New leave to deal with family and domestic violence

All modern awards have been varied with effect from 1 August 2018 to provide all employees including casuals with an entitlement of up to 5 days unpaid leave per annum to deal with family and domestic violence.

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More changes for employers

The changes keep coming in the field of workplace relations:

Annual Wage Review

There are a number of changes taking effect from 1 July 2018 as a result of the decision in the 2017-2018 Annual Wage Review as follows:

  1. The national minimum wage and award rates have been increased by 3.5%.
  2. The filing fee for dismissals, general protections and anti-bullying applications made to the Fair Work Commission increased to $71.90.
  3. The high income threshold in unfair dismissal cases increased to $145,400 and the compensation cap to $72,700.

Penalty Rates

The next wave of Sunday penalty rate reductions flowing from last year’s penalty rates decision also take effect from 1 July 2018 as follows:

Fast Food Industry Award 2010

  • Level 1, full-time and part-time employees: 145% > 135%
  • Level 1, casual employees (including casual loading): 170% > 160%
  • Other levels: no change

Hospitality Industry (General) Award 2010

  • Full-time and part-time employees: 170% > 160%
  • Casual employees stay at 175% including casual loading

General Retail Industry Award 2010

  • Full-time and part-time employees: 195% > 180%
  • Casual employees (inclusive of casual loading): 195% > 185%

Pharmacy Industry Award 2010

  • Full-time and part-time employees: 195% > 180%
  • Casual employees (inclusive of casual loading): 220% > 205%

Extension of ATO’s contractor reportable payments scheme 

On 9 May 2017 the Government announced that from 1 July 2018 businesses that supply courier or cleaning services will need to report payments made to contractors if the payments are for courier or cleaning services.

These payments must be reported to the ATO each year using the Taxable payments annual report.

Businesses in the building and construction industry have been subject to this requirement for a number of years.

Labour hire licensing

The Victorian Labour Hire Licensing Act has been passed by Parliament and is expected to come into effect by no later than 1 November 2018.

This means that labour hire firms will not be able to legally operate in Victoria unless they have a licence having passed a fit and proper person test and satisfied a number of other requirements.

Similar legislation is already operating in Queensland and in the process of implementation in South Australia.

Long service leave

The Long Service Leave Act 2018 makes a number of changes to long service leave entitlements in Victoria. These include:

  • Employee access to long service leave after 7 years of eligible service (down from 10 years).
  • The existing entitlement to payment in lieu on termination of employment after 7 years’ eligible service remains.
  • Unpaid parental leave will count as service (whereas currently it does not count but doesn’t break service).
  • If an employee resigns and is reemployed within 12 weeks, service will be deemed to be continuous (currently that only happens if the employee is dismissed and reengaged within 12 weeks).
  • Long service leave service will transfer from one employer to another where there is a transfer of tangible and/or intangible assets and the employee performs duties in connection with those assets (currently only tangible assets matter).
  • The method of calculating entitlements where there have been changes in an employee’s working hours is changing.
  • The ability of an employer to apply for an exemption will be abolished.
  • Penalties for non-compliance will go from being civil penalties to being criminal penalties.

This legislation is expected to come into operation on or about 1 November 2018.

Portable long service leave in some industries

There is already a statutory portable long service leave scheme in the construction industry – see Coinvest.

The Victorian Long Service Benefits Portability Bill 2018 (Bill) will, if passed, extend portable long service leave benefits to employees in the the community services, contract cleaning and security industries.

In essence, this means that a worker in those industries will be eligible for long service leave once they have 7 years’ industry service regardless of how many employers that might be with.

Employers will have to contribute to a fund run by a statutory authority which will manage workers’ entitlements.

Domestic Violence Leave

The Fair Work Commission has approved an award entitlement to unpaid domestic violence leave of up to 5 days per annum as part of the 4 year review of modern awards. More to come on this regarding when it will take effect but it should be some time soon.

Casual Conversion

The Fair Work Commission also made a decision on a model clause for conversion of casuals to full-time or part-time employees in 2017 but it is yet to be flowed on to awards. Again that is something that should happen soon.

Conclusion

There is a lot that has changed and a lot more coming employers’ way. We will be issuing regular updates on new developments so please subscribe if you want to be kept informed. Scroll down to the right bottom of the page to do that.

Special event – An evening with Libby Gorr

When: 6.30 pm for 7.00 pm, Tuesday 17 July 2018

Where: Karralyka Centre, Mines Road, Ringwood East

Cost: $85 per head or $800 for a table of 10

Two course dinner plus drinks at bar prices 

Bookings at: www.footmen.org.au 

This is a family event full of fun and inspiration delivered by a trio of wonderful women.

Libbi Gorr is one of Australia’s finest live hosts and broadcasters. Warm, witty and smart, she has an exceptional ability to entertain, inspire, challenge and motivate, bringing a unique blend of journalism and humorous observation to all her work.

Sandi Givens is MC for the event, as we know her warm and genuine nature is evident in all her work as an MC, Conference Speaker and Workshop Facilitator.

You will also hear about the inspiring journey that Mel Spencer has undertaken with “Different Journeys”. This is a charitable endeavour to socially support young people on the autism spectrum and it is making a real difference.

Note: The Footmen Foundation is Ridgeline HR’s designated charity.

Significant non-compliance in local government security supply chain

The Fair Work Ombudsman has reported on an Australia-wide audit of the security service supply chains of 23 local councils with key findings as follows:

  • non-compliance with workplace laws in the supply chains of 14 (61 per cent) of the 23 councils, with breaches primarily relating to underpayment of minimum award rates as well as under- or non-payment of applicable penalty rates and overtime;
  • 63 per cent of subcontractors were found to be non-compliant compared to 42 per cent of principal contractors, who had a direct relationship with the council.
  • the Fair Work Ombudsman issued 26 formal cautions, 15 compliance notices and four infringement notices to non-compliant contractors and subcontractors.
  • A total of $72,250 was recovered for underpaid workers.

The full media release can be accessed here.

The Fair Work Ombudsman, Ms Natalie James also stated:

“While it is the primary responsibility of the employer to ensure compliance with workplace laws, it is clear that councils could – and should – be doing more to keep tabs on what is going on in their security contracting networks.”

“We’re recommending that local councils amend their security services tender documents to reflect best practice on contracting labour and ensure that the amounts paid in their contracts are sufficient for contractors and subcontractors to cover employee entitlements.

“We also expect that councils are proactive in monitoring their security supply chains, including by requiring contractors to regularly report on their compliance with their workplace obligations.

“Beyond such measures being in line with community expectations, councils should note that it is not just employers who can be held liable for breaches such as underpayments occurring in a supply chain – in certain circumstances councils themselves may be held legally responsible when their contractors or subcontractors are not complying with the law.”

With penalties of up to $630,000 per offence for a corporation and up to $126,000 per offence for an individual, there are also strong commercial grounds for local councils and their officers to follow the Fair Work Ombudsman’s advice.

Ridgeline HR provides tailored, thorough and affordable workplace relations compliance and audit programs for franchise groups and supply chains. 

“Ridgeline HR has  recently completed a very thorough confidential assessment within our wider franchise network to check understanding of workplace laws and minimum standards.    This has also involved the provision of a comprehensive compliance kit.   Peter Maguire (Practice Leader) has a very thorough knowledge of workplace relations within Australia, provides an excellent service and brings a very practical approach.   I would warmly recommend them.”

Leida Meijers, HR Director, Europcar

Ditch the bus and get a boat

One of the most repeated lines about developing high performing teams is the often misquoted Jim Collins line about “getting the right people on the bus”.

I attended a workshop the other day where this line was used and then one of the participants in the workshop told a story that said so much more about teamwork and high performance than the bus analogy ever could.

So what’s wrong with “the bus”? Whenever I hear this, the image I see is one of one person in charge (the driver) and everyone else just sitting there doing nothing other than being there. To me, it arguably depicts presenteeism (being there but not productively).

The counterpoint in this workshop was a story of a rowing crew where they were all in tune on the team strategy. They were all aligned with what tactics they would deploy in different scenarios that might arise in the race and they trusted each other to do their bit as and when the particular scenario presented.

An approach that I prefer is to replace the bus with a rowing rig where everyone has to stroke in time and the cox (ie our business leader) is calling out the stroke keeping people informed on what is required at each stage of the race. Everyone is making a contribution here.

So, do yourself a favour – ditch the bus and get a boat if you want to give your people the right picture about what good leadership and teamwork looks like.

 

Is good financial advice better for morale than a pay rise?

Smart employers understand that anything that they are able to do affordably to help their employees handle all of the pressures which go with living in a modern world has spin off benefits in employee wellbeing and productivity. One of those significant pressures is financial insecurity.

This article provided courtesy of our friends at FMD Financial tells us why and what you can do about it. 

Research shows 46% of employees worry about their finances and that worry can stop them achieving at work and feeling positive about their job. It’s a statistic that is motivating employers to take action. Improving financial wellbeing among staff was the top employer initiative for just 30% of companies in 2014. That figure has now jumped to 56% according to AON Hewitt’s 2016 Hot Topics in Retirement and Financial Wellbeing research.

Companies like RAA in South Australia are leading the charge. Senior Manager, Pay and Benefits, Tatjana Bergen, says providing employees with access to qualified financial advisers who build an ongoing relationship with the organisation and its employees is an important part of their commitment to supporting the financial wellbeing of staff. “FMD adviser, Dan Arcadiou, is regularly on site to meet with employees and FMD have developed a dedicated online survey our staff can access via the Intranet to get a better understanding of their financial situation at any time.”

It seems there is both a bottom line benefit and a moral imperative to boost financial wellbeing among employees. Eighty-five per cent of Australian employers say they’re focused on financial wellbeing because it’s the right thing to do, but almost as many (80%) are motivated by the desire to improve employee engagement.  Yet barriers to seeking financial advice remain. Employers may not know a good financial adviser or how to evaluate one. And recent scandals among big bank advisers have understandably put many business and HR leaders off taking that first step.  Experts agree people need to be empowered to take control of their financial wellbeing just as they do with maintaining a healthy lifestyle through a good diet and exercise. Fitness programs, fruit boxes and gym passes have long been a part of Australian workplaces, so why not high quality financial advice tools and qualified financial advisers?

As professional work continues to become more flexible but also more uncertain, good financial planning is becoming crucial to the growing contract workforce. Contingent workforce specialists Entity Solutionshave partnered with FMD to offer their workforce access to quality advice to help them plan for the future. CEO Neil Merola says “It’s key to ensure every independent professional has the opportunity to protect their lifestyle and where possible, maximise their income.”  With evidence suggesting many professionals are unprepared for maintaining their lifestyle in an uncertain job market, now is the  time to help employees take greater control of thier financial futures.

Talk to us about running an advice clinic at your workplace to give employees access to a reputable financial health check. Or if you have questions about your financial wellbeing, complete our quick and easy online financial health checkor book a free 1 hour consultationwith a qualified adviser.

Check them out at https://www.fmd.com.au

 

Fair Work Commission awards 3.5% wage increase

The Fair Work Commission (FWC) has handed down its decision on the 2017/18 Annual Wage Review, increasing the National Minimum Wage and award rates by 3.5% with effect from 1 July 2018.

This is about half what the ACTU claimed and twice what AiG offered so it was pretty well what we expected to be the outcome.

In last year’s decision, the FWC flagged the likelihood of a significant increase this year because of the fact that the lowest paid workers on award rates were still at risk of poverty. That is one of the reasons why the ACTU continues to press for a “living wage” which would be significantly higher than the National Minimum Wage and will remain on the ACTU agenda for some time to come.

The FWC has some empathy for the ACTU’s position in this regard but has to balance that with the ability of employers to manage a larger wage increase than that which it has awarded in each of the last two Annual Wage Reviews (3.3% and 3.5% respectively). We don’t expect that trend to change much in the foreseeable future.

The new national minimum wage for an adult employee will be $719.20 per week or $18.93 per hour from 1 July 2018.

The FWC will now embark on variations to award rates and allowances, all of which should be updated on their website (www.fwc.gov.au) over the next few weeks.

Employers need to apply this decision in one of the following ways:

  1. If the employee is covered by an award or an enterprise agreement and is being paid at award rates, increase the employee’s wage to the new award rate (ie by 3.5%);
  2. If the employee is covered by an award or an enterprise agreement and is being paid at above award rates, the employer can absorb the increase in award rates against that over award payment unless there is an enterprise agreement or contract of employment which provides for increases in wages in line with Annual Wage Reviews (in which case, wages would be increased by 3.5%);
  3. If the employee is paid on a salaried basis (whether expressed weekly, fortnightly, monthly, annually or otherwise), review the salary to ensure that it remains above award, having regard to all of the monetary benefits payable under the relevant award in respect of all hours worked under the contract of employment;
  4. If the employee is not covered by an award or enterprise agreement and is therefore subject to the national minimum wage, ensure that the employee’s remuneration provides at least that national minimum wage for all hours worked regardless of how it is structured.

Failure to provide employees with compliant levels of remuneration can result in severe penalties of up to $630,000 per offence for a corporation and $126,000 per offence for an individual. Claims for underpayment can be made retrospectively for up to 6 years.

If you need assistance with understanding what this decision means for your business, contact us using the form below for a free first consultation from us.

How mature are your HR practices?

Questions are often asked about the value of HR to an organisation and the level of influence that the HR function has on overall business direction and decision-making.

More recently, with the disclosures of corporate malpractice and unethical executive conduct in the finance industry in particular, there are significant questions about the culture of the organisations concerned and, by extension, as the culture custodians, where were HR in all of this.

The truth is that HR can look very different in different organisations and is more often than not reflective in style of the mindset of senior management. Is the focus compliance or is it about real employee engagement? Is it about risk management and enforcement or is it about leadership and values-based behaviour? Or is it just a processing function administering operational procedures and conflict transactions?

Where does HR sit on the scale of maturity in your organisation?

Back in 2005,we developed a maturity model based on our experience in dealing with hundreds of organisations and this 4C model is a core part of our consulting and coaching offerings. While in our consulting, we focus on “People and Culture”, you can apply the methodology to any business function.

Here is what it looks like:

C1 = Commitment: this is the ground floor, the point at which an organisation makes a specific commitment through a vision statement or a values statement or a set of goals in a business plan or a policy statement or a contract which sets out an obligation that the business commits to.

C2 = Capability: this involves the organisation investing in the resources needed to give life to the commitment including the right people, processes, tools and equipment.

C3 = Competency: here the organisation has invested in the learning and support that people need to effectively play their part in utilising the resources and they are delivering good outcomes in the area of the commitment.

C4 = Culture: where the commitment has been fully embedded in everyday activity in practice, people believe it and they are consistently delivering high performance outcomes.

A lot of the organisations that we have worked with in our compliance activities are at C1 to C2 level and a significant number are quite limited in the breadth or range of commitments that they have made in real terms. Managing people is an ongoing challenge for these businesses.

Then there are the others who aspire to be employers of choice and really get the connection between employee engagement and wellbeing and high performance. With the right leadership, a positive mindset and values driven behaviours, those aspirations can be realised. Our 4C framework provides a simple and effective roadmap for getting there.

If you look at the people and culture practices in your organisation, where do you sit on the 4C scale?

6 tips on effective communication

Why is it that, whenever you conduct an employee survey or business diagnostic, communication comes up as one of the key areas for improvement?

In part, it is because we are human and we each deliver and receive and interpret information in our own individual way.

In part, it can be because, as business owners and managers, we are technically competent in what our businesses do but we are not necessarily trained or skilled in communication techniques.

In part, it is also because, in any business, the timely and accurate flow of the right information to the right people is critical for getting work done efficiently and optimising job satisfaction for the people involved.

In part, it can be because we don’t think through the actions that we are taking or changes that we are implementing by consciously considering who is affected and needs to be communicated with.

And, in part, it can be because in the everyday hurly burly of running a business, we can forget to communicate or have trouble listening to others who have something to say that is significant for them.

So what can you do to improve communications in your business?

  1. Project positivity from the top.
  • Be honest and transparent
  • Be clear about the purpose
  • Set good practice standards in policies (not just consequences for breaches)
  • Ensure that all of your managers/leaders believe the message and “sing from the same hymn book”
  • Be timely
  • Be responsive
  • Celebrate successes
  1. Define the audience on 3 levels

Tailor your message to people to take account of:

  • Whole of business communications (what everyone needs to know)
  • What particular teams might need to know about the impact for them and
  • What individuals need to know about the impact for them

Consider other stakeholders as well eg customers, suppliers, contractors, etc and what you need to tell them if they are (potentially) affected in some way

  1. Build it into project management
  • Identify stakeholders in each project up front
  • Identify key points and messages to be given in the project
  • Build these communications into the project plan
  • Make sure it happens
  • Review the effectiveness of communications as part of the review process on project completion.
  • Learn from that and continuously improve
  1. Validate understanding

This is about ensuring that the people concerned “get the message” and know what it means for them. It is really just a question of asking them what it means for them, ensuring they understand and observing what is happening in practice

  1. Give your people genuine voice

This is probably the improvement opportunity that comes up most often in employee surveys and there are lots of options such as:

  • Set up a staff consultative committee or representative workplace improvement team
  • Do regular employee surveys to get people’s views and spot check progress
  • Have a publicly committed to improvement plan for people and culture
  • Ensure that you have trusted and effective grievance and suggestions processes in place
  • Give people regular and balanced feedback about how they are going
  1. Make sure you have the capability

Continuously work on your communication processes and skills as a core business competency that impacts critically on all aspects of running a business.

If you don’t have the strengths internally, look externally to get help in communications design, positive policy writing and coaching for people in your business who play key roles in communications.

The spin offs are higher efficiency, happier people and a more profitable business.

Ridgeline HR offers a variety of coaching, consulting and contracting services to assist businesses with consultation and communication requirements and enquiries can be directed to Peter Maguire on 0438 533 311 or email pmaguire@ridgelinehr.com.au.  

 

FWO audit finds over 40% of employers not compliant

The Fair Work Ombudsman has just released its latest audit report on campaigns run in the Dandenong and Warrnambool – Otway Ranges regions.

In the Dandenong campaign, 253 businesses in Dandenong, Dandenong South, Keysborough, Noble Park and Springvale were audited with the following findings:

  • 42% were not compliant on some count
  • 26% were not paying their employees correctly
  • 23% were not compliant with payslip and record keeping requirements
  • $428,676 in underpaid wages was recovered for 185 employees from 46 businesses

In the Warrnambool – Otway Ranges campaign, 251 businesses in Camperdown, Colac and Warrnambool were audited with findings of:

  • 41% were not compliant on some count
  • 28% were not paying their employees correctly
  • 21% were not compliant with payslip and record keeping requirements
  • $195,656 in underpaid wages was recovered for 200 employees from 48 businesses.

Across the two campaigns, the Fair Work Ombudsman issued 56 notices of various sorts including 15 infringement notices which can involve on-the-spot fines of up to $6,300 per offence.

Businesses that commit serious offences can be up for prosecution and penalties of up to $630,000 per offence for a corporation and $126,000 per offence for an individual.

If you haven’t verified that your business is compliant with Fair Work requirements, you should get professional advice from a competent workplace relations advisor.

That is something that we can help you with.

Ridgeline HR’s Peter Maguire is visiting Warrnambool on 18 – 19 April 2018 to present a briefing to local members of the Civil Contractors Federation on Fair Work and other compliance requirements for employers. He can be contacted on 0438 533 311 by any employer in the area looking for assistance of this sort.