Importance of Updating and reviewing your company policies and procedures

Employee handbooks should be reviewed and updated at least on an annual basis, and an employer may want to consider reviewing the handbook every six months. While the core elements of policies and procedures may stay the same the details should change according to industry standards, organizational needs, or legal requirements. In addition, policies should line up with the company’s mission, vision, and values and these may change.

The REALITY is however that small business owners do not have the time to constantly update or amend the policies and procedures that they have in place. And it is not a legal requirement in Australia. BUT as an employer, you have a legal responsibility to inform your employees of their casual employment rights and responsibilities even if there is no federal or state law that requires you to have an employee handbook.

BUT an employee handbook is a great way to induct new staff into your Company and give existing staff a document they can reference at any time to keep their knowledge of workplace policies and procedures up to scratch.

Writing an employee handbook from scratch is a big undertaking. You have to explain a lot of rules and guidelines in a way that is easy to understand yet detailed enough to get the full message across to your employees.

  • Flexible working arrangements – 1st December 2019 affecting all modern awards – additional obligations in regard to arrangements and request for flexible working. Flex­i­ble work is now a mod­el term in all Mod­ern Awards. Under the mod­el term, employ­ers must actu­al­ly have a dis­cus­sion with employ­ees who make a request and try to come to a gen­uine agree­ment. The oblig­a­tion to dis­cuss did not exist under the Act. Employ­ers must also pro­vide a writ­ten response explain­ing any grounds for refusal of the request. 
  • Casual Conversion – October 2018 – many modern awards received a new clause that provided casual employees with an entitlement they did not have before. As of 1Octo­ber 2018, ​‘reg­u­lar casu­al employ­ees’ may request that their employ­ment be con­vert­ed to full time or part-time employment.
  • Family and domestic violence leave – The Fair Work Amendment (Family and Domestic Violence Leave) Act 2018 took effect on 12 December 2018. The FW Act now includes the right for workers to take up to five days of unpaid family and domestic violence leave per year as part of the NES. This extends the right to all workers, beyond the coverage of the award system.
  • Termination Payments – A new termination payment clause has been included in some modern awards. This clause imposes a requirement that on termination an employer must pay an employee’s outstanding wages and other entitlements no later than seven days after the day the employment was terminated. Common modern awards that now have this clause include:
    • Clerks – Private Sector Award 2010;
    • General Retail Industry Award 2010; and
    • Banking, Finance, and Insurance Award 2010.
  • First Aid Allowance – Clerks – Private Sector Award 2010– need to be paid the full weekly amount regardless of the hours that they work and not pro-rata.
  • As of 1 January 2020, employers are required to pay superannuation on their employee’s gross pay. This also includes any salary they have sacrificed. Salary sacrifice arrangements will change from January 2020 and it’s important you let your affected employees know. It is now no longer possible for the employer to pay an employee on a salary sacrifice agreement on the reduced amount of super. Read more about casual employee termination.

IMPORTANTLY on the 1st March this year (2020) there are a number of awards being affected by changes – you can read about it here (HERE) What happens if you do not comply??

The proposed new clauses will fall into one of three categories and have specific requirements:

  1. Category 1 – includes modern awards which cover employees who work relatively stable hours. The Commission determined that the annualized salary term for this category will not require an employee’s agreement to the introduction of an annualised salary arrangement. The employer may implement an annualized salary in this category without employee agreement;
  2. Category 2 – includes modern awards that cover employees who work highly variable hours and/or significant ordinary hours of work which attract a penalty rate. The Commission determined that the annualised salary term for Category 2 modern awards will require employers and employees to agree on the application of an annualized salary arrangement; and
  3. Category 3 – includes modern awards that currently provide that the annualized salary be an amount not less than a specified percentage above the minimum weekly wage set out in the modern award (e.g. 25% in the Restaurant Award). The FWC determined that the annualized salary term for Category 3 modern awards will require employers and employees to agree on the application of an annualized salary arrangement. The clause will only apply with respect to the non-managerial staff.
    •  As of 1 March 2020, employers are also required to pay employees for any overtime worked if their salary does not include overtime. 

From 1 March 2020, if an employer discovers that an employee received less pay on their annual wage agreement than if they were paid under the award, it’s your responsibility to pay your employees the difference. This payment is required to be paid within 14 days and the process needs to be undertaken every year. This is also applicable upon the termination of contracts. 

  •  Employers must now keep records of when their employees start and finish work, and when they take their breaks

From 1 March 2020, a failure to comply will amount to a breach of a modern award—colloquially referred to by the media as “wage theft”—and will attract civil penalties under the Fair Work Act 2009 (Cth)

Need help to understand any of these requirements then give the team at Fresh HR Insights a call on 0452471960 or email paulette@freshhrinsights.com.au.

A Reminder:

Do you pay your employees an “all up amount” annualised salary?

For some awards there are significant changes on the way in 2020. Is your business ready?

As part of the four-yearly review of modern awards, the Fair Work Commission handed down a decision impacting annualised wage (salary) provisions in certain Awards. Are you ready?Read MORE HERE