Will Pharmaceutical Companies Be Able to Access My Health Record data?

The date for the general public to opt out of My Health Record has been extended to November 15; to date around 3% of the population has opted out.

Concerns have been raised that pharmaceutical companies will potentially be able to apply to access data from the system, and the possibility that private health insurers could follow suit.

The AMA recently made a submission for amendments to be made to the My Health Record (Strengthening Privacy) Bill 2018.

You can read the full submission here.



Beware if You Rent Out a Short-Term Holiday Rental:

With the surge in popularity of accommodation sharing sites such as Airbnb – the ATO is casting its net wider to increase scrutiny on short term holiday rental owners.

The ATO is aware some owners may not be claiming all the income they are receiving or are over claiming deductions for a property that wasn’t let out as often as claimed.

To combat this – and by taking advantage of the online nature of these platforms – they will undertake a data matching process.

If caught landlords face hefty fines – be conscious of your legal obligations to not make false claims if you are a short-term rental owner.



Flexible Working Arrangement Likely to Change:

Employers may be forced to justify their decisions to knock back requests for flexible working arrangements under a new clause to be inserted into all Modern Awards by the Fair Work Commission.

The proposal has these key changes:

  • before responding to an employee’s request, an employer must discuss the request with the employee and genuinely try to reach agreement on a change in working arrangements that takes the employee’s circumstances into account
  • if an employer refuses the request, the written response must include:
    1. details of the business ground(s) for the refusal and how those grounds apply; and
    2. details of alternative working arrangements the employer can provide to accommodate the employee’s circumstances

Employees can now dispute whether employers have correctly followed these processes.

While these changes are not yet in effect – now would be a good time to review the flexible working polices in your business.



Surveillance in the workplace

I’ve previously written about surveillance in the workplace being a contentious issue; and our increasing access to technology only makes the ability for employers to monitor their workers just that much easier. This however doesn’t mean you should (or can) do it without first considering the legal implications.

Each state has its own legislation when it comes to Privacy, however there are some key areas where you can enhance your internal policies:

  • Employees are afforded a reasonable expectation of privacy, and using surveillance to monitor them may be an offence.
  • If an employee’s emails are to be monitored, the employer must let them know this will happen in advance (e.g. via a policy) and any monitoring should only happen in accordance with company policy.
  • Employers can not record conversations without an employee’s consent

Even in situations where you suspect wrong-doing by an employee, your ability to implement surveillance may be substantially limited.  Always consult legal advice prior to implementing any type of surveillance, electronic monitoring or tracking devices.



Fired For Making a Comment on Twitter:

Can you discipline (or even sack) a staff member for making negative comments on social media?

Recently, a female employee was terminated from Cricket Australia for making several tweets on her personal Twitter about abortion reform in Tasmania.

This has brought into sharp focus the right of an employer to enforce its social media policy with an employee’s ability to express personal views on social media

This case has yet to be resolved as the ex-employee has filed a claim for unlawful dismissal. Which creates a lengthy, drawn out process.

It does raise the question around should an employer’s code of conduct extend to personal social media comments?

And can an employee have a political opinion that is in opposition to the organisation where they work? And where does the line get drawn as to how this impacts employment status? These are some of the questions to consider when your drafting your social media policy and what your expectations of your staff are. Having a water-tight social media policy can help alleviate any potential misunderstandings and grievances.  

You can read the full story here.


If you have any questions as to how the above changes may impact your business, feel free to contact us.