As refreshing as the spring may be, keeping your employees refreshed and maintaining a vibrant workplace is not always as easy as it looks. For one, as soon as spring kicks in, the weather starts to bring out the color in most things around us and the environment tend to turn nice and welcoming. As a result, staying inside the work environment can get stuffy and your employees can feel confined, to say the least. Surfing looks more inviting and so do days on the beach.
It is normal to feel a burst of excitement when the spring kicks in, however, it is not always easy to maintain the excitement and channel the energy into more productivity. Although spring can heighten vitality and energy, it can also result in restlessness and disorientation.
Also, the change in season often results in a change in time. As a result, routine activities like eating, sleeping, and exercise might have to change. Unfortunately, most employees find it difficult to adapt to these changes and it often affects their behavior and mood. Luckily in Queensland we don’t have a change in the clocks but as close to the boarder as we are on the Gold Coast we often need to move between two time zones with our clients.
Behavioral changes, either positively or negatively impact workplace productivity. Whichever way it would, it is best to be prepared for these changes than to be caught unawares. To keep the workplace refreshing during spring, it is important to avoid distractions that prevent work from getting accomplished.
How you can get your team healthy for spring
- Make Your Schedule Flexible: Nothing says “killjoy” faster during the spring than a rigid schedule. The inability to feel the warmth outside and spend time with those you care about can play down on workplace productivity. On one hand, you can decide to let in a bit of sunlight at the workplace, however, flexible scheduling has a more psychological impact on employee productivity. This makes it possible for employees to strike a balance between their work life and their life outside work.
- Make the schedule interesting: since it is a fact that an average employee would rather spend time outside work than stay within the walls of an office, your best chance against negative behavioral changes is to make your employee schedule interesting so much that they would be motivated to work and not lazy around. To do this, only delegate tasks that employees would be interested in carrying out.
- Redecorate the workplace: if employees can spend all day outside the office, let them experience it in the office as much as they can. To redecorate the office, open the blinds and window to let in sunlight, bring in live plants or flowers, and encourage a little bit of spring cleaning. The feeling of freshness goes a long way in encouraging positivity in the workplace.
- Make their work challenging: one of the best ways to boost employee productivity and personal development is to make their task challenging. Such challenge encourages them to break their record and stretch themselves to their limit. To effectively implement this, create opportunities for personal development and encourage them to set new goals.
- Create a reward system: although the idea is for employees to spend more hours in the office during spring, you can increase workplace productivity with a reward system that guarantees time off from the office. For example, a reward system like vacation or time off will naturally encourage an employee to put in more effort in the workplace. Such program, although is a way of thanking them for a job well done, is also a way of making sure that they do not miss out entirely on the spring season.
In all, maintain a healthy workplace and focused employee can be difficult during the spring, however, you can keep your workforce engaged and your workplace productivity with the tips above.
As much as we hate to admit it, the flu season is one of the worst seasons that affect workplace productivity everywhere. Over the years, several companies have recorded severe cases of winter flu that forced many of their employees to call in for sick leave. Although calling in for leave is an efficient way to keep the spread of the infection in check, it affects the overall productivity of the company. How to have a healthy workplace the flu season.
Since the flu season does not discriminate, the best strategy for companies is to be proactive and come up with measures to limit the impact of winter flu on employee well being and corporate well being. Seeing that the flu season will start soon, it’s never too soon to consider taking steps to prepare against the effect.
Interestingly, some employees prefer to resume for work even when they are sick. This is often because such employee believes that they should not be too sick to show up for work. Although this is an encouraging sight: knowing that your employees are committed to the cause of the company so much that they are willing to work even when they have flu, you must, however, strive to maintain the health of other team members and help such employee manage their flu.
There are several steps and tips that a company can employ to sustain a healthy team and protect team members even when some members of the team are sick. The way to eliminate the risk of infection by healthy workers is to limit their exposure to contacting the flu. This might seem impossible since it is difficult to eliminate physical contacts like shaking of hands from regular office work, however, it is achievable.
Below are some ways to keep the workplace healthy during the winter flu season.
- Start with a suggestion of working from home: although some employees still show up for work when they are not feeling well, you can advise them to take sick leave. Some would, however, refuse to take the leave because they don’t want to disappoint their team or let them down. As much as their intention is good, make them understand that they can still support their team members from home. If you are unable to convince them otherwise, do not stop them from coming in for work.
- Vaccination: Vaccination is one of the numerous ways that you can employ to protect the healthy employees from contacting the winter flu. Such vaccines provide much-needed antibodies for protection against infections.
- Maintain good hygiene: An improvement to the basic office hygiene is another step to prevent the spread of winter flu and maintain a healthy team. This includes sanitizing the surfaces, equipment, and other work tools several times before the end of the day to ensure that they are germ-free. companies should also provide for the supply of tissues, and sanitizers that infected employees can make use of during office hours.
- Teach good office hygiene: Companies can also go the extra mile by teaching their employees about basic etiquettes like covering the mouth when they sneeze or cough, disposing of used tissues appropriately, washing the hands with soap and water, how to blow their nose, etc. This will go a long way in curbing infection in the workplace.
- Onsite preventive medication: immediately winter flu starts to hit hard, companies should introduce emergency kit in the office to cater for infected employees. It costs little and goes a long way in ensuring the health of the workforce.
- Develop a policy about workplace health and infections: design a clear structure that addresses sickness in the workplace and how it is to be addressed. The policy should cover who employees should report to when they feel sick, the sickness level that the company can take, and how sick leaves can be enforced if the need ever arises.
It is encouraging to discover employees that are willing to come to work even when they are not feeling too good. As much as this is good, it should not put other members of the team at risk. When employees decide not to stay at home, organizations should implement the suggestions above to keep the workplace healthy.
Paid sick & carer’s leave – An employee can take paid sick leave when they can’t work because of a personal illness or injury. This can include stress and pregnancy related illnesses. An employee can take paid carer’s leave to care for or support a member of their immediate family or household who is sick, injured or has an unexpected emergency.
Who gets paid sick and carer’s leave? – All employees except casuals are entitled to paid sick and carer’s leave. Employees may have to give notice or evidence to get paid for sick and carer’s leave.
How much paid sick and carer’s leave does an employee get? – Sick and carer’s leave comes under the same leave entitlement. It’s also known as personal / carer’s leave.
- 10 days each year for full-time employees
- pro rata of 10 days each year depending on their hours of work for part-time employees.
A registered agreement can set out different entitlements to paid sick and carer’s leave, but it can’t be less than the minimum above.
How does paid sick and carer’s leave accumulate? – Full-time and part-time employees accumulate sick and carer’s leave during a year of work. It starts to build up from an employee’s first day of work and is based on the number of hours they work. The balance at the end of each year carries over to the next year.
Sick and carer’s leave accumulates when an employee is on:
- paid leave such as paid annual leave and paid sick and carer’s leave
- community service leave including jury duty
- long service leave.
Sick and carer’s leave does not accumulate when the employee is on:
- unpaid annual leave
- unpaid sick/carer’s leave
- unpaid parental leave
- unpaid family and domestic violence leave.
How much paid sick and carer’s leave can an employee take? – An employee can take as much paid sick or carer’s leave as they have accumulated. There is no minimum or maximum amount of paid sick or carer’s leave that can be taken at a time.
The mind your business attitude at the workplace is never an indication of growth, synergy, and communication in an organization. If there is one thing that kills workplace morale and efficiency faster, it is workplace negativity.
Human resources everywhere understand the importance of communication between employees. In this light, many of them have been employing every means that seem fit to engage their employees and maintain a sane atmosphere in the workplace.
Workplace negativity is like a cancerous growth that saps every energy in the workplace. When this happens, all attention gets diverted from quality work performance. It is important to make a mental note of the fact that workplace negativity can take on any form. Some of them include:
Internal negativity: What comes out of employees most time, is a product of their state of internal well-being. Employees are not capable of projecting negative behaviors if they have not thought of it. Therefore, in combating internal negativity, HR has to tackle it at the root (the mindset.)
External negativity: Unlike internal negativity that is entirely premised on employee mindset, External negativity occur as a result of interaction between employees and the physical work environment. External negativity are easier to correct, however, they cause more harm to organizational unity. A single act of negativity by an employee is enough to dampen the morale of other employees and cause the whole productivity to crash.
These two forms of negativity are such that HR should watch out for. Most occur in attitudes, the outlook, conversational tone, and talk between fellow employees.
The most efficient ways through which HR can effectively combat workplace negativity is to get through to each employee on a personal level. The human resource in an organization should position itself in a way that allows them to act as the bridge between the employee and the management. This way, they can monitor the interaction between the employees, communicate employee complaint to the management, and give feedback to the employees.
Most factors that account for external and internal negativity in the workplace are anchored on three things:
- Lack of trust and confidence in the management
- Absence of community among employees
- Employee lack of control over work schedule and routine.
If HR can effectively solve these three problems, they can eliminate workplace negativity or reduce it to the barest minimum. The best bet against negativity, however, is to prevent it from occurring.
How to manage and curb workplace negativity?
- Make your employees feel in charge of their routine: This is the best way to tackle internal negativity as far workplace negativity is concerned. So far as the reason for the change in attitude is tied to factors within the organization, allowing employees control over their schedule is the best way to tackle it.
HR should strive to provide every employee with an opportunity to make their own decision to a considerable extent. It is wrong to make every decision about employee work life without any input from whom it may concern.
- Create a channel for expression: HR should put in place a channel through which employee can express their view about the policies and procedures in the workplace as it affects them. Some of such policies include working hours, benefits, overtime, dress code, etc. HR should identify factors that affect the physical and mental wellbeing of employees and make sure every employee has a say in that regard.
- Treat your employees with respect: respect is when an organization makes policy and consistently apply the policy. This is the starting point that builds confidence in the management system. Organizations should not turn the workplace into an army barrack where everyone has to breathe in rules. Realize that you are working with adults and minimize workplace rules.
- Carry everyone along: communication is another way to increase positive workplace attitudes and the feeling of community among employees. Ensure that every employee has access to the same level of basic information at the same time. Management should encourage the feeling of solidarity among employees that is geared towards the fulfillment of organizational goals.
- Recognize efforts and give rewards: Rewards are one of the few ways that management can make employees feel valued. Be on the constant watch to recognize hard work and reward it. It goes a long way to improve employee morale.
Any organizational issue can be addressed as long as the atmosphere is still positive. Human resources everywhere should do all it can to manage employee relations and improve the overall outlook of the organization.
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For a more detailed approach to Communication in the workplace we have available our Manual – Effective Communication. A detailed manual that cover the below and so much more
Our Manual takes you through
Understanding Your Own Personal Style
The Four Everyday Basic Styles of Communication.
What Style of Communication Do You Use in the Workplace.
What’s Your Style? – Julie Cook.
Introvert v Extrovert.
Bias in the Workplace Communication.
And so much more
Effective Communication Manual
Employee retention is about keeping hold of your best employees so that the employees have the feeling: “able to go but happy to stay“. Employee retention measures can be applied to a rational and normative level. Rational commitment is based on the costs associated with leaving the company. But, when work is done mainly for rewards and not for the sake of the action itself; the measure misses its original purpose, and the employee loses his enthusiasm at work.
An ideal employee experience during the entire employee journey sounds simple, but organizations that succeed in motivating employees and allowing them to do the right things are scarce. The Gallup Engagement Index – a study on job quality shows that out of every 100 workers in a company, only 15 people have an effective commitment – a high emotional attachment and voluntarily commit themselves beyond measure to their employer. They identify with their department and with the products of their company. Retention management requires structural work to improve the employee experience based on a well-structured employee journey.
Selective employee retention: No one likes to throw money out the window
We must admit that there is always a certain level of turnover, whether voluntary and avoidable dissatisfaction of the employee. Employee turnover, when it has a moderate level, can have a positive impact: it is then synonymous with new ideas and approaches.
Some time ago, an article appeared about staff turnover, “why Amazon offers employees up to $5,000 to leave the organization”. It can also be beneficial to let people leave via natural turnover. However, high turnover is associated with the necessary costs. It also seizes the other employees who have to train new colleagues and to fill unfilled job openings.
Keep your finger on the pulse:
It is essential for the company to put in place a strategy to retain their best employees, who represent a real competitive advantage. And accordingly, the measures should target the right employees. Experts recommend answering these questions:
- Which employees are hard to replace within the industry?
- Which employees hold key strategic positions?
- What are the causes of the turnover within your organization?
If you are not aware of this, we recommend conducting the exit interview. The exit interview can provide useful information when it comes to the reasons and cause of your staff turnover.
Some days and projects are more challenging than others. Talk to employees regularly and ask them how they are doing;
- Are the employment conditions not aligned with the current time and market?
- Is the workload too high?
- Is the atmosphere not safe?
- Are there too few career opportunities?
Problems can also arise due to an uncompetitive, unequal or unfair payment system. And, possible actions may include revision of wage levels based on market research and involvement of workers in the development and implementation of a performance appraisal system and a payroll system based on results.
Define the long-term vision:
New employees without proper training may experience an “adaptation crisis” when they start work.
Discuss the future perspectives of employees.
Help them set and achieve goals.
Identify whether employees are interested in this. Provide regular, informative and understandable feedback. And,
Find out what the training options are.
It is necessary to develop and launch training programs and training series that allow you to speed up for new employees the process of acquiring and learning the basic skills; skills and knowledge necessary for the successful start of their work activities.
In the past, companies mainly invested in younger employees, who then remained with their entire working life in the same company. Nowadays it’s no longer like that. Today, older employees are often more loyal. No doubt – it is also necessary to invest in them – depending on their individual qualification needs.
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How do you know when you’re actually ready to start taking on an employee?
The main thing when you are thinking about bringing a new person on is are you financially ready to bring on a person on board. We suggest as small business owners think about how much you are going to pay them. Make sure it’s within the award as well, and make sure its the right award including all the allowances such a leave loading, broken shifts etc – that’s why it’s important. And you need to put that money aside for a period of three months. Put it into a high interest savings account and then just save it all up. And if you can afford to pay that every single week for three months, then it looks like you’ll be financially in a position to employ someone.
There’s nothing worse than bringing someone on board and finding out that you cannot pay them. You don’t want to do that. You know if you get to the three months and find that maybe it’s not the right thing, cause you’ve had to think about it as well, then you’ve got a little investment pot as well. You will also need to think about what kind of employee – casual, part-time or full-time. If it’s occasional (casual), then you’ve got a bit of more flexibility. But if you’re a permanent part-time/permanent full-time, you’ve got a notice period to pay as well. You want to make sure that you can afford that, that you’ve actually got the funds there. You don’t want to back yourself into a corner, that’s for sure.
You also need to think about
- Finding the right candidate
- registering as an employer
- carrying out employee ID and background checks
- providing a contact and employment statement
- payroll and correct payments to the awards
- Sick pay, holiday entitlements and public holidays
- plus insurances
There is a great guide written by Doug Kelly (Paulette from Fresh HR Insights has contributed to) all about employing staff for the first time. You can grab it HERE
The type of employees that you choose is a very important decision and you need to be aware of the legal ramifications relating to each and manage them accordingly and appropriately. Follow ‘best practice’ to reduce the costs, minimize legal exposure and develop an engaged workforce.
Types of employees
- Permanent full-time
- Permanent part-time
- Casual employment
- Non-employees such as independent contractor
- Labour hire workers
Your business has its own set of unique operational requirements and what meets your needs won’t necessarily meet the needs of another. You can find more details in our fact sheet, Grab it by using the link below.
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Kindness in the workplace is contagious; it contributes to a culture of collaboration. Happy, optimistic people look more generous and perform better at work. That’s why many global companies realize that just as they provide their offices with the latest technology, they also need to provide a proactive work environment tailored to the emotional needs of their staffs if they hope to improve efficiency levels. As a result, the days of office environments under high pressure are coming to an end, as companies realize that these stress factors are less motivating than previously thought.
When work is soulless, we are only half human
It is a strange world. We spend more time at work than with our friends and family. Work eats away at our lives, but we see the work as separate from life. Sometimes we do not want to take the job seriously, because we as a person are not taken seriously at the workplace. A positive atmosphere in the office encourages collaboration between employees; colleagues are more responsive and easily pass on new information to each other. On the contrary, when unfair competitive behavior dominates people suffer. People need other people to do their job. Suppose you would come to me because you need some critical information. Now in an extremely competitive environment, I would not be much quicker or only partially give that information. That way you cannot do your job well, and therefore you cannot perform to the full.
So, how can we connect with others? We can start by allowing a little air for ourselves and others, some space for kindness. Above and beyond, Social Responsibility has become part of the corporate culture of many companies; employees can and should actively contribute as well.
Employee’s single-combat mentality is awful for the company
Competition is stimulating, but too much competition among colleagues can do the opposite. With too much competition, the situation can topple and, employees enter into an unhealthy rivalry. Personal and hurtful attacks only damage the relationship with each other. Not only the individual employee but also the entire company suffers in an extremely competitive workplace. In addition to the possibly diminishing performance of some employees, knowledge is often kept secret among colleagues; they work in private and do not share information. Some rivalries are getting so bad that employees are looking for work elsewhere. To prevent this from happening that a superior third party would have to ask the competitors to talk.
Do not condemn or threaten your employees with consequences; reward instead
Managers sometimes pretend that kindness is an unnecessary luxury item, for which they have no time. The management team is accountable to create positive and friendly working environments that demonstrably boost productivity. Engaging as a team, working together can be a meaningful experience. Staff members should not have problems requesting help, requesting assignments and discussing management issues. Managers who demonstrate empathy and who act as mentors for their teams help improve loyalty by establishing positive working relationships. Do you know how much you benefit from appreciating somebody’s work? It forges stronger relationships with your employees, or your vendors or co-working companies.
Showing appreciation to the people that you work with is critical, so let’s not overlook benefit from appreciating. Give your employees the feeling that they can knock on your door at any time and come to you with their problems. It would also be unrealistic to assume that every working day is always only peace, joy, and pancakes. Once a bad mood has spread, it’s not so easy to come to terms with it. But somebody always has to take the first step. Why not you?
Happy June 1st to everyone.
Build Your Dream Workplace
In the modern workplace and work environment, one of the keys to getting the best out of employee is communication. To achieve success at the company level, employees of the organization must enjoy expressing something nice to one another. A company where the employees work like a well-oiled machine enjoys better productivity and ultimately, better result.
Although there seem to be a glimpse of good in everyone, the way the day goes by often make it hard for us to spot whatever good is in anyone. From the sidewalk to the bus stop, at every junction and intersection, there is hardly a day where you don’t see people yelling at each other.
Unfortunately, attitudes like these are not kept at the bus stop. They are often transferred to the workplace. As a result, employees get on each other’s nerve all day and bully each other so much that coming in for work sometimes often seem like torture: a somewhat necessary evil to achieve a paycheck at the end of the month.
This is why the national say something nice day was established as a day when we can celebrate the good in everyone and make them feel special through nice comments and actions.
So if you are feeling like making a fellow employee feel go on say something nice day, there are few things that you can do and say at work to build up your workmates:
Be intentional with your conversation
Since the idea behind say something nice day is to make every person feel loved, it would help if you could pay attention to your fellow employees throughout the day. This way, you recognize them as an individual that make up the team and not just as another member of the team. This will go a long way in enhancing their morale and make them feel valued.
Striking up an intentional conversation with an employee on June 1st will provide an avenue to discuss matters that do not relate to work issues. Such matters may cut across personal, social, and cultural issues.
Instead of acting as though all is perfect with you, say something nice day is an opportunity to get out of your high tower and connect with fellow employees by giving them a glimpse of your imperfection and vulnerability. Who knows, they might get over their challenges because of this.
How to make a conversation intentional?
- Give good and genuine compliments. Do your best not to flatter an employee and be specific about your compliments.
- Do more of listening than speaking during any conversation.
- Smile throughout conversations and during every contact with employees.
- Never forget to say thank you.
Share gifts in love
The best way to spread workplace gratitude is by giving gifts to fellow employees. Whether big or small, what really counts is the heart behind every gift. The most recommended type of gift for June 1st is a physical gift. A physical gift allows you to watch fellow employees unwrap their gifts and share another moment of pure bliss.
Tips to making your gifts count
- Give a gift that is personal to an employee as this depicts the originality of your gift.
- Give a gift that a fellow employee can use and not abandon on the desk.
Say something nice day is all about workplace gratitude, however, it should not be limited to a single day out of 365 days. As often as you can, say and do things that will make other employees feel nice and make the work environment conducive for everyone.
Happy June 1st to everyone.
Build Your Dream Workplace
2019 Look At The Trend Of Political Opinion In The Workplace
Politics stands as one of the most sensitive and widely debated topics all over the world. From simple dinner among families to a business meeting among friends, politics has gained prominence among various social circles and the intensity generated from its discussion leaves many licking the wound of the aftermath. Or is it otherwise? Discussing politics in the workplace have generated a lot of controversies over the course of time. While it is evident that politics affects the atmosphere at the workplace, the question is how and to what extent?
The Anti-Discrimination Act 1991 makes it unlawful to discriminate against a person because of their political belief or activity. The Act does not define political belief or activity, but decided cases indicate that it refers to beliefs or activities relating to the policies, structure, composition, roles, obligations, purposes or activities of government. Government includes Commonwealth, state and local governments.
A council employee in a managerial position did not have his contract renewed because of his involvement with an environmental activist group which had publicly criticised the council’s policies.
At a federal election, a woman who works as a dental technician handed out how to vote cards for a local candidate. Her boss saw her at the polling booth and told her that she should look for another job, as he didn’t want someone of that political persuasion working for him.
A group of people wanted to hire a community hall to conduct a public meeting to protest about a particular government policy. They were refused hire of the hall because the manager of the hall disagreed with their views.
For an employer to understand how to manage political opinions in the workplace and how much it affects the employee relation and functionality, they need to know how their employees feel about holding political talk in their workplace and identify when the discussion is getting too much and when it sets off the wrong impression. Don’t be afraid to hear a conversation, take part BUT also know when things need to stop.
Fundamentally, employers needs to recognise that under Australian Workplace Legislation, their employees have a right to offer their opinion about political matters anywhere, even in the workplace. What then becomes the concern for an employer is how to manage the discussions and prevent it from becoming a full-blown war among employees that belong to different factions. Hence they can establish a limit.
Employers should draw the curtain on political opinions in the workplace when any of these happen:
Whenever employees allow their political opinion to get in the way of their effectiveness in the workplace, it often leads to disunity, and employees often find it hard to corporate with one another. Whenever an employer identifies the lack of harmony between the employees, it is a sign to draw a curtain on the political discussion in the workplace.
- Ineffectiveness and distraction
Whether your employees find common ground or not on political opinion, it distracts them from the task that they are supposed to be focused on and renders them ineffective. To maintain focus in the workplace, an employer needs to cut down political discussions as much as they can.
This is usually described as the last straw. A physical brawl between employees is the green light for an employer to put a stop to political opinions in the workplace. Political opinions in the workplace can quickly spiral out of control and result in accusations and confrontations between employees. Not to mention crossing the line for Serious or Gross Misconduct and the consequences of that.
Although an employer should allow a free flow of political opinion in the workplace, the negative effect of such discussion often outweighs the positive effect and it disrupts. To ensure that employees understand not to go overboard, an employer should implement the following when it gets out of hand:
- Establish a policy concerning political opinion
The employer should seek to clarify which political opinion is acceptable in the workplace and put it into writing. The policy should cover which activities, discussion, and political clothing material is prohibited in the workplace. The employer should be clear on the punishment for harassment, threat, and derogatory comments aimed at other employees. Make sure there is an open door policy and a clear pathway for communication.
- Work out a complaint procedure
Even with the utmost care, an employer tends to miss some acts of aggression to comes with political opinions in the workplace. To combat this, an employer should implement a legal complaint procedure through which employees can report acts of political harassment or violence in the workplace. Ideally as an employer you will already have policies and procedures in place for most things so check them over and tighten them up. If you are not sure seek the advice of an Employment Relations consultant such as Fresh HR Insights
- Follow up on every complaint
The decision to discipline bias political opinion in the workplace should be reinforced by an employer with immediate action. Just remember to check the facts, do an investigation, don’t rely on hearsay or take one person word over another. You must ensure at all times you have a well founded basis for any disciplinary action and you also need to ensure procedural fairness. Hot headed environments are no time for you to go off the correct ways to deal with workplace complaints. Always, always get the paper trail too – if it is not written down, it didn’t happen.
Political opinions in the workplace can be as bad as a rival sports team that can pollute the work atmosphere if it is not adequately contained. Although HR should permit such discussion, they should be fast to curtail any excesses and prevent the situation from deteriorating.
If you are unsure you can consult with the team at Fresh HR Insights – Book in a session with us HERE
Can an employer fire or discriminate against an employee based on political beliefs?
The Fair Work Act 2009 (Cth) (Act) prohibits employers from discriminating against employees because of their political opinion. However, the Act also provides that where it is found that the action was taken because of the inherent requirements of the particular position concerned, then it will not be a breach of the applicable unlawful discrimination provisions, such as political opinion. An employer is allowed to deem an employee’s views as being inappropriate if they’re “unauthorised and inconsistent” with the employee’s role or the organisation’s values. This is particularly the case where the public can scrutinise an employee’s comments and then form an adverse impression of the organisation that the employee works at. Read more here
Sometimes, employees often act in the stereotyped manner of attempting to make jokes at the workplace in a bid to lighten up the atmosphere and make it conducive for everyone. Unfortunately, rather than ease the tension on other employees, they end up presenting themselves as a pushy and a self-promotional employee. The tight rope on which such employees walk is often a source of major heartaches for Australia’s employers who are finding it hard to tackle jokes and remarks that are not so friendly in the workplace. It can often not be about what the person meant but the perception of the person receiving.
Ultimately, the workplace is not designed to be a boring routine with no element of fun and humor in it. What every employer and HR Manager needs to know is how to find a balance between harmless jokes in the workplace, and targeted jokes. It is also important for employees to understand the uniqueness of every individual and make a conscious effort not to make jokes that might be perceived wrong by their fellow employees. As a rule of thumb, everyone needs to understand that some phrases are not allowed in the workplace despite their intention. Phrases like “I will make you understand who wears the pant around here” and so much more phrases that might be tagged as sexism should be discouraged in the workplace.
In an attempt to curb and limit unnecessary jokes in the office, employees need to understand sensitive topics and make a conscious effort to steer clear of it. Such remarks tend to upset the atmosphere around the workplace and around the community at large.
To effective battle the fast-rising trend of making unnecessary jokes in the workplace, HR needs to implement the following:
Sometimes in an attempt to curb the spread of an infection, we make use of the wrong lotions and we end up festering the wound. The motivation to curb unnecessary jokes by HR should not be an avenue for turning the workplace into a graveyard. The truth is, if you want more productivity from your employees, you need to make them happy with their job. When employees fall in love with their job and their work environment, they could carry on business for hours without breaking so much as a sweat.
Researches have proven that laughter in the workplace account for a large percentage of variations in employee productivity. As a result, HR should actually encourage an atmosphere of laughter in the workplace but should draw a distinct line over going overboard.
- Put It In Writing (if it is not written down, it didn’t happen)
The result of workplace conflict is mostly resolved after a visit to the Fair Work Commission website. Irrespective of the parties involved, chances are that it will come back to hunt the company for a very long time. The only way to be sure that your employees will comply with the rules is when they know that they have crossed the line. To do this, you might take the following step:
- Meet individual employees, obtained their perspective on jokes in the workplace, and explain to them what HR will condone and what it will not.
- The resolution of the meeting should be published, communicated to all employees and the sanction for offending employees should be clearly stated.
- Have clear Policies and procedures and workplace agreements
- Create an effective action plan to manage grievances:
HR should create a workplace culture where aggrieved employees can disclose inappropriate behaviors by employees or violations of the code of conducts. When employees are conscious of retribution, they tend to act with more decorum and compose themselves at the workplace.
The rule for dealing with inappropriate jokes is to make the employee see for themselves that such a joke is not appropriate for work. What HR should do is to make them realize their stupidity and ensure that they apologize for it. HR should take every complaint of inappropriate jokes serious and punish earing offenders.
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I don’t want to die in my office; I’m gonna die on the beaches. – Jack Ma
That’s so sweet of Jack Ma, but the reality stands harsh. To work at web giant Alibaba, you must work at least 12 hours a day, six days a week. Jack Ma argues for a 72-hour working week. That is what the billionaire expects from his employees.
We are human, not resources
Anybody running any company must realize that the most valuable asset is people. Too often companies seem to put their shareholders first, and then they put their customers second, and their staff last. That makes the workplace full of confused people because they struggle to bring their best selves forward, but it doesn’t have to be this way. There is a better way.
Investing in employee experience advances organizational effectiveness and profitability. It’s critical that the leader realizes it’s not just the people at the top, the switchboard operator, or the person cleaning the floors, or all these people are as important as the people at the top, and often, they’re the most important people. They’re out there doing the hard work, and they’re the people that are in touch with the customers. Having a plan for employee development is essential to ensure the performance and productivity of the organizations and the departments.
Online HR platforms vs. bringing the H back into Human Resource management
Everything around us is evolving with the dynamics of digitalization and globalization. We must integrate data and technology into our game today, but don’t forget, human touch has a dramatic impact on administration, in improving confidence and creating bonds. Human Resource is such a broad topic, so not everyone is supposed to understand everything, but we’re expected to have an opinion. When you’re an HR manager, on one side you have the employee population, on other side you have the management, and anyhow we have to stay right in the heart and balance different agendas and expectations all across.
We are entering a new age of automation, unlike anything that’s come before. Now it’s a time of uncertainty and change. There’s a clear progression in terms of what humans did for a living for the longest time; humans shifted into service jobs, and then in human history, the information age happened. The world of work is changing. Suddenly the rules were different; our jobs are now being taken over by machines much faster than they were in the past. We communicate with friends and colleagues often by devices rather than sitting with them talking face-to-face. Tablet and smartphone adoption is growing by 50% every year. We’re no longer governed by the nine-to-five, we’re choosing where when and how we work. That’s why we see hundreds of companies and all types of businesses use the latest evolution of online HR platforms all over the world. Some systems are remarkably flexible and cater to all sizes of companies. They can be in a single location, or they can be in locations around the city, country or even globe. You can access from anywhere you have an internet connection whether that be in the office, at home, at a hotel somewhere else that allows you to get at the data and action whatever things you need.
There’s a lot of discussion going on right now around which should be the future role of HR and we are required to understand how the businesses are running and what the human associations of that are. We talk so much about consolidation of sourcing digitalization, and that’s all fine. Successful companies inside they mind their employee experience and externally they care about their customer experience, but the net is they are focused on people first.
I for one stand behind keeping the “Human’ in Human Resource management. I understand the need for HR Platforms and do offer one myself BUT you can never take away the real human approach and the intrinsic consequence of feeling valued to your employees. To prove my point take the Hawthorne Studies – Well-lit lighting increased productivity, as did a few other variables, such as having a clean workstation, allowing employees to build and work in teams, and having regular breaks. While these were the direct findings from the Hawthorne study, none of them were groundbreaking.
What the researchers in the original studies found was that almost any change to the experimental conditions led to increases in productivity. The results were surprising and the researchers concluded at the time that workers were actually responding to the increased attention from their supervisors. Researchers suggested that productivity increased due to attention and not because of changes in the experimental variables. Landsberger defined the Hawthorne effect as a short-term improvement in performance caused by observing workers.
Communication technology reshapes the world that we work in every day. Handheld wireless devices give us the ability to email, browse phone, use our calendar, and access corporate databases and the opportunity to work out of the office. All of these workplace technologies are not only a time saver but also offer us the opportunity to interact in real time over a complex-wide array of channels to communicate. Still, there are sometimes some unconscious barriers that will continue to block our effectiveness.
Communication involves both the sender and the receiver. As a sender, we may focus on what we want from others, we carefully craft our message and send it out, and expect results, but how do we know that it’s been correctly convey? Good communication makes teams work more efficiently, motivates employees and helps relations with customers and partners. So how can managers communicate better, and how does a form of communication affect the results? Of course, it depends on what it is that you’re trying to communicate.
- An email is an essential tool that billions of people and businesses rely on every day, and it’s not going away anytime soon. Most people pay attention to what they mail; they might even craft it carefully before they send an email. They want to have a calm tone, and they want to be friendly, polite and respectful, but most people pay less attention to the receptivity of the people. If you’re always super urgent in texts, messenger and emails, people feel controlled. And the biggest problem with email today is you can quickly come to be overwhelmed by the sheer volume of how much you get, and it is way too easy to miss important messages or take the message the wrong way.
- If you are going to have to terminate someone, hire or interview someone, it might be face to face as the best way to handle it. Face-to-face communication so mattering in the workplace as opposed to text and emails, because you’re seeing facial expressions or their tone where they are coming off better in person than it is in an email. To give employees praise or coaching, you got to talk in person because it’s important you want to know what’s happening with them. There’s so much added value in seeing someone face-to-face. Now it’s not possible all the time; we have great distances between us sometimes, or you need a quick answer, but whenever it’s possible, face-to-face is the most effective form of communication.
Sacking an employee by text message is not illegal but could be unfair and provide an employee with grounds to challenge the dismissal. The Fair Work Act 2009 makes it clear that an employer must not terminate an employee’s employment unless the employee has been given written notice of the day of the termination. A text message has been held to be a form of writing and so satisfies this obligation. Indeed, a lot of people may rightly hold the belief that an appropriately worded text message does the same job as a formal letter and has the added bonus of being more likely to reach the employee. Not illegal, but should be avoided
Meanwhile, lots of technology is coming in which is probably going to displace human activity. One of the challenges of the future is going to be whether we become systems cells whether we are fundamentally social cells. The rise of artificial intelligence and chatbots could fundamentally disrupt quite a menu of workplace communication and previously professional jobs.
No doubt- technology and innovation are changing the culture. But sometimes we’re in this dilemma about all this technology – is it for us, or are we for it?
- 30% of corporate audits will be performed by artificial intelligence.
- Globally, more trips will be made using car sharing programs than privately owned cars
- Brain-reading devices allows wearers to learn new skills quicker
- Electronic devices can be charged using Wi-Fi
- Robotic, mind-controlled prosthetics become widely available.
- World population forecasted to reach 8,141,661,000
- Average number of connected devices, per person, is 9.5
- Global number of Internet connected devices reaches 76,760,000,000
- Predicted global mobile web traffic equals 104 exabytes
- Include a clear, direct subject line.
- Use a professional email address.
- Think twice before hitting ‘reply all.’
- Include a signature block.
- Use professional salutations.
- Use exclamation points sparingly.
- Be cautious with humor.
- Know that people from different cultures speak and write differently.
- Reply to your emails–even if the email wasn’t intended for you.
- Proofread every message.
- Add the email address last.
- Double-check that you’ve selected the correct recipient.
- Keep your fonts classic.
- Keep tabs on your tone.
- Nothing is confidential–so write accordingly.
Employee dismissal is not supposed to be a difficult process. Unfortunately, some employers tend make it unnecessarily burdensome with roll on effects. As a last resort of dealing with employees, employers can often react without considering the full process and what is “Harsh, Unjust and Unreasonable”.
Employers that are not careful when carrying out the termination process soon find themselves on the wrong side of the law. When an employer does not have the knowledge of what is legal and how to conduct themselves during a dismissal, they find it impossible to prevent legal action against their business.
Imagine that sinking feeling when you receive a FWC – Acknowledgement Letter following the dismissal of an employee. Attached will be the F3 for your response. You have 7 calendar days to lodge your reply to the unfair dismissal application. You will then be sent a conciliation date and time. It can be very stressful if this is something you have not tackled before.
Various reasons can account for the dismissal; however, it is your duty as the owner of the business to act reasonably throughout the dismissal process. In other words, you are dismissing the employee with grace and within the frameworks that are set down by the FWC.
An employer must give the employee a reason why he/she is at risk of being dismissed. The reason must be a valid reason based on the employee’s conduct or capacity to do the job. An employer must provide an employee with an opportunity to respond to the warning and give the employee a reasonable chance to rectify the problem, having regard to the employee’s response. Rectifying the problem might involve the employer providing additional training and ensuring the employee knows the employer’s job expectations.
The first step to dismissing an employee is to review the reasons for the dismissal. It is important to confirm all the pieces of information presented and verify the known facts before dismissing an employee. If deemed necessary, you should set up a meeting with the employee before the dismissal. You need to offer an employee a support person as part of this process.
Additionally, employers should confirm the legalities and legal implications that are involved before looking at or heading towards dismissing an employee. The Fair Work Act presents the due procedure to follow before dismissal is decided upon. The act frowns upon any act of discrimination, assault, harassment, breach of contract, and above all, wrongful termination. You need to be mindful or unlawful or adverse actions. It really is not a black and white process.
- Decide on what form the meeting will take and the paperwork that will be involved. You can decide on a script to aid the meeting or could decide against it.
- Decide on who will be present during the meeting: this is a tricky area of the pre-meeting procedures that employers should be clear on.
- On the part of the employee – they will need to be offered support during the meeting. Ask, in the meeting invite, if it is their wish to be escorted by a person to provide support.
- On the other side, employers seeking to hold a disciplinary meeting need to be careful not to intimidate the employee. When the atmosphere is intimidating, the employee might perceive that it is action to get rid of him/her, and as a result, affect the conduct of the meeting. You also MUST be careful of predetermined outcomes. No decision should ever be made without obtaining all the facts.
- The meeting should be held at a location that offers minimum disruption. By so doing, what is private will be kept private until you wish to disclose it.
You need to note that if you do receive an unfair Dismissal application as an employer you will be required to provide evidence including evidence that a warning has been given (except in cases of summary dismissal). Evidence may include a completed checklist, copies of written warning(s), a statement of termination or signed witness statements etc. These cannot be produced after the fact, so you need to get it right every time throughput the process. Fresh HR Insights can help with this.
How to conduct a disciplinary meeting that may lead to dismissal
During the meeting it is essential to provide an adequate explanation for the disciplinary – this would have already been set out in the disciplinary invite, you will go over it. As an employer, where it is clear that the employee is indeed guilty of the allegations, you need to understand that a dismissal equals no more income, therefore, it becomes understandable if the employee gets angry or upset. Make sure you allow time for a break to gather their thoughts.
The employer should not get angry in return. Ensure that your conversation stays calm, do not force the employee to keep quiet, and above all, allow freedom of expression.
In a situation where the employee has not provided any reason for the allegations you still need to consider all the facts. Take time after the meeting – jumping straight to the conclusion of dismissal may indicate a predetermined outcome and therefore you may not be seen to be procedural fair. FW may deem the dismissal to be a fair reason but that the process was harsh – there would therefore likely be some form of payment to the employee for this.
If you have decided to go to dismissal, we suggest a final “show cause’ letter and meeting. This tells the employee that you are considering terminating their employment and gives them the last chance to tell you why you should reconsider. If nothing new, then you would be safe to dismiss. The dismissal should be issued in writing. After this, take care of issues relating to settlements of entitlements and other relating issues.
An employer should co-ordinate the leaving process of the dismissed employee. Ensure to treat the dismissed employee with respect throughout the ordeal. The employee should be allowed unrestricted access to his personal items and also goodbyes from all other employees. If the employer wants to pay in lieu of notice the employee can leave that day. This is often the best solution as rightly so the employee will be upset, and the business needs to move on and go into damage control to clear up what’s left behind.
Employers should treat employees with social, physical and legal respect during the dismissal process. Fall short of this and the law will make you pay.
The above is a very generalised process and does not take into account any mitigating circumstances nor does it take into account any specifics of a situation. We therefore highly recommend if you are looking at terminating an employee you contact us BEFORE you say or do anything.
Here is something to note – if you do get a F3 did you know “The employer can object to an unfair dismissal application on a number of jurisdictional grounds. A jurisdictional objection is not simply that the employer thinks the dismissal was fair. For example, the employer may object because the employer does not think the employee is eligible to make the application.”
Unfair dismissal does not play well on a company’s finances and environment. It could potentially drain your time, cost you your reputation, and ultimately affect your profit if you end up having to pay out an employee.
The best bet you have as an employer is taking advice at a very early stage. There are few ways to reduce the success rate of a successful unfair dismissal claim by an aggrieved employee. Also, in the case of a successful claim, there are few ways to minimize the risk that you are going to be facing as an employer.
The first of these ways is through observance of all the legal processes and obligation as an employer. The Fair Work Act guides the dismissal of an employee – as a small business you can follow the Small Business Fair Dismissal Code.
A break down of the code for dismissal, other than summary dismissal is:
The small business employer must give the employee a reason why he or she is at risk of being dismissed. The reason must be a valid reason based on the employee’s conduct or capacity to do the job.
The employee must be warned verbally or preferably in writing, that he or she risks being dismissed if there is no improvement.
The small business employer must provide the employee with an opportunity to respond to the warning and give the employee a reasonable chance to rectify the problem, having regard to the employee’s response. Rectifying the problem might involve the employer providing additional training and ensuring the employee knows the employer’s job expectations.
As an employer, and taking on board the above, when an employee is not performing up to expectation, the first thing to do is have a discussion with them and let them know that the performance or conduct is not acceptable. This can first be done as a counselling session. If the performance or conduct does not improve then you can have a formal disciplinary meeting and dependent on the responses a warning can be issued. The warning should contain details about the current employee practice and what is expected of such an employee.
The warning should succinctly address all underlying behaviors and recommend improvement. You can also proceed to produce a Performance Improvement Plan (PIP) which sets out everything clearly and the time-frames as well as acting as a framework for regular communication. When this is done, you must give that employee time to respond positively.
In the case of fraud, theft or bribery, an employer does not need to provide any warning and can (dependent on each individual circumstances) proceed to summary dismissal.
If you are faced with an unfair dismissal claim, you will have a meeting set up with conciliation meeting. Conciliation is a voluntary process to help an employer and employee resolve an unfair dismissal dispute. It is an informal method of resolving the claim that is generally conducted by telephone and can avoid the need for a formal conference or hearing.
If you choose not to have a conciliation, or you have a conciliation that fails to produce a settlement, the case will automatically go to a hearing or conference unless the employee formally discontinues their application. Fresh HR Insights recommends that you do attend a conciliation meeting and we can support you in this. We can act as your representative.
The potential cost of a successfully played unfair dismissal claim on the part of the employee can be crippling on all fronts. So, therefore, it is advisable to come to a reasonable agreement of settlement and where you can stay outside the courtroom. Although you could win in a courtroom since the chance of winning is 50/50, appearing before a courtroom could end up very costly not just in money but also time and the stress on you personally as a business owner. Better to avoid it entirely.
You need to note – You are under no obligation to agree to a settlement if you don’t want to at the conciliation meeting. It is your right to maintain your position and proceed to a hearing. But it is in your interests to try conciliation as they are often successful, with 4 out of 5 matters settling at this stage. A settlement can avoid the time delays and costs of having a formal hearing.
The best way however to avoid all this all together is to understand the legalities involved. Legalities that you can’t understand if you don’t ask for help. Your call…
Conciliation are usually held by telephone. The conciliator will be in their office at the Commission. The employer and employee can be in any location, provided it is quiet and they will not be disturbed. A conciliation can take around 90 minutes to complete.
The conciliator will call the parties and introduce them into a telephone conference call. Any representatives for either side will also be called if they are not in the room with the employee or employer. This can mean there are as many as 5 different people on the conference call.
The style of each conciliator may vary but, in general, a conciliation will include the following steps:
- the conciliator explains their role and the manner in which the conciliation is to be run
- each side briefly outlines their story including what happened, any relevant facts and what they want
- the conciliator may allow or ask questions
- the circumstances, and any issues arising, are discussed – the conciliator may talk separately to the parties. While this is happening the party not in the private discussion will be disconnected and called back later. In these private discussions each side is given the opportunity to speak to the conciliator about their situation. The conciliator will discuss with them proposals that might lead to a resolution. The conciliation can continue in private discussions for some time, as the conciliator relays proposals and counter-proposals from one side to the other. This process may help the parties reach an agreed settlement.
- the conciliator helps the parties to reach agreement by identifying common ground, suggesting possible options and sometimes by making recommendations and helping the parties draft an agreement in writing.
After the private discussions all the parties come back together on a joint conference call. If an agreed settlement has been reached the conciliator will confirm the details with the parties. But if no agreement has been reached the conciliator will explain the next steps in the process, which is going to a formal conference or hearing.
Deciding on letting go of an employer is never an easy task. This is a fact that many business owners have come to terms with. Regrettably, some had to learn the hard way. There is nothing bad in letting go or dismissing an employee. What would be considered wrong is dismissing the employee in a “not so legal way“ I mean, if an employee is always absent, does not do his work well and is causing you to lose productivity, then he should walk the plank.
But hold your horses, you cannot dismiss employees just as you feel unless you want to be plagued with the problems and costs that come with settling unfair dismissal claims.
To prepare yourself and your business from unfair dismissal claims, observe the following procedures before dismissal:
- Clear communication: the importance of communication in a company cannot be overemphasized. Communication is instrumental in preventing feelings of hostility, humiliation, prejudice, and favoritism. Draw out or review policies and management systems that determine the disciplinary procedures. Apart from engaging your employees, it depicts a transparent atmosphere in the organization. The disciplinary procedures should be communicated to the employees and if possible, presented in a handbook.
- Employee handbook: This will be one of your weapons when claims arise. The handbook should be designed to include internal policies and legislative framework within your company. It should be comprehensive and at the same time, easy to use. It should be structured to give room for implementing organizational changes. You can easily fall back on this when (or if) a claim does come up.
- Key performance indicator (KPI) and staff performance: A way to check an employee’s performance is to set KPIs as this will aid to avoid precarious situations in the future. Your aim should be to create one if you have not and implement it. Employees can use this to calculate their performance and determine if they are falling short. It helps to maintain an optimistic approach to work.
- Keep records: In any employee performance related discussion, ensure that there is an independent and impartial witness who can give an unbiased third-party opinion on the subject of the discussion if the need ever arises. Additionally, interactions with employees should be recorded. The documentation can be used to update employee human resource files and correlate it with their warnings, disciplinary actions and performance. Although keeping records help you to comply with the legal ACT, its usefulness comes to play in the face of an unfair dismissal claim by an employee. “If it isn’t written down it didn’t happen”
- Investigation: Instead of assuming, get your facts right before dismissing an employee. If needed, it can be conducted by an external investigator. Investigation ensures that your grounds for dismissing an employee is not only legal it will also be fair Just and reasonable.
- Give your employee an opportunity to prove you wrong. An explanation does not have to be by words. It could be by actions. Before deciding on dismissing an employee, allow him time to gather his thoughts right and watch for performance improvements. If no feedback is provided after reacting, then you can proceed with the dismissal.
To stand a chance against successful fair work claims, it is crucial to get these procedures right. Even if a dismissal is deemed to be fair it can still be “harsh” or procedurally unfair.
What is an unfair dismissal?
Unfair dismissal is when an employee is dismissed from their job in a harsh, unjust or unreasonable manner.
The Fair Work Commission may consider an employee has been unfairly dismissed if:
- the person was dismissed
- the dismissal was harsh, unjust or unreasonable
- the dismissal was not a case of genuine redundancy
- the employee worked for a small business and the dismissal was not done according to the Small Business Fair Dismissal Code.
What is harsh, unjust or unreasonable?
The Fair Work Commission will decide if a dismissal is harsh, unjust or unreasonable, and they consider all of the following circumstances:
- was there was a valid reason for the dismissal related to the employee’s capacity or conduct
- was the employee notified of that reason and given an opportunity to respond
- if the employer didn’t allow the employee to have a support person present at any discussions about the dismissal, was that unreasonable
- whether the employee had been previously warned that their performance was unsatisfactory
- If the size of the business, or lack of dedicated human resource management specialists or expertise impacted on the procedures that the employer followed when they dismissed the employee, and
- any other matters that the Fair Work Commission considers relevant.
Fresh HR Insights are experts in the dismissal process.
If you have any questions about the reason for dismissal or how to go about dismissing an employee for either conduct or capability, then call us on 0452 471 960 or book a FREE 30-minute general consultation HERE
We also have available fact sheets and eBooks that help you in the Dismissal process. We have listed these below – Click on them to find out more.
Did you know that Fresh HR Insights also offer a range of Workshops for Small business – find out what we do HERE – If you cannot see what you are after then give us a call on 0452471960 and discuss your needs.
Just like traps scattered on a farm, unfair dismissal is a complicated and daring area of employment laws. Like a trap, most times, uncareful employers often get spooked. Every employer knows that there are laws which regulated the dismissal of an employee. Failure to follow these laws and you might end up in a conciliation meeting or if this fails to reach agreement you may need to visit the courthouse early. What could be more daunting than visiting the courthouse or employment tribunal would be paying fines embodying compensation to the aggrieved employee.
An obscure fact that every employer needs to come to terms with is that there are consequences for their actions. By that, I mean negative consequences. You cannot just dismiss an employee unfairly and give them a tap on the back, no! there are consequences.
Lets look at what this can mean for the employee – although we get that at times you may just want to be rid of under-performing employees or those displaying unacceptable behavior we wanted to at least point these out.
Emotional consequence. For every unfair dismissal, the employees end up losing their job and their means of sustenance. The process of going through an unfair dismissal may tell on their emotional health. Their stress level might increases, chest pains, insomnia and panic attack may all begin to surface. They might start to experience a series of mood swings and anger that they normally would not have shown, until they become emotionally wrecked. And they will blame you for it. This is why you should (or at least try) to get it right.
Also, unfair dismissal could attract psychological consequences. If you think only people who hit their head in an accident get post-traumatic stress disorder, then you may be surprised. Since the unfair dismissal was a traumatic experience, asking if it could lead to a disorder would be considered “begging the question” Mental health is more than mental illness, it can be the absence of the mental strength to move on. After an unfair dismissal, the aggrieved employee may begin to demonstrate psychological symptoms such as anxiety, irritability, cognitive difficulty, and depression.
The emotional, psychological, and behavioral fallout from unfair dismissal should be a factor worth noting by employer’s or business owner. At least if a dismissal is the only available outcome then follow a fair and just process. Terminating based on unsubstantiated discretion is setting yourself up for a claim.
Fair reasons for dismissal include
Capacity – if the employee lacks the ability, or is incapable, of completing the job
Performance – if the employee’s performance is below what is required for the job, or if they are not meeting the standards outlined in their employment contract
Misconduct – if the employee’s behavior is below workplace standards, or if they take part in serious misconduct
Redundancy – if the job which the employee was previously completing is no longer necessary for the business, or technology has made their role unnecessary
Some simple steps include – Telling the employee in writing about the allegations against them, give them the opportunity to respond to the allegations and also allow them to have a support person present at any meetings. Workplace operate under a structure of fairness and equal opportunity, it is therefore not only ethically right but right that if you intend to dismiss that the employee has a chance to defend themselves.
So what does the above mean for you as an employer –
When an employment tribunal is addressing the case of unfair dismissal, they would consider the potential consequences the dismissal will have on the employee and this will ultimately affect their ruling. From experience, it does not always end well for the business owner or employer.
This is why employers should be careful and clear on employee dismissal decisions. What may seem civil and decent to you might mean something different in the face of the law. Pay attention to workplace culture, examine the fact sheets (get your free fact sheet here) and dismissal regulations. Instead of leaving yourself open to legalities and costly compensations, stay sensible and avoid turning a fair dismissal into an unfair one.
Lets look at what the Commission look at with Unfair Dismissal as set out on Fair Work Commissions website – calculating Compensation for Unfair Dismissal
Outcomes for unfair dismissal
There are 3 possible outcomes that the Commission can order if a person has been unfairly dismissed. These are:
- to order that a person gets their job back (reinstatement)
- to order the payment of money (compensation), or
- to make no order.
Let’s look at the Compensation in some detail
What does the Commission look at? The Fair Work Act 2009 sets out a series of issues that the Commission must take into consideration when deciding if compensation should be ordered.
Step 1 – Calculate the Remuneration. The commission looks at how much longer the employee would have been employed if they were not dismissed. This is done to determine how much they would have earned. This becomes the starting point of a compensation order (if any). The length of service if also looked at any the work history and any performance and behavior issues.
Step 2 – Deductions – Consideration is given to any money the employee has earned since the dismissal has occurred – this is normally subtracted from the amount in step 1. While income support payments are not generally included , workers compensation payments generally are.
The viability of the employer is also considered – the employer must present evidence regarding their financial position.
Other relevant matters are also taken into account. This can include possible economic loss or gain of the former employee – including sickness, accident, unemployment, earning capacity etc
Misconduct that contributed to the dismissal is taken into account. This can include misconduct after dismissal. Misconduct may involve – a breach of the workplace health and safety act, negligent culpability, threats of violence, or swearing at management.
Step 3 – Efforts to reduce loss – Has the former employee taken deliberate, positive steps to lessen the effect of the dismissal has had on them such as finding a new job.
What is reasonable depends on the circumstances of the case.
A person is not required to take unreasonable steps to reduce their loss such as:
- spending money, or
- selling their possessions (such as sporting goods, cars, boats, etc).
Offers or re-employment – A person who has made an application for unfair dismissal cannot claim that their dismissal has caused them a loss if they have refused to start a new job with the same employer.
Step 4 – Compensation Cap – The compensation cap is the lower amount between:
- half of the employee’s annual wage, and
- $72,700 (as at 1 July 2018).
Note: The compensation cap is updated each year from 1 July. The compensation cap for dismissals taking effect between 1 July 2017 and 30 June 2018 was $71,000.
Calculating the total amount of compensation
The total amount of compensation that the Commission can order is the lower amount between:
- the amount calculated in Step 1, removing any deductions from Steps 2 & 3, and
- the compensation cap calculated above.
What do I need to do?
The Commission will calculate how much money the employee would have earned if they had not been dismissed.
Employee – Provide proof of what you were earning.
Employer – Providing copies of the times and wages record and any formal warnings or other relevant documents.
Wages or income
The Commission will consider any money which the employee has earnt since the dismissal occurred.
Viability of employer
The Commission will look at what effect an order for compensation may have on the viability of the employer.
The Commission will also look at ‘any other matters that it considers relevant’.
If the Commission finds that an employee’s misconduct contributed to their dismissal, the Commission must reduce the amount of compensation by an appropriate amount.
Employee – Provide proof of what you have earnt since you were dismissed.
Employer – Provide proof of the financial situation of the company.
Efforts to reduce loss
The Commission will consider what steps a person has taken to reduce their loss.
Employee – Provide proof of what of what steps you have taken to reduce the impact of the dismissal.
The Commission will compare the amount of compensation calculated to the compensation cap.
The smallest amount is what can be ordered.
Fresh HR Insights are experts in the dismissal process. If you have any questions about the reason for dismissal or how to go about dismissing an employee for either conduct or capability, then call us on 0452 471 960 or book a FREE 30-minute general consultation HERE
Single Touch Payroll (STP) is a way of electronically sending tax and super information to the ATO each time you pay your employees. For employers of 20 or more employees, this was compulsory from 1st July 2018.
On 12th Feb 2019, parliament passed legislation to extend STP to ALL employers effective 1st July 2019.
What does this mean for you?
This means the details of all salaries and wages payments made on or after 1st July 2019, must be electronically uploaded to the ATO either on or before the date paid to the employee.
- Your payroll cycle will not change. You can still pay your employees weekly, fortnightly or monthly.
- Your payment due date for PAYG withholding and super contributions will not change. However, you can choose to pay earlier.
- When you report to the ATO through Single Touch Payroll, your employees will be able to view their year‑to‑date tax and super information through myGov.
- If you have recorded all payments through STP then you do not have to provide your employees with a payment summary at the end of financial year as the ATO will make that information available to employees through myGov. There are still end of year processes required but it can all be done through your STP upload.
- In time you will also have the option to invite your employees to complete Tax file number declaration, Superannuation standard choice form and Withholding declarationonline.
Deferrals and Exceptions
The following groups are under further consideration by the ATO
- Micro employers (those with less than 4 employees)
- Closely Held entities (only family members employed)
- Companies who only employ Directors paid annually
- Employers disadvantaged by lack of access to digitial technology
Note: the ATO is currently working with practitioners and small business owners to better describe and understand the needs of these segments. The aim is to develop more tailored solutions for these segments
How do I get ready?
1.Talk to your agent
2.Talk to your software provider.
- If you process payroll yourself using a registered payroll / accounting software, then contact your software provider for instructions on how to enable STP as this is not automatic. Plus you need to advise the ATO that you will be processing STP yourself, and provide them with your Unique Software ID number, otherwise referred to as their SSID number.
- For ATO instructions for Reporting through STP please refer https://www.ato.gov.au/Business/Single-Touch-Payroll/Report-through-Single-Touch-Payroll/
3. Not currently using payroll software – don’t be alarmed. The ATO is not insisting you purchase software.
- The ATO put out a market request for product proposals to offer low-cost STP solutions. Many companies have replied.
- The solutions are required to be affordable (costing less than $10 per month), take only minutes to complete each pay period and not require the employer to maintain the software.
- These solutions will best suit micro (with one to four employees) who need to report through STP, but do not currently have payroll software and may include mobile apps, simple reporting solutions and portals.
- More details will be available closer to the time
Please refer the below link for further information
Fresh HR Insights Pty Ltd have a Payroll Expert able to assist all our clients not only with payroll questions and Single Touch Payroll but also in regards to BOOT tests (Better Off Overall Test) – this applies when looking at paying increased annual salaries or increase hourly rates in lieu of paying the conditions in an award (Award Flexibility)
The BOOT requires every existing and prospective award covered employee to be better off overall.
The BOOT involves the making of an overall assessment as to whether an employee would be better off under the Employment flexibility agreement, which necessitates identification of the terms in the agreements which are more and less beneficial to the employee than under the relevant award.
The overall assessment required will essentially be a mathematical one where the terms being compared relate directly to remuneration.
The BOOT test essentially ensure that you are not underpaying an employee. We will be covering this in more detail shortly as we leaunch this as a new offering to Fresh HR Insights.