020

Arboriculture Australia National Conference

When: May 14-19 Where: Gold Coast

MIS305: TREE CLIMBING

Techniques for Access, Work Positioning and Descent

When: May 5-6

Where: Cleveland HQ

JUNE 2020

QTCC Practice Climbing Day

When: June 20

Where: Colmslie Reserve, Morningside

JULY 2020

MIS303: TREE DISMANTLING Techniques for Rigging and Aerial Tree Removal Operations

When: July 7-8

Where: Cleveland HQ

Queensland Tree Climbing Championships (QTCC)

When: July 24-25

Where: Nixon Park SEPTEMBER/OCTOBER 2020

MIS304: AERIAL RESCUE Techniques for Rescuing Stranded and/or Injured Climbers

When: September 8-9 Where: Cleveland HQ ARBORCAMPTM 2020

When: Dates to be confirmed Where: Venue to be confirmed

QAA AGM

When: Dates to be confirmed

Where: Venue to be confirmed

More To Come

Plant Identification, Soils, And FUNGI Workshops

When: Dates to be confirmed

Where: Cleveland HQ

TRAQ Renewal Course

When: Dates to be confirmed Where: Cleveland HQ

TRAQ Full Course

When: Dates to be confirmed

Where: Cleveland HQ

QTRA

When: Dates to be confirmed

Where: Cleveland HQ

Sponsorship

QAA is indebted to its Sponsors! QAA Membership subscriptions are important but many of our Events and Training Days just could not happen without our wonderful Sponsors! Please go to QAA’s Facebook and Webpages to find out more about the services they offer and consider them when making your next purchases. QAA proudly thanks the following Companies and organisations who have so kindly supported QAA throughout the 2019 – 2020 Sponsorship year and looks forward to welcoming you back onboard in 2020 – 2021!

Industry Support: Fitzpatrick & Co

Insurance Brokers

Events Sponsor: Stihl

Gold Sponsors: ETS, Bandit, Husqvarna

Silver Sponsors: Vermeer, AllClass

Bronze Sponsors: BOQ Forest Lake,

Powerclear, Treescape

Members and interested attendees to any of our events, training days are encouraged to regularly check in to the QAA’s App, Website and Facebook pages for further information. Remember event bookings can be made through QAA’s App or online via the events page: https://qaa.net.au/ event-directory/. Early bird and Member discounts apply! Don’t be shy – come along and see why trained Arborists are so passionate about safety through education and the benefits of shared industry based professional advocacy!

Please – Maintain your skills! Update your training! Stay in touch! Stay safe! Enjoy the vibrant place we work in!

QAA Executive Committee 2020

For more information call QAA on 3821 1488, visit www.qaa.net.au  or email [email protected]

May 10, 2020 / by / in
QAA News

QAA – actively representing and promoting the development of professional arboricultural standards; the lead industry body supporting the tree care profession in Queensland and Northern NSW since 1992.

Welcoming in the 2020 New Year, QAA’s Executive led by new President Bill Wilcock is proud to take the QAA into its 28th year!

Whilst the political debates rage surrounding current climatic conditions, bushfires and drought, Arborists are indeed in a unique position to help. You could say that there has never been a more important time for Arborists to upgrade or gain new professional qualifications, to update or learn business skills and to keep WH&S qualifications up to date.

Whether you are located in, urban, peri-urban or rural areas of Queensland or northern New South Wales, the QAA’s 2020 Training and Workshop Programme has something for all Members and for those interested in undertaking a career path in Arboriculture.

Adding excitement to our year, the QAA is looking forward to welcoming interstate and international colleagues to Queensland in May as Arboriculture Australia brings its National Conference to the Gold Coast May 14 – 19, 2020!

Workshop and Training 2020

March 2020

MIS305: Tree Climbing

Techniques for Access, Work Positioning and Descent

When: Tuesday 3 and Wednesday 4 March

Where: Cleveland HQ

TRAQ Renewal Course When: Monday 16 March Where: Cleveland HQ

TRAQ Full Course

When: Tuesday 17 – Thursday 18 March

Where: Cleveland HQ

TRAQ Full Course

When: Tuesday 17 – Thursday 18 March

Where: Cleveland HQ

QTRA

When: Monday 23 – Tuesday 24 March

Where: Cleveland HQ

MAY 2020

MIS303: Tree Dismantling

Techniques for rigging and aerial tree

removal operations

When: Tuesday 5 May and Wednesday 6

Where: Cleveland HQ

Arboriculture Australia Conference

When: Tuesday 12 – Tuesday 19 May

Where: Gold Coast

Mid-Year

Plant Identification, Soils And Fungi Workshops

When: Dates to be confirmed

Where: Cleveland HQ

July 2020

MIS304: Aerial Rescue

Techniques for rescuing stranded and/or injured climbers

When: Tuesday 7 – Wednesday 8 July

Where: Cleveland HQ

Members and interested attendees are encouraged to regularly check in to the QAA’s App, Website and Facebook pages for further Event, workshop and training day information. Bookings can be made through our App or online via the events page: https://qaa.net.au/event-directory/.

Early bird and Member discounts apply! Don’t be shy – come along and see why trained Arborists are so passionate about safety through education.

New Year welcome from QAA’s 2020-2021 President, Bill Wilcock

In his hand over address to me at last year’s AGM, retiring QAA President Roger Rankine reflected that the last few years have passed quickly and that there has been a great deal of development and advancement in the QAA as an Association.

With much of the housekeeping reviews now complete, initiatives and upgrades in place, the next two years are planned to continue along the same pathway. Sustaining the momentum, with the priorities of growing membership numbers, tuning members engagement, sponsorships and relationships with QAA’s affiliate organisations.

I would like to take this opportunity to extend our grateful thanks to all our Sponsors. Our Association, QAA, and its members benefit in so many ways from the generosity of so many providers. In particular our Sponsors – Industry Fitzpatrick Insurance, Event – Stihl®, Gold – Bandit Tree Equipment, ETS and Husqvarna Group, Silver – Vermeer, Allclass, Bronze – Treescape, Powerclear, BOQ Forest Lake, Website and IT – Mooncog. In return, these companies appreciate your loyal custom!

We are also looking forward to the visit of our affiliate State, National and International Arboricultural association colleagues this year for Arboriculture Australia’s National Conference at Royal Pines Resort on the Gold Coast, May 12 – 19.

Of particular interest will be further education sessions on the Arboriculture Australia developed Minimum Industry Standards (MIS) which are proudly supported by QAA. Categorising the industry into formal descriptive skill sets has been an immense task and a number have now been printed and published in individual volumes that are straight forward and understandable to read.

Whilst still a work in progress this has been a colossal task and we congratulate all those who have and continue to assist in their development. It is anticipated that many benefits will flow from these MIS including increased safety standards, lower workplace incidents and lower insurance premiums.

“Our Executive Committee for the 2020 year has some old, some new and even some returnees and I am looking forward to working with this team of significant and truly capable, dedicated arborists. I am looking forward to meeting more members and to spreading the word, that the QAA is your Association and your opportunity to relate

significantly to the Tree Industry. The business we are in is one of Australia’s fastest growing industries. The QAA exists to help industry participants, as members, from an industry perspective. Our strength is in our numbers united through a common bond – as I have said before don’t go it alone.

See the QAA website at QAA.net.au for more details as well as constantly updated news and information.

This is a busy season, for our businesses. Notwithstanding that, our workload is compounded by drought, fire, storms and the urban sprawl that drastically changes the terms in which trees must exist. But they must exist: trees are one of only a few significant climate-mitigating factors that we can still nurture with positive results. And nurture them we must, if we, as a species, no, the most influential species, and our vital eco systems, are to survive.

Please – Maintain your skills! Update your training! Stay in touch! Stay safe! Enjoy the vibrant place we work in!

Please go safely in the New Year Season. Our thoughts are with everyone affected by so many recent weather events including all those living in, and working in areas of the catastrophic fires.

March 22, 2020 / by / in ,
TTIA News

Mental health at work – incapacity for work, disability and discrimination.

Mental Disability Dismissal Decision

In an important decision concerning incapacity for work due to mental disability, a full bench of the Federal Court has upheld an employer’s appeal against a decision that it discriminated against a worker based on his mental disability when it dismissed him after he had not attended the workplace for seven months.

The Federal Court initially awarded the employee who suffered from depression $140,000 compensation finding that he was dismissed because of his disability under the general protections provisions in the Fair Work Act. His medical certificates stated during this period he had no capacity for work.

The employee failed to comply with repeated requests to attend an independent medical assessment which was an attempt by the employer to transition him back to the workplace.

In this case, the company developed concerns that the employee would not be able to return to work. The court agreed with the employer’s position that the disability was not the inherent reason for dismissing the worker but, in fact, the incapacity for work was the key issue. It drew a clear distinction between these two issues.

It is important to note that this is not a case where there was discussion about what duties the employee may or may not be able to perform on his return to work. He simply did not attend the workplace and provided no indication of when this situation may change.

This case highlights that a dismissal can indeed be made based on the consequences of a disability and NOT be discriminatory. Employers need to understand that each case will have its own circumstances and to get legal advice before terminating an employment contact.

TTIA has a full time Legal Officer who can assist in alleged disability or discrimination cases. There has been a noticeable increase in assistance sought by employers on dealing with staff claiming depression and other mental health issues. You are urged to call the Association on (02) 9264 0011 if you need advice on how to handle this issue at your workplace.

TTIA Hotline

The TTIA’s telephone advisory service is specifically for Members who are employers in the timber and tree contracting industry. Our experienced in-house team are just a call away, helping to find the most effective way to manage your business with regard to industrial relations, award interpretation, WHS queries, etc. The Hotline is available to Members 52 weeks per year, with no restriction on how often calls are made.

My experience confirms that for business in 2020, we now live in an extremely litigation-friendly environment where incorrect responses to employee queries and requests can have costly ramifications.

This makes even more sense for business to utilise the expertise of this unique and valuable timber industry resource.

The TTIA employers’ Hotline can be reached on (02) 9264 0011.

Brian Beecroft,

Chief Executive Officer

March 8, 2020 / by / in ,
QAA News

QAA – actively representing and promoting the development of professional arboricultural standards; the lead industry body supporting the tree care profession in Queensland and Northern NSW since 1992.

It’s A Wrap!

QAA’s 2018-2019 Executive Committee has overseen another very busy year culminating with the 2019 AGM in early October and final Workshop programmes for the year.

During his address to AGM attendees, QAA’s new President Bill Wilcock extended a vote of grateful thanks to the outgoing 2018-2019 Executive Committee led by retiring President Roger Rankine. Bill described the committee’s term as one of steadying, review and, in particular, important updating of Sponsorships, insurances, review (to identify) legal liabilities, event protocols and web services; all vitally important to the longevity and efficient running of the Association.

Bill went on to outline a little of his vision for new Executive’s incoming term including further overhaul of QAA’s Constitution needed to address changes which could never have been foreseen by QAA’s earlier Executives.

Bill also reminded attendees that this review and updating is an ongoing responsibility of Executive members who are charged with ensuring that the Association protocols are in place to address liability and operating efficiencies. Further, that the inaugural Executive term commenced long before emails, zoom meetings, Google, online internet banking etc. Ensuring that the Association is ‘fit for purpose’ is perhaps the most important of the Executive responsibilities.

Executive Member Henk Morgans tabled the new Minimum Industry Standards books which have been developed by Arboriculture Australia through the tireless work of contributors from around Australia and beyond. Henk commended these to attendees and explained that further sponsorship is being sought to support (their) wider distribution to industry participants including trainee Arborists. Please let us know if you can assist.

Year In Review

In his Report to the AGM, outgoing President Roger Rankine outlined many of the accomplishments of the retiring Executive. Of particular note, were the number of ‘Sold Out’ Workshops held throughout the year and the very popular Association events, QTCC, Arborcamp™ and Climber Training Days.

A vote of thanks was passed during the meeting to all Organising Committee Members and Subcommittee Members including Ben Inman, Matty and Tanya Johns who were instrumental in seeing the return of Arborcamp™ to the QAA 2019 Calendar of Events.

A special note of thanks was extended to Scouts Qld for their invaluable assistance in running the children’s event programme during the camp.

Year Ahead

QAA’s workshop administrator Bec Dalton spoke of QAA’s full Workshop Programme planned for the upcoming year. A number

of popular regulars will be returning including TRAQ and QTRA Accreditation and refresher courses, Soils and Fungi Workshops and more.

Noting that QAA is now breaking down the tyranny of distance by regularly holding Executive Meetings via Zoom, new President Bill Wilcock extended a warm welcome to all Members wishing to join a Subcommittee or the Executive. Bill also extended an invitation to Members to submit their ideas for future training sessions, event days and strategies to improve pathways between QAA and student traineeship programmes, particularly in secondary schools.

QAA 2020 Training Programme Wondering how you can be more involved in the exciting field of Arboriculture in Qld and the adjacent northern region of NSW? Like to hear more about Tree Risk Training, the fascinating world of Fungi, Soil Science or how to improve your climbing technique?

Stay up to date via QAA’s App, Webpage, Facebook and upcoming Arbor Age articles for news of QAA events. We are an inclusive, welcoming Association, whether you are a student, Practicing or Consulting Arborist, business owner or looking to advance your career.

In Conclusion

Compliments of the season are extended to all Members and Arbor Age readers!

As always, Stay updated! Stay Educated! Stay Safe! especially in the run-down rush to the Christmas break and summer storm season.

QAA Executive Members look forward to catching up somewhere around a cool shady tree in the 2020 New Year! Our best wishes for calm, soaking drought-breaking rains in all desperately parched areas of Australia.

QAA Executive Committee 2019-2020 For more information call QAA on (07) 3821 14 88 or visit www.qaa.net.au

December 31, 2019 / by / in , ,
TTIA News

I believe it is true to say that the concept of casual employment shouldn’t be too complicated to understand for both business and employees in this country.

asual jobs are not necessarily permanent. The hours of work can vary from week to week or month to month, but some casual jobs provide regular shifts. And there is a premium attached to the wage paid, which is almost universally 25 per cent and has been increased to that figure in recent years. This casual pay premium is in lieu of receiving entitlements such as paid leave and redundancy.

Casual jobs are common in some industries – retail, hospitality mining, construction and manufacturing, less common in others.

About one-fifth of all jobs are casual, with this proportion remaining fairly steady during the past two decades or so.

Most industrial awards contain provisions for casual employees. In the general retail industry award, for instance, a casual employee is simply defined as an employee engaged as such. It then states that a casual employee “will be paid both the hourly rate payable to a full-time employee and an additional 25 per cent of the ordinary hourly rate for a full-time employee”. Many awards also contain a clause on the right to request casual conversion. The typical wording of these clauses provide for a person engaged by a particular employer “as a regular casual employee” to request that their employment be converted to full-time or part-time employment. A regular casual employee is defined in the general retail industry award as “a casual employee who has in the preceding period of 12 months worked a pattern of hours on an ongoing basis which, without significant adjustment, the employee could continue to perform as a full-time employee or part-time employee”. In this case, on conversion, the employee no longer receives the casual pay premium but is entitled to paid leave.

Until the WorkPac v Skene decision, which was handed down by the Federal Court in August last year, the above arrangements in respect of casual employment were essentially settled in the industrial arena.

Many casual employees are content with their working arrangements, including the payment of the casual pay premium and casual employment can provide a stepping stone to better, more secure employment. Casual employment suits the lifestyle of some workers who may need flexible arrangements for children, elderly parents or their partners work commitments. In addition, in an economy where work demand for products and/or services can significantly fluctuate, casual employment is also a flexible option for many employers to be able to properly run a business.

The Skene case has upended this settled position by awarding a casual driver (Paul Skene), employed by a labour hire company (WorkPac), back pay for unpaid annual leave, even though the driver had been paid a premium on his hourly rate of pay.

This, despite the fact the enterprise agreement was clear that governed his employment and the letter of offer sent to him before he took the job. So essentially the company had its paperwork in order and should have felt a degree of protection.

The basis of the Federal Court’s decision was that the regular and predictable hours of work undertaken by Skene meant he should be entitled to paid annual leave even though he was a casual worker. But herein lies the problem. It has been estimated that a significant proportion of casual workers undertake regular shifts, which has never been viewed by the Fair Work Commission as being inconsistent with the status of casual employee.

If the Skene ruling is to hold, the question arises whether millions of casual employees could claim back pay for unpaid leave entitlements even though they have received the appropriate casual pay premium. In other words, will double dipping be legally sanctioned and given the green light?

We just need to take a look at the figures.

There are about 2.8 million casual employees.

Those workers who have held casual jobs in the past six years also could make claims. Most of these casuals work for small businesses with fewer than 20 employees and a further 31 per cent work for businesses with between 20 and 99 employees.

The peak employer industry group has estimated the total cost of providing paid leave to all regular casual employees at between $5.7bn and $8bn. Many businesses would be sent broke. It is possible that taxpayers would be liable in the instances of business failures through the Fair Entitlements Guarantee scheme.

Finally understanding the magnitude of the problem that would befall many businesses were the Skene precedent to take hold, the federal government last year introduced the Fair Work Amendment (Casual Loading Offset) Regulations 2018 in an attempt to restore the pre-Skene state of affairs.

Notwithstanding the passing of these regulations, seven Skene-related class actions have been launched in the past 12 months, most being bankrolled by local and overseas-based litigation funders. Many of these class actions are directed at labour hire companies.

There also have been an unknown number of individual claims using the Skene precedent, though most of these cases have been settled some I suspect with “go away” money. A claim by a sales assistant was heard recently by the Federal Court. The decision is still pending.

problem” that has arisen because of the conflict between the commission’s approach to casual employment, including in relation to casual conversion clauses, and the Skene decision. The issue “has to be resolved or in time it will snowball”, Hatcher says.

The Labor party attempted to disallow the Fair Work Amendment (Casual Loading Offset) Regulations 2018 in the Senate this week. It’s hard to understand the motivation for this unsuccessful move other than to placate the union movement the motion was defeated 33 to 29 votes.

Another theory is that pressure was applied by some plaintiff law firms that have strong links to the Labor Party to see off the regulations. Unions also have a stake in this matter because casual workers are less likely to join unions than permanent workers and they are harder to track down and sign up. Trade unions also have a traditional dislike of labour hire companies.

The continuation of the regulations doesn’t solve the problem. The government needs to act to solve the matter through legislative amendments that clarify the definition of casual employees and to include the casual conversion right within the National Employment Standards.

While the government is consulting on a range of industrial relations issues, it needs deal with the issue of casual employment as a matter of urgency as the issue has dominated too much of 2019. The alternative is business uncertainty regarding potential back pay claims for their casual workers.

It also may deter businesses from taking on any new casual employees given the uncertainty that prevails as well as minimise business growth and investment.

I would urge tree contactors to contact TTIA and discuss the best way to protect your business in this climate of uncertainty regarding casual employment and their conditions. The number for the TTIA Hotline is (02) 9264 0011. Call us!

Brian Beecroft, Chief Executive Officer

December 23, 2019 / by / in , ,
TTIA News

Superannuation crackdown is a timely reminder to review practices.

Most tree contractors in business would be aware that the Superannuation Guarantee Scheme commencing in 1992, has required employers to make contributions for employees. Tragically, I recall writing that circular to TTIA Members back then, which makes me feel slightly old and unemployable.

On a more serious note, superannuation obligations can be genuinely confusing for employers as ATO rulings can change or be “updated”, as can the provisions relating to superannuation in industrial awards.

In recent developments, approximately $100 million in superannuation entitlements have been paid to Australian workers, after their employers failed to meet their payment obligations.

Employers are currently being granted an amnesty period for superannuation guarantee obligations – meaning they can confess to and rectify instances where they haven’t paid their staff superannuation, and they will mostly escape penalty.

To date, the tax office has recovered and paid $100 million in outstanding superannuation guarantee payments, it told a recent parliamentary hearing. There’s also been about a 15 per cent rise in employers admitting to falling short of the law.

Of the approximately 19,000 employers that have come forward, 73 per cent are micro businesses with less than $2 million turnover, and 21 per cent are medium businesses within $2 million to $250 million turnover, with not-for-profits accounting for 4 per cent.

The average number of employees affected is 36 employees, with 51 per cent of the payments in the order of $10,000, and 35 per cent in the order of $10,000 to $50,000, according to deputy commissioner at the ATO, James O’Halloran.

“There’s a $100 million or so that has gone to employees as a consequence of people coming forward, and that is including nominal interest,” Mr O’Halloran said.

“I am not distinguishing the drive or impression that people may or may not have had, because they are all treated the same,” he said.

“Regardless of how and why people came forward to the ATO to bring forward outstanding SG obligations, they were all treated the same, consistent with what we do in our normal course of business in accordance with our practice statements,” he said.

TTIA Members in any doubt about superannuation obligations, particularly in the areas of termination pay, payment in lieu of notice, annual leave loading, overtime, bonuses and periods on worker’s compensation, are invited to contact the Association.

Tree Contractors are reminded that TTIA has the staff and resources committed to helping tree contactors and protecting their interests nationally. TTIA is able to check wage rates, has workplace relations experts on call, provide employment documents and templates, provide access to our Legal Officer, training and access to a workplace audit and safety unit. Call us on (02) 9264 0011.

Benchmark Cost Solutions

Many Members are already accessing a range of cost reductions on services like telephone, electricity, waste management and freight forwarding through our cost reduction arm, Benchmark Cost Solutions.

If you’re not, it’s time to start. We urge you to take a look and subscribe to Benchmarking for Best of Breed, a You Tube channel where Benchmark Cost Solutions will be posting weekly videos covering topics such as Managed Labour Hire, Waste Management, Energy Efficiencies and many more. Check out www.youtube.com/ channel/UCBuk5xK-9C6pGEljKqXc5ag

Alternatively, contact Benchmark directly for further information on 0458 800 244 or email [email protected] mentioning that you are a TTIA Member.

Please contact TTIA on (02) 9264 0011 if you wish to have further information.

Brian Beecroft

November 18, 2019 / by / in , ,
QAA News

QAA – actively representing and promoting the development of professional arboricultural standards; the lead industry body supporting the tree care profession in Queensland and Northern NSW since 1992.

Continuing to ensure our association is easily recognisable as the lead industry and professional representative body co-ordinating all aspects of arboriculture in Queensland. and northern NSW, QAA’s 2019 Executive Team has led a busy calendar of events throughout its 2018-2019 term.

QAA, along with its affiliate arboricultural associations, continues to promote greater understanding and ‘best practice’ care of trees at a local, national and international level – striving to provide timely information and training opportunities for its Members and interested members of the public. Improved recognition of world’s best arboricultural practice and Australian Tree standards, not only in the public realm (for tree owners and tree keepers), but also timely information around employer obligations and information relevant for everyone working in and around trees. Information and training to minimise the occurrence of avoidable accidents as is sadly highlighted in a recent SE Qld court case. Our thoughts are with all involved in this very tragic incident.

On a brighter note, back by popular demand this year sees the return of QAA’s Arborcamp™ over the weekend of Sep 20-22, 2019. Our grateful thanks are extended to Ben Inman and his Subcommittee so ably supported by a dedicated team of volunteers and QAA’s Sponsors. What a fantastic event! The multiple facilities layout at Rocky Creek Scout Campground, Landsborough on the Sunshine Coast is a brilliant venue for this event catering not only to QAA Members but also to their families, friends and interested spectators – a great weekend of learning and camaraderie! Head to QAA’s Facebook and web pages for more information and great photos.

Climbing Competition News

ITCC 2019 – Knoxsville, Tennessee Congratulations to all our Aussie Climbers who competed in at the 2019 International Tree Climbing Championship (ITCC). Huge congratulations to Barton Allen-Hall who placed 2nd in the Masters and Terry Boston who placed 6th and competitor Maja Rasmussen Blasch! All participants did our country proud!

QTCC 2019 – Fig Tree Pocket, Qld

Once again superlatives fly! As the accompanying photos show, this was possibly the biggest Tree Climbing comp to date and a weekend of great weather ensured competitors, their support crews of family and friends and interested spectators were kept enthralled. Climbers displayed incredible skill and agility as they negotiated their events with complete professionalism.

Ensuring competition was strong, 46 aspiring and experienced climbers competed for many prizes including major prizes of Stihl and Husqvarna chainsaws for the Men’s and Women’s Grand Championships.

Congratulations to all competitors, particularly Nick Sanderson (Male Masters Champion) and Jess Hamer (Female Masters Champion). QAA wishes these two Champions well as they now progress to representing Qld at the 2020 National ATCC to be held on the Gold Coast next year.

Very grateful thanks are extended to our very dedicated QTCC Subcommittee headed by Ben McDonald and his amazing support crew including Judges, scorers, set-up and take-down crews. Thanks also to our amazing Sponsors who so willingly support this event each year.

Once again please head to QAA’s Facebook and Webpages for full details and professional photos taken by professional photographer Danielle D’Arcy and Adam Tom.

AGM 2019

QAA Members are warmly invited to attend QAA’s upcoming AGM on Saturday 12 October, 2019 at Cleveland Headquarters. See the QAA webpage and social media channels for information.

Nominations for QAA 2019-2020 Office Bearers Are Now Open.

To nominate, please download a Nomination form from our web portals or contact a current Exec Member or QAA Office. A reminder: your QAA Membership must be current financial to be eligible to stand for election or to vote.

Formalities at the AGM will include the election of all QAA Office Bearers for 2019-2020 and the presentation of reports. Retiring QAA President Roger Rankine will update Members on his very busy term and QAA’s Technical Officer Bec Dalton will deliver the Technical Officer’s Report, industry and Sponsorship news.

Volunteering – It’s true! Gain new skills, new friends and new contacts both locally in Qld as well as across Australia and beyond. Please raise your hand if you would like to volunteer for an Executive position, to assist on a Subcommittee or if you would like to know more about how your Association works; be assured your contribution will be appreciated. The reward of volunteer experience far exceeds the time you put in and every little bit counts, no matter how small.

Expressions Of Interest

If you missed out on one of our sold-out QAA Workshops this year, the 2020 Workshop Programme is in now planning. Submissions and suggestions are welcome for next year’s programme. Please remember that early bookings are a must to avoid missing out on a place.

A reminder that current financial QAA Membership entitles (Member) access to discounted rates on training events and Sponsor products.

To keep in touch, log in through QAA’s App or Webpage ‘Member Portal’ at www.qaa.net.au. Alternatively, contact QAA’s office on email [email protected] or call (07) 3821 1488 and our friendly Office Staff will be only too happy to answer your queries, forward Nomination and Submission Forms or help you navigate our new systems.

Retiring QAA Executive Committee 2019 would like to thank all QAA Members and Staff for their dedicated support throughout this busy year and wish all returning and new Executive Team Members well for their 2019-2020 term. Please – Maintain your skills! Update your training! Stay in touch! Stay safe! Enjoy the vibrant place we work in!

Retiring QAA Executive Committee 2019 Queensland Arboricultural Association Inc.

November 12, 2019 / by / in , ,
TTIA News

This month we look into new minimum wage rates in place since July 1, 2019, as well as into a significant ruling on a workers compensation case.

National Wage CaseTTIA News

The Fair Work Commission released the tenth annual minimum wage review decision under the Fair Work Act, 2009 on May 30, 2019.

This decision increased the modern award wage rates by 3.0 percent and the national minimum wage from $719.20 per week to $740.80 per week, or $19.49 per hour based on a 38-hour working week.

Last year’s increase was 3.5 percent. The increased rates took effect from the first full pay period starting on or after July 1, 2019.

All tree contractors should ensure they are meeting the new minimum obligations from July 1, 2019. Please note that the increase was fully absorbable into over-award payments.

Tree contractors with any queries in regard to paying rates, please contact TTIA on (02) 9264 0011.

Ruling On Workers Compensation At A Work Event

When I hear employers and Members talk of their experiences with the worker’s compensation system, I normally see the abject pain and helplessness displayed on their normally pleasant facial expressions. Invariably, the issue of unfair liability arises from business owners who rightly claim many injuries seem to have originated from a previous employer, or outside an employee’s working time, yet somehow the medical profession and/or the court/tribunal system pulls them into a costly liability situation.

In a recent South Australian Employment Tribunal hearing (Power v Return to Work South Australia, May 2019), a significant matter was dealt with where an employee sustained an injury at a workplace function; namely, he fell over and hit his head after attending an awards night hosted by his employer.

Whilst the employee had not consumed alcohol during the ceremony, it was noticed by several witnesses that he was walking unsteadily, and his eyes were rolled back. It was observed the employee collided with a bathroom door handle before falling backward and hitting his head on the hard bathroom floor.

A witness left the scene immediately to seek assistance as blood flowed freely from the back of the employee’s head and ears.

In the aftermath, the employee sustained serious head injuries and had amnesia from the injury and absolutely no recollection of the incident. He took the firm legal position that he had been attending the function at his employer’s request and therefore the injury was sustained in the course of his work.

The South Australian Employment Tribunal considered the incident as it applied to the State’s Return to Work Act 2014. This Act provides that for an injury to be considered work-related and compensable, there are two basic requirements. Firstly, the injury must arise in the course of the person’s employment. Secondly, the worker’s employment must be a significant cause of the injury.

In this case, the judge found that only one of these conditions was satisfied. The judge found that while the injury had occurred in the course of the man’s employment, the injury arose from a pre-existing medical condition that just happened to manifest itself at work but without his employment being a contributing factor.

The key finding in this judgment was that his employment was not in any real or meaningful sense a significant contributing cause of the injury.

Now, none of this means that as employers we don’t need to take steps to limit liability when hosting workplace functions. TTIA has provided guidelines on this issue in the past which tree contractor members are welcome to access.

However, the significance of this case is that it is not enough for an employee’s injury to occur in the course of his/her employment. The employment must also be a significant contributing cause of the injury.

Please contact TTIA on (02) 9264 0011 if you wish to have further information.

Brian Beecroft

Chief Executive Officer

September 15, 2019 / by / in , , ,
QAA News

QAA – actively representing and promoting the development of professional arboricultural standards; the lead industry body supporting the tree care profession in Queensland and Northern NSW since 1992.

As QAA’s 2018-2019 Executive team’s term draws to a close, the Association is in a sound financial position with plenty of activities scheduled for the rest of 2019. We would like to take this opportunity to thank Paul Jave (QAA Technical Officer) for his valued contribution to the Association and wish him well in his future endeavors.

Bec Dalton returns to the QAA Office three days per week to focus on workshops, Contractors & Consultants register, sponsors and assisting with her knowledge and experience within the QAA office. With our Office as busy as ever, Bec Hoad is in the office five days per week assisting members with inquiries and keeping the association running.

More than ever, practicing and Consulting Arborists are called on to ensure that trees are looked after in a professional and safe manner. Members of the wider public are increasingly seeking the services and assistance of qualified and insured Arborists who can provide informed advice and assistance in the care of their trees. Inclusive and gender equitable, QAA is run for the benefit of all Members, promoting safety through training in Arboriculture.

News

Congratulations to QAA members who competed in the National Climbing Championships held during the Arboriculture Australia, May 2019 Conference in Alice Springs, NT. We wish all winners well as they go on to represent Australia on the international stage in Knoxville, Tennessee, USA at the ISA 2019 Conference.

Continuing our busy Calendar of sessions, attendees at our sold out “The Kingdom of Fungi” workshop presented by Dr Frances Guard enjoyed a most informative day. This is Dr. Guard’s first workshop with the QAA, and it has been highly commended by all attendees.

Responding to the many people who wanted to see QAA’s ArborCampTM return in 2019, Subcommittee leader Ben Inman has led a hardworking team to bring this much-loved event to this year’s Calendar of Events.

Grateful thanks are extended to the many volunteers who worked so hard over the weekend of June 15-16 in preparation for QAA’s ArborCampTM 2019. Our venue is ready for a fantastic weekend of excitement. See further details below.

ArborCamp™ is a much-loved equal opportunity event bringing likeminded people together in a relaxed community setting. Everyone is welcome.

A camp style format is designed to provide opportunities for open discussion and exchange of ideas in a relaxed and picturesque setting; an ideal occasion to catch up on some professional development and learning. No set levels of understanding or skills are required.

Don’t miss this opportunity to learn from some of the best and experienced in our profession. All you need to bring to enjoy this event, whether you are young or old, a budding or experienced Climber Practitioner or Consulting Arborist or attending to support your participant family member, is your gear, some sunscreen and a shady hat. Come along to enjoy a great weekend of positive learning, relaxation and great fun.

Returning favourites include the crate climb, safety talks, high tea, wine and cheese tasting, Saturday night dinner, bonfires and games to keep  you entertained.

Rocky Creek Scouts group will be running the two-day kids program catering for all age groups, sign the kids in, sit back and relax. Sponsors displays will be setup including new equipment to try before you buy or to compare what you have against something new and different.

Planned displays for Arboricultural Consultant equipment and information sessions events include GPS equipment to update VTA skills.

Arboriculture Australia will be setting up a display on the new licensing system as well as information in relation to the soon-to-be released new Australian Standards. Veteran Tree Group will have a display highlighting the importance of veteran tree management practices.

There is also a new building, craft, and educational stand offering display opportunities highlighting the many different uses of timber products. Please contact the QAA ArborCampTM Coordinator Ben Inman: [email protected] If you have an exciting idea to share, if you are doing something different and of interest or you would like to display at this year’s ArborCampTM

See you there! Please come on down to see the best of the best in a skilful display of arboricultural talent!

Sponsors

As always, QAA acknowledges and extends grateful thanks to our 2018/2019 sponsors. Too many to list here, their details, including contact details, can be found on our webpage. We could not do this without your continual support.

Please contact our office to speak with our Office Admin Team and Executive Members for further interesting QAA sponsor opportunities.

Events Calendar

ArborCampTM 2019

Where: Rocky Creek Scout Camp. 3246 Old Gympie Road, Landsborough QLD 4550

When: September 20, 21, 22 2019 (the first weekend of the School Holidays)

Who: This event is open to all people interested in trees and the environment. Family friendly environment events, kids’ activity centre, sponsor and other displays.

Note: The site has full amenities so bring your tent, caravan (some powered sites available) and if you’re lucky and book early you can even get a bunk bed in one of the dormitories located within the site.

Workshops

Upcoming Training Sessions Include:

TRAQ Renewal – October 8, 2019

TRAQ Full Course – October 9-11, 2019

Please let the office know if you have any workshops or courses you would like to see run in the future.

2019 AGM

QAA’s AGM will be held on Saturday 12th October 2019 at Cleveland Headquarters, 26-40 Delancey Street, Cleveland. Members are invited to forward written submissions for matters of business they wish raised, ideas, suggestions supported by a business case where appropriate, as well as nominations are all most welcome. All attendees or those voting by proxy are reminded that (their) Membership must be current and financially up to date to cast their votes.

Keep a watch out as we release more details of upcoming workshops through QAA’s App, Facebook and webpages. As always, staff safe. Stay informed.

For more info call Queensland Arboricultural Association on (07) 3821 1488, go to www.qaa.net.au, email [email protected] or like/follow us on Facebook, Instagram or Twitter.

QAA Editorial Committee on behalf of QAA Executive

September 5, 2019 / by / in , ,