How many hats?

I was recently asked whether I considered myself a coach, a mentor or a consultant or a contractor.

That made me think about exactly what I do when I work with a client and I reached the conclusion that, in point of fact, depending on the client’s needs and capabilities, at a given point in time, I can be any one of those. For example:

  • I am a coach when I am introducing the client to good people management practice and teaching them how to do that.
  • I am a mentor when I am listening to the client talk about their aspirations and challenges and I am providing feedback and guidance on how to deal with them effectively.
  • I am a consultant when I am using my diagnostic and analytical capabilities to understand the issues and my creative talents to design bespoke solutions.
  • I am a contractor when the client just needs me to do something for them like servicing a function for a period of time or implementing pre-designed policies and processes

Added to that:

  • I am an educator when I run training sessions.
  • I am a reporter when I let people know about developments in the world of compliance and HR generally.
  • I am an influencer when I am writing blogs or presenting on good people practice.
  • I am a networker when I connect people to develop relationships that can add value (because I am not an expert in everything).

So that’s 8 hats that I might wear in different situations and I must always be ready to swap hats when it is apparent that the client needs a different me to the one they have been using. That adaptability has been a cornerstone of our successful business which is celebrating its 18th birthday.

Happy birthday, Ridgeline HR!


New labour hire licensing laws

Queensland and South Australia now have new labour hire licensing laws and Victoria has a like bill currently before the Parliament.

Features of the Queensland legislation include:

  • labour hire providers to be licensed to operate in Queensland
  • persons who engage labour hire providers to only engage licensed providers
  • labour hire licensees to satisfy fit and proper person test to establish that they are capable of providing labour hire services in compliance with all relevant laws
  • the labour hire business is financially viable.
  • licensees must provide six monthly reports on labour hire and associated activities including accommodation, and in relation to compliance with relevant laws
  • strong penalties for breach of obligations
  • establishing a labour hire licensing compliance unit with a field services inspectorate with responsibility for awareness, monitoring and enforcement functions.

The South Australian legislation and the Victorian bill have similar provisions.

There is also a push for complementary federal legislation.

Any business operating in the labour hire sector needs to ensure that they are compliant with all of their legal obligations as an employer and that they satisfy the fit and proper person test to be eligible for licensing.

Any business that uses labour hire services needs to verify the compliance of their labour hire provider(s) and that they are appropriately licensed in accordance with the legislation.

Ridgeline HR can assist both labour hire businesses and users of labour hire services with workplace relations compliance assessments.

Fair Work and All That Stuff was well received

For the first time, 4 business groups and a charity in the Eastern Suburbs of Melbourne collaborated to run a free joint event for their members and other local business people.

People from Croydon Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Ringwood Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Whitehorse Business Group, Manningham Business Network and the Footmen Foundation got together to learn more about:

  • Employer obligations, National Employment Standards and modern awards
  • Fair Work information and other resources and tools that are freely available and how to access them
  • How to avoid and manage unfair dismissal claims and
  • What the new Fair Work Amendment (Protecting Vulnerable Workers) Act 2017 means for employers, franchisors and holding companies.

Chris Zidak from Maroondah City Council also gave an entertaining and informative presentation on Council’s Business and Development activities,achievements and plans.

Daryl Stephens from the Footmen Foundation finished off the night with an engaging dissertation on the history of the Footmen Foundation and the work that it does in helping community groups and individuals with unfunded special needs in Maroondah and surrounding areas.

Ridgeline’s HR’s Peter Maguire and Chris White and close associate, Emma Watt, presented the briefing closing off with a few questions for the audience and prizes for correct answers. This was presented as part of Ridgeline HR’s commitment to partner in improving wellbeing in the Maroondah community by helping small business owners with access to important information and useful tools.

The Fair Work and All That Stuff presentation slides can be downloaded below and include a number of links through which you can access a variety of information and tools featured in the presentation.

Fair Work and All That Stuff – 18 October 2017

Special thanks go to:

  • Maroondah City Council for providing the venue at Realm free
  • Big Mates Pizza who provided pizzas free for all to share
  • The leaders of each of the organisations involved for their collaborative contribution.


HEADS UP – Fair Work Amendments on their way in

In recent posts, we reported on the rise in Fair Work Ombudsman activity in the area of accessorial liability and the impending enactment of the Fair Work Amendment (Protecting Vulnerable Workers) Bill 2017.

That legislation has been passed by the Federal parliament and is taking effect in two stages.

Most of the provisions are operative from 15 September 2017 and the provisions relating to franchisors and holding companies come into operation 6 weeks later on 27 October 2017.

This legislation has significant effects in that it:

  • Introduces a higher scale of penalties for ‘serious contraventions’ of prescribed workplace laws up from $63,000 to $630,000 per offence for a corporation and from $12,600 to $126,000 per offence for an individual
  • Increases penalties for record-keeping failures.
  • Makes franchisors and holding companies responsible for underpayments by their franchisees or subsidiaries where they knew or ought reasonably to have known of the contraventions and failed to take reasonable steps to prevent them.
  • Expressly prohibits employers from unreasonably requiring their employees to make payments (e.g. demanding a proportion of their wages be paid back in cash).
  • Strengthens the evidence-gathering powers of the Fair Work Ombudsman to ensure that the exploitation of vulnerable workers can be effectively investigated.
  • Introduces a reverse onus of proof where an employer has not met their record keeping obligations and an underpayment of wages claim is made.

While a focus in the legislation is to get franchisors and parent companies to responsibly supervise and ensure compliance by their franchisees and subsidiaries, any business which sub-contracts work should ensure that they have appropriate compliance systems in place not just on paper but in practice too.

Ridgeline HR can assist by undertaking independent workplace relations compliance audits of franchisees, agencies, subsidiaries, sub-contractors and supply chain partners. These audits cover compliance with:

  • National Employment Standards
  • Modern Awards
  • Record Keeping and Payslip Requirements
  • Superannuation Guarantee
  • Avoidance of Sham Contracting

For construction businesses needing to be compliant with the Code for the Tendering and Performance of Building Work 2016 so as to be able to tender on and perform Commonwealth-funded work, that can also be included in the audit process.

Enquiries can be directed to Peter Maguire on 0438 533 311 or at

Helping Civil Contractors with Building Code Compliance Preliminary Assessment

In order to qualify for tenders on Commonwealth-funded construction works, businesses have to demonstrate compliance with the Code for the Tendering and Performance of Building Work 2016 (the Code).

The Australian Building and Construction Commission (ABCC) is responsible for administering and enforcing the Code. Part of that process involves assessment of the industrial instruments (awards or enterprise agreements) covering a business and its employees.

The ABCC now requires applicants for a Letter of Compliance to conduct a preliminary review of their enterprise agreements using Guidance Material developed by the ABCC. The guidance material is in the form of a spreadsheet with over 1600 clauses from enterprise agreements with commentary as to whether the clause is deemed to be “compliant”, “not compliant” or “compliant with implementation feedback” (i.e. it depends on what really happens in practice).

This is a very complicated and time consuming exercise for businesses and especially those who do not have their own specialist industrial relations staff.

Ridgeline HR has been servicing the HRM/workplace relations needs of members of the Civil Contractors Federation in Victoria for the past 11 years and is now assisting with the conduct of preliminary reviews and corrective action where that is necessary to achieve code compliance.

Enquiries can be directed to Chris White on 0419 130 580 or at or Peter Maguire on 0438 533 311 or at


Support the Footmen Foundation

The Footmen Foundation is a long serving charity meeting the needs of community groups and people in need in Maroondah and surrounding areas as a funder of last resort for over 40 years.  If there is a special need for which funding cannot otherwise be fully sourced, grant applications can be made to fill the gap.

To do this great work, the Foundation needs to raise funds and does so through membership, donations, bequests and events.

Upcoming events are:

  • AFL Finals Lunch on 21 September 2017
  • Golf Day on 16 November 2017
  • Christmas Rendezvous on 12 December 2017

Corporate membership costs just $100 per annum for which you will receive acknowledgement on the Foundation’s website and in the Footnotes newsletter plus free entry into the Christmas Rendezvous function. Single memberships ($50 per annum) and family memberships ($75 per annum) are also available.

You can download the application form below.

Footmen Foundation Membership Application 2017

Ridgeline HR Practice Leader, Peter Maguire, is a volunteer Board Member and can be contacted on 0438 533 311 if you would like further information.

Ridgeline HR is now in Geelong

We are pleased to announce the launch of our Geelong branch through our Associate Chris White who is based in Highton.

Chris will be the lead on our activities in the region with support from our Melbourne team as required.

He can be contacted at or on 0419 130 580.