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HR faces an interesting period of 'wait and see' now that the Federal Government has highlighted potential areas of workplace law reform. HWL Ebsworth partner Brad Swebeck tells HR Daily wage theft is the "big ticket item" and he expects changes to result from the review, but simply increasing penalties isn't the right way to go about it.

Gartner's latest Global Talent Monitor has found 43.7% of Australians report a high intent to stay with their current employer, up 13.4 percentage points over the past three months. There's also been a 3.9% rise in discretionary effort, but employees are less confident about business conditions and employers shouldn't be complacent as we enter "the most dangerous part of the year".

The lead up to the end of the year often sees workplaces turn into "pressure cooker" environments, but HR can take preventative steps to avoid a blowout. Early warning signs include dysfunctional meetings, angry outbursts and the formation of cliques, says Catalina Consultants founder Merilyn Speiser.

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The first signs of economic decline are showing in Gartner's quarterly research (above), so it's time for HR to plan "intelligent growth", says HR vice-president Aaron McEwan. Organisations that make bold bets on their investments tend to come out of the cycle dominating their competition, and talent is now the greatest competitive advantage, he says.

The Fair Work Commission has stressed that employees are entitled to request flexible hours, but they cannot demand them. An employee's claim that being denied flexible work amounted to a constructive dismissal has been rejected, as the employer proved it "met all of its obligations to respond appropriately".

Failing to use in-house HR expertise when sacking an employee accused of fraud led to procedural unfairness, the Fair Work Commission has ruled. The employer failed to substantiate its claim that it sacked an employee on the basis of loss trust and confidence.

A tribunal has sent a strong message about the way employers communicate allegations of sexual harassment, in upholding compensation for a supervisor who was "shattered" by a complaint against him. The employer was wrong to summarise the allegations and label them "serious", and failed to invite a support person or prompt the distressed employee to utilise its EAP.