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Another year of change in HR

by | Dec 12, 2022 | Fair Work, Human Resources

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The last few years have been among the most challenging in human resources management in memory. COVID, staff shortages, remote working and continued legislative change as well as the highest increases in award wages for many years have all contributed to this.

That trend is set to continue big time in 2023. There is a lot of legislative and regulatory change in relation to both workplace relations and workplace health and safety coming in courtesy of both State and Federal Governments and the effects of COVID on staff availability and working preferences continue to have an impact.

So here is a heads up on the HR agenda for the year ahead.

#1: SKILLS SHORTAGES

The struggle to find and retain the right people for your business will remain a key challenge in 2023 and beyond. It continues to be a candidates’ market so it is imperative that you have a real Employer Value Proposition (EVP) ie that you can tell candidates what you offer
and why they should work for you.

Explore opportunities to differentiate your business from your competitors in your industry and in your region, get the message out there and make sure that you deliver on your EVP for your employees…. so they become your greatest advocates.

#2: PAID FAMILY AND DOMESTIC VIOLENCE LEAVE

This year, all employees, whether full-time, part-time or casual, will be able to access 10 days of paid family and domestic violence leave.

For businesses with 15 or more employees, that entitlement is available from 1 February 2023.

For small business employers with less than 15 employees, that entitlement is available from 1 August 2023.

The full leave entitlement of 10 days is available from those dates.

Paid family and domestic violence does not accumulate but it does renew on the anniversary of an employee’s commencement.

For example, an employee engaged by a large employer on 5 July 2022, would first have the entitlement to 10 days paid family and domestic leave on 5 February 2023. That entitlement would reset to 10 days on the employee’s anniversary on 5 July 2023 and on 1 July each year thereafter.

#3: POSITIVE DUTY TO PREVENT SEXUAL DISCRIMINATION, SEXUAL HARASSMENT AND VICTIMISATION

In Victoria, this duty already exists under equal opportunity legislation. Now it is also being introduced federally through the Respect@Work reforms to the Fair Work Act.

Employees can already make application to the Fair Work Commission to issue stop sexual harassment orders but this is reliant on an employee making a complaint to the Commission.

The new positive duty means that employers have to prevent sexual harassment from happening in the first place by proactively identifying and removing risks in the same way that is required for workplace health and safety hazards.

If you cannot demonstrate that you are meeting that positive duty test, it will be extremely difficult to offer effective defence against any complaint made.

#4: REQUESTS FOR FLEXIBLE WORKING ARRANGEMENTS

The Fair Work Act already provides employees in certain circumstances with the ability to apply for flexible working arrangements which might, for example, be a temporary or ongoing variation to working hours or working location.

What the new legislation introduces is the ability for the Fair Work Commission to arbitrate on a dispute between an employer and an employee if the employer refuses the employee’s application or does not respond within the 21 day period allowed for an employer to respond to such a request.

With the current post-lockdown challenges that some employers are experiencing in getting people back to the physical workplace, this could be a big issue in 2023.

#5: MANAGING EMPLOYEE MENTAL HEALTH AND WELLBEING

There are two elements to this.

The first is that we want to look after our employees so that they can perform at their best and they trust that we care for them.

The second is that, if we do not have the appropriate policies, procedures and practices in place to support mental health and wellbeing, we have little chance of being able to defend complaints of psychosocial injuries and related worker’s compensation claims.

#6: INCREASES IN COST OF LIVING AND WAGES

The Albanese Government clearly has better pay for workers as a cornerstone of its workplace relations policy platform.

Last year, the Fair Work Commission delivered its highest increase to the federal minimum wage and award wages that we have seen for decades.

Additionally, with the accelerated increases in cost of living/inflation of recent times plus staff shortages, it is necessary to raise the bar on wage increases to attract and retain good people.

WHAT THIS ALL MEANS

Over the last few years, managing people and people issues has become a lot more complicated than it already was. This new raft of changes that will present in 2023 just continue with that.

There are three really important things that employers need to do regardless of size or number of employees.

The first is to learn as much as you can about what these changes are and what they mean for you.

The second is related to that – it is to have access to competent professional HR/workplace relations advice. You might obtain that from an industry or employer association, an employment law firm or a HR consultancy. Just make sure that they have the right balance between legal knowledge and cultural awareness.

The third is to engage with your people – educate them, listen to them and work with them on how to deal with all of these responsibilities in your business.

CONTACT US

Ridgeline Human Resources Pty Ltd
ABN : 24 091 644 094

enquiries@ridgelinehr.com.au

6 Ellesmere Ave, Croydon Victoria 3136

1300 108 488

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