4 Quarterly 2013 - Issue 1

Posted on 31 January 2013

New Smoking Laws in Place

In August 2012, the NSW State Parliament passed new anti-smoking legislation which came into effect on Monday, 7 January 2013. The new laws are designed to reduce community exposure to secondhand smoke, which AMA (NSW) president Professor Brian Owler says is no less toxic for people than the smoke inhaled by smokers themselves.

The new laws ban smoking in the following outdoor public places:

- Within 4 meters of a pedestrian access point to a public building including non-residential buildings and combined residential / commercial buildings

- Public transport including light rail stops and stations, railway stations and platforms, bus stops, taxi ranks and ferry wharves

- Within 10 meters of children’s play equipment in outdoor public spaces

- Spectator areas of sporting grounds during organised sporting events

- Open areas of public swimming pool complexes

The government is urging cafe and restaurant owners to begin work on responding to and preparing for the next phase of the anti-smoking legislation which will take effect from 2015. The next phase will see a ban on smoking in all commercial outdoor dining areas.

Summer has Arrived - is your Pool Registered?

In a bid to reduce the numbers of children that drown in backyard swimming pools each year, in NSW, new regulations have come into force that now require ALL swimming pools to be registered.

Under this new system, Home Owners (including landlords) and any property owners are required to register any swimming pools on their properties and arrange to certify that the swimming pool complies with the legal safety requirements. To do this, owners must organise for a council inspector or accredited private certifier to inspect your pool and issue the appropriate certificate. Home owners have until 29 April 2013 to get this done, including completing any work required to ensure your swimming pool complies with the safety standards. Whilst the ‘register is yet to be set up’, they soon will be; it is important that you start to prepare your swimming pool if it is currently ‘non-compliant’.

Swimming pools in hotels and unit blocks will have mandatory inspections every three years, while councils will carry out random spot checks on ALL other pools. Also, there are further requirements for certificates for anybody intending to lease or sell a property that has a swimming pool which will be required to be part of any lease or Contract for Sale as of 29 April 2014.

There are large fines for those who fail to comply, so arrange for registration and inspection as soon as possible.

New Time Limits for Employment Claims

Late last year, the Fair Work Amendment Act 2012 (the Act) was enacted and provides for significant changes to workplace law. The most immediate changes relate to the timeframes in which you can make an application for an Unfair Dismissal or General Protection (Adverse Action) claim.

The new timeframes for making applications to Fair Work Commission are set out below:

• Unfair Dismissal - Previously, you had 14 days from the time of termination to lodge an Unfair Dismissal application to Fair Work Commission. Since 1 January 2013 the period has been extended to 21 days. If you were terminated before 1 January 2013 you will still be required to lodge your application within the old 14 day limit.

• General Protection (Adverse Action) – Prior to 1 January 2013 you had 60 days to lodge an application to the Fair Work Commission for a General Protection claim. However, the period to lodge an application has now been reduced to 21 days. The 60 day application period still applies in circumstances where the adverse action occurred prior to 1 January 2013.

There are several other significant amendments to the Fair Work Act that will come into affect over the next 12 months. Please keep an eye on our blogs for regular updates throughout the year on workplace and employment law reforms.

New Road Rules - started 1 November

There were a number of changes and all infringements to the new rules carry fines and loss of demerit points. A summary is included below.

Mobile Phones – can be used to make or receive calls ONLY IF device is in a fixed mounting or can be operated without touching. No texting allowed, but can be passed to passenger to answer.

P1 drivers (Red P) cannot use any function of mobile phone including hands free even if device secured in fixed mounting.

GPS (or other driver’s aid) must be mounted in commercially designed bracket, must not obscure driver’s view or be mounted in position of distraction.

Animals and driving - Pets are not allowed to sit on the drivers lap whilst driving

U-turns over dividing lines - Drivers / cyclists must not perform a U-turn across single continuous dividing lines or a single continuous dividing line left of a broken line or two parallel continuous dividing lines except to enter or leave the road.

Give way to Pedestrians - Cars turning into roadway must give way to pedestrians crossing the road

Roundabouts -“Drivers entering a roundabout and intending to turn either left or right must give sufficient warning to other road users by signalling before entering the roundabout”.