Want to know a powerful way to reduce your employee turnover and gain a strong competitive edge over your competitors in 2021?
As an entrepreneur, you know that appreciating a job well done is desirable. But did you know that more than 50% of employees leave an organization if they are not tangibly recognized for their efforts on the job? Multiple studies confirm that employees would go above and beyond in their job roles if they feel meaningfully recognized for their contributions.
In this blog, we have 7 creative employee recognition ideas you can put to work right away to build love in your teams! When you make a simple employee appreciation plan and implement it consistently, you can see stronger team bonding coupled with better organizational outcomes.
7 Creative Employee Recognition Ideas for Your Workplace
Make a recognition calendar
When you make an employee appreciation plan, add it to your yearly calendar. Mark the employee recognition activities to be done month-wise and assign them to a responsible team member. Pick a handful that look easy and are simple to implement. Adding it to your calendar ensures that you will assign time and importance to it.
Mark important employee days
Make it a point to celebrate your employees’ birthdays, even if you do it virtually (with the pandemic raging!) Give them a day off or order a special lunch for the team. Even a gift card from a global retailer would be a thoughtful employee appreciation idea that shows the person some love! Such a personal touch on their special day will also make it more memorable for them.
Get the team appreciation flowing
When cheers come from peers, it feels better and strongly boost the team bonding. Ask all co-workers to choose a good or positive action done by any employee (except themselves) and give a team shout out to that person. When you do this activity monthly, it becomes embedded in the employee and team psyche, automatically building love and recognition for employees.
Don’t fly blind
Once you start the employee appreciation plan implementation, ask your employees to take a quick 2-minute survey. Ask them what activity/action would they like for appreciation (with and without a budget). You may be surprised at what makes them tick and ensure that you align rewards with their expectations.
Have surprise treats
Everyone likes treats! Especially if they are not expecting one and it turns out a complete surprise for them! Order a pizza lunch for the team on a Friday just to treat them. Take the team out to a popular eatery if they just delivered a big client project successfully. Want to treat your remote team virtually? Ship them some company swag or a box of curated treats and snacks that they’ll freak out on!
Showcase your team
Appreciations work wonders if it’s done publicly. Showcase your team on your company website by adding their photographs and bios (if they are comfortable with that, of course). Public appreciation can work remarkably well and help them feel valued and loved in the team.
Get Ready to Build Recognition & Love in Your Teams
With these simple and actionable creative employee recognition ideas, you’ll be on your way to creating an employee appreciation plan that helps develop love and recognition in your team.
Want to add in a new employee recognition tip? We would love to know your ideas! Share your suggestions and feedback in the comments section below.
If you are reading this you might be about to start a disciplinary-termination procedure. No-one enjoys this process, but it is vital that it is done sensitively and legally.
Senior executives list this as one of their top three most anxious situations according to the Wall Street Journal so it is not only the employee who suffers. This feedback from our clients led to us writing a manual, Effective and Risk-Free Disciplinaries 2020, to help reduce their stress, ensure processes are ethical and, more importantly, reduce their legal risk. Download it here.
Probationary Periods As Part Of The Process
Above all else, it is vital that any existing company rules are clear and logical rules. Next, there must be an atmosphere of trust between management and employees.
Employees should be consulted on new rules prior to the adoption of them. The consequences of non-compliance must be well-understood by everyone.
If non-compliance occurs, you should have an employee warning system already established which you can then activate.
The first time a warning is needed perhaps it would be more productive to have a gentle reminder as step one followed by a written reprimand for a 2nd transgression which refers to past performance and warnings. For a 3rd transgression, a final warning can be issued which accompanies a probationary period with a set period of time and measurable outcomes for that period of time. This must include a detailed account of the employee’s transgressing performance. It must also be crystal clear to that employee that violating the probation will mean dismissal for them.
All the above-mentioned steps must be executed in a private consultation with the employee as a public debacle could be construed as constructive dismissal. In addition, they must be offered counseling to improve their performance. The warnings must be added to their personnel file.
Myth Buster: There is no longer a requirement of 3 strikes, and you are out. The ‘three warnings‘ rule is one of the most common misconceptions in employment law. It simply does not exist. The reality is there is no general rule that employers must issue three warning before an employee can be dismissed. The level of response needs to be proportionate to the matter at hand.
Less Haste, More Fairness
Evidence of transgressions that has blurred lines can be damaging. In all instances, it is always better, and more ethical, to try to assist or rehabilitate the employee rather than dismiss unless it is impropriety, gross incompetence or theft.
Lack of appropriate support and lack of fair communication are the top reasons behind poor results from an employee.
Performance reviews allow a fair chance to change. Remind the employee of what is expected of them.
Goals and deadlines must be confirmed in writing, must be signed off, and must be filed in their personnel file.
It is also helpful for you and your team of 2 or 20 to have reviews or efficiency reports every 6 months and definitely after an initial probationary period.
Our Effective and Risk-Free Disciplinaries 2020 manual will give you detailed guidance on how to structure these requirements fairly for your employees. This comprehensive manual is moderately priced at $97.00. Download it now.
In the instance that your efforts to turn the employee’s performance around does not bear fruit, and you have come to the end of the probation warning period, it is time to make a replacement.
This step is best done quickly. Stick to facts. The employee’s manager and the HR manager, or alternative witness if you do not have an HR manager, should be present for better legal protection. Written evidence is the only material acceptable to labor boards and labor courts.
Other Issues to Consider Before Firing
Union employees will have collective bargaining agreements that must also be considered.
If the employee is an officer or director of the corporation, firing that employee does not terminate his or her appointment as an officer or director. Get a resignation or vote recording any such actions in resolutions as required by the corporation commission(s).
Be careful about benefit plans and be aware of their terms in the event of termination. There are penalties for failure to pay vested interest in profit-sharing plans, for example.
Do not allow a dismissed employee to train his replacement. Train the replacement yourself. Inconvenient in the short time, highly beneficial in the long term.
Pay out all funds due to them quickly. Avoid any risk of a messy closure.
After The Dismissal
A dismissed manager can form his own company and attract your major clients and key personnel if they feel the dismissal was unfair.
A poorly handled dismissal, witting or unwitting, can be a disaster for staff morale, PR and legal costs.
It will put you in very good light with the rest of your employees if you let the exiting employee use an office and secretarial or professional help for free to seek other employment.
There is no perfect way to handle it but there are better ways. Our Effective and Risk-Free Disciplinaries 2020 manual [insert hyperlink to product specific page] will give you very valuable guidance on how to handle this stressful and complicated process for a very fair price of $97.00.
Alternatively contact us for our hands-on involvement in setting up the processes for you, to execute a dismal process or to assist an exiting employee find other employment.
Does the phrase ‘human resources policies and procedures’ make you groan because you realise your company lacks just that? Has business been so good that you are chasing logistics, customer care, stock levels, and just don’t have time for these policies and procedures?
These are important as they underpin how human resource issues will be handled. They also tell your employees what your brand’s values are and how you expect them to behave and perform. They also set out the implications of transgressing the policy rules.
Workplace policies include a statement of purpose as well as some guidelines on how to achieve that purpose. They also explain standard operating procedures.
You do not need to have 100’s of policies. For some processes an S.O.P. is sufficient. Our manual on H.R. Procedures and Policies will guide you through the different requirements, simplifying the whole process for you. Download it here.
What Do You Gain From A Workplace Policy?
It will be easier to achieve standard values across the organisation; it will ensure compliance with myriad legislation and will show employees (or investors) that your business is efficient and professional.
Decision making will be more comfortable, and operational procedures will be easier for staff to learn or to step into when someone is off ill.
You will definitely gain legal strength for labour disputes, will avoid lengthy disagreements over miscommunications and give employees confidence in their chosen actions.
Workplace policies will also feed into business planning, performance assessments, accountability parameters and job descriptions.
How To Develop HR Procedures and Policies
Management needs to set sufficient time aside to develop and assess the policies required. Once a final draft is created, you need to involve your employees. This is a helpful step as it often shows up any unintentional policy conflicts or omissions. It also helps the staff gain a more in-depth insight into the company’s mission.
It is important that the wording is precise and doesn’t contain clumsy jargon.
It must simply say:
What is acceptable and unacceptable behaviour, including measurables? E.g. blood alcohol levels.
What does a calendar month mean to the company?
What to do when applying for sick leave? E.g. a sick emoji is insufficient.
Who does XYZ policy apply to? E.g. full-time employees or part-time contractors.
What happens if transgressions occur?
What are the company values relating to emails, social media or behaviour at a company event?
The Next Steps
Now that the policies have been drafted and reviewed with staff input, they can be published internally. All employees must have access to them: casual, part-time or salaried employees. If anyone is on leave at the time of publication, they should receive them via the agreed holiday communication channel.
The original policy must be in English but consider translating the guidelines into the appropriate languages for employees whose first language is not English. The original policy must be stated as the lead document with the translated one being a guide.
How To Increase Compliance
You can use training or town hall events to increase staff knowledge of these policies and should have an annual reminder session with informal references to them in staff meetings regularly.
The start date of the policies must be known by all employees, whether on leave or at work.
After launch set a diarised date to review the policies to make sure they are still aligned to legislative requirements as well as the structure of your business. Big changes should follow the new policies process from scratch.
Which Policies Are Needed?
Here are some examples of workplace policies but by no means is it an exhaustive list:
code of conduct
internet and email policy
mobile phone and personal laptop policy
drug and alcohol policy
health and safety policy
anti-discrimination and harassment policy
grievance handling policy
discipline and termination policy
social media including usage of photographs taken at work
There is no perfect list, but this is a good start. Our H.R. Procedures and Policies manual will save you lots of time whilst providing solid guidance on how to set these up.
Alternatively, contact Fresh HR Insights for our hands-on involvement in setting up the processes for you or to assist revising existing ones. Our services start from the info only to DIY to the ultimate bespoke packages – something for every business.
Answering the BIG question – Why Outsource your HR requirements?
Outsourcing your HR support requirements to an HR consultant can save you both time and money. Having a human resources consultant means that you have available to you someone with more experience and specialized knowledge than you have. The extra money you save can be reinvested into the business. You might be able to hire more people or operate more efficiently which could put you a step above your competitors.
Experienced outsourced providers can often deal with HR processes more effectively – especially quite complex HR functions such as employee regulations, employee handbooks, investigations, disciplinaries, and workplace health and safety. This will reduce the time that employers and managers spend on HR-related paperwork and procedures, and more time dedicated to their areas of focus.
Outsourcing HR functions can help businesses manage employee performance and development. If desired, your human resources consultants can implement performance management plans to ensure employees comply with company policies and procedures and successfully meet business goals.
Business leaders often get embroiled in the day-to-day HR issues, distracting them from their main business focus. Outsourced HR consultants allow you to shift your focus back, while providing comfort knowing that the HR side of things is being taken care of.
HR consultants can often be brought in to help create some of the more difficult HR documents such as employee handbooks and employee files, and to help establish best practices. In turn, this documentation contains the answers to many employee questions. By having the answers at their fingers tips, employees (and employers) get consistent answers to their questions, faster.
Employment legislation changes regularly and it can be difficult for employers to remain up-to-date on regulations that affect the workplace. It is the job of HR consultants to stay on top of this legislation so that you don’t have to. They will make sure your policies and procedures comply with legislation and that both the employer and the employee are protected. They may also regularly maintain your documentation to make sure you are continually up-to-date.
You may not need a full scope of support and instead someone there to provide support when needed.
This is why Fresh HR insights have developed their own support package for Small Business-
$295 per month for 3 hours support*
Book in Discovery Call with you TODAY and find out how we work and what you get. After all what have you got to lose compared to what you have to gain
Do not fall into the trap of “he/she has a significantly higher salary offer” or “he/she has greater development opportunities in the competing role”. The reality is that it’s about more than the salary. There are always other factors that influence someone’s decision to resign. We are here to uncover these reasons and teach you how to retain your valued employees.
To begin, reflect on your business and assess where you see yourself in the below areas. If the leaders in the workplace focus on the below, you will possess a significant advantage in making sure that you are doing all that you can to keep your high performing employees on board.
How often do you show your appreciation for your team members and why you feel this way? Consider those moments when you were recognised for your contribution – it’s an instant motivator. Positive feedback when it’s due will go a long way.
This can be a tough one, especially if the budget isn’t there. Something that everyone can control when remuneration is concerned is keeping an open channel regarding salary talks. At a minimum, if you are paying as per the modern award applicable to your industry you need to put up and per the % set down by the Fair Work Commission on or before the 1st July each year. Some businesses increase the wages by this or more each year even if they are paid above Award rates. This ensures that employees are not worse off than when their role in the company commenced. If you want to do all you can to avoid losing your employee due to remuneration expectations, be proactive and assess what you can offer and be sure that it is communicated. If you cannot afford an increase, open discussions regarding an alternative like additional annual leave, flexible hours etc.
When a team member’s values do not align with their company’s values, they are inadvertently likely to search for a role at an organisation that does. For instance, if an employee values transparency, accountability and trust, the business should as well. Let’s say that the leaders in the company are not accountable for their actions or frequently deflect blame; the employee will not feel aligned with the culture of the business.
Other vital points to focus on to retain valuable employees include:
Investment In Personal & Professional Development
As a leader, placing focus on the above areas can have a profound impact on the business’s ability to preserve valuable human resources and build what is referred to among HR Consultants as a ‘High-performance culture’.
For more valuable HR solutions, book your free 30-min consultation with an HR specialist. Fresh HR Insights offers expert HR Support and Advice when you need it. Contact us today for protection from Fair Work Breaches.
Positives and COVID – No not the test – the outcomes.
Yes, I know there are many negatives, the media is covering them very effectively so you don’t need that information from me.
On a personal note though I have noticed the following
Home Based Learning – I won’t call it Homeschooling as that is a whole different game, although some have taken it that far and I applaud those who have. Either way, what I have seen in many families is greater engagement between kids and parents and between siblings. Recognition of the need for the basics and that children when following an interest will learn faster and better. Add to that the relaunch of many educational programs on television, and some children who were acting up have settled more.
Gratitude – an increased appreciation for what we have, perhaps we were taking so much for granted, and now we can realise how truly blessed many of us are. Not just for the tangible, but also for the friendships and experiences in our lives, manifesting in overtly expressing our appreciation of friends and family.
The Environment – We have all read that carbon emissions are down globally. With pauses in manufacturing and air travel coming to a halt, the planet has had a chance to breathe and heal. With international tourism wound back we see wildlife returning to previously polluted areas and even reappearing in major cities.
From a business perspective there are dynamic changes occurring that will catapult us into a better future if we are paying attention and adopting new strategies. Home based work – some interesting findings have emerged, there is less absenteeism, people are getting their allotted tasks completed more efficiently and in a better state of mind. Employers who avoided this move previously have learned that their staff will actually do the work when at home. One government office I know of only wants to have staff on site 2 days a week when this is all over, production is up why mess with that? Digital Marketing – No longer able to accommodate clients in-store, businesses are facilitating online offerings and even immersive experiences online. Those who already had an online presence are leading the way and many others are following. Direct to Consumer Brands – Removing excess levels of trade by going straight to the consumer is exploding. This adaptation will serve both the Brand and the consumer, lowing costs and prices or offering the consumer added value at the same price. Relationship marketing at it’s finest. Values Marketing – There is less of “tell them what they want to hear” and more of “We need to actively show what our Brand Values are” the public are wanting proof that brand care, no more stunts, only those with true integrity will excel. Corporate Social Responsibility – A follow on from Values Marketing, this goes deeper, companies who look after their employees, the environment, and contribute to improve social welfare are being applauded and promoted by others. Existing Customer Care – Prior to the pandemic, 44% of businesses focused primarily on new customer acquisition, despite it being five times more expensive. Marketers are finally getting this and now turning to less traditional but more effective methods, such as reward and referral programs for their existing clients. Innovation – With lockdowns, many businesses have had to reinvent themselves. We have all seen the stories about café’s and restaurants converting to takeaway business, or delivery options, even gin distilleries changing their production over to hand sanitiser. There are textile manufacturers making fabric masks, and other businesses now manufacturing medical equipment. Preparation for the Future – This is personal and business, we are all having to reassess our lives and how we will proceed. It is critical for business success to adapt and review on a constant basis, we cannot wear blinkers like Blockbuster, who refused a buyout offer from Netflix and proceeded to go broke. When we emerge from this pandemic, effective long-term strategies will be critical to brand success.
There are many businesses who believe they can be ready to kick back into production with just a few week’s notice, however, being ready is only half the task. To ensure your clients are ready to return to you, your business must be working on your customer acquisition and retention strategies now.
Remember always to find the silver linings within every challenging event.
To read more from Dee Scown check out her blog by following this link HERE or click on the logo below
Under most modern awards, a “regular casual employee” can request to convert their employment if they have worked:
for a period of 12 months or more; and
a pattern of hours on an ongoing basis, which the employee could continue to perform as a full-time employee or part-time employee (as applicable), without significant adjustment.
The casual employee must put their request to convert in writing.
STEP 1 – Provide new and existing award-covered employees with a copy of the casual conversion clause
Ensure you read the award that applies to your employees carefully. Some awards contain more onerous requirements on employers to notify casual employees of their right to request casual conversion at 6 or 12 months of ‘regular and systematic’ casual employment. This means you will need to be keeping a close eye on any casual employees that are reaching these milestones. Once you have checked your award you can notify your employees regarding the casual conversion clause. You can use our Notification of Casual Conversion Clause. Also, copy the applicable section from the Award and staple to the back of the letter.
You will need to provide the clause within 12 months of their employment commencing.
Shortly after the Notification of Casual Conversion Clause, you will send a follow-up letter that sets out the nature of a casual and that of a perm employee as well as the rates of pay for both. Also included is the Casual Conversion Election Formwhere the employees can advise if they wish to convert.
Employees have 4-weeks to consider if they would like their employment converted to permanent employment or remain as a casual.
STEP 2: Respond to any casual conversion requests
Respond to any requests to convert to permanent in writing within 21 days to accept or reject the employee’s request for conversion. You can only reject a request convert to permanent in accordance with the terms of the relevant award. Sometimes an award will include the ‘reasonable grounds’ on which you can refuse a request.
legally responding to requests for casual conversion Your business must comply with the obligations contained in any casual conversion clause in a modern award, this includes:
Providing new and existing casual employees with a copy of the casual conversion clause;
Responding to any request to convert within 21 days;
If you reject a request, complying with the requirements in the relevant award such as rejecting the request on ‘reasonable grounds’ or ‘not unreasonably refusing’ a request;
If you agree to convert a casual to permanent employment, complying with the provisions of any part-time employment clause in the relevant award and providing the employee with set days, hours, and patterns of work (and a new contract of employment).
How to legally refuse the request for casual conversion It is important to note that the new clause does not mean you have to approve all requests. It is best to double-check the relevant award but generally, the scenarios where you may refuse on reasonable grounds including but not limited to:
The conversion would require a significant adjustment to the employee’s hours of work as a full-time or part-time employee;
It is known, or reasonably foreseeable that the employee’s position will cease to exist within the next 12 months or the hours of work which the employee is required to perform will be significantly reduced in the next 12 months;
The employee’s hours of work will significantly change or be reduced within the next 12 months.
STEP 3: Review your existing workforce
Review the use of casual employment in your business, particularly where the arrangement involves long-term, regular work patterns. We recommend that you consider doing a cost analysis between that of the cost of wages for casual employees compared to that of Perm employees.
The 25% loading is designed to compensate employees for not receiving some of the benefits of perm employees as well as for the insecurity of their employment. You may well find that the bottom-line figure is more favorable to employee permanent employees compared to casual.
STEP 5: Document and save the casual conversion process
“If it isn’t written down, then it didn’t happen”.
ALWAYS protect yourself and the business by ensuring that you keep documentation about any changes to workplace relationships. Keep these documents for at least 7-years so that any retrospective claims can be defended with copies of the clear and documented process.
Recent decisions impacting on Casual employment
In WorkPac Pty Ltd v Rossato  FCAFC 84 the Full Federal Court determined that Mr Rossato had entitlements under the National Employment Standards (NES) in the Fair Work Act 2009 (Cth) (FW Act) and the relevant Enterprise Agreement; These were – being paid annual leave, paid personal/carer’s leave, paid compassionate leave, and payment for public holidays. This came about when the court made the finding that Mr Rossato was not a casual but a permanent employee.
The essential question asked was – “ if an employee agrees to a contract that labels them a casual but their work is systematic (rostered well in advance for example) and regular (set hours and days) and longer-term (happening for years) are they still a casual?”
In the WorkPac decision, the Federal Court says NO
The decision in WorkPac Pty Ltd v Rossato  FCAFC 84 has confirmed the earlier decision in WorkPac Pty Ltd v Skene  FCAFC 131 about casuals and this will change the landscape of casuals as we know it.
The essential question being asked is – “if an employee agrees to a contract that labels them a casual but their work is systematic (rostered well in advance for example) and regular (set hours and days) and longer term (happening for years) are they still a casual?” In the WorkPac decision, the Federal Court says NO
The way the courts have looked at this situation is that if a person is working regular and systematic hours then they are entitled to annual leave, personal leave and other payments made that have typically been understood by employers as covered in the enhanced wages that they have been paying through their award or enterprise agreement. The courts see it that even if an employee is getting the enhanced wages if they are working regularly and systematically then they are entitled to access entitlements such as annual leave despite the inflated wages for the time they work.
You can read more in our article “casuals” – What we need to know – Here
Michelle Gargar – Pamilya Accountants – Director FCPA
What you need to know when it comes to the employee’s
When selling a business, you will probably negotiate hard on things like the price, the plant and equipment being sold, and the settlement and handover period. What you may not have thought about is what will happen to the employees of the business, and what this might cost you down the track.
This can be a serious mistake, impacting not only your hip pocket but the effective transition of the business into new hands. If you are SELLING a business, it is important to consider what impact this transfer will have on current employees. The Fair Work Act 2009 (Cth) determines the obligations and responsibilities the seller or buyer has for current employees.
#003 Paulette McCormack has more than a decade of international and national employment relations’ experience across a multitude of industries and company sizes she is well equipped for any situation.
She holds a Masters in Human Resource Management, a Masters in Employment Relations, a Diploma in Business, a Diploma in Management and is now also a student completing a Bachelor of Law (with honours) with the sole intention of specialising in employment law.
Whilst that all seems impressive we can not look past the fact that she is a well respected and highly sought after lecturer and tutor at Griffith University in the Business school, specifically in the HR/ER courses.
Questions I’m often asked are – As a leader what happens when I find the love of my life in my workplace, can I ask them out? Can I drink with my team or crew? I have an employee who has some serious issues going on personally, can I tell my crew if they ask?and many others, I wanted to know the answers from an expert in the field.
Paulette and I discuss all these questions and more, listen in and go from surviving to thriving!
This information is given as general guidelines please check with your organisation’s policies, procedures, Human Resource Department or your ‘one up’ regarding your specific circumstances.
“Casuals” – what we need to know following WorkPac Pty Ltd v Rossato
The essential question that is being asked here is
“ if an employee agrees to a contract that labels them a casual but their work is systematic (rostered well in advance for example) and regular (set hours and days) and longer-term (happening for years) are they still a casual?”
In the WorkPac decision, the Federal Court says NO
The way the courts have looked at this situation is that if a person is working regular and systematic hours then they are entitled to annual leave, personal leave and other payments made that have typically been understood by employers as covered in the enhanced wages that they have been paying through their award or enterprise agreement.
The courts see it that even if an employee is getting the enhanced wages if they are working regularly and systematically then they are entitled to access to entitlements such as annual leave despite the inflated wages for the time they work.
Something to be mindful of. In the Job keeper application employers have set out who are the regular and systematic casuals so essentially signing a document to say you have casuals that the courts no say you may owe then their entitlements.
Although the court recognized the practice of treating non-casuals and casual was widespread and unclear – employers are no on notice that the practice cannot continue unabated.
Topline takeaway from this case is that
A casual employee is someone whose work is inconsistent, irregular or short term, and casual employees whose work doesn’t fit that description can now make a claim that they are (and have been) a permanent employee and are therefore owed the appropriate entitlements.
Casual Employment – what it means and why do we have casual employment:
a casual employee is a person employed by a business who has no guarantee of ongoing work.
their work is inconsistent and irregular
a casual can be on a roster but where 1 – 2 weeks ahead are set down and no more – meaning there is not an ongoing expectation,
the employee themselves does not have an expectation that they will have ongoing work,
there is no pattern on the days and the hours that they workweek from week
there may be times when there is no work for them.
Casual employment was designed as a non-permanent staff member that was brought on to meet fluctuating demand in the business without incurring longer-term business costs
Employers wanted employees they can dismiss more easily and who do not incur redundancy payouts
A business that fluctuate (tourism, hospitability, etc) wanted employees permanently but ones that did not create long term business and administration burdens
Long-term casuals who work steadily and systematically. In the Fair Work Act, long-term casuals get some extra rights, such as parental leave. Reflecting on their different role, they are also allowed to claim the Job Keeper subsidy. And, like other casuals, they also get casual loading – extra money to offset their insecurity.
Since the Federal Court handed down its decision, I have been working in the background to get my head around what this means for clients who have casuals and have come up with a list of questions. I have been listening to several webinars and panel discussions on what this now all means and have complied a list of questions and the responses.
Note: This is general information and not intended to replace legal advice. Each workplace is different, and each should be considered separately. If you need the support or have further questions we strongly advise that you contact us on email@example.com. This is an evolving situation and many questions will not be answered in full until we have some further cases tested through the court system and determinations made to help guide us.
Be careful in your interpretations of a causal – for this case to apply they need to be regular and systematic. As a guide please see the characteristics of Rosseto and then look at the bottom of this document at What to do to avoid the WorkPac Trap?
It may not be over yet – the government will be talking to employers and employer groups and has not ruled out legislation that could change the casual equation. The Attorney General hinted that legislative measures may be taken to address this case especially considering the current economic climate concerning COVID-19. There has not been any indication from WorkPac if they intend to bring a High Court appeal for this case. It is therefore important that you keep up to date with what’s happening
Characteristic of Rosseto’s employment (WorkPac Pty Ltd v Rossato  FCAFC 84)
Drive-in drive out employee
7-days on 7-days off roster
Shift pattern for 3.5 years
Provided a roster in advance – up to 7monhts in advance
The contract did not go into the specifics on the breakdown of the hourly rate
Worked in a nine site – once there, there was no practical ability to decline shifts
Case impacts FIFO/DIDO relationship
The contract did not have an off-set clause for the annual leave
Questions and Answers to the questions received so far
What happens if the casuals have already opted out of the casual conversion and I have this all documented – does this case apply to that situation?
The way the court case says is that you cannot contract out of the National Employment Standards (‘NES’). The law is saying that just because they say they are casual does not solve the fact that they are entitled to annual Leave/ sickness. You as a business are not protected against the risk from the decision outcomes despite signing the documents.
If the employee is regular and systematic, just because they have ‘casual’ written on their forehead it does not mean they are for the issue of annual and sick leave. Just because they sign the documents make no difference.
That said you will need to determine if the casual is indeed a systematic and regular casual. Have a look at the characteristics of Rosseto’s employment as a guiding framework to start and then check back on roster and patterns.
If an employee opts out of becoming a perm full-time or perm part-time employee and wishes to remain a casual, then you need to advise then that they will be treated as a casual in the work allocations. This means that you will not guarantee systematic and regular work and they will get irregular work and no guarantee of consistent work.
Basically – An employee who turns down an offer of permanency can still be found to be a permanent employee if they are continued to be treated like one.
You can clearly articulate to the employee that if they wish to maintain their status as a casual and carry on receiving the 25% casual loading them as a business you need to ensure that you treat them like a causal and there can be no guarantee of regular or ongoing work.
The casual either need to change to a perm full-time employee which means they will collect the benefits from this and lose the casual loading. You may as a business consider a 5% increase to the employee to make up for the loss of the 25% more attractive.
You are not protected from the risk of an employee claiming for the accrued back payment. It is advised that as an employer gets ahead on this and determine who is a risk and start those conversations.
You can use the signed forms to argue in defense that they are not regular and systematic and that you were attempting to interpret the relationship, however …….
If it looks like a duck, swims like a duck, and quacks like a duck,
then it probably is a duck.
Can you use the Job Keeper payment against the potential leave payments due to mitigating any costly payouts?
If you have casuals who you have determined are systematic and regular casuals (as when you lodged the Job Keeper entitlement and set them out as such) then you may be able to off-set the accrued annual leave that you may owe them with the job-keepers.
We advise you to check with a legal expert but you may be able to say to them, of you do not need them to be working at the moment and they are on some sort of job keeper stand-down you are entitled to ask them to take annual leave during this stand down. You will be setting this down now as payment of accrued annual leave. This means that you are paying down any potential annual leave
We are aware of the recent decision in the Federal Court WorkPac v Rosseto and as a consequence to that, we are not clear if you have a leave entitlement however without admitting that you do we are going to putting you on annual leave instead of on stand down and the $1500 that you are receiving from me that is paid to me by the government is going to pay down the leave balance.
Note: This was suggested as an opportunity by Ed Mallett, Employsure in is #weekdaysWithEd on Thur 21st May 2020 – we advise strongly to seek advice before doing this as there is also how will this be reported through the payroll system.
How far do you need to go back to retrospectively?
Employees have 6-years from when they left the employment for annual leave claims. This also applies to public holidays or sick days for the other claims.
If a casual employee ceased working for you but was a permanent employee, then there are potential claims that exists for.
Non-payment of accrued but untaken annual leave
Non-payment of public holidays
Non-payment of sick leave (if they can prove the days)
Where you are in a situation where you had at first been engaged as a genuine casual and then over time they morphed into a permanent employee – their rosters become more fixed – you may need to make the decision when they reached this point and then from them treat them as a permanent employee. If you do not want to bring them on as permanent, then you need to revise the working relationship, so they remain ‘irregular’ casual.
Our contract says in several places that the employee is paid a casual loading that covers the entitlement to leave and sickness – will they still have the right to claim payment of these now
A casual employee is not determined by the statement or the name made in the employment contract or agreement but in the totality of their employment situation. Just because you have it in the contract that they are a casual you can not contract out of the underlying legislation. What remains a grey area is are they regular and systematic or are they true casuals.
You can write what you want in employment contracts but if they are indeed regular and systematic casuals then you can have that it is an increased rate in lieu of the provisions in the award for annual leave and personal/carers leave but it will not override legislation.
Characteristics of In Skene v WorkPac Pty Ltd Skene
Work 7 days on, 7 days off on a continuous roster
His roster was determined at the start of each year for the coming team with the same team
If the Modern Award that is applicable to our workplace and employees says that you can pay a leave loading and it has the flexibility provisions is this not enough.
Short answer is no. You cannot rely on the fact that you are paying this loading as a defence and way to mitigate the risk. If the employee is a regular and systematic employee as was the case is Rosseto then you are at risk of having to pay the employee entitlements.
What is the interpretation of predictable working times?
Working regular, set rosters with the same work team, planned a year in advance with the expectation that the employment will continue and which contemplated that he had to turn up to work with the team, meant that the parties intended his to be a permanent employee – not a causal
At what rate do you pay the annual leave backpays
You will pay the annual leave at the ordinary rate of pay without the 25% leave loading. Note however that it is important to keep accurate records and as extra protection also document the payments and get the employee to sign off receiving this.
I have casuals that work a 3-6month period for a specific job – is that a casual
Fixed-term contracts – the risk here is that it is not fixed term but ongoing – you need to ensure that this is a genuine working relationship that is that of a fixed term. Start date and an end date and not just a way to avoid the obligations of paid entitlements. It is suggested that you have clear and concise employment fixed-term contracts that clearly define what the working relationship
Are the casuals not then ‘double-dipping’ as they get 25% loading – are they then essentially getting the same money twice?
In this decision, the Federal court says no. The Fair Work Act does not provide for ‘entitlements or their cash equivalent’, it just provides for entitlements. “casual loading is in the nature of compensation for an absence of entitlement, not a payment in lieu of taking the entitlement.”
In other words, being paid casual loading does not in and of itself make someone a casual employee.
It is noted that in the case of WorkPac v Rossato – the pay was an increased amount, but it was not clear that the increased amount was for the fact he was classed as a casual. We recommend and strongly advise that in your payroll you have it clearly distinguished that there is a line for ordinary hours and another for the casual loading of 25%.
Can you offset any casual loading already paid against any potential amount owed?
No – in this case the court also found that employers were not able to offset any casual loading already paid to the employee against the amount owed.
In this case the Court refused to accept that the casual loading, included in the hourly rate, was paid by WorkPac by mistake, or as a consideration which had totally failed. The Court could not rule out that the hourly rate merely reflected the market rate for guaranteeing Mr Rossato’s service.
If the Award that applies to the casual says that it has a 25% loading does that cover it
If their work is consistent, regular or long term this decision confirms they cannot be categorized as ‘Casual’. And they are entitled to be paid leave etc– irrespective of what hourly rate the employer chooses to pay them.
The government introduced some regulations to say that employees in that circumstance should not be able to double-dip. The intention was that if an employee has been paid a separately identifiable casual loading and later found to be a permanent employee, they would not be able to double-dip on permanent entitlements (i.e. the employer should be able to offset the casual loading paid against any entitlements claimed).
In the Rossato case, the court found that the employer could not rely on the regulations (for quite technical legal reasons), but this has cast doubt on whether the regulations can be relied upon by any employer. This is one of the reasons why the case may be appealed and/or the regulations may be amended.
What can we do to protect ourselves and manage the risk of claims?
You need to look at where you are now. Look at all your casual staff and determine what the relationship is. If they are employed like a perm staff member then the likelihood.
The court, in this case, decided that the elements of a casual employee must include:
The option for employees to accept/decline shifts
No commitment required in advance
Do not just continue as you have in the past and hope no one makes a claim. Identify the casual employees (past and present) who may not have been employed as a casual and assess the potential exposure to your business of any claim
Identify the employees
Look at their length of service
Work out the pro-rata entitlement to paid annual leave
Work out the number of public holidays they did not work
Assess records of any unpaid leave
Review your contracts of employment to determine what set-off entitlements you may have. Make sure your contracts for casuals record the true relationship
be more diligent in classifying casuals, as employees who work set, inflexible hours with a degree of certainty about ongoing work are unlikely to be ‘casual’.
Continue to pay casual loading and have a liability for paid leave as well.
Identify which employees do not want to change their ‘casual status’ and consider a plan to negotiate with these employees to agree to set-off
review and monitor your casual workforce: employment arrangements may change during employment and if a casual is no longer a casual, consider converting their employment status to permanent to mitigate any potential exposure (particularly where a casual employee is covered by a modern award containing a casual conversation clause);
Determine the structure of your business and if casuals are the right choice. A long-term casual may be significantly more expensive that a perm employee.
Begin to plan a negotiation on managing for.
Claims for accrued untaken annual leave by past employees (have a deed ready)
Provide for increased annual leave/ personal leave liability on the books
If you are receiving Job Keeper – consider whether you can direct the ‘casual’ employees to use some of their accrued annual leave entitlement
Consider whether any applicable award permits cashing out annual leave but remember there must be an agreement for cashing out accrued annual leave.
What to do to avoid the WorkPac Trap?
If using casuals, the greater the variance in the hours and times they work the better chance you have of defending any claims and showing that they are true casuals
Have a greater variety of hours and times
Have a pool of casuals to allow a variance
Have irregular hours of work with no guarantee of any days or set hours
Ensure casual have no reasonable predictability that their work will continue
Roster casuals a week or at most a fortnight in advance
It is also recommended that you have a system to show if challenged that the hours were open to the employee to accept the hours or decline them. This was it does not set up an expectation of regular work. If an employee if certain of hours week in week out there is a risk, If you have a system that when you send out the work available the employee has the options to accept or decline the greater the protection.
Better late than never! If as a business you have patchy engagement documents or are concerned that you may not have consistently applied the exiting casual conversion process as set down in the Modern Awards then it is strongly recommended that you issue all staff with confirmation of employment agreements and include the casual conversion letters as appropriate. Fresh HR Insights can help in this so please contact us.
Note: Failure to undertake the Casual Conversion Process as set out in the Modern Awards is a breach under the law and can result in penalties for the business. Let us help you get this right.
We are all dealing with an overabundance of concerns about the future of work. And what the future could bring. The topic of the future workforce has been a highly debated topic for over a decade, with differing information from various experts regarding what impact automation technologies like artificial intelligence (AI) and robotics will have on jobs, not to mention the fluctuation in remote workforce implementation and viability. And all of this was happening before the COVID-19 pandemic.
And now we are facing unprecedented change to our workforce, but wait a minute lets put this in perspective. COVID-19 is a global pandemic, which means it is forcing unilateral innovation (disruption) across the globe; this spells a new norm. And WE, the collective, will oversee the discovery. What will emerge as the “new normal” will ultimately be our doing (or undoing)? What will the workforce look like as we emerge from COVID-19?
Should People Be Concerned
The pandemic has been associated with a “world war.” There is reason to be concerned. But do not get overly concerned. Instead, get resolute and face the situation head-on. Perhaps at this time, we need to look to learning and development (L&D) methodology – after all, is this not like one big mixing pot of L&D?
AGILITY The ability to move quickly and easily – the ability to think and understand quickly
When we look to the lens of L&D and learning agility we look at the ability to continually and rapidly learn, unlearn, and relearn. It is a mental midset and practices that take a variety of different experiences and applied past learning to change to the new norm. Afterall with COVID-19 we need to now more than ever future-proof yourself in an age of disruption. Do we need to look to practices to enhance an Agile Workforce?
If we go back and look at the association with a “world war” what’s different here is that we have the technology. Not just some technology but a massive amount of ever moving and changing technology that makes the world of remote working that much easier. Technology is the enabler that has allowed many businesses to continue operating in a different way.
Where to Turn – Problems V Solutions
Working from home, for those jobs that can and have, will continue with more robust work-from-home policies. With more employees working from home, there is increasing the potential for employers to improve the monitoring of their employees. That would mean productivity monitoring (measured and tracked), even if employees work outside of the traditional office and work environments. Many companies are already doing this.
For example, your employer could monitor your keystrokes on your computer to analyze your productivity. Of course, this brings up privacy concerns. But with some companies claiming that responsible monitoring is required to ensure productivity levels or leaders are looking to the bottom line to justify output. But you can here question trust – trust between employees and employers – should productivity and outcome be a more measurable way to check-in?
It might sound corny, but thankfulness at work – in life – really matters. Going along to get along simply will not cut it. Start thinking critically about the work you do. Question where the work is done and who benefits? Who is adversely affected, and at what cost?
As more people work from home, work-life and personal life have become interconnected. This has important implications for your mental health, happiness, and comfort. No longer can you think of your “work-life” and “personal life” as distinct aspects of your LIFE?
It isn’t all about where people work but also HOW the business or organization deals with these challenges. The bottom line may not be the best decider right now but the “what FUTURE” organization do we want and how can we grow that loyalty now.
Take note: this is a wake-up call to find meaningful work. Take time out of your day/ evening to meditate. If you do not know-how – learn. Take charge of the time you have, feel more inspired more often, and create more impactful moments.
Lacking Time? Or Unsure Of Your Legal Obligations As An Employer?
We come across many a Small Business owner on the Gold Coast and in South East Queensland that finds nothing is ever simple and situations are complex and leave them waiting for an unfair dismissal claim? Often this leave them wondering why you even bother with employees. It does not have to be this way
Inquire today about our Telephone and emailed based HR/ ER support and HR Advice Online.. We do not run a call center – you get direct access to an employment relations expert whenever you need assistance. We help you resolve HR/ ER issues & put a plan in place to avoid future problems. The hours in our ER/HR supportbundles include phone, emails, forms, correspondence letters, advice, policies, procedures and onsite meetings. We have you covered
Stand-downs, voluntary leave, redundancy and working at home are hot topics in today’s environment. Today, David interviews Paulette McCormack from Fresh HR Insights who helps us slice through the complexity. Contact us for hr support services.
This payment and requirements can potentially cause issues for all businesses.
We strongly advise that is you aren’t clear on something or want to discuss actions that you need/want to take, that you discuss it with the relevant professional. This will be helpful for small business hr compliance.
If you need Business Consulting and Bookkeeping Assistance, Belinda’s details are below
Social loafing describes the tendency of individuals to put forth less effort when they are part of a group. Because all members of the group are pooling their effort to achieve a common goal, each member of the group contributes less than they would if they were individually responsible
Ringelmann’s Rope-Pulling Experiments
A French agricultural engineer named Max Ringelmann conducted one of the earliest experiments on the Social Loafing phenomenon in 1913. In his research, he asked participants to pull on a rope both individually and in groups.
What he discovered that when people were part of a group, they made less of an effort to pull the rope than they did when working individually.
But what happens when you are no longer in the group and instead of working remotely at home with no-one to poll your efforts with?
The very real reality that we are now faced with and for employers, this also brings the BIG question on many employers’ minds as they no-longer have the visual indicator of work – “how do I know that my team is completing their hours?”
When we think about the social loafing one of the things that Psychologists have come up with as the explanation is Motivation. Employees who overall are less motivated are more likely to partake in “social loafing” – well that’s in a group setting but how does that motivation stack up when you are working from home, possibly in self-isolation with minimal interaction with others? Does it still exist – well yes it does!
What can counteract this is the fact that in a group those that are prone to social loafing no-longer have a feeling of less personal accountability – there is no longer other people’s efforts to hide behind and when we send information electronically it has our own individual footprints. Where once their lack of effort may have gone unnoticed and had little impact on the outcomes they now will be standing out on their own and highlighted. Or do they?
In an article by Forbes March 2020 – It was suggested that “Just because your team is suddenly remote and may only be so for a relatively short period, you shouldn’t ignore passive-aggressive social loafing. If left unchecked, it will destroy the morale and productivity of even the best team”
The nature of working from home is that you cannot keep an eye on everyone and the efforts that they may (or may not) be putting in. Afterall in the office, you can see who the early starters and late finishes are and who’s always got their head down – not when you are limited to virtual catch-ups. Social Loafing can quietly fall into the virtual background of not called out. You will also get to know about workplace policies and procedures.
When we look at what Psychologists set out for prevention of Social Loafing, they advise the following;
establish individual accountability;
develop standards and rules;
define tasks clearly;
evaluate personal progress, and
highlight the achievements of individual members.
Now lets for a moment look at the working from home effectiveness suggested guides. (we wrote a blog about this in March – read it here) as employers you can easily set these in place with open communication as the first one is – Know the ground rules – here are some areas to set out first and foremost
Does your employer require a nine-to-five schedule, or is there flexibility?
Which tech tools might you need, such as Zoom for video conferencing, Slack or Microsoft Teams for group chats, or Trello for project management?
It’s really important as an employer that you set out the ground rules and ensure you have the appropriate equipment for the teams, such as a laptop, as well as network access available for the employee – so they can get into their work – and you will also need to ensure that you have given them the heads up on the Workplace Health and Safety as employers STILL have that obligation when employees are working from home.
Not all employees will have a dedicated space, but you do need to have clearly established policies and procedures for working from home, flexibility, and ergonomics. Get them to fill in a Working from the Home checklist and send it back, signed with a photo of the space they will be working in. You need to ensure that loafing about on the sofa in front of the TV is not happening and clearly not an acceptable working environment and may cause more harm than good. You can grab our fact sheet and info HERE for working from home during COVOD-19.
Be sure to do trial runs and work out any problems that might impede workflow – obviously at the speed of adaption in the current COVID-19 situation it has not always been easy to do trial runs but you just need to be adaptable and patient.
You will also need to up the ante on the social interactions with the teams as being at home and be very isolating especially when you are used to being in the hustle and bustle of an office environment. Some employees love the thought of working in solitude, but even the most introverted among us can start feeling a little claustrophobic after a few weeks at home, alone, staring at the same project for long hours. It can get lonely. Be ready for that and try to schedule some connect-with-the-outside-world time. What about a staff “virtual’ lunch date, a video conference setting out new developments at work and a social Friday afternoon “virtual drinks”? You can even have some fun with this as what about a fancy dress – who said that being remote means being boring after all.
With so much happening and so quickly as we navigate the world of COVID-19, we can become overwhelmed. Add to this mixing pot of uncertainty an employee who is sitting in fear and the unknown which is never a good combination for irrational thought patterns. Protect yourself from an opportunist attempt at unfair dismissal claims or worse by seeking advice and avoiding acting in haste.