Danielle Stone - HR Professional
The outbreak of COVID-19 and the varying levels of restrictions has meant that many of employers have had to move people to work from home at very short notice. It is important to remember that employers have the ultimate responsibility for ensuring a safe work environment, wherever that work is carried out. This includes employees working from home. With more and more employees being asked to work from home particularly in Victoria with Stage 4 restrictions, we felt it was timely to remind employers of their legal obligations.
Over the past few weeks much noise has been made about JobKeeper and demands to extend it, review it, amend it. On Tuesday 21 July, the Morrison Government addressed these concerns about JobKeeper and outlined the changes that would see the subsidy extended.
On Friday 19 June 2020, the Fair Work Commission handed down its latest decision regarding the National Minimum Wage. With the impact to business by COVID-19, the application of the increase has been varied with different industries set to apply the increases at different times. As an employer, you need to be across these changes and how they apply to your business.
As an employer and business leader, we know this is a challenging time. Good leaders make plans for the future but the coronavirus (Covid-19) has come out of nowhere and the situation we all find ourselves in is unprecedented. There is already significant information about the virus – reporting exposure, symptoms, flattening the curve, self-isolation and hygiene considerations – so we aren’t going to rehash all of that information. Rather, we will provide some answers to a few frequently asked HR questions that many of you are facing.
Did you know that there are situations in which an employee can resign and it can be deemed a dismissal? Sounds like convoluted word play I know, but it can then allow that employee to lodge an unfair dismissal with Fair Work!
That’s right, an employee who resigns, in certain circumstances can lodge an unfair dismissal claim. Let’s take a deeper look at this….
It’s hard to miss the media reports saturated with news about novel coronavirus with significant focus on the number of infected and sadly, the accompanying death toll. The outbreak has now been declared a Public Health Emergency by the World Health Organisation and the Australian Government has stepped up border controls with restrictions placed on entry to those who are from, or have travelled through, mainland China (exceptions are made for Australian citizens). At this point, there is no need to panic, however as an employer, you have an obligation to maintain a safe workplace and the following information will assist you in supporting your employees as we await updates on how this health issue progresses.
We all take it for granted that we will go home at the end of a long work day. We might kick off the shoes and have a beer or get sweaty at the gym or hang out with the kids – regardless, we all make plans for what we will do after work finishes for the day. But the stats are there to show us that some workplaces are inherently more dangerous than others given the sheer nature of the work or sadly, through neglect or deliberate disregard by employers. There is significant legislation around workplace safety however the Victorian Government is ramping things up come July this year – so let’s take a look at what you need to know….
This week the HR Staff n’ Stuff team were lucky enough to attend an HR Employment Law Masterclass where we heard updates on areas that affect a wide range of our clients. One major area that was covered and has had significant changes of late is related to the Whistleblower laws. This is a complex and large piece of legislation that you hopefully won’t ever need to use but we have a summary of considerations businesses need to be across.
As HR Consultants, we are asked to advise on the how, when and what of giving an employee a warning....a lot. It may seem simple enough – you are the business leader, your employee is behaving poorly or not delivering so you bang out a letter and put them on notice. Right? Well yes, if you want to get hit with action by Fair Work, or completely disengage an employee. But if you want to do it the right way which will protect your business and show that you have been fair and followed process, and you are genuinely focused on trying to get the employee to do what is required, read on…
Deborah Peppard - HR Director
You’ve invested time and money into recruiting the best candidate for your business and you ticked all the boxes in terms of interviews, capability assessments, reference checks and you have a candidate that is an absolute standout. But how about a pre-employment medical? Can you require it as a pre-requisite to employment and what can you do with the results?
HR Staff n’ Stuff has supported many clients who have needed to implement Performance Improvement Plans (PIPs). We always highlight the need to follow process to protect both your business and the employee. When used correctly, they can have incredibly positive outcomes but when used inappropriately, they can cost a business an absolute fortune!
A recent case proves how costly it can be if you get it wrong.....
Deborah Peppard - HR Director
A few of our clients are small businesses with around twelve staff - for one of them, what should have been a simple situation regarding annual leave became a frustrating series of poor behaviour that culminated in a tough decision being made once they received the advice from HR Staff n' Stuff as their in house HR consultants.
The story commences with the appointment of a new senior person in their business. The new employee informed the business owner that they had a pre-planned holiday booked for two weeks within the first few months of starting. Although the new employee wasn’t entitled to leave, the business owner agreed to honour this time off - it was a reasonable request and can quiet often crop up when new team members commence. But some will always try to push the envelope....
July 1, 2019 marks the start of a new financial year and with it comes changes to minimum wages as set out in the Modern Awards as determined by the Fair Work Commission. Since 2017, there have also been changes to penalty rates that have significant implications for employers so let’s take a look at them.
Sham Contracting – is it really a big issue? The Federal Government recently announced that the Fair Work Ombudsman will receive $2.3 million each year for the next four years to establish a unit dedicated to addressing the problem so yes, it is considered a major problem. But what is sham contracting and how do you make sure your business isn’t involved in it?
On July 5 2017, the Fair Work Commission delivered a landmark decision as part of its four-yearly review of Modern Awards which will allow casuals to convert to permanent full time or part time work after being employed for 12 months.
These provisions are not completely new – they have been evident within some awards such as those within the Building and Construction industries for some time. However, the decision to include a casual conversion clause will impact an additional 85 modern awards with commentators suggesting that the retail and hospitality sectors will be most affected.
But what does this all really mean?
One fine Tuesday morning, George doesn’t show up for work. There’s no phone call, email or text message to advise he won’t be in so by 10:30 am, you try contacting him. There’s no answer so you leave a message. You also try calling his next of kin as advised on his HR file but they don’t respond either. Further attempts are made over the course of the next three days to contact George but you still don’t know where he is or if he is coming back. You have a business to run and you need people to either show up for their rostered hours or advise that they need to utilise some of their personal leave. So what can you do?
An employee has just approached you with a request to ‘cash out’ a portion of their annual leave. Roger doesn’t want to take the time off – he just wants the cold, hard cash in this instance. He’s got seven weeks up his sleeve and he’s requested to cash in one week of his accrued annual leave. Do you want to agree to this request and are you obligated to sign off on Roger’s request?
A case involving a fast food giant, a specific shift start time, a required arrival time, a sneaky cigarette, a ladder, a broken leg and an overturned WorkCover claim all came together recently in a Queensland court with a decision that may have far reaching implications for businesses throughout Australia. How is this even possible you wonder….
Melbourne is notorious for delighting the population with all four seasons within the space of a few hours, so we know to take a sunhat and a raincoat whenever we leave the house. But as summer slowly comes to an end and autumn starts showing herself, much of Australia’s outdoor based workforce will experience the same erratic weather patterns. So it’s timely to have a look at the laws about working in storms and heat…..
Deborah Peppard - HR Director
It can be challenging for most businesses to navigate the myriad of rules and regulations that they must comply with, and this gets even trickier when trying to make sense of the various employer obligations regarding people: discrimination laws, privacy laws, Fair Work legislation and more. Over time the facts can be distorted until there is a particular belief about what employers can and can’t do, should and shouldn’t do etc. Deb Peppard attempts to’ bust four common HR myths’ to help you get a handle on the facts!
For many of us, it is difficult to comprehend that Domestic and Family Violence is a prevalent societal problem in Australia. Sadly though, it is a major issue that does not discriminate based on gender, financial status, education level, cultural identity or age. In response to this issue, one area of support that is now enshrined within our Modern Awards is a provision for leave to support those who need it most.
The HR Staff n' Stuff team all contribute to our blogs. Enjoy the read!