Advice for fire affected businesses

We have been getting quite a few questions about the rules around business shutdowns and employee absences associated with the terrible bushfires which have ravaged so much of the country. These range from those who sadly have lost property and/or have had to evacuate so the business just stops to those in other areas who have downstream effects of toxic smoke in the air. There are also those brave people who have volunteered to fight the fires and perform other emergency duties at the personal expense of their paid jobs. Voluntary Emergency Service Leave Community service leave is one of the National Employment Standards that apply to most of us. That includes voluntary emergency service leave. All employees including casual employees who are engaged in voluntary emergency activity with a recognised emergency management body like the SES, CFA or RSPCA are entitled to leave without pay. If you are able to pay your employee for that period, that is fantastic but we know that most small businesses would struggle with that. The period of leave is not limited other than that it should be no longer than the period that they are engaged in that emergency management activity with allowance for reasonable travel and rest. More information is available at https://www.fairwork.gov.au/leave/community-service-leave. Business interruption and employee stand down The Fair Work Act provides for certain situations where an employee may be stood down without pay due to circumstances beyond the employer’s control. These include severe and inclement weather or natural disasters (such as bushfires) which force a business interruption or closure. That is fairly clearcut for those businesses in areas directly impacted by fires who have had to close at least temporarily. It is however important to check any employment contract or enterprise agreement or modern award to see if any alternative provisions apply. For example, the Building and Construction General On-site Award 2010 has an inclement weather clause that affords employees an entitlement to up to 32 hours pay in a period of 4 weeks where business operations are disrupted by inclement weather. See Clause 23 at https://www.fwc.gov.au/documents/documents/modern_awards/award/ma000020/default.htm It might also be that businesses which are not located in the areas directly impacted by fires are also affected either because they delivered products or services into or out of those directly impacted areas or because they are suffering other effects such as poor air quality from smoke in their areas of operation. The stand down provisions could also apply to them. In any of these scenarios, if you are able to provide people with alternative work within their capabilities, that would be great. However, we know that for many that just isn’t possible. Other leave entitlements Employees might make requests to use annual leave or long service leave entitlements during the stand down period and, if that is something that you as an affected employer can accommodate, that is great. Unfortunately, for many employers, the loss of cash-flow and the uncertainty about the business future will make that extremely difficult if not impossible. If that is your situation, ensure that you at least know what support is available for your employees and direct them to where they can access that support (and ensure that you access it too). Personal/Carer’s Leave can apply in a few contexts:

  • An employee who suffers injury or illness as a result of the fires may be incapacitated for work eg an employee injured during a bushfire, or who is unwell and unable to work due to smoke inhalation, may be entitled to sick leave.
  • An employee can take paid carer’s leave to care for or support a member of their immediate family or household who is sick, injured or has an unexpected emergency. For example, an employee may be able to take carer’s leave to care for their child if their child’s school closes unexpectedly due to a bushfire emergency.

Sadly, there are also situations where Compassionate Leave comes into play – when a member of an employee’s immediate family or household dies or has a life threatening illness or injury. That entitlement is to two days of paid leave for full-time or part-time employees (unpaid for casuals). What else can you do? We know that people go through enormous trauma and stress in these disaster situations which gives rise to anxiety and depression and a host of other mental health issues. We also know that disasters like these lead to heightened levels of suicide and domestic violence. As much as you can, try to keep in touch with your people and support them emotionally – just having a boss who cares can make a world of difference to their wellbeing and resilience in tough times….and make sure that you and your family have the supports that you need to. The Fair Work Ombudsman has a “Bushfires across Australia” webpage which has a lot of useful stuff on it (and some content has been drawn from there) – see https://www.fairwork.gov.au/about-us/news-and-media-releases/website-news/bushfires-across-australia#pay-during-stand-down PS Thank you to all of the civil contractors for your outstanding support for the fire fighting effort. We have been servicing the HR needs of civil contractors through our partnership with the the Civil Contractors Federation in Victoria for the past 14 years. Each time that there is a major fire emergency, CCF members are there to help protect Victorians. You are awesome! If you need some help with people issues associated with the fires (whether your business is affected or you are fighting them), give us a call for free – use your membership and call Peter Maguire on 0438 533 311.   [/av_textblock]

Lots changed in 2019 and more coming in 2020

 As we transition in to the New Year, it is worth just checking that we are up to date with Fair Work and other changes that came in in 2019 and we are ready for what is coming. Here are some little reminders on what has already changed:

And a couple of new heads ups:

The modern award review process is still going in the Fair Work Commission 6 years after it started and we can expect more changes to awards in the year ahead. The other burning issue in 2019 was that of all of the cases of corporate underpayment of wages and the growing use of the term “wage theft”. This has prompted State and Federal Governments to explore the potential for criminal sanctions for deliberate wage theft – more coming on this no doubt in 2020. Anyone needing help with any of this or any employment matter, give Peter Maguire a call on 0438 533 311 for a free initial phone consultation. [/av_textblock]

Extension of coverage of Victorian Portable Long Service Leave Scheme

On and from 1 January 2020, National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) and certain children’s services providers come under the Portable Long Service Benefits Scheme.

From that date, an activity funded by the NDIS, as well as services provided by licensed children’s services and approved providers under the Education and Care Services National Law, are included in the scheme as community services work.

This means that eligible employers, with workers undertaking these types of work, will need to register with the Portable Long Service Authority by 31 March 2020.

More information is available at https://www.vic.gov.au/portable-long-service-community-services-sector

Getting started for a great 2020

Getting started for a great 2020

Over the past year, we have developed some new positive psychology based approaches to personal development, engagement coaching and cultural change with some excellent results in our work with clients. So now it is time for us to look in the mirror – to lead by example and do it ourselves. Would you like to join us? Here is how. Under our EngageMentality coaching model, we have identified 5 prisms through which we look at and design peoples’ development. They are:

  1. Role(s): the functions that I perform and the technical skills and knowledge that I need to be successful in the role(s)
  2. Relationships: who are the key people with whom I relate, the people who rely on me and those whom I rely on to get good outcomes
  3. Values: what does good behaviour look like for me and for the people whom I work with
  4. Strengths: what am I innately good at and how do I utilise those strengths to good effect – if you haven’t done so, undertake the free VIA Character Strengths Survey
  5. Wellbeing: what I need to lead a balanced life which provides the nourishment that I need to flourish physically, mentally and socially

With each of those, we apply the Appreciative Inquiry methodology to define:

  1. Where we are at now in terms of our strengths (what’s working well) and opportunities (what can get better) – AI Discovery Phase
  2. Where we want to be in 12 months time – AI Dream Phase
  3. What actions will we take to leverage the strengths and take advantage of the opportunities – AI Design Phase
  4. Committing to and implementing my plan to deliver my Dream – AI Destiny Phase.

Put it all in a simple action plan with the following columns:

  1. The development objective
  2. The development actions
  3. The people responsible for the actions (you or you and someone)
  4. The timelines for the actions
  5. The status (tracking progress, celebrating achievements and recalibrating as needed)

The challenge then of course is to do it. Here are a few tips on that:

  1. Plan time in your calendar to undertake the actions you have committed to.
  2. Review your progress against your plan regularly – at least monthly and preferably weekly.
  3. Don’t stand still – stuff happens and things change so stay on top of that, be agile and adjust the plan as you need to – without compromising the Dream of course.
  4. Engage with a trusted someone whom you can talk to, get feedback from, celebrate the successes and learn from the things that haven’t quite gone to plan – this can be really valuable and a great emotional support.
  5. Keep a positive mindset, practise gratitude (be thankful for the good things and let people know) and be kind to yourself.

We are also factoring in daily practice of happiness in our plans through the free Action for Happiness resources available at https://www.actionforhappiness.org/calendars Here is the January 2020 calendar to get you started if you want to take this up too. Have a great 2020! If we can help to make your workplace a better place for people to flourish (our purpose), we would love to hear from you. [/av_textblock]

Excellent opportunity in Sales Administration and Customer Service

  • Established homewares market leader who are still growing
  • Friendly team environment with strong family values
  • Convenient location near Eastlink with off street parking

Do you have excellent customer service skills? Want to work in a better workplace where people come first and with good pay and conditions? Hands up!!

The business

Our client  is a market leader in wholesale wall art and homewares in both local and international markets.

The business has been around for over 40 years and is continuing to grow with over 40 staff located at company headquarters in Melbourne’s outer eastern suburbs.

There is also new investment occurring to take the business to the next level and to make it an even better place to work.

The job

Customer Services and Sales Administration is a pivotal role in this business.

As a member of the Customer Service and Administration team, you will use your excellent customer service skills to assist customers via phone and email communications. You will also be involved in general sales administration and data processing as well as helping out with events and other office tasks as needed.

The attributes that you will need to be successful in the role are:

  • Excellent relationship management skills
  • The ability to listen and communicate effectively both verbally and in writing
  • Competency in data processing and use of MS Office programs
  • Good learning capabilities with the capacity to develop and use knowledge of company products and processes to efficiently meet business and customer needs
  • Attention to detail and accuracy in recording
  • A strong sense of personal accountability with the ability to manage your own workload and determine priorities
  • A team player who is transparent, supports others and actively participates in team activities. 

Ideally, you will bring with you a number of years of success in similar functions in a wholesale trade environment.

The Benefits

There is a very competitive remuneration package on offer for the right candidate.

You will also be working in a family orientated business where people are valued and supported and you will have the benefits of a modern well-lit office environment with off street parking, just a few minutes from Eastlink.

It really is a better place to work. 

How to apply

You will show us that you really want this job by providing a cover letter that specifically addresses each of the attributes listed above as well as your resume. Send them to enquiries@ridgelinehr.com.au.