Minimum wage up by 3.3% from 1 July 2017

On 6 June 2017, the Fair Work Commission (the “FWC”) handed down the decision in its annual wage review.

From the full pay period on or after 1 July 2017, the national minimum wage will be $694.90 per week (or $18.29 per hour). This represents an increase of $22.20 per week from the current national minimum wage of $672.70 per week.

Following the decision, minimum wage rates in modern awards will be increased by 3.3% and a new national minimum wage order will be made with respect to award free employees.

What does this mean for employers?

  • Subject to the requirements of relevant modern awards, enterprise agreements and employment contracts, from 1 July 2017, employers must ensure that their full-time employees are paid at least $694.90 per week (or $18.29 per hour).
  • Employers must be aware of the award or agreement (if any) that applies to their employees and ensure wages are paid pursuant to it, noting that minimum wage rates in modern awards will be increased by 3.3%.
  • An employer who fails to pay wages in accordance with the national minimum wage order or requirements of a relevant award or agreement will be exposed to liability for breach of the Fair Work Act 2009 (Cth).

When a “crude” Facebook post is not enough to justify dismissal

Sam Cahill, Associate

The Fair Work Commission has recently handed down a decision that highlights the need for employers to take a measured approach to disciplinary action in relation to an employee’s use of social media.

The Facts

Mr Colby was employed as a travelling salesman with LED Technologies Pty Ltd (the “Company”). The Company has approximately 20 employees.

In August 2016, during work hours, Mr Colby posted the following comment on his private Facebook account:

“I don’t have time for people’s arrogance. And your [sic] not always right! your position is useless, you don’t do anything all day how much of the bosses c**k did you suck to get were [sic] you are?”

The Company became aware of Mr Colby’s Facebook comment and formed the view that it was directed at the Company and/or its employees. Later on the same day, the Company advised Mr Colby over the phone that his employment was terminated. By that time, Mr Colby had removed the comment from Facebook and clarified, via a further post, that he had posted his initial comment in support of his mother, as he was concerned that she was being mistreated at her place of work. Mr Colby’s mother did not work for the Company.

The Decision

The key issue for determination was whether the Company had a “valid reason” to terminate Mr Colby’s employment. Importantly, the Company dismissed Mr Colby because it considered that his Facebook comments were offensive and directed at the Company and/or its employees.

While Commissioner Gregory agreed that the post was “crude” and “immature”, he found that Mr Colby’s conduct did not provide a valid reason for dismissal, as there was no evidence to suggest that the comments were directed at the Company or any of its employees. The only plausible explanation for the comment was the one that was provided by Mr Colby. In reaching this view, the Commissioner stated that it is not sufficient that the employer believed that it had a valid reason for termination; the reason must be “objectively valid”.

Commissioner Gregory went on to find that the absence of a valid reason rendered the dismissal unfair, and ordered that the Company pay $6,238 in compensation to Mr Colby. In reaching this decision, the Commissioner also considered the fact that the Company failed to provide Mr Colby with an opportunity to respond to the reason for dismissal, while noting that this failure was most likely due to the Company’s small size and lack of expertise in human resource management.

Lessons for Employers

  1. Crude comments by an employee on social media will not automatically provide a valid reason for dismissal where a non-work related social media account is involved.
  2. Employers need to make enquires regarding the suspected misconduct (including online conduct) and the surrounding circumstances, to determine whether it constitutes a valid reason for dismissal.The absence of a valid reason for dismissal will usually render a dismissal unfair.
  3. Giving an employee an opportunity to respond is a crucial step in responding to allegations of misconduct and in providing an employee with procedural fairness.

“Not just in the mind” – WHS covers risks to mental health

Ben Urry, Associate Director

The traditional understanding of work health and safety ("WHS") is predominantly centred on the risk of physical injuries. Most cases that are reported, and most of the news headlines, focus on physical injuries or fatalities in “high risk” industries such as transport, construction, agriculture and manufacturing. The problem with this focus is it neglects a significant aspect of WHS that is on the rise, namely risks to psychological health or “mental wellbeing”. 

Two recent developments in Western Australia and Victoria attempt to “balance” this focus:

  • In Western Australia the risk of suicide and its management in the workplace lead the Western Australian Department of Mines and Petroleum to release a Bulletin last month dealing with suicide awareness in the resources sector ("Bulletin"). The Bulletin provides guidance on risk factors and methods for dealing with the risk of suicide in the workplace.
  • In Victoria WorkSafe Vic, in conjunction with the Department of Health and Human Services, announced a $50 million initiative called “WorkHealth” that will be launched in early 2018. WorkHealth is an online portal that provides strategies and guidance to Victorian employers in relation to improving mental health in the workplace, including self-assessments and the ability to link with similar businesses online. A link to the portal can be found here.

What is the risk?

Statistics from both the WorkHealth Initiative and Bulletin highlight just how extensive mental health issues in the community are, and why businesses should make improving the mental health of their workers a priority:

  • Around 20% of Victorians experience mental health concerns.
  • Non-high risk industries are often more affected. For example, creative industry workers in Victoria suffer the highest levels of depression and twice the number of suicide attempts as the general population.
  • As set out in the Bulletin, ABS statistics for 2015 indicated that suicide was the 13th leading cause of death, resulting in the loss of 3,027 lives. It was the leading cause of death among the 15-44 year age group.
  • Past survey data reveals that each year approximately 370,000 Australians think about ending their lives, with 65,000 suicide attempts.

Risks to mental health in the workplace might include such things as:

  • Workplace bullying, harassment or discrimination;
  • Restructures and redundancies, especially if handled poorly and creating ongoing uncertainty regarding job security;
  • Performance management and discipline processes that are not structured or implemented appropriately;
  • Interpersonal conflict between colleagues that does not necessarily amount to bullying but may involve strong differences of opinion or criticisms of personal beliefs or habits;
  • Excessive hours leading to fatigue, as tiredness can reduce emotional strength and resilience; and
  • Return to work processes following injury. This includes being kept away from work unnecessarily as for some people keeping occupied assists with mental health.

Risk and hazard assessments should include an analysis of risks to worker mental health, and the actions that are required to eliminate or minimise these risks. 

Psychological risk specific example – suicide

In the Bulletin a range of warning signs were identified as possible red flags for suicide risks in the workplace. These factors can be used as a guide (as they are non-exhaustive) and woven into risk and hazards assessments:

  • “Being withdrawn and unable to relate to co-workers;
  • Talking about feeling isolated and lonely;
  • Expressing fears of failure, uselessness, helplessness, hopelessness or loss of self-esteem;
  • Impulsivity or aggression;
  • Dramatic changes in mood;
  • Fragmented sleep or obvious tiredness;
  • Dwelling on problems with seemingly no solutions;
  • Speaking about tidying up affairs;
  • Threatening to hurt or kill themselves;
  • Talking or writing about death, dying or suicide;
  • Expressing no reason for living or sense of purpose.”

Dealing with risk of work-related suicides

In order to eliminate or minimise the risk, the Bulletin suggests that businesses should contemplate implementing health/wellbeing policies, providing access to employee assistance programs or other counselling, restricting access to possible means of suicide such as medications, pesticides and chemicals, and implementing appropriate training programs that incorporate elements of suicide prevention (for example, in conjunction with bullying/harassment training).

Lifeline 131 114

Beyondblue 1300 224 636

MensLine 1300 789 978

Government Initiative for young job seekers

Erin Lynch, Associate Director

The Turnbull Government has introduced the Youth Jobs PaTH (Prepare –Trial- Hire) internship programs.

To participate in the program a person must:

  • be 17 to 24 years old;
  • have been on Jobactive, Transition to Work or Disability Employment Services for six months or more; and
  • be on income support payments.

Under the program, young job seekers will be given the opportunity to gain employment and to move off government income support. The three elements of the program are designed to achieve this outcome.

Prepare – employability skills training. In this stage young people will be provided with training for up to six weeks in basic employability skills including teamwork, communication, personal presentation and interview skills.

Trial – internship placements. The “Trial” element of the program, will allow eligible young job seekers the opportunity to participate in an internship ranging from four to twelve weeks. The participants will attend a business for between 15 and 25 hours each week. During this period the job seekers will not be an employee of the business and any payment received is not considered remuneration. To encourage young job seekers and business alike to participate in the program, participants will be paid a fortnightly incentive payment of approximately $200 per fortnight and, under a Bill that is currently before the Senate, this will be paid in addition to government social security benefits. Businesses who take part will receive a payment of $1,000 to help cover the costs of hosting an intern.

Hire – “youth bonus” wage subsidies. Businesses will be eligible to receive a Youth Bonus wage subsidy of up to $10,000 if they employ a young job seeker under the age of 25 who has been in employment services for at least six months.In addition, young job seekers will be able to have their social security payments restored (without having to make a new claim or serve a waiting period) if they lose their job with a youth wage subsidy employer through no fault of their own within a prescribed time frame.

Labor, the Greens and the ACTU have not supported the program, arguing amongst other things, that the program “poses a serious risk to young people and inexperienced workers, and could also undermine Australia’s entire wage system with interns earning only $4 an hour – potentially dragging down pay and conditions for all workers”.

Will it work?

It is well known that young people struggle to gain employment. This appears to come about through a combination of inexperience and lack of applicable skills and on its face the Youth Jobs PaTH program has been developed to address some of those deficiencies, particularly with the Prepare and Trial elements of the program.

The Parliamentary Library’s Bills Digest suggests that “to the extent that it is closely regulated, participants are furnished with relevant training and labour market experience, and there is at least some prospect of employment as a result of the program participation, then it might reasonably be argued that the program is less exploitative than existing work experience and Work for the Dole arrangements for young people on income support”.

As with all work for the dole schemes, the challenge is to provide genuine work experience and to have the right incentives in place to encourage employers to offer these opportunities and for young people to see it as a chance to develop their employability skills and to show a prospective employer what they can do. Oversight of the scheme to avoid exploitation is also a factor.

Ultimately, the new initiative is designed to enable employers to help young job seekers develop the skills, values and behaviours expected in the workplace and make available genuine work experience for willing job seekers.

News Alert: FWC Cuts Penalty Rates

Jessica Anderson, Graduate Associate 

Background

In recent years, various employer bodies have made applications to the Fair Work Commission to vary the penalty rates provisions in a number of modern awards in the hospitality and retail sectors, including: 

In late 2015, the Productivity Commission made a recommendation that the Sunday penalty rates be lowered to the Saturday rate, creating a single “weekend” rate in certain sectors. The Productivity Commission contended that a reduction in Sunday rates would increase work opportunities for those who are available to work on Sunday as more businesses remain open on this day. 

Today, the Full Bench of the Fair Work Commission handed down the highly anticipated decision, ruling that Sunday penalty rates for hospitality and retail workers in these sectors will be reduced. The FWC has had the difficult task of balancing the interests of the unemployed versus the employed, as well as business operators and employers.

The decision

The decision as announced this morning is as follows: Sunday pay rates for full and part time hospitality workers will be cut from 175% of their wage to 150%. In the retail sector, Sunday rates will be reduced for full and part time workers from 200% to 150% of the standard rate. Saturday penalties remain unchanged. The Commission declared that the reduction in penalty rates will allow for increased trading hours and an increase in overall hours worked. As well, changes proposed to Sunday and public holiday rates will result in greater consistency in the hospital and retail industry awards. The FWC acknowledges that these changes will “inevitably award hardship to those affected, particularly those who work on Sundays”, and it will seek to assist these parties through transitional arrangements to mitigate any hardship. The Commission is seeking submissions on how best to implement these arrangements. 

The changes to be introduced

The following tables outline the relevant industry which is undergoing change, and the reduction in rates for employees of those industries. 

Sundays

Industry

Full-time and part-time workers

Casuals

Hospitality

175% – 150%

No change

Fast food level 1

150% – 125%

175 % – 150%

Fast food levels 2-3

No change

No change

Retail

200% – 150%

200% – 175%

Pharmacy 7am – 9pm only

200% – 150%

200% – 175%

Pharmacy pre 7am and post 9pm

No change

No change

Licenced clubs and restaurants

No change

No change

Public holidays 

The changes to public holiday rates will take effect from 1 July 2017. 

Industry

Full-time and part-time workers

Casuals

Retail and hospitality

250% – 225%

No change

Anyone, anywhere, anytime? When employers’ liability expands beyond 9-5

Jessica Anderson, Graduate Associate 

A recent decision of Queensland’s Civil and Administrative Tribunal once again emphasises the need for employers to be proactively engaged in educating workers and addressing sexual harassment issues that arise in the workplace, and the risk of substantial awards of damages in the event they fail to do so. In this instance, the Tribunal found the employer (a hotel) vicariously liable for sexual harassment engaged in by a contractor, who worked for the employer, and awarded over $300,000 in damages. 

The scope of vicarious liability 

The conduct in question involved a sexual assault in the early hours of the morning in the accommodation provided by the employer and shared by the contractor and a female employee. This conduct constituted unsolicited acts of physical intimacy and unwelcome conduct of a sexual nature so as to meet the definition of sexual harassment in section 119 of the Anti-Discrimination Act 1991. However, the employer disputed that it was vicariously liable for the assault, on the basis that it did not occur “in the course of work”. The Tribunal rejected this argument, finding that in the case of the contractor’s actions “the course of work” included the hours between 10pm and 6am, as he was on call during those hours and the employer provided him with on-site accommodation to enable him to do this work and therefore he was at that time “a worker performing work”. 

Reasonable Steps

The Tribunal also rejected the argument that no reasonable steps could have been taken by the employer and found that the accommodation in which the assault occurred was not only a home, but a place of work. The Tribunal observed that had the employer taken steps to inform its workers of their legal obligations at work (in the broad sense of what constituted a place of work) and conducted training on the subject, it might have avoided being held responsible. 

Damages awarded 

This case emphasises that the consequences of inaction on the part of an employer can have significant ramifications. The Tribunal found that the employee suffered a serious and shocking sexual assault, resulting in a number of psychiatric conditions (including PTSD), and awarded $70,000 in general damages. As a result of this experience the employee was unable to work for a number of years, and received compensation for past economic loss for the period of incapacity for work (less worker’s compensation payments) as well as payment for future economic loss due to the impact of her residual PTSD on her ongoing employment prospects. 

Lessons for employers

  • Vicarious liability can arise not only with respect to the conduct of employees but also contractors. 
  • The place of work is a broad notion and can include employer-provided accommodation. 
  • Vigilance is required in ensuring reasonable steps are taken to educate workers about their legal obligations and the standards of behaviour at work
  • The ramifications of sexual harassment occurring at work are very significant, and may result in substantial awards of damages.

Online trolling and the workplace

 

The use of social media in the workplace is not only tolerated by employers, but is now often actively encouraged. With employees increasingly required to engage with social media platforms during the course of their duties, the risks associated with social media have also become a challenge for employers, including the presence of online trolls.

Online trolling is when someone posts inflammatory, extraneous or off topic messages in an online community with the intention of provoking readers into an emotional response or of otherwise disrupting normal on-topic discussion. Online trolling can also go as far as targeting individuals with explicit content or in extreme circumstances may even involve death threats to the individual.

Some commentators have suggested that employers offer social media “self-defence training” in light of online trolling. Other employers have implemented strategies to minimise the risks associated with online trolling through their policies and procedures.

What obligations does an employer have to protect their staff from trolling?

Employers have obligations under work health and safety legislation to ensure, so far as is reasonably practicable, the health and safety of workers, including their mental health. Online trolling poses a significant risk to employees in this respect if they work primarily or exclusively on social media platforms. Online trolling, by its very nature, is aimed at causing offence or provoking emotional responses. If an employee is exposed to these sorts of provocative messages and images without having the necessary support or training to deal with them, an employer may find that it is at risk of being in breach its obligations where an employee’s health or welfare is adversely affected by the trolling.

Steps to counter the effects of trolling 

Employers need to be aware of ways in which they can help minimise the risk of harm to an employee arising from online trolling, particularly for employees who are expected to use social media as part of their everyday duties. Some examples include:

  1. implementing social media self defence training [the Australian Broadcasting Commission is an example of an organisation that has rolled out social media training after a number of employees were trolled online];
  2. amending their social media policies to include the steps an employee should take to manage online trolls and an escalation process for dealing with threatening and abusive messages; and
  3. ensuring that employees understand when and how to respond to online trolls, particularly where representing the employer in their online interactions.

What if your employee is the online troll?

There have been some reports about victims of online trolling notifying the employer of the person engaged in the trolling about these activities. A recent high profile example was a hotel worker being terminated from his employment after Fairfax Media columnist Clementine Ford screenshot the abusive and offensive messages that he had sent to her and forwarded these on to his employer, Meriton. Meriton responded by conducting an investigation into the employee’s behaviour and subsequently terminating his employment.

If you would like assistance with reviewing or preparing social media and electronic communications policies, procedures or training, please contact a member of the PCS Legal Team on (02) 8094 3100.

Planning for the end of year celebrations – How to avoid festive fallout

Lyndall Humphries, Senior Associate

The end of the year is fast approaching and so too is your end of year work function. Start thinking now about how to avoid a festive fallout. You don’t want to be that event in the news after the festive season! What type of scenarios are we talking about?

  • the case where a team leader repeatedly made undesired romantic and sexual propositions to a colleague, despite her clear decline and refusal, and suddenly kissed another colleague in an unsolicited and unprovoked manner;
  • the case where a project coordinator aggressively harangued a colleague, repeatedly pushed him in the chest and then threw him fully clothed into a swimming pool. He also refused to leave the premises and initiated a fight with the General Manager who he then pushed to the ground; or
  • the case where a disability support worker made inappropriate and offensive comments and on previous occasions caused a colleague discomfort by wearing to past Christmas parties an apron displaying woman’s breasts with tinsel attached.

These are just some of the situations that have arisen following a festive fallout. Here are six proactive measures for employers to consider ahead of the festive season.

  1. Be creative in the planning of your function to be as inclusive as possible. Not all functions need to be centered around the consumption of alcohol. Be sensitive to the needs of employees of different cultural backgrounds and faiths and those with family or carer’s responsibilities. For example, you may wish to consider whether it might be more appropriate to hold your function during the day rather than after work, whether it might be suitable to invite family members of employees and whether it might be more culturally sensitive to describe the event as an end of year function rather than a Christmas party.
  2. Before the function, be clear with employees about the standards of behaviour expected of them in accordance with company policies (including those dealing with bullying and harassment, anti-discrimination and social media) and the consequences of not meeting those standards. Have your policies in order before the festive season begins.
  3. It is a good idea to specify clear starting and finishing times for your function. Setting boundaries will help to reduce the risk of an employer being found liable for the actions of employees that take place after the function. While it may be common for employees to kick on after the function, this shouldn’t be organised or proposed by the employer. These are important steps for employers to minimise risks, but it can be difficult to draw a line between what is work related conduct and what is beyond the employment context.
  4. An end of year function is a good opportunity to reward employees for their efforts during the year. If drinks are provided it is important that employers ensure the responsible service of alcohol and satisfy themselves that any external function provider will do the same. Think about arranging for drinks to be handed out upon request rather than allowing employees to help themselves.
  5. Appoint a senior manager to supervise the overall running of the function rather than leaving it to run itself. The manager should be responsible for remonstrating with employees about bad behaviour, limiting or refusing alcohol to employees who are visibly intoxicated or suggesting that employees head home.
  6. If allegations of bad behaviour are raised after the function, conduct an investigation into the facts and allegations and ensure that procedural fairness is afforded to the employees in question. Any disciplinary action that is taken against an employee should not be inconsistent with the treatment of other employees for similar or worse incidents.

We hope these proactive measures help you to enjoy the festive season without fear of legal implications. If you would like further information on the above please contact a member of the PCS Legal Team.

Off and racing – Dealing with Melbourne Cup matters

Lyndall Humphries, Senior Associate

With the Melbourne Cup just around the corner, here are some tips for employers on dealing with the fallout that can arise after the celebrating ends.

Just a glass?

Celebrating the Melbourne Cup or other festivities brings with it risks to employers, especially when employees indulge in a few drinks or special lunches have been organised during the day. It is important that employers have a clear policy regarding alcohol in the workplace that is communicated to all employees and consistently implemented.

One case illustrates that this is particularly important when employees are using heavy machinery. A poultry worker turned up to work after having had three to four glasses of wine in the course of Melbourne Cup day celebrations and ran over 50-60 birds, killing them all. She was dismissed during her shift because she arrived at work intoxicated, and this was conduct that that could have caused serious and imminent risk to the health and safety of a person or to the reputation, viability or profitability of the employer’s business. Despite having been dismissed, the poultry worker continued to work for potentially another three to four hours. Although the employer claimed to have a zero tolerance policy to drugs and alcohol in the workplace, the evidence did not support a finding that the poultry worker was bound by a zero tolerance policy.

The Fair Work Commission (“FWC”) found that there was no valid reason for the dismissal. It noted that no steps had been taken to assess the poultry worker’s condition and she had not been directed to cease work during her shift. It also found that the employer’s policies were unclear in regards to the standard of behaviour to which the poultry worker was being held to account.

Just a cheeky sickie?

While calling in sick on Melbourne Cup day may result in some raised eyebrows, employers also need to be careful about jumping to conclusions.

In one case, a rigger was dismissed following the conclusion of an investigation into his unauthorised absence from work. The rigger informed his supervisor at the commencement of his shift that he was leaving early that day to attend Melbourne Cup celebrations. When his supervisor informed him that his absence would be unauthorised, he said “oh well I’m just sick then” and left work, later producing a medical certificate stating he was unfit to perform his duties on Melbourne Cup day.

The FWC appreciated the employer’s scepticism over the genuineness of the rigger’s illness but concluded that it was not unauthorised leave because there was no evidence to challenge the medical certificate. The FWC noted that the rigger was difficult to manage but, in the circumstances, had been unfairly dismissed. Permission to appeal the FWC’s decision was refused by the Full Bench of the FWC.

Where an employer has legitimate concerns about the veracity of a medical certificate this must be approached on the basis of actual evidence and not mere suspicions based on the day in question.

Just a quick bet?

Partaking in the excitement of Melbourne Cup should not mean that an employee fails do their job.

For example, consider the case involving a child and family caseworker who was assigned to escort a juvenile in custody to visit his parents’ family home. Sometime after noon the caseworker left the family home to go to the TAB to place some bets and returned just before the start of the races, but the juvenile was no longer there. In fact, the juvenile had gone to the home of an acquaintance and consumed a significant quantity of alcohol, marijuana and pills before becoming involved in a fight while armed with a samurai sword. Eventually, the police intervened and after some heightened activity gained control of the situation and took the client into custody. When the caseworker returned to the office he was suspended on pay and an investigation was conducted into his conduct. Perhaps not surprisingly, he was subsequently dismissed, which the Australian Industrial Relations Commission considered justified as he had been grossly negligent in his responsibilities.

No one wants to discourage employers from using the Melbourne Cup festivities to bring their team together and reward them for their hard work, but we strongly suggest that employers make clear their expectations to avoid an unfortunate fallout and investigate any issues that do arise without delay.

It’s private!…or is it?

 

Elizabeth Kenny, Associate 

recent decision of the Victorian Supreme Court has shed some light on how information privacy principles apply to employee’s social media. The Court found that an employer had not breached an employee’s privacy by accessing her Facebook account while conducting a misconduct investigation. 

Ms Lara Jurecek, an employee of Transport Safety Victoria, was the subject of a disciplinary investigation as a consequence of chats and posts on Facebook with respect to her workplace and colleagues, including an abusive message to a colleague posted on the colleague’s Facebook wall. The colleague reported these events to Transport Safety Victoria, and an external investigator was engaged. Ultimately the misconduct was substantiated and Ms Jurecek was given a final warning.

Ms Jurecek made an application to the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal (the “Tribunal”) claiming that her personal information (including her Facebook messages) had been obtained by her employer without first attempting to obtain it directly from her or notifying her. She alleged that such conduct breached the Information Privacy Principles (“IPPs”) in the Information Privacy Act 2000 (Vic). The Tribunal rejected her arguments on the basis that the collection of the information was part of Transport Safety Victoria’s investigation into the alleged misconduct, and did not involve any inappropriate conduct on the part of Transport Safety Victoria, such as “hacking” into her Facebook page. 

Ms Jurecek appealed the decision to the Supreme Court of Victoria which confirmed the original decision. The Court noted that the collection of the information was necessary for conducting the misconduct investigation, which was a legitimate purpose. With respect to the obligation to notification the employee that her information had been collected, the Court found that it was not practicable for the employer to do so in these circumstances as this could have jeopardised the integrity of the disciplinary investigation.

What does this mean for employers?

The employer in this case was a State public sector agency, subject to the Victorian Information Privacy Act 2000 (Vic) and it’s IPPs. These principles are expressed in similar terms with to the Australian Privacy Principles (“APPs”) in the Privacy Act 1988 (Cth). The Privacy Act 1988 (Cth) governs the federal regulation of privacy, and its APPs apply to most private sector organisations in terms of how such organisations handle, use and manage personal information. 

From this case we can see that information collected for an appropriate purpose and obtained in a lawful and reasonable manner is unlikely to breach privacy law. The investigation of misconduct allegations involving an employee’s social media interactions can establish a legitimate purpose. While pursuing that purpose, employers still need to take care to ensure that any information collected is not obtained unlawfully or in an improper manner, such as hacking a Facebook account or covertly enticing an employee to provide the information.