Lessons from the 2017 Corporate Health and Wellbeing Summit

I recently attended the Corporate Health and Wellbeing Summit in Sydney and thought that I would share some of the key learnings from what were a great set of presentations.

I have selected three – one from a regulator’s perspective, one from a manager’s perspective and one from a consulting psychologist.

Lucinda Brogden, Commissioner,

National Mental Health Commission

 Lucy presented some startling statistics on mental health and its impact on productivity such as:

  • About 1 million Australians live with depression and about 2 million live with anxiety
  • 8 Australians (of whom 5 are men) die of suicide every day
  • Mental health conditions cost Australian businesses $10.9 billion per year
    • Compensation claims: $145.9 million
    • Absenteeism: $4.7 billion
    • Presenteeism: $6.1 billion

She recommended 6 ways in which businesses can improve mental health in the workplace:

  1. Smarter work design
  2. Promoting and facilitating early help seeking and early intervention
  3. Building a positive and safe work culture
  4. Enhancing personal and organisational resilience
  5. Supporting recovery
  6. Increasing awareness of mental illness and reducing stigma.

Stephen Scheeler, Former CEO, Facebook ANZ

Stephen spoke about the challenges he had joining the organisation in his 40s when the average age of Facebook employees is 26. He said he had been there about a week when the HR Manager gave him some feedback “You need to smile more, don’t look so serious”.

He also spoke about the importance of being positive in line with the values of the organisation which was going through massive change e.g.:

  • Revenue of $1.58b in 2012 to $27.6b in 2016
  • Facebook users from 0.9b in 2012 to 2.0b in 2016

Steve cited this comment by Facebook Chief Operating Officer, Sheryl Sandberg as a real indicator of their attitude to their people:

“Bring your whole self to work. I don’t believe we have a professional self Monday through Friday and a real self the rest of the time. It is all professional and it is all personal.” 

Dr Aaron Jarden, Psychologist, South Australian Health and Medical Research Institute

 Aaron described his goals as follows:

“Within an organisational setting, it’s to enable organisations to invest in creating more rewarding, happier jobs for their people. To create positive workplaces where people are able to do meaningful and enjoyable work that taps into their greatest strengths and their most important goals. To capitalise on the unique intellectual and personal strengths of each employee by focusing less on getting employees to do their work and fixing problems and more into promoting excellence by enabling them to do good work; their best work.

He advocates that one size does not fit all and workplaces should be looking to utilise peoples’ strengths to optimise engagement, job satisfaction and productivity.

Aaron introduced the audience to a free strengths survey tool (VIA Survey of Character Strengths which can be accessed at http://www.viacharacter.org/www/Character-Strengths-Survey) as a way for people to identify their key strengths.

I recently participated in an exercise using this survey tool in a committee of volunteers and found it to be very useful in identifying my key strengths, comparing mine to those of others on the Committee and looking at how we can best deploy each others’ key strengths to get optimal results.

Aaron emphasised that positive leadership is crucial – “Leadership involvement was cited as the most effective factor for a successful wellbeing program by 59 percent of employer respondents. (State of Workplace Wellbeing Survey).”

In 2018, Ridgeline HR will be launching a Better Workplaces Project which will utilize positive psychology principles and a strengths-based approach to achieving improvements in employee wellbeing, engagement and productivity.

Contact Peter Maguire on 0438 533 311 or email pmaguire@ridgelinehr.com.au if you would like more information.

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 peter@ridgelinehr.com.au

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 cwhite@ridgelinehr.com.au or Peter Maguire on 0438 533 311 or at pmaguire@ridgelinehr.com.au.

 

Changing gears for a winning culture

There is plenty of research out there that tells us that the 1900’s command and control approach to management just doesn’t work in the modern world where change is constant and people want answers and results now.

If we are going to get true employee engagement and high performance with today’s and future generations, we need to fundamentally change the management model to one based on leadership and values-based behaviours that deliver trust and inspiration rather than just process control and risk management which really only deliver compliance. This is what study after study tells us.

It means business leaders need to change gears and in doing so reimagine their business culture and language from:

  • human resources to human beings
  • risk control to trust
  • process control to relationship optimisation
  • management to leadership
  • tasks to behaviours
  • outputs to outcomes
  • compliance to engagement
  • command to inspiration
  • structure to flexibility
  • reactive to resilient

It is a big adjustment and it is easy to fall back into the traditional management norm that has been drummed into us for all those years.

That is why it is so important to have a clear vision about where you are going and clear values and behaviours that say how you are going to go about doing that and then holding everyone accountable for modelling those every day, most importantly yourself.

Be prepared to challenge and be challenged, listen to what your people have to say and learn from that. It is amazing what a difference it can make to performance, engagement, innovation and wellbeing.

Ready to change gears?

 

What might the new casual conversion provisions mean for business?

As part of the 4 yearly review of modern awards, the Fair Work Commission has decided to insert casual conversion provisions into the 85 modern awards that currently do not have provisions of this sort.

These provide a right for casual employees engaged on a regular and systematic basis to apply for conversion to full-time or part-time employment subject to a number of conditions as follows:

  • a qualifying period of 12 calendar months;
  • a qualifying criterion that the casual employee has over the qualifying period worked a pattern of hours on an ongoing basis which, without significant adjustment, could continue to be performed in accordance with the full-time or part-time employment provisions of the relevant award;
  • the employer must provide all casual employees (whether they become eligible for conversion or not) with a copy of the casual conversion clause within the first 12 months after their initial engagement; and
  • a conversion may be refused on the grounds that:
    • it would require a significant adjustment to the casual employee’s hours of work to accommodate them in full-time or part-time employment in accordance with the terms of the applicable modern
      award, or
    • it is known or reasonably foreseeable that the casual employee’s position will cease to exist, or
    • the employee’s hours of work will significantly change or be reduced within the next 12 months, or
    • on other reasonable grounds based on facts which are known or reasonably foreseeable.

Please note that, at this point in time, awards have not been varied and the decision is therefore not operational.

Where this decision differs from  casual conversion provisions that are already in other modern awards is that:

  • the qualifying period is commonly 6 months rather than the 12 month period stated in the new decision
  • the relevant awards have a statement that an employer “must not unreasonably refuse” a request for conversion but there is no reference to the sorts of circumstances that might reasonably justify refusal (as set out in the new decision)
  • there are some variances in procedural requirements between the old and the new
  • existing casual conversion provisions continue to have force.

So what does it all mean?

Regardless of the industry you are in, every employer who has casual employees working regular and systematic hours over a prolonged period of time should review those arrangements and consider whether the past/existing working pattern and foreseeable future working pattern would justify conversion to full-time or part-time employment.

There is also a concern that, while an employee in a small business (less than 15 employees) is not eligible to make a claim of unfair dismissal until they have completed 12 months service (or 6 months in the case of larger businesses), there could be a spike in General Protection/Adverse Action claims where an employee exercises or intends to exercise their right to request casual conversion and perceives that they are disadvantaged because of that request or intention (eg in reduction of hours, variation of shifts to interrupt a regular working pattern or even discontinuation of employment). There is no qualifying period for these types of claims so employers beware.

The final point that we wish to make here is that security of employment is a significant issue in our community today and that is a key factor in attracting and retaining good people who’ll do a good job for you. If you want a great business, trust them and give them that security.

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.

Fair Work changes from 1 July 2017

There are a number of changes that have come into being from 1 July 2017 as a result of the 2016-2017 Annual Wage Review which increased the National Minimum Wage and award rates by 3.3% and other decisions made by the Fair Work Commission.

The Fair Work Ombudsman has produced an up to date set of Pay Guides for all modern awards which can be accessed here.

These guides have also factored in the first phase of reductions in penalty rates that have occurred in a number of retail and hospitality industry awards but please note that unions have appealed that decision and these proceedings commenced in the Federal Court this week.

Additionally, the following flow on increases have occurred.

The High Income Threshold

The new High Income Threshold is $142,000 per annum.

Employees who accept an employer guarantee of annual earnings of greater than this amount do not have access to the unfair dismissal jurisdiction.

This also raises the maximum compensation that can be awarded in an unfair dismissal case to $71,000 (6 months’ wages).

Fair Work Information Statement

Under National Employment Standards, all new employees must be provided with a Fair Work Information Statement which explains a range of workplace rights and where to go for assistance with those.

This has been updated and the new version that must be provided to new employees from 1 July 2017 can be accessed below.

Fair-Work-Information-Statement – 010717

Penalties for Fair Work Breaches

The maximum penalties for breaches of the Fair Work Act 2009 and modern awards have been increased to:

  • For corporate entities, $63,000 per offence
  • For individuals, $12,600 per offence

It should be noted that, in legislation currently before the Parliament (which is now in recess), these penalties are targeted to increase tenfold.

 

Ridgeline HR educating young people on workplace rights

This morning, we ran the first of our “Your Workplace Rights” briefings for secondary students and first up were Year 10 students at Melba College about to go out on work experience.

The briefing covered pay and conditions, National Employment Standards, Modern Awards and Enterprise Agreements and the roles of the Fair Work Commission and the Fair Work Ombudsman. The presentation included links to online information resources, tools and calculators that anyone can use to be better informed about their rights, entitlements and obligations.

This pro bono service has been launched for all Maroondah secondary schools as part of our contribution to improving community wellbeing in the City of Maroondah.

Penalty rates decision to be phased in

The Fair Work Commission has announced transitional arrangements for implementing the recent decisions to reduce penalty rates for work on Sundays and Public Holidays across a variety of awards.

Sunday penalty rates

The reductions in Sunday penalty rates are being phased in in annual instalments over 3 to 4 years depending on the award and are timed to occur on 1 July at the same time as any increases in award wages occurring from the Annual Wage Review process. The schedule for each award is as follows.

Fast Food Industry Award 2010

Full-time and part-time employees – Level 1 only

1 July 2017: 150 per cent > 145 per cent

1 July 2018: 145 per cent >135 per cent

1 July 2019: 135 per cent >125 per cent

Casual employees (inclusive of casual loading) – Level 1 only

1 July 2017: 175 per cent > 170 per cent

1 July 2018: 170 per cent > 160 per cent

1 July 2019: 160 per cent > 150 per cent

Hospitality Industry (General) Award 2010

Full-time and part-time employees

1 July 2017: 175 per cent > 170 per cent

1 July 2018: 170 per cent > 160 per cent

1 July 2019: 160 per cent > 150 per cent

Casual employees – unchanged at 175% including casual loading

General Retail Industry Award 2010

Full-time and part-time employees

1 July 2017: 200 per cent > 195 per cent

1 July 2018: 195 per cent > 180 per cent

1 July 2019: 180 per cent > 165 per cent

1 July 2020: 165 per cent > 150 per cent

Casual employees (inclusive of casual loading)

1 July 2017: 200 per cent > 195 per cent

1 July 2018: 195 per cent > 185 per cent

1 July 2019: 185 per cent > 175 per cent

Pharmacy Industry Award 2010

Full-time and part-time employees

1 July 2017: 200 per cent > 195 per cent

1 July 2018: 195 per cent > 180 per cent

1 July 2019: 180 per cent > 165 per cent

1 July 2020: 165 per cent > 150 per cent

Casual employees (inclusive of casual loading)

1 July 2017: 225 per cent > 220 per cent

1 July 2018: 220 per cent > 205 per cent

1 July 2019: 205 per cent > 190 per cent

1 July 2020: 190 per cent > 175 per cent

Public Holiday penalty rates

This decision effects the above 4 awards plus the Restaurant Industry Award 2010.

In all of these awards , the penalty rate for work on a public holiday is changed with effected from 1 July 2017 to

Full-time/part-time:  225%

Casual:  250%

One of the reasons given for phasing in the Sunday penalty rate cuts over such a prolonged period was that “take home pay” orders would not be an available option for workers whose take home pay was reduced as a result of implementation of this decision. The FWC’s rationale is that annual wage increases will significantly, if not totally, offset reductions in penalty rates.

This is likely to be a factor in future Annual Wage Reviews.

It is understood that some unions may seek judicial review of the penalty rates decision and, should that occur, it is possible that implementation could be further delayed.