Virtual HR means having HR advice and support whenever it is needed – giving you the chance to protect yourself from Fair Work Breaches. This in turn means having peace of mind in times of turbulence thanks to the HR experts supporting your small business every day.
If you’re new to the world of Virtual HR, check out our Small Business New Starter Kit. With Fresh HR Insights we will manage your records, new employee procedures and more, leaving you to deal with the important things like running your business.
Advice & Support
Virtual HR means having a team of professionals that offer expert advice and support on matters such as:
Sexual Harassment, discrimination and bullying claims
Updating and developing policies and procedures
Casual Conversion clauses and Management
Employment Contracts and flexible working agreements
Reasonable Management Action v Bullying claims
No matter the situation, your team of HR experts will know what to do and offer support whenever you need it.
With Virtual HR, you with always have open access to your preferred consultant. Additionally, your Virtual HR team will be accessible over the phone or via email to fully support your business.
Your HR Policy Problems Solved
Virtual HR supplies small businesses with HR policies and employee handbooks in fully downloadable formats. You will never need to guess the next step or be in the dark as to the best legal course to take because Virtual HR will be there to guide you.
Fair Work Australia Legislation Updates
Virtual HR services include remaining up to date with legislation. You can rest assured that your workplace procedures are on the right side of the law by having your HR team regularly update you on legislation changes in Australia.
Are you ready to discover what Virtual HR can do to improve your small business? Our team of HR professionals here at Fresh HR Insights offer free 30-minute consultation calls. Click here to schedule your free, obligation-free consultation.
Managing employees can be complex, but a claim-free and happy workplace with motivated, loyal, and productive employees, is possible through a few simple steps and a fair and transparent process, free from discrimination, or harsh, unjust or unfair treatment.
Disciplinary action which is not handled correctly, can expose a business to legal risk. These risks include findings of unfair dismissal, adverse action (like unlawful termination) and discrimination. If a claim is successful, it can lead to damaging financial penalties by Fair Work Australia, the reinstatement of an unfairly dismissed employee and damage to the employer’s reputation.
Due to the minefield of legislation when it comes to Fair Work, terminating an employee is the greatest risk for employers to take. This is only because there is a chance that the employee could dispute the termination through one of four methods of claim:
General Protections/ Adverse Actions
Breach of Contract
If owners and managers are not careful, any of these methods of dispute can negatively impact businesses in some if not all the following ways;
Compensation and penalty costs (the compensation for unfair dismissal claims is limited to six months wages or up to $76,800k in compensation – as of the 1st of July 2020)
Potential forced reinstatement of the staff member, and
Damage to the business’s reputation.
What about employees of less than 12 months?
Your employees can not bring an unfair dismissal claim in the first 12 months of their employment, which means they cannot take you to the Fair Work Commission simply because they believe their dismissal was “harsh, unjust or unreasonable”.
However, this does not mean you can dismiss an employee for any reason, even in the first 12 months of employment. You are still bound by the general protections in the termination provisions of the Fair Work Act.
Here are some examples when a business gets a dismissal wrong
Basic error costs employer over $10,000 in unfair dismissal case – In this case the employer lost an unfair dismissal case and was ordered to pay compensation to the employee in the amount of $10,695(approximately 13 weeks’ pay). Adding insult to injury, the employee then sought a cost order against the business, arguing it had acted unreasonably during the proceedings. The costs application was successful, with the Commission found that the business acted unreasonably when it reneged on the “entirely reasonable” settlement struck during conciliation without any proper basis for doing so. A costs order in the amount of almost $3,000 was ordered against the business (on top of the $10,695 in compensation).
An employer has been ordered to pay 17 weeks’ salary worth $22,882 as compensation to an employee who was unfairly dismissed by her employer after she refused to sign her revised employment contract.
Farmer v KDR Victoria Pty Ltd T/A Yarra Trams FWC 6539 a tram driver was found to be wrongly accused of using his mobile phone while operating a tram after a flawed investigation into the incident, therefore there was no substantive and valid reason for dismissal.
An employee was dismissed from after she was found asleep on the job the morning after the Melbourne Cup. She was sacked for being intoxicated at work, but the Commissioner found the business did not have sufficient evidence to prove she was drunk and did not provide her with an opportunity to respond to the allegation. She subsequently won the case and was awarded close to $7,000 in compensation.
A recent case involving a casual bottle shop worker who was unfair dismissed for not cleaning up a broken sign showed a casual worker can be covered by unfair dismissal protection if they can show they work regular shifts. The employee was awarded $7,000 in compensation after the Fair Work Commission ruled he was covered by unfair dismissal laws because he worked on a regular and systematic basis and could reasonably expect to work the same shifts each week.
If you encourage something, you can’t sack someone for it – an insurance broker awarded $300,000after he was sacked for passing out drunk in a hotel corridor. Employees in the company were expected to socialise and consume alcohol with clients and prospective clients and were routinely reimbursed alcohol expenses resulting from employee gatherings or entertaining clients. Justice Taylor awarded damages of $296,650: $99,092 in lost salary, $118,182 for his lost retention bonus, $48,620 in long service leave and $30,755 in interest. – “If the employer is going to conduct a training conference that includes alcohol at dinner and paying for alcohol at a venue afterwards the employer needs to accept some degree of responsibility,”
Did you know: The Commission has the discretion to order one party to an unfair dismissal matter to pay the other party’s legal or representational costs, but only where the Commission is satisfied the matter was commenced or responded: vexatiously or without reasonable cause, or. with no reasonable prospect of success.
Employers often tell us that the system is geared towards the employee BUT NO –you’re your case right and you, as a business can get orders awards in your favour too – In Green v Toll Holdings Pty Ltd (2015 / 8793) – The Fair Work Commission made an order requiring an employee who filed an unfair dismissal claim against his former employer “without reasonable cause” to pay the employer’s legal costs of $18,618.31.
Unfair dismissals can be upheld where terminations are substantively unfair, that is where there is no valid reason to terminate employment.
Procedural fairness is also an important consideration in determining whether are dismissal is unfair.
The FWC also takes into consideration whether the termination is otherwise unduly harsh in relation to the effect on the dismissed employee.
This is where a disciplinary manual can guide businesses safely through the disciplinary process step by step through the provision of templates, tips and advice and to ensure procedural fairness. If this manual is followed, you will be drastically reducing the risk of having an unfair dismissal claim filed against your business. However, it must be said that this manual is paired best with expert advice to ensure that each unique case is taken into full consideration.
For a disciplinary process to be considered effective and risk-free, business owners and managers need to understand:
What can be viewed as an unfair dismissal;
How and when a business can lawfully dismiss an employee;
How a business’s policies and procedures can help you manage dismissals in the workplace;
The alternatives to a dismissal; and
The notice and termination compensation requirements.
Fresh HR Insights has assisted various business owners in the preparation of unfair dismissal claims while also acting as an agent in the conciliation process. Even so, we sincerely hope that you adhere to our procedures so that this is prevented. We can help make sure that you have the right documentation, the right process, and approach all dismissals as per the Fair Work Australia Legislation. Do you need practical support? Click here to book a consultation with us today,
Many businesses make use of performance improvement plans to gauge the current performance of their employees and analyse this data to assess how things can be done better.
As HR specialists, we have seen that performance improvement plans can assist businesses in a myriad of ways. By implementing a performance improvement plan, you could experience the following positive results:
Retention of Employees
Hiring new employees is a time-consuming and expensive task, so you want to retain as many of your valued employees as possible. Performance improvement plans help to retain your current employees, as they pick up on ways that employees’ performance and work satisfaction could be improved.
The fact that you are devising a plan, will also show your current employees that you care about their job satisfaction. Once a performance improvement plan has been set in place, it can be used as a reference for when employees face certain struggles.
As your business grows and expands, the skills of your employees may have to grow and expand with it in order to keep up.
You don’t need to hire new employees necessarily, as a performance improvement plan can indicate where further education and training will be most valuable for your current employees.
Heighten Your Standards
A performance improvement plan allows you to take a good hard look at your current standards and assess which standards and expectations should be improved upon. These improved standards should be communicated to employees so that they know the new business benchmarks.
One of the most enticing factors of performance improvement plans (well for employees at least) is the assessment of rewards. Incentives can be a great way in which to improve production, performance and general atmosphere. Performance improvement plans can help assess which rewards will work best for which goals.
Make Use Of Employee Skills
One of the greatest benefits of performance improvement plans are the insight that they give you into your employees’ strengths and weaknesses. After an assessment of the plan, you may want to offer certain employees more responsibilities and provide other employees with further training.
This is a real morale booster and shows your employees that you care about seeing them succeed.
Protection against unfair or unlawful dismissal claims
Have you ever heard the saying “if it wasn’t written down it didn’t happen” Paperwork and process is the key to performance issues. Without a performance management process in place you are hard stretched to terminate without the risk of being found harsh, unjust and unreasonable.
In 2020 with job prospects low and a recession on the horizon after the COVID-19 pandemic there will be a greater and almost certain chance of an application for unfair dismissal occurring. The reality is what does someone have to lose? The current application fee is $73.20. and this fee can be waived in cases of serious financial hardship.
Make sure it is not you losing some money out of your bank account let along the time and effort to defend such a claim. Get the expert support on the process NOW.
We have a comprehensive manual currently under development. We will be covering off the following areas;
Providing Opportunities to improve
Disciplining for poor performance
Step by Step guides
Counselling under performance
Performance issues arising from an illness or injury
How to discipline a poorly performing employee
What to do before dismissal and underperforming employee
If you would like to be on the list to receive one at the introductory new release offer when they are released, kindly email us today. You can also sign up to our newsletter and not only keep up to date with all things related to Employment Relations BUT you will be there when we announce our Performance Management, PIPS and Perfromance Appraisals release. you can contact us for human resource policies and procedures.
Whatever the size of your company, Human Resources has to form an essential part of your business in order for your business to run effectively. For small businesses especially, there are lots of advantages to using a HR consultant.
As a professional HR consultancy firm, we have helped many businesses solve HR issues through our expert services. An outsourced HR consultant could truly transform your business through:
When you have an HR emergency, but no HR department to deal with it effectively, it can cause major issues throughout the running of your business. By making use of the services of an outsourced HR consultant, you are able to hand over HR issues as they arise and have the peace of mind that they are being dealt with effectively.
If you’d like to hear how our team, at Fresh HR Insights, can take care of HR tasks and solve any HR problems you may be facing, feel free to make use of our free, 30-minute, obligation-free consultation call.
With Fresh HR Insights we understand that business is not always a 9am – 5pm so we are available when you need us. If that means weekends or evenings – no problem. Just because others have stopped does not mean that you don’t have the support you need when you need it.
Most small businesses consist of a small team, with each team member having to take on a few roles, and operate somewhat outside of their job description, in order for operations to run smoothly. Sometimes these additional tasks can take up valuable time, especially if the person doing them is not an expert.
Outsourcing will save you both time and money as it will allow for the more efficient running of your business and ensure that tasks are delegated to the right person. Having the expert at the helm also means that the job not only gets done properly but also quickly. No fumbling about trying to find the information.
You can’t argue with expertise and sound advice. An HR consultant has all the knowledge and experienced needed to give you insightful advice as to how your operations, methods and procedures could be improved. HR consultants focus on making small, easy adjustments that make for greater outcomes in the grander scheme of your operations. There are many things that they may be able to see that you don’t. At Fresh HR Insights we pride ourselves on our academic achievements, continued professional development and real world experience – a combination of expertise above many others.
Within every industry, there are a variety of intricate rules and regulations that businesses need to abide by. If you don’t have a HR consultant or department in place, you may be breaking laws that you do not even know about. When it comes to matters of employment legislation ignorance is no excuse. Give yourself the peace of mind by outsourcing a professional HR consultant.
Want to experience what a HR consultant could do for your business? Our team at Fresh HR Insights offer free 30-minute consult calls. Click here to book a free, 30-minute, obligation-free chat.
It is true that the great majority of unfair dismissal claims in Australia are resolved before they reach a hearing with the Fair Work Commissioner. However, these disputes can still end up costing companies significant time and money.
A person has been dismissed from their employment when:
Their employment has been terminated at the initiative of the employer, or
They have resigned their employment but the resignation was forced by something the employer did.
What Can Be Considered An Unfair Dismissal?
We can say that an employee has been unfairly dismissed when the Fair Work Act labels it as such. If a dismissal is found to have been:
The Fair Work Commission’s (FWC) annual reports highlight emerging trends within employment law in Australia. The latest report for the 2018-2019 financial year advises that employers have greater regard to the general protections provisions when interacting with members of the workforce.
To summarise the findings within these reports, there has been significant growth in the number of general protections claims over the previous financial year. It is interesting that while the number of applications lodged and finalised has decreased (5,287 in 2017-18 down to 4,932 in 2018-19), an increasing number of agreements are only achieving approval once there has been a provision of undertakings. Here are some of the key findings regarding unfair dismissals within this report:
13,422 applications for unfair dismissal were finalised, 78% of which were resolved after a conciliation.
Just 5% of applications were resolved by the FWC. Only 19% of which were found to be harsh, unreasonable or unjust dismissals.
The costs that a claim such as this can have on your business extends further than just the monetary kind. Some of these can include the cost of disruption to the business, management time, the cost of legal representation, and more still.
On average, an unfair dismissal case can cost a business up to $13,500.
One case in August 2017 saw a basic error cost an employer more than $10,000 in an unfair dismissal case.
A few of the claims within the case include the business having failed to appreciate its exposure to an adverse outcome leading to an aggressive stance, reneging on a settlement agreement, a failure to maintain communication during settlement discussions, a number of failures to produce witnesses, damaged credibility of statements, and more.
The outcome of this case was an unsurprising loss and an unfair dismissal payout of $10,695 (roughly 13 weeks’ pay) to the dismissed employee. The costs did not stop with this amount, there was an additional $3,000 ordered against the business due to indiscretions and reneging on the settlement agreement.
Behind the scenes, there were no doubt plenty of other overheads proving the importance of remaining compliant with the legal system and having access to specialist advice.
Save yourself the headache and the hidden costs of remedy payments by seeking expert advice. Fresh HR Insights is well-versed in the legal ins and outs of the commerce sector and can help your business remain on the straight and narrow and avoid these kinds of costly expenses.
We have helped various business owners across various industries in the preparation of unfair dismissal claims and acted as an agent in the conciliation process. The ideal however is don’t go there in the first place and ensure you have the right documentation, the right process and approach all dismissals fairly and in line with legislation. Need pragmatic support – call Fresh HR Insights.
Expert HR support and advice is something that every company needs. Protect yourself and your workers from fair work breaches and have that peace of mind in times of turbulence with an HR Expert supporting you every step of the way.
What Is The Benefit of Using HR Consulting Services?
No matter the size of your company, Human Resources is the glue that holds all of the elements together. This department does a whole lot of good for businesses including damage prevention and control. Among these functions are:
Training and development
Expert HR solutions can come in many forms such as virtual, outsourced and internal. One convenient way that these solutions can be accessed is through an on-call consultant or agency for times that you require advice on anything from workplace procedures to conflict resolution and beyond. Having these services at your beck and call will mean less stress and a positive impact on your business’s bottom line.
Here is a closer look at some of the benefits that expert HR services provide.
A HR consultant can provide expert advice on areas that are in need within your business. From establishing procedures to troubleshooting disputes, a professional HR consultant will be able to help guide you and ensure that everything is done by the book. It is a requirement of the Australian Human Resource Institute (AHRI) for all Certified Professional members (Which Fresh HR Insights Director Paulette McCormack is) to maintain Continued Professional Development (CPD) hours giving you confidence in up to date current support and advice.
Each industry comes with strict rules and regulations, expert HR services can help keep you in line and your professional hands clean. This saves businesses a lot of trouble down the line as some rules may overlap or seem murky to the untrained eye.
Workplace may fall under a model Award. Awards provide pay rates and conditions of employment such as leave entitlements, overtime and shift work, amongst other workplace related conditions. Most modern awards relate to particular industries or occupations. There are currently 122 modern awards of general application. Awards can change so its vital that you keep up to date. A breach of award conditions can attract substantial civil penalties for a corporate employer and individuals involved can also be penalised for each breach
Employee Development And Training
You may have stellar methods for training and developing employee skills but there are several points within these procedures that need to be considered. For instance, employee motivation and making sure that they feel heard is extremely important. With the right advice, your workforce will feel appreciated and productive so that your business can grow.
Paired with the above benefit, this assistance from a consultant will greatly influence productivity. With the company goals in mind, it is good to be sure that your workforce is on the same page as you. A HR consultant will guide you toward implementing a comprehensive performance management plan and help you utilise it to its maximum potential.
Some other benefits that expert HR consulting services and packages can offer businesses include:
At Fresh HR Insights, it is our passion to keep business booming. Let us assign a HR expert to you today.
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
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.
So today is the 1st April 2020 and this morning people are playing pranks on each other and finding humor in amongst the posts on FaceBook of “cleared my office today” “I don’t know when I will be back in” “I miss everyone and the fun” and “what now?”
I can almost say with certainty that we will never face another 1st April like the one that we have today. In our wildest dreams, we could have never imagined that what played out on the movie screens would play out in real life. Central Park in New York City, the place that’s on my bucket list to a carriage ride through is now set up as a makeshift hospital to help with the ever-increasing numbers of Coronavirus cases. Where once you may have said “I would die to go to Central Park” now the reality is that people may die “in” central park.
As an employment relations consultant, my phone and emails have been running hot with business owners and managers asking, “what do I do now?”. The reality is other than going back with what is coming out with Fair Work, ensuring that any stand-downs, redundancies, reduction in hours, etc to minimize the business impact are done as per the Act and as per the Awards so we don’t have a nasty backlash at the other end – it’s not business as usual anymore and what was once certain is now very uncertain.
I remember going to a Tony Robbins event and he got up and said that “Certainty is Boredom” – gee I wish I was bored right now as this uncertainty is to a whole new level.
Like many parents, I have my kids at home, and they are looking to me for guidance and support in what for them is challenging. They can’t understand why suddenly, they are unable to go to school, unable to see their friends and unable to go out whenever they want to. There are also the financial constraints – how do you explain that the food we have in the cupboard needs to go further than it has ever gone before as we really don’t know if we can fill it up again. We will help you to find the HR outsourcing services.
We are lucky (so so lucky actually) that my partner still has worked (for now) and so do I till May at least but no-one really knows how long we will all be in this place, these 4 walls, behind the rendered brick wall that we have been told to stay at unless it is an essential trip. (in mental well-being and sanity an essential trip?)
I have been positive till today then – SMACK it hit me in the face – I have no control over the outside world and no control over what will happen next. Sure, I have control over my thoughts and my mindset and coaches will tell you to focus on you and what you need but what is that?
The rules of the game have changed and shifted. I have my own business as well as teaching but looking at the invoices out to invoices this morning it’s a stark difference and you can guess which one is the less, no actually, t non-existent, I have no invoices to go out. Like many many others it’s going to hurt. I have been busy but I have been giving advice FREELY as this I believe is the right thing to do in all the pain – I don’t see its fair to be charging people when they also have no idea where their next payment will come from but at least I have a few weeks more to deal with that.
I was honored to get a text last night saying “I was ringing to take you up on that offer for a friendly ear” I had missed the call but rang straight back. The person is a client but also becoming a friend and they had to tell their whole company today that they will all be stood down as there was no more work as the industry they relied on had all but been decimated. She asked me how I deal with this kind of thing as she was struggling with having to tell all these people, you won’t be getting paid. Depersonalise it – was the only answer – as this was not them nor was this a conversation anyone else would naturally and normally want nor to have to say BUT we are not in normal times.
“Your first few days and weeks in a crisis are crucial, and you should make ample room to allow for a mental adjustment. It is perfectly normal and appropriate to feel bad and lost during this initial transition. Consider it a good thing that you are not in denial, and that you are allowing yourself to work through the anxiety. No sane person feels good during a global disaster, so be grateful for the discomfort of your sanity. At this stage, I would focus on food, family, friends, and maybe fitness. (You will not become an Olympic athlete in the next two weeks, so don’t put ridiculous expectations on your body.)”
I will leave my post at that as I need to consider the above for my own self – today, 1st April 2020 is no matter to be laughed at, joked at, or put down to “just a bad day” – today is the first of what is the new reality and new pathway for many.
Stay safe my friends, my clients, and everyone that reads this – we will rebuild somehow, we will be stronger, and we will be OK. XX
If you need anything then please reach out to us at Fresh HR Insights HERE
It’s true that there are workplace policies and procedures within a company’s employee handbook, however, they are not one and the same. Employee handbooks are also designed with a particular audience in mind whereas the policies and procedures manual is applicable company-wide.
What’s The Difference?
As mentioned, an employee handbook is written with employees as the intended audience. A handbook is a vehicle for getting employees of a workplace familiar with company policies, procedures, and benefits. This is also where workers can learn about general expectations that the company has which includes behaviour which is considered acceptable or not. This is also where disciplinary measures are covered.
Now, if we’re just talking about workplace policies and procedures, this often refers to a comprehensive manual that covers every aspect of the business policy in detail. This includes the procedures in place for following those policies and the relevant paperwork. This manual is used mainly by management in order to gauge a deeper understanding of a desired process. This text is helpful in many ways, one of which is how it references federal and state laws for each of the policies in place. This is helpful when enforcement is needed.
A typical employee handbook consists of general information about the business, a welcome cover letter from the owner, CEO, or president, the company vision, mission, values, purpose, and broad strategic goals. Additionally, the company will typically include a reiteration of its commitment to employees and any agreements that are made in its name.
Attendance expectations defined exempt and nonexempt employment statuses, severe weather protocol, use of company property, and more still.
Lastly, another important inclusion in these handbooks is workplace bullying, Workplace Health and Safety, Family and Domestic Violence Policy, Leave, Unpaid Leave and one that has become very important in the current 2020 pandemic – is the Epidemic/Pandemic policy and procedure. Other important factors here include additional terms and conditions of employment, paid time off, and so on.
If you’re in need of good workplace policies and procedures, check out Fresh HR Insights for HR support services and consultancies that you might not even realise you need.
To be productive, you need an office environment that allows you to comfortably work and stay focused while Working from Home during (COVID-19)
designate an area of your home, specifically for getting work done. This could be an empty or spare bedroom that you convert to a home office. If you are pressed for space, you can set up a desk for your computer and office supplies
Be sure your workspace is quiet so you can focus on the task at hand.
Invest in quality Technology
A high-performance router will save you from many technology hassles. Since working from home often requires more than chat messages, you need a router that will keep up.
Even if you have a brand-new laptop or a new smartphone, you will want to invest in a quality pair of headphones with a mic. Noise-canceling features can really help improve the clarity of your phone calls. With modern business VoIP service, you will appreciate the higher fidelity of your calls.
Make sure you have comfortable office furniture
Depending on the amount of space available, consider purchasing a large desk, bookshelves, and a comfortable office chair – it is important to ensure comfort as you don’t know how long you will be Working from Home during (COVID-19)
Schedule your day
A structured routine helps effectively manage tasks and stay on target for deadlines.
Even if you don’t have to be up as early to leave for the office, you should still set an alarm to commit to waking up at the same time
A short planning session in the morning to map out your day can be very effective.
Enforce a hard limit at the end of the day. Distance yourself from work, so you don’t work nonstop.
If you are most productive in the morning, then you may want to set your work hours from 7 a.m. until 3 p.m. or if you are a night owl then 1pm – 9pm (or later)
Avoid work creep – setting work hours and not letting them creep into your personal time
When you make your task list, stick to it
Track your time
Be aware of how much time is spent not working. What are you spending that time doing and how much does it detract from your work goals?
Get into the habit of using a calendar or planner.
Although taking breaks might seem counterproductive, research has shown that taking short breaks can actually increase productivity and creativity levels. If you don’t have a work-life balance, then you won’t last too long working at home.
Dress as you mean to work
If you enjoy working in your PJs, then you are killing your productivity. “Dress for success” isn’t just a corporate catchphrase; it really matters when you work from home.
You’ll be prepared to get work done, and you will be mentally and physically prepared for the day while Working from Home during (COVID-19)
Avoid checking personal email, working in the lounge or social networking sites during work hours
A serious distraction that can go by unnoticed – and cost you your day.
Avoid watching TV while working; it sucks up your focus from the purpose of working at home. Instead, stream music that complements your work style.
It’s easy to lose contact. Check in with your immediate colleagues and team regularly throughout the day.
Don’t forget family and friends. Set aside time or use your breaks to call or email close contacts and stay in the loop.
Take regular breaks and remember to exercise
Respite from your desk is important, especially when you’re confined to your home. Schedule regular breaks.
Staying active can be a challenge when you’re in a confined space, especially cardio. Exercise is a known aid in helping with the symptoms of isolation so if you are well, be sure to stay active. Incorporate stretching, yoga, dips, lunges and natural resistance exercises to stay active.
Exercises to stay positive during these challenging times
Life is neither pink or grey: it is multi-coloured. It’s our eye that lingers on the beautiful or the ugly. The positive or the negative
Here is a great tool to learn how to stop negative thoughts. When you feel an unpleasant emotion (sadness, anger, fear, jealousy, etc) identify the thought the accompanies it (= automatic thought). Then imagine another interpretation equally convincing to explain the same situation, but positive this time (= alternative thought)
My clients are not calling me anymore
They don’t think I am good enough or I made a mistake
I have given them detailed information and right now they are good with what they have
With practice, you will learn to replace your automatic negative thoughts with positive alternative ones, the fly without delay.
Let’s avoid dwelling on our worries!
What moments or situations tend to make you worry?
Moments when I worry
Situations when I worry
What can you do to change these circumstances and avoid dwelling on your worries?
My tips for not worrying are:
Do something rather than worrying
There’s nothing like absorbing activities for avoiding worry. Think about activities that are so absorbing and interesting that you put all your mental energy into that and away from worry. These activities will
Block out all distractions and preoccupations
My anti-worry activities are:
If you need any more support or help during these difficult and challenging times, then please reach out to our team.
What now and what next for your workplace – Coronavirus COVID-19 2020 – A question on everyone’s mind right now. We have seen over the last few days more and more businesses in the retail sector closing up shop and standing down their employees. It is certainly a difficult time as business owners navigate the current situation and COVID-19.
When we think about a stand-down there are things that you must be cautious of as it is not as simple as advising your team “sorry but I have no choice I need to stand you down from work”
s524 of the Fair Work Act (‘Act’) allows for a stand-down BUT CAUTION stand-down provisions as set out in s524 of the Act does not give all employers an overall right to stand down under the COVOD-19 situation. The circumstances, as set out in the Act are when;
employees can no longer be ‘usefully employed’,
of a ‘stoppage of work’ (this term has a specific meaning).
We all know that businesses are deeply impacted and there has been a dramatic slowdown BUT as published in the material by the Fair Work Ombudsman a stand-down does not apply because ‘business is slow’ or if there is ‘not enough work’
Whilst government directives may meet the requirement for a ‘stoppage of work’, not all current COVID19 scenarios do. The risks of getting it wrong are high, and include employees later seeking back paid wages for the whole period of the stand down, and or bringing claims including:
constructive dismissal claims leading to dismissal related claims (such as unfair dismissal or general protections claims);
employees notifying the Fair Work Commission (Commission) of a stand-down dispute;
employees alleging the stand down amounted to unreasonable management action causing them a psychological injury in relation to which they bring a workers’ compensation claim,
amongst other things.
Importantly, even if workers do not dispute the stand down when it happens, they are entitled to pursue action well into the future (up to 6 years), potentially compromising a business’ ability to recover from the economic downturn.
Before making any decisions in what you are going to do ask yourself these questions
Can I keep the employees on in some way shape or form?
Something that we can all agree on, is that it’s no fun being the new kid. Stepping into a new place filled with new faces and procedures is pretty scary and the last thing that you’d want is to compromise a brand-new hire. Learn HR solutionsfor recruitment. The good news is that if you’re within a position of power there is something that you can do to help welcome your new recruits. If you don’t have a full-on starter kit, here is how you can improve:
Show That You’ve Been Expecting Them
The first step to making anyone feel welcome in a new space is showing that you’ve been expecting them and are happy to have them there. One way to do this would be sending out a memo that someone new will be joining a department and to have an immediate superior meet with them first thing.
An example may be;
Good Morning Team,
Please be aware we have new starter coming on board. Please all extend a warm welcome to <Employee name> on <her/his> first day and provide any support required for his/her future success within the team.
NAME: <Employee first and last name>
START DATE: <date starting>
JOB TITLE: <title of role>
Please ensure that everything is ready for <employee first name> on day one. This includes computer, workstation, stationery, paper, computers linked to printers and email addresses set up.
Please all make <her/him> feel welcome to the team.
Any questions please let me know.
Give Them A Tour
Next, showing a new hire around is a great way to introduce them to colleagues, the facilities, and so on. This takes care of a lot of uncertainty and will make it less likely that they get lost searching for the restroom.
Provide Enough On-The-Job Training
This is a given but what really cements the training process is not overlooking things that a seasoned employee might take for granted. Try to be as thorough and basic as possible.
Ease Them In With Smaller Manageable Tasks
Letting a new hire settle in will go a long way as having a stressed out, unhappy employee is not good for your productivity or workforce.
Assign A Mentor
Help clear some confusion indirectly by introducing the new hire to someone that they can consider a mentor. This will result in a speedier learning process and the complicated specifics will be dealt with.
Square Off The Paperwork ASAP
This is by far the least exciting step but having the forms and documents signed and sealed is best for everyone. Sending through the forms even before their first day will help move things along faster.
Sitting down with them at the end of their first day is great for morale as it shows that you care. There is also a learning possibility here as you can find out how sound your introduction procedure is.
If you’re looking to improve your HR policies and procedures, Fresh HR Solutions is the perfect outsourced agent that can shape up the way you recruit, hire, and retain your workforce.
If you are happy to go it alone then jump on over and grab a copy of our Manual – Induction – WOW your new Team Member. We have for the months of March – May 2020 reduced this by 70% to $149 inc GST. PLUS, you get as part of this manual a Bonus on Retaining Employees.
As we all navigate the current situation and COVID-19 devastates businesses large and small business owners are under increasing pressure to make decisions. No one wanted us to be in this situation but the reality is that we are and we just need to do what we can to get by. A concern that I have as an HR professional is that in the haste to cut wages, close down expenditure that is not needed and when standing down staff the decision could be made in haste and end up with a Fair Work fallout once we return to normality (whatever that looks like now we will find out)
There are many workplaces that are standing down their teams right now as it is seen as the easier option BUT there are risks if you do not follow all the correct procedures and adhere to the circumstances that warrant a stand down. You can not just stand down the employee because the work is drying up and profits are down – if there is still useful work for them to do then this may not be the option for you and your business. I have written a recent blog on useful work employee’s can do-read it HERE
If paid or unpaid leave is not an option within your workplace then you may look at reduced working hours but be cautious about trying to get these changes through in haste. Every employee HAS to agree to these cuts in hours – you cannot threaten redundancy if they don’t agree but you can paint the bigger picture –
Example – “We are regretful of having to suggest this option however as a business we are trying to stay afloat and keep you all in work right now and look to how we can remain for the future – in some form or other – we are hopeful that we can come to an agreement with each and every one of you as we would prefer to have you getting some income in these incredibly tough times. We are limited by the options and are trying desperately to avoid having to consider redundancy”
I know we are all in crisis at the moment and we are all struggling to find what to do – with so much uncertainty it is challenging to say the least. What I must stress is that you need to be extremely careful as you will need every single employee’s agreement before you vary any term of employment or contractual hours. We would hope all employees see the bigger situation here (even though we acknowledge they are scared too) and agree to support business owners and agree where they can.
This time will certainly test out the loyal employees we have and those that are with us or against us (although that’s not a statement to open opportunities to weed out employees as we re-build)
Before making any decisions in what you are going to do ask yourself these questions
Can I keep the employees on in some way shape or form?
On 24th March the Fair Work Commission made a determination and important changes to the Hospitality Award to improve flexibility, classifications and duties, hours of work of full-time and part-time employees and annual leave during the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak
Schedule L operates from 24 March 2020 until 30 June 2020. During this time the following applies
L.2.1 Classifications and duties
(a) As directed by their employer, where necessary employees will perform any duties that are within their skill and competency regardless of their classification under clause 19—Classification and Schedule D—Classification Definitions, provided that the duties are safe and the employee is licensed and qualified to perform them.
(b)Clause 25—Higher duties will apply to employees engaged on duties carrying a higher rate than their ordinary classification.
L.2.2 Hours of Work—Full-time and part-time employees
(a) Subject to clause L.2.2(c), and despite clause 11—Full-time employment and requirements for notice in clause 30.2 (Rostering), an employer may direct a full-time employee to work an average of between 22.8 and 38 ordinary hours per week. The employee will be paid on a pro-rata basis. The arrangements for working ordinary hours in clause 29—Ordinary hours of work (Full-time and part-time employees) will apply on a pro-rata basis.
(b) Subject to clause L.2.2(c), and despite clause 12.3(a) (Part-time employment), and the requirements for notice in clause 30.2 (Rostering), an employer may direct a part-time employee to work an average of between 60% and 100% of their guaranteed hours per week, or an average of between 60% and 100% of the guaranteed hours per week over the roster cycle.
(c) Prior to any employer issuing any direction under clause L.2.2(a) or (b) an employer must:
(i) consult with the affected employee/s in accordance with clause 8A—Consultation about changes to rosters or hours of work and provide as much notice as practicable; and
(ii) if the affected employee/s are members of the United Workers Union, notify the United Workers Union of its intention to implement these arrangements.
(d) An employee given a direction under clause L.2.2(a) or (b) will continue to accrue annual leave and personal leave, and any other applicable accruals under this Award, based on each full-time or part-time employee’s ordinary hours of work prior to the commencement of Schedule L.
(e) If an employee given a direction under clause L.2.2(a) or (b) takes a period of paid annual leave or personal leave, the payment for that leave will be based on the full-time or part-time employee’s ordinary hours of work prior to the commencement of Schedule L.
L.2.3 Annual leave
(a) Despite clauses 34.3, 34.7, 34.8 and 34.9 (Annual leave), an employer may, subject to considering an employees’ personal circumstances, direct the employee to take annual leave with 24 hours’ notice.
(b) Clause L.2.3(a) does not prevent an employer and an employee agreeing to the employee taking annual leave at any time.
(c) During the period of operation of Schedule L, instead of taking paid annual leave at the rate of pay required by s.90 of the Fair Work Act 2009 (Cth), an employer and an employee may agree to the employee taking twice as much annual leave at half the rate of pay for all or part of any period of annual leave.
L.2.4 Dispute Resolution
Any dispute regarding the operation of Schedule L may be referred to the Fair Work Commission in accordance with Clause 9—Dispute Resolution.
We recommend that you seek advice before implementing such changes and note that at this stage these only apply from 24 March 2020 until 30 June 2020 unless this is extended this determination will cease and normal award conditions will apply (see award here) – Contact us for more details Contact Us HERE