We all love a FAQ (Frequently Asked Question) especially when we are time poor and we just need to get an answer.

We have developed a comprehensive list (and growing) of FAQ for every day business owners just like you. We have already answered some questions and working through the others so keep checking back. 

These questions have been developed from years of workplace matters coming up over and over again. We have thrown some more curly ones in there as well. Do please note that these responses are GENERAL in nature and should not be relied upon as a definite response. You MUST always seek further clarification as every situation has slightly different background, mitigating facts, and things you may not have thought of yet. 

Please feel free to contact us at paulette@freshhrinsights.com.au. We reply to everyone. 

Why do I need to give my employees a Fair Work Information Statement

Employers have to give every new employee a copy of the Fair Work Information Statement (the Statement) before, or as soon as possible after, they start their new job. The Statement provides new employees with information about their conditions of employment.

The Statement has information on:

  • the National Employment Standards
  • right to request flexible working arrangements
  • modern awards
  • making agreements under the Fair Work Act 2009
  • individual flexibility arrangements
  • freedom of association and workplace rights (general protections)
  • termination of employment
  • right of entry
  • the role of the Fair Work Ombudsman and the Fair Work Commission.

Providing the Statement

The Statement can be given to new employees:

  • in person
  • by mail
  • by email
  • by emailing a link to our website
  • by fax.

Grab you up to date Fair-Work-Information-Statement here

Fresh HR Insights can support you with all your employee/employer obligations.  For peace of mind in times of turbulence, please contact www.freshhrinsights.com.au on 0452471960 to learn more.

Should my Business have up-to-date contracts of employment?

Yes as it makes the employer employee relationship super clear.

If not, it is time to review and update your employment contract before your next employee arrives.  Does your template have the five contractual essentials?

  • general obligations clause
  • set-off clause
  • notice of termination clause
  • policies and procedures clause
  • surveillance clause

Fresh HR Insights can review your employment contracts and provide recommendations to ensure they comply with employment law. For peace of mind, please contact www.freshhrinsights.com,au on 0452471960 to learn more.

Do they make any changes to Modern Awards?

All businesses should be aware of what Modern Awards apply to them (including those awards which underpin their EAs). Modern Awards will continue to change as the Four-yearly Review continues into its seventh year. Are you up-to-date on award entitlements in relation to flexibility requests?

Are you aware that Family and Domestic Violence leave is no longer an Award entitlement (but instead is now in the National Employment Standards)?

Have you been providing casual employees with conversion notices?

It’s time to review your award to ensure your compliance.

Where can I find what my employees “entitlements” are (Sick Leave, Superannuation, types of leave etc.) ?

All the employee entitlements are available at Fair Work – you can follow this link HERE but we have also below given you some the information that you need.

Sick Leave – Sick and carer’s leave (also known as personal leave or personal / carer’s leave) lets an employee take time off to help them deal with personal illness, caring responsibilities and family emergencies. Sick leave can be used when an employee is ill or injured.  An employee may have to take time off to care for an immediate family or household member who is sick or injured or help during a family emergency. This is known as carer’s leave but it comes out of the employee’s personal leave balance. The National Employment Standards includes both paid and unpaid leave entitlements.

An immediate family member is a:

      • spouse or former spouse
      • de facto partner or former de facto partner
      • child
      • parent
      • grandparent
      • grandchild
      • sibling, or
      • child, parent, grandparent, grandchild or sibling of the employee’s spouse or de facto partner (or former spouse or de facto partner).

 This definition includes step-relations (eg. step-parents and step-children) as well as adoptive relations. A household member is any person who lives with the employee.

Superannuation –  It is compulsory for employers to make superannuation contributions for their employees on top of the employees’ wages and salaries. The employer contribution rate has been 9.5% since 1 July 2014, and as of 2015, was planned to increase gradually from 2021 to 12% in 2025. 

Family and Domestic Violence Leave – All employees (including part-time and casual employees) are entitled to 5 days unpaid family and domestic violence leave each year. The entitlement to unpaid family and domestic violence leave comes from the National Employment Standards (NES). Read more HERE

Annual Leave –  Annual leave (also known as holiday pay) allows an employee to be paid while having time off from work. The entitlement to annual leave comes from the National Employment Standards. Awards, enterprise agreements and other registered agreements can’t offer less than the National Employment Standards but they can give more annual leave. Read more HERE

  • Who is entitled to annual leave? All employees (except for casual employees) get paid annual leave.
  • How much annual leave does an employee get? Full-time and part-time employees get 4 weeks of annual leave, based on their ordinary hours of work.

Compassionate & Bereavement Leave – All employees (including casual employees) are entitled to compassionate leave (also known as bereavement leave). Compassionate leave can be taken when a member of an employee’s immediate family or household:

  • dies or
  • contracts or develops a life-threatening illness or injury. Read more HERE

Community Leave – Employees, including casual employees, can take community service leave for certain activities such as:

  • voluntary emergency management activities
  • jury duty (including attendance for jury selection).

With the exception of jury duty, community service leave is unpaid – read more here. To find out more visit Jury duty

Long Service leave – 

An employee gets long service leave after a long period of working for the same employer. Most employees’ entitlement to long service leave comes from long service leave laws in each state or territory. These laws set out:

  • how long an employee has to be working to get long service leave (eg. after 7 years)
  • how much long service leave the employee gets.

In some states and territories long serving casuals are eligible for long service leave. To find out about long service leave entitlements, contact the long service leave agency in your state or territory: Read more HERE

Maternity & Parental Leave –  Read more HERE

 Fresh HR Insights can support you with all your employee/employer obligations.  For peace of mind in times of turbulence, please contact www.freshhrinsights.com.au on 0452471960 to learn more.

Do I need to have compliant and effective workplace policies and employees be aware of them?

At an absolute minimum, in addition to a current Code of Conduct, all workplaces should have the following policies in place:

  • Work Health and Safety Policy – Workplace injuries can affect your business in a number of ways including decreased productivity, sick pay obligations and the cost of finding a replacement. 
  • Bullying, Harassment and Discrimination Policy – A business must have taken all reasonable steps to prevent discrimination or harassment from occurring. Without a comprehensive policy, this is almost impossible! You, as a business must communicates clearly to employees what constitutes bullying, sexual harassment, discrimination and any other form of inappropriate behaviour at work. A good policy will also outline procedures for dealing with complaints.
  • Drug and Alcohol Policy – The use of drug and alcohol during and outside of work hours can present significant safety risks and costs to your business through injuries, absenteeism and lost productivity. A drug and alcohol policy can promote and maintain a risk-free work environment while outlining the rights a business to test employees for drug-use.
  • Leave Policy – For businesses that experience seasonal busy periods, a leave policy can be extremely valuable. A leave policy can include ‘blackout’ periods during busy periods with increased notice periods for employees applying for leave, to ensure you aren’t understaffed.
  • Grievance Policy –  Having a grievance policy in place acts as an important tool for employees to understand what steps they should follow when handling a complaint.
  • Performance Counselling and Discipline Policy – Performance management is a common practice within any business. A policy will assist you in remaining compliant with requirements of procedural fairness and provide guidance on how unacceptable conduct will be dealt with.
  • Internet and Email Policy –  An internet and email policy will define what is inappropriate use of company computers and internet resources, as well as the consequences an employee may face for breaching the policy.
  • Social Media Policy –  A social media policy is essential to protecting your company’s reputation, especially if employees list their place of employment on their profiles. On social media, lines between professional and personal networks can become blurred, so it is a good idea to let employees know that how they behave on social media reflects on the business, and therefore will be regulated.
  • Privacy Policy – Employers have a responsibility to safeguard the personal information of employees and customers. Therefore, businesses must have a policy in place articulating how their private information is used and managed. A privacy policy makes it clear what information is allowed to be made public and what is required to stay private or within the walls of the company. 

Workplace policies should be clear as to what your expectations are as an employer, while providing enough flexibility for you to run your business.  As a general rule, these workplace policies should not form part of an employment contract.

Is your business covered by the new whistle-blower laws which came into effect on 1 July 2019?  If so, you will need to have in place a compliant whistle-blower policy which is consistent with the new regime.

 

What should we include in our driver safety policy?

Under s 19 of the Work Health and Safety Act 2011 (NSW) (WHS Act), employers have a duty or responsibility to ensure so far as is reasonably practicable, the health and safety of their workers

Workers also have a duty under this legislation to take reasonable care for their own safety and for the safety of others, as well as a duty to comply with workplace policies and procedures. Any workplace safety policy should be designed with these primary duties in mind.

Additionally, policies pertaining specifically to driver safety should also bear in mind the road safety laws.

A driver safety policy may cover topics such as:

  • fatigue management:
    • employers should schedule work in such a way that manages the risks of fatigue;
    • employees should refrain from driving when tired and take regular breaks;
    • ensuring all drivers have the requisite drivers’ licence and qualifications specific to the tasks they are carrying out;
    • a commitment to ensure regular training; and
  • a commitment by drivers to abide by all road rules including:
    • speed limits;
    • wearing of seat-belts;
    • not driving while intoxicated;
    • ensuring drivers are adequately informed about the safe use of the particular vehicles being used;
    • a procedure for ensuring the vehicles are adequately maintained and inspected; and
    • procedures for incident reporting
Do I have to have a Super default fund? If so, how do I choose it?

A simple yet not so simple question and answer.

As an employer you do have to have a default fund. The question of which one is not an easy one to answer however. 

Typically an employer default fund is the MySuper option within a basic industry fund. This is often the fund that most closely aligns with the employers industry ie Qsuper for government employees such as nurses or Club Plus or HOST plus for people working within the hospitality industry. This isn’t a requirement, just a union marketing tactic.

SunSuper is one that really has no distinct industry alliance and is therefore acceptable to everyone, is highly competitive on fees and is easy for an employer to use. They also have a good media profile and are more closely correlated to our part of the country (South East Queensland) so suggested as a likely candidate.

We  highly (and strongly) recommend Lloyd Thomas from Thomas Cardwell & Associates for all your superannuation questions including what fund to join. Drop him an email on lloyd@thomascardwell.com.au or call on 0401189004 – it’s always best to seek advice first even if it’s just a phone call.

Fresh HR Insights can support you with all your employee/employer obligations.  For peace of mind in times of turbulence, please contact www.freshhrinsights.com.au on 0452471960 to learn more.

What can we do if workers don’t disclose pre-existing medical conditions

If the worker is unable to fulfil the inherent requirements of the role, this gives rise to a right to terminate the agreement. It may be preferable for you to focus on this rather than making allegations of misrepresentations in the pre-employment medical condition questionnaire. If you do make allegations of dishonesty, you should ensure that you have good evidence for doing so. You may consider seeking medical evidence about their capacity to support you.

Fresh HR Insights can review your employment contracts and provide recommendations to ensure they comply with employment law. For peace of mind, please contact www.freshhrinsights.com,au on 0452471960 to learn more.

Does workers’ compensation insurance cover travel between worksites?

Travel-related workers’ compensation claims

Around Australia, several jurisdictions treat ‘travel to and from work claims’ (i.e. daily commute to and from work) and ‘work-related travel claims’ (i.e. travelling somewhere as directed by your employer) differently.

Generally, injuries that occur where a worker has been directed to travel from one place of work to another are compensable where it can be shown that a worker’s employment was a significant or substantial cause of the injury.

In the example of a worker travelling from one place of work to another on a bicycle, it may be determined that the worker’s employment was not a significant or substantial cause of the injury if, for example and without limitation:

  • there was serious and wilful misconduct of the worker (such as alcohol or drug use); or
  • the injury resulted from a medical or other condition of the worker and the journey did not cause or contribute to the injury.

Public liability claim

An injury to a worker will be covered by either public liability or workers’ compensation. In practical terms the worker would lodge a workers’ compensation claim. If accepted, it is up to the workers’ compensation insurer to recover amounts from the public liability insurer if it can. Any other damage/claim as a result of an accident may or may not fall under your public liability insurance depending on its terms.

Can we terminate an employee who is not a ‘cultural fit’? - The termination would be three months into the six month probation period.

It depends what is meant by ‘cultural fit’. The employee will not have met the eligibility for an unfair dismissal claim, but you still cannot dismiss an employee for reasons of sex, age, race, gender, religious belief or political belief (among others). If you just cite ‘cultural fit’ as a reason for dismissal then it is possible that a discrimination claim may be brought against you in that the employee was dismissed for one of these prohibited reasons. You need to assess the likelihood of this occurring as well as your ability to defend a potential claim (i.e. do you have evidence, of which the termination letter will form part, that the termination was for a reason other than the protected attribute).

It is always best to cite valid, performance or conduct based reasons in the termination letter.

Question and response from workplace bulletin 23/9/2019

Should I always give my employee a letter of offer or a contract?

An employment contract is an agreement between an employer and employee that sets out terms and conditions of employment. A contract can be in writing or verbal. It is a legally binding document.

An employment contract cannot provide for less than the legal minimum set out in:

  • the National Employment Standards (NES)
  • awards, enterprise agreements or other registered agreements that may apply.

All employees are covered by the NES, regardless of whether they’ve signed a contract. A contract can’t make employees worse off than their minimum legal entitlements.

Employment contracts are an essential document for both staff and employers, legally establishing the working relationship and setting out important frameworks and policies. Contracts provide both employee and employer with a clear agreement of what is to be expected from each party, while outlining all rights, responsibilities and obligations. This works to protect the job security and rights of the employee, and also protects the employer from certain risks such as breaches of confidentiality

What is included in a contract

  • Name and personal details of the employer and employee
  • Commencement date of employment
  • Job title and description
  • Number of hours worked per week
  • Type of employment (i.e. full-time, part-time or casual)
  • Method of payment and when payment is made (weekly, fortnightly or monthly)
  • Amount of notice required to be given by the employer and employee to end the employment relationship
  • Confidentiality agreement

Fresh HR Insights can review your employment contracts and provide recommendations to ensure they comply with employment law. For peace of mind, please contact www.freshhrinsights.com,au on 0452471960 to learn more.

Is photographing shoddy work bullying?

If the photographing occurs on more than one occasion or is part of a broader pattern of behaviour directed toward the worker, it could constitute workplace bullying.

Workplace bullying is defined under the Fair Work Act 2009 (Cth) (FW Act) as repeated unreasonable behaviour directed toward a worker that creates a risk to health and safety. Bullying behaviour may be either intentional or unintentional.

Workplace bullying may give an employee a right to make an application to the Fair Work Commission for a stop bullying order under the FW Act.

If the worker being photographed does have quality issues with their work, some form of performance management may be warranted. However, a performance management process may still give rise to bullying if the performance management actions are unreasonable.

Some of the relevant considerations to determine whether a performance management action is reasonable includes:

  • the impact of the performance management action on the worker;
  • the way the performance management action has been carried out, e.g. whether the action is consistent with workplace policies and procedures; and
  • the circumstances that have led to the performance management action.

 

What is bullying at work?

Bullying at work occurs when:

  • a person or a group of people repeatedly behaves unreasonably towards a worker or a group of workers at work

AND

  • the behaviour creates a risk to health and safety.

Bullying does not include reasonable management action carried out in a reasonable manner.

Bullying behaviour may involve, for example, any of the following types of behaviour:

  • aggressive or intimidating conduct
  • belittling or humiliating comments
  • spreading malicious rumours
  • teasing, practical jokes or ‘initiation ceremonies’
  • exclusion from work-related events
  • unreasonable work expectations, including too much or too little work, or work below or beyond a worker’s skill level
  • displaying offensive material
  • pressure to behave in an inappropriate manner.

However, in order for it to be bullying the behaviour must be repeated and unreasonable and must create a risk to health and safety.

What is the minimum info that I should give an employee on commencement?

What ever you do when an employee starts will set the tone for how they see the employer/employee relationship.

We recommend at a minimum you give your new employee an Employment agreement/ Contract, a position description, new starter forms, a Fair Work Statement (On or before the first day), Tax File Number form (TFN), Super choice form as well as a proper induction. We have included some checklists below to help you. 

Fresh HR Insights can support you with all your employee/employer obligations.  For peace of mind in times of turbulence, please contact www.freshhrinsights.com.au on 0452471960 to learn more.

When is the best time for an induction process to occur?

Ideally an induction needs to begin on or even before the first day. We have included some helpful checklists for you. It is a great way to set the tone of the relationship to start BEFORE the employee’s first day. Send out a welcome email and make sure that everyone knows they are coming in on board. Make sure that all computers, email addresses and tools for them to do their job are ready for day 1. On day one the induction needs to start as soon as they arrive. Nothing worse than being left sitting. 

Just for fun – check out this welcome video 

Fresh HR Insights can support you with all your employee/employer obligations.  For peace of mind in times of turbulence, please contact www.freshhrinsights.com.au on 0452471960 to learn more.

What’s important to keep workplace culture positive and also can be managed?

Why Workplace Culture is Important

Culture is as important as your business strategy because it either strengthens or undermines your objectives. Positive culture is significant, especially because:

  • It attracts talent. Job candidates evaluate your organization and its climate. A strong, positive, clearly defined and well-communicated culture attracts talent that fits.
  • It drives engagement and retention. Culture impacts how employees interact with their work and your organization.
  • It impacts happiness and satisfaction. Research shows that employee happiness and satisfaction are linked to strong workplace culture (Source: Deloitte).
  • It affects performance. Organizations with stronger cultures outperform their competitors financially and are generally more successful.

What impacts culture in the Workplace?

  • Leadership
  • Management
  • Workplace Practices
  • Policies and Procedures
  • People
  • Mission and Value statements
  • Work Environment
  • Communication

Most of us let our workplace culture form naturally without defining what we want it to be, and that’s a mistake. For example:

  • We create policies and workplace programs based on what other employers do versus whether they fit our work environment.
  • We hire employees who don’t fit.
  • We tolerate management styles that threaten employee engagement and retention.
  • We don’t create and communicate a clear and inspiring mission, vision, and set of values.
  • Our work environments are lackluster.
  • We don’t consider how our everyday actions (or inaction’s) as leaders are affecting the formation of our culture.

For these reasons, it’s important to step back, evaluate, and define your workplace culture—both what it is now and what you want it to be in the future — and how all of these factors either contribute or take away from your desired culture.

 Fresh HR Insights can support you with all your employee/employer obligations.  For peace of mind in times of turbulence, please contact www.freshhrinsights.com.au on 0452471960 to learn more.

Source – https://www.yourerc.com/blog/post/workplace-culture-what-it-is-why-it-matters-how-to-define-it

As an employer what are my priorities to consider in the workplace for employees?

There are a number of “duties of care” that are owed by an employer to an employee. These include, but are not limited to:

  • The duty to provide competent staff;
  • The duty to provide a safe place to work;
  • The duty to provide proper and adequate materials; and
  • The duty to provide a safe system of work and supervision.

Employers should take all steps which are reasonably possible to ensure an employees health, safety and well-being. Demonstrating concern for the physical and mental health of your workers shouldn’t just be seen as a legal duty – there’s a clear business case, too.  It can be a key factor in building trust and reinforcing your commitment to your employees, and can help improve staff retention, boost productivity and pave the way for greater employee engagement.

Legally, employers must abide by relevant Workplace health & safety and employment legislation, as well as the common law duty of care. They also have a moral and ethical duty not to cause, or fail to prevent, physical or psychological injury, and must fulfil their responsibilities with regard to personal injury and negligence claims.

Requirements under an employer’s duty of care are wide-ranging and may manifest themselves in many different ways, such as:

  • Clearly defining jobs and undertaking risk assessments
  • Ensuring a safe work environment
  • Providing adequate training and feedback on performance
  • Ensuring that staff do not work excessive hours
  • Providing areas for rest and relaxation
  • Protecting staff from bullying or harassment, either from colleagues or third parties
  • Protecting staff from discrimination
  • Providing communication channels for employees to raise concerns
  • Consulting employees on issues which concern them.

An employer can be deemed to have breached their duty of care by failing to do everything that was reasonable in the circumstances to keep the employee safe from harm. Employees also have responsibilities for their health and well being at work – for example, they are entitled by law to refuse to undertake work that isn’t safe without fear of disciplinary action and they also have a duty in the safety of themselves and others.

Fresh HR Insights can support you with all your employee/employer obligations.  For peace of mind in times of turbulence, please contact www.freshhrinsights.com.au on 0452471960 to learn more.

Is it a good idea to always have a position (Job) description?

A Position (job) description is an essential part of the job application process as, with the right information, it should help applicants to determine whether the role is in line with their skill set and whether it is a job they actually want to do. From the organisation’s perspective, the job description is vital in ensuring that the applications received for the position closely match the needs of the role itself.

They clarify expectations immediately

Providing applicants with solid job descriptions ensures they understand exactly what will be expected of them if they are chosen. Clarity in a job description puts potential employees on the same page as you, and aligns them with your company’s goals.

Fresh HR Insights can support you with all your employee/employer obligations.  For peace of mind in times of turbulence, please contact www.freshhrinsights.com.au on 0452471960 to learn more.

How do I change the Company's culture

We are still working on this response – check back soon or give a call on the number below.  Fresh HR Insights can support you with all your employee/employer obligations.  For peace of mind in times of turbulence, please contact www.freshhrinsights.com.au on 0452471960 to learn more.

I haven't got policies in place, are you able to assist.

 We have a large selection of policies and procedures available for any business size and most industries. Fresh HR Insights can support you with all your employee/employer obligations.  For peace of mind in times of turbulence, please contact www.freshhrinsights.com.au on 0452471960 to learn more.

You can also find packages for all business needs that have a large selection of documents, including policies – Check the out HERE

Don’t want a whole package then what about our base employee handbook

Base Employee Handbook

 

Staff have become disengaged - help

Not a good thing to have a dis-engaged employee – Not only can they create a negative, even toxic, company culture, but their reduced productivity comes at a huge cost to a business’s bottom line. Research by Gallup found that as much as 17.2% of an organisation’s workforce is actively disengaged, and the cost of this disengagement can be as great as 34% of an individual worker’s salary. But what can you do about it??

  • Step 1: Find out why they’ve switched off
  • Step 2: Create change based on these insights
  • Step 3: Make them part of the big picture
  • Step 4: Create a culture of opportunity and recognition
  • Step 5: Manage and monitor engagement

Fresh HR Insights can support you with all your employee/employer obligations.  For peace of mind in times of turbulence, please contact www.freshhrinsights.com.au on 0452471960 to learn more.

I'm hearing negative things back that employees are saying, but deny it when asked.

Negativity in the workplace can be contagious and affect your whole team. But how do you approach employees about their bad attitudes and what happens when you do and they deny it. You can not force blood out of a stone but you can advise the employee that they have an obligation to answer any questions you ask truthfully and honestly. If they still refuse then without launching a formal investigation and seeking to potentially disrupt the whole workplace it can be a hard one.

Flip it upside down and instead of asking them to admit to it, think back and ask “why are they saying these things?” have a look at your business, your management or your leadership style and see if there is a reason why they may be making these negative comments.

Deal with negativity on a case-by-case basis. An employee’s negative behavior or comments may be a result of stress or personal issues. Let them know that you see a change in attitude, and it’s having a negative effect on the team and company. You want your employees to be successful.

Fresh HR Insights can support you with all your employee/employer obligations.  For peace of mind in times of turbulence, please contact www.freshhrinsights.com.au on 0452471960 to learn more.

How do I implement drug and alcohol testing to current employees?

Australian industrial courts and tribunals are now accept that random drug testing by employers is an intrusion of an employee’s privacy and can only be legitimised on work, health and safety grounds. Under work, health and safety legislation an employer can legitimately introduce drug testing in the workplace under certain circumstances. Employers can argue that they have a duty of care to all employees, to try and eliminate the risk that an employee might come to work impaired by alcohol or other drugs and pose a risk to the health and safety of fellow employees. Beyond that, no employer has the right to dictate what drugs or alcohol its employees use in their own time.

 Fresh HR Insights can support you with all your employee/employer obligations.  For peace of mind in times of turbulence, please contact www.freshhrinsights.com.au on 0452471960 to learn more.

 

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