New annualised salary obligations coming into effect from 1st March 2020?

New annualised salary obligations coming into effect from 1st March 2020?

New annualised salary obligations coming into effect from 1st March 2020?

Will you be ready?

The Fair Work Commission (FWC) have introduced three new annualised salary obligations clauses, as part of their four-year review.  Each of the clauses were created to represent the work patterns and habits relative to each industry, and then allocated to each of the 22 modern awards affected. If you identify with any one of these awards, then now is the time to start examining your agreements both new and old, to ensure you are ready for the change’s effective 1st March 2020.

The clauses incorporate significant changes with the annualised salary obligations including but not limited to:

  • New written requirements incorporating notification of how the salary was calculated, noting weekly hours of work and relevant award obligations, and in some cases setting limits on maximum hours included in remuneration (with additional payments required if exceeded);
  • New record keeping requirements. It is now compulsory for all salary employees to keep signed accurate time and attendance records including start time, finish time and unpaid meal breaks taken;
  • New wage reconciliation requirements. Every 12 months a reconciliation must be conducted using the time sheets and based on the award payment due, if they were paid as per the award. If a shortfall is identified between what was paid and what the award would have paid, then this must be paid to the employee;
  • In addition, a year to date reconciliation must also be completed upon termination with any underpayments to be paid within 14 days;

Employers need to ensure that they have the infrastructure in place to comply with the new record keeping requirements, wage reconciliation process, and managing remuneration for overtime payments if required.

The team at Fresh HR Insights are watching this changes carefully and will be in touch with our clients in due course for how it will impact them and the tools are have created to make this as easy as possible. If you are not a client of ours and need some support please email us on paulette@freshhrinsights.com.au 

Sexual Harassment In The Workplace: A Case Study

Sexual Harassment In The Workplace: A Case Study

Sexual harassment is any unwelcome sexual behaviour that makes a person feel uncomfortable, intimidated or humiliated. It is inappropriate sexual remarks or physical, verbal or written advances made in a place of work. Sexual harassment is also a form of illegal employment discrimination. Sexual harassment in the workplace in unlawful, and an employer may be vicariously liable for sexual harassment engaged in by the employees in connection with their employment unless it takes steps to manage and prevent such behaviours.

It has become the key goal of decision makers for many organisations and businesses to help in preventing sexual harassment and defend employees from these charges.

Below is a case study of how not having an adequate sexual harassment policy as a business owner can go terribly wrong and also how not following it or ensuring your employees are educated in it can harm a business.

In the case of Evans v Pasadena Foodland and Crugnale (2019), an Australian supermarket and one of its employees were ordered to pay another employee an amount of $30,000 in compensation simply because the case of sexual harassment that was brought to the owner’s attention was not investigated properly. What’s most important in this case is that the employer was held vicariously liable for the incident because of their negligence in not only investigating the matter but also in ensuring that their sexual harassment policy was clearly understood by their employees.

When the incident was reported to the management by the complaining employee, CCTV footage was reviewed and the employer made a judgement that nothing of concern was noticed. Of course, the accused employee (a chef) insisted that the touching (of another employee in the supermarket) was completely accidental and denied any sexual harassment.

The employer insisted that they had taken all reasonable and relevant steps to prevent sexual harassment in their business by ensuring that:

  • They had a workplace policy in place that prevented sexual harassment and provided for reporting sexual harassment
  • They had ensured that the employee who was accused of sexual harassment was aware of and understood the policy prior to them being employed
  • They correctly and properly investigated the complaint

When finalising judgement on the matter, the judge in the case ruled that the employer had firstly failed to follow their own sexual harassment policy. He also judged that they had failed to properly train their staff with regards to the business’ sexual harassment policy and sexual harassment in general and had not explained properly how a complaint of this matter would be handled. The judge also ruled that the employees investigations were inadequate and tardy in relation to when the incident occurred.

What Should Employers Do?

Hopefully this case study demonstrates how important it is to create a working environment that is free from sexual harassment, that all staff are treated with respect and dignity, that they provide employees with an effective procedure for complaints and that all complaints are treated with sensitivity, fairness and in a confidential manner. As an employer you need to provide your employees with support and confidentiality in the event of anything like this occurring at your workplace. Putting up examples of relevant sexual harassment cases which are relevant to your specific work environment will assist in promoting awareness.

Tips you as an employer can use:

  • Present the sexual harassment policy to all staff at a meeting with everyone present
  • Executives or Senior management should endorse the policy and emphasise that staff should adhere to the policy
  • Email copies to employees, put a copy on the intranet and display the policy on notice boards and add to the company manual
  • Provide all new staff members with a copy and present it to staff during induction
  • Ask all staff to sign a copy of the policy acknowledging they have received and understood it

Here are some more Case Examples of Sexual Harassment

Aleksovski v Australia Asia Aerospace Pty Ltd [2002] FMCA 81

Ms Aleksovski was subjected to repeated forceful requests from a co-worker to spend time alone together ‘at his place’. She was awarded compensation totalling $7,500. Source: http://www.austlii.edu.au/au/cases/cth/FMCA/2002/81.html

Bishop v Takla [2004] FMCA 74

Ms Bishop was subjected to a range of unwanted sexual harassment, including sexual remarks and physical contact; she suffered post-traumatic stress disorder as a result of the harassment. She was awarded compensation totalling $24,386.40. Source: http://www.austlii.edu.au/au/cases/cth/FMCA/2004/74.html

Lee v Smith (No 2) [2007] FMCA 1092

It was found that the Applicant had been subjected to sexual harassment in the form of rape, as well as sexual discrimination and victimisation. She was awarded $392,422.32 in damages. Source: http://www.austlii.edu.au/au/cases/cth/FMCA/2007/1092.html

How Fresh HR Insights Can Help

Sexual harassment can affect your company’s public image. With the waves created on social media in recent months about sexual abuse, this problem has become very high profile in the media. Fresh HR Insights is aware of the need for companies to now re-evaluate harassment policies and re-introduce training in an attempt to preventing and avoid sexual harassment in any business.

We are able to assist you with renewed and updated harassment policies, helping create awareness in the workplace. A written policy is insufficient on its own and it should be implemented clearly and thoroughly through communication and education of staff. If you are concerned that your current policy is insufficient or would just like to get some advice, please don’t hesitate to contact us.

Related Tag: Business Human Resources

How To Deal With Conflict Resolution At Work

How To Deal With Conflict Resolution At Work

While everyone is different, we should all strive to be productive, work hard at our jobs and maintain healthy work relationships. However, some people just rub each other the wrong way, no matter how healthy the work environment is. It happens – especially when you add the pressure of deadlines, projects and the fears of losing a client or a pitch. There are plenty of reasons why there is conflict at any organisation, making those involved feel bitter and resentful, and if the problem is left to fester; it will start affecting everyone else in the office. Poor leadership is a significant reason for conflict because the team may feel they are not being led well, resulting in poor company performance and low staff morale. To avoid such a scenario, managing conflict resolution at work is essential, and we will help you explore the reasons and methods to help any leader motivate their staff once again.

Causes Of Conflict

  • Besides mismanagement of resources leading to both low turnover and uncompetitiveness due to poor leadership, a lack of communication can lead to a void of information. When the team doesn’t know what’s going on or what they’re expected to do, it can lead to conflict with management.
  • The feeling that salary and benefits are not equal at work leads to a significant drop in morale, and a lack of resources to complete one’s projects and work can be demoralising.
  • Another frustration trigger for an already demoralised team is when the systems are not well maintained, leading to work disruption, delays, outages and missed deadlines which in turn leads to a loss of clients.

The lack of communication mentioned earlier then results in more conflict, especially when the team want change but there is a resistance from management. Such resistance can be seen as a threat when the reason for the change is missed completely. When a team raises issues, and they persist long after being raised, it suggests that the employees’ solutions and suggestions are being ignored, which leads to a hostile work environment. A negative working environment is when the culture of a company has become toxic due to unfair treatment, bullying, fear, undermining others and entitled employees or even employers.

Signs Of Conflict

Now that you understand the “What” of conflict let us shift to its signs between individuals and how to spot these warning signs. While any manager might be tempted to ignore the conflict and pretend that it doesn’t exist, hoping it will go away is not the correct method of dealing with it. Because we all know that when left unresolved, a conflict may lead to frustration, anger, communication breakdown and unhappiness at work, and can even escalate to heated arguments, finger-pointing, and assigning blame at each other, making it crucial to speedily resolve conflicts in the workplace. Before it ever gets to this stage, a manager needs to notice the warning signs, including mistrust between team members, belittling, and a lack of collaboration and cooperation. More red flags can manifest in passive-aggressiveness, reduced productivity, gossiping, lack of interest, fault-finding, harsh emails, tension, retaliating, lack of respect, hurtful words, and wanting to win the argument.

Serious conflict can quickly turn into claims of Workplace Bullying which is covered under the Workplace Health and Safety Act. In general, it costs the Australian economy up to $36 billion each year, with the average case amounting to $17,000-24,000 for employers. Legal penalties alone can carry a heavy price tag, with the WHS Act fining corporations as much as $500,000 for a category 3 offence and $3,000,000 for a category 1 offence. Can you afford that expense?

How To Resolve The Conflict

Now that you’re aware of the signs of conflict in the workplace and understand that ignoring it is not an option, what do you do? Well, each incident is different, including the severity of it and how seriously the situation needs to be treated.  But there are some general steps you can follow to try to come to a sound resolution. Playing the role of a mediator is one way to go about it. Find the time and place to listen to both parties involved in the conflict, ensuring you take no sides. Then take the time to figure out the source of the battle; this can be done by asking direct questions without beating around the bush. Doing this will help you get to the bottom of the hidden issue which has been causing friction between the parties. Once you understand the cause, you can quickly identify what led to it, including specific actions and behaviours, then determine why the conflict started and when it started. With all of the information on hand, you can then begin to talk to each party about how to resolve their issue.

A first step will always be prevention instead of the actual fire fighting of workplace complaints and conflict. Have you got your workplace bullying policy in place, what about your grievance policy and procedure and also your code of conduct? If you haven’t then you need to seriously think about getting them.

Fresh HR Insights has the personnel to help you resolve any workplace conflict as well as create these policies and procedures. We are HR Consultants on the Gold Coast, and we have more than a decade of experience, both nationally and internationally. You do not have to deal with conflict and the resulting impact on your own, we can step in and help you understand why people do what they do in the workplace. For more information, browse our website.

Related Tag: HR Support Gold Coast
HR Consultancy Services Gold Coast

We Help You With Managing Employee Terminations

We Help You With Managing Employee Terminations

Unhappy employees at a company always dream of packing their office accessories, stomping out of the office as they shout “Bye Felicia” behind them. The same can be said for managers who are tired of working with troublesome employees and can’t wait to wave them goodbye. Towards the end of the year employees also tend to start seeking out new challenges elsewhere which can also be a cause of conflict regarding leave pay-out. Regardless of the situation, managing employee terminations can be an emotionally exhausting affair, especially the side conducting the termination. A manager’s patience can be severely tested as well as their knowledge of the process during this period. If there is no expert in HR consultancy services to help you with the employee termination procedure, then you might unintentionally leave yourself and your company open to financial liability. To make this process proceed much smoother, here are a few points that you will have to keep in mind if the employee is the one instigating the termination.

Confirm In Writing

If one of your staff members is the one requesting to terminate their employment, then insist that it be done in writing and not verbally. The document must explicitly state the reasons they are ending the contract and their intended last day of employment. Before responding, do seek advice from an HR support services provider if you do not have an internal one. If there is no letter of resignation forthcoming, then request a written notification to make clear why they are leaving the company and the date. A resignation will only be valid where there is an unequivocal intention by the employee to no longer be bound by the employment agreement.

Resignation in Haste

If they are resigning in “Haste” because of a workplace argument or disagreement, then it is recommended that you give them time to cool down and then check that they are still wanting to resign.

The Fair Work Commission noted in case law principles that:

  • It may not be reasonable to immediately accept a resignation where there are special circumstances;
  • Special circumstances may include words said in anger, under undue pressure or the intellectual capacity of employee;
  • Where there are special circumstances, employers should allow a reasonable period of time to pass. The employer may need to enquire whether the employee actually intended to resign;
  • Given the special circumstances, whether an employee intended to resign will be judged objectively by the courts; and
  • Where a resignation is given and the intention is unambiguous, the employer is not required to make further enquiries.

If an employer fails to take these steps and simply accepts a resignation made in the ‘heat of the moment’, it may be subject to an unfair dismissal application against them. Section 386(1)(b) of the Fair Work Act 2009 (Cth) distinguishes between a genuine resignation and one where an employee has felt forced to resign ‘because of conduct, or a course of conduct, engaged in by his or her employer’, which is in fact considered a dismissal at the initiative of the employer.

In the case of Minato v Palmer Corporation (1995), a retail employee stormed out of the workplace saying to her supervisor that she could “shove the f***ing job up her a***”. When the employer refused to accept the employee’s withdrawal of her resignation, it was found to be ‘harsh, unjust and unreasonable’ and therefore an unfair dismissal under section 385(b) of the Fair Work Act 2009 (Cth).

Check Contractual Obligations

Before you make verbal agreements about anything in regard to a contract termination, do check the Employment legislation on whether their contractual obligations have been met. It is to ensure that the rights of the employee are not being infringed upon and that they give the company their best while still working there, according to their contract. If both parties comply, then this process can proceed smoother and with less risk of any claims against the employer. If the worker has leave days remaining in their contract or you don’t want them around the business during their notice period, check if you can pay them out – this is called ‘payment in lieu of notice’. This ideally is set out in their contract of employment. There are also other commitments to be calculated, such as final salary payments, overtime hours, as well as long service leave according to when the termination of employment will take effect. You MUST pay out all the employee entitlements or you may well receive correspondence from the Fair Work Commission. Many companies operate in risk-sensitive industries and might fear a jaded employee stealing company secrets and sharing them with competitors – it’s always best to have contracts that protect you and keep them up to date and checked.

Exit Interview Session and Duties Handover

An exit interview is a significant meeting, and managers should never be short-sighted about its relevance. Just because an employee wants to leave, do not take their exit interview for granted or take their notes in the discussion as just coming from a disgruntled employee. Having this interview will help you understand the reasons for the departure and the issues raised can be reviewed to improve the business. If these issues are fixed, it means that you have a better chance of retaining your staff. This time is also perfect for the leaving employee to share and transfer their knowledge about their duties to other employees who will be filling their role moving forward.

Clarify Restrictions – Restraint of Trades

Restrictions are absolutely reasonable in contracts with permanent staff members and are made to protect the company. It is not designed to prevent an employee from leaving but that they should not start a company within the industry, presenting a threat to their old employers. It can lead to the employee poaching clients and interfering with relationships. Other companies take restrictions a step further and force the employee to not work within the industry for about a year. It gives the company time to re-establish the relationship with the client.  What you however need to be mindful of is that you cannot stop a person from earning a living, so any restriction needs to be reasonable.

These are just some of the points that you will need to remember when working hard to manage an employee termination effectively. You can contact a HR company for advice on how to proceed. Fresh HR Insights is the company you are looking for to be in your corner. With more than a decade in the industry, we can help protect you from Fair Work breaches and managing employee terminations without the drama that follows.

Related Tag:Employee Termination Procedure 

Healthy Workplace This Winter Flu Season

Healthy Workplace This Winter Flu Season

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.

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. 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.

Workplace Entitlements 

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.

Employees get:

  • 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.

Related Tag: HR Workshops And Support

How to Place A Lid On Workplace Negativity?

How to Place A Lid On Workplace Negativity?

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.

Grab our FREE FACT Sheet on Effective Communication

 

 

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.

Non-Verbal Communication.

Bias in the Workplace Communication.

And so much more

Effective Communication Manual

Employee retention –  The best tools and measures

Employee retention – The best tools and measures

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:

  1. Which employees are hard to replace within the industry?
  2. Which employees hold key strategic positions?
  3. 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.

 

Grab your FREE fact sheet on Inductions

Taking on a New Employee – are you ready?

Taking on a New Employee – are you ready?

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. 

Grab your FREE Fact Sheet Here

Related Tag: HR Support Gold Coast

Workplace Kindness  Free to everyone, but can be hard to find

Workplace Kindness Free to everyone, but can be hard to find

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

Related Tag: HR Support Gold Coast
HR Consultancy Services Gold Coast

“Say Something Nice Day”

“Say Something Nice Day”

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

Joke Trend in The Office That HR Needs To Work Out For 2019

Joke Trend in The Office That HR Needs To Work Out For 2019

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:

  • Not So Much Seriousness

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:

  1. Meet individual employees, obtained their perspective on jokes in the workplace, and explain to them what HR will condone and what it will not.
  2. The resolution of the meeting should be published, communicated to all employees and the sanction for offending employees should be clearly stated.
  3. 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.

Fresh HR Insights are EXPERTS on workplace matters and act as a key point of authority for Small Businesses across South East Queensland – Make an appointment today 

Unconventional Knowledge of HR That May Change Your Perspective

Unconventional Knowledge of HR That May Change Your Perspective

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.

What I Wish Everyone Knew About  Communication Technology and Workplace Culture

What I Wish Everyone Knew About Communication Technology and Workplace Culture

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?

Technology predictions for 2025 include

  • 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 

Email etiquette at work

  1. Include a clear, direct subject line.
  2. Use a professional email address.
  3. Think twice before hitting ‘reply all.’
  4.  Include a signature block.
  5.  Use professional salutations.
  6. Use exclamation points sparingly.
  7. Be cautious with humor.
  8. Know that people from different cultures speak and write differently.
  9. Reply to your emails–even if the email wasn’t intended for you.
  10. Proofread every message.
  11. Add the email address last.
  12. Double-check that you’ve selected the correct recipient.
  13. Keep your fonts classic.
  14. Keep tabs on your tone.
  15. Nothing is confidential–so write accordingly.
How To Dismiss an Employee

How To Dismiss an Employee

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.

Pre-meeting procedures

  • 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.

Post meeting

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.”

How To Resolve An Unfair Dismissal Claim

How To Resolve An Unfair Dismissal Claim

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…

 How is a conciliation conducted

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.

How to protect yourself from unfair dismissal claims

How to protect yourself from unfair dismissal claims

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:

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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”
  5. 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.
  6. 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.

Workshops

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.