Heads up – new Fair Work Information Statement released

Under National Employment Standards, employers must give new employees a copy of the Fair Work Information Statement in its current form. This is amended at around 1 July each year to update the national minimum wage and otherwise periodically for any other legislated amendments to National Employment Standards or the relevant matters. The Fair Work Ombudsman has just released a totally remodelled Fair Work Information Statement which you can download below. Remember that you can incur significant fines for not complying with Fair Work requirements. Fair-Work-Information-Statement-2 [/av_textblock]

Refreshing Ridgeline HR

Refreshing Ridgeline HR

We have been around for nearly 20 years now and, in that time, we have served hundreds of clients across a wide range of industry, cultural, size and geographical settings. As with any business, to stay relevant and of value to our clients, we need to continuously test and refresh our offerings – always looking to be able to help in new and better ways. Over the past couple of years, we have been undertaking a deeper analysis of our strengths and how we can best leverage them to benefit both our business and those of our clients. We have done this in the context of the people and culture challenges that organisations large and small need to address in the modern world and how we can leverage both modern thinking on employee engagement and high performance on the one hand and HRM technological platforms on the other to better effect. That has led to a number of exciting initiatives that we have begun to roll out and which will come fully online in 2020. Our Better Workplace Projects Using best practice methodologies from around the world, we have put together an organisational improvement model that really works – because it is centred on and is delivered through “your most important asset”, your people.Our Practice Leader, Peter Maguire, designed the Better Workplace Projects to meet the need for Australian businesses to find better ways to lead and manage their people. Peter believes that a focus on strengths rather than risks and enabling employee engagement and wellbeing are the keys to making better workplaces where people and businesses flourish. Here is what an early adopting client, Heidi Tucker, CEO of Anchor, has to say: “Peter has introduced the organisation to a range of tools, frameworks and theories underpinned by positive psychology. These allow us to support our staff to be the best version of themselves at work. Anchor has invested in developing a Better Workplace team, a group of staff members representing all areas of the business, who act as our “employee voice”. I have found this “voice” so important because it guides myself and my senior leadership team in the right direction- where our staff want to go!!”  Our EngageMentality Coaching Programs Complementing our Better Workplace Projects, we have flipped the traditional performance management model on its head because it simply does not work. There are 4 basic tenets that underpin this model, namely:

  1. We look at the whole person through the lenses of role, relationships, values, strengths and wellbeing.
  2. We develop performance and development plans that are tailored to the individual in all 5 of these contexts.
  3. We regularly check in to see how it is going, to give credit for achievements and to tweak as necessary for areas requiring attention or things that have changed.
  4. The person responsible for my plan and my performance and development is me – my manager’s role is to coach me to help me to succeed against that plan.

Our technology solution – Employment Hero After extensive research, we have chosen and entered into a partnership with Employment Hero, a cloud-based HRM system that fully integrates with leading financial management systems such as Xero and MYOB and others. This provides a lot of functionality and economy to manage basic HRM tasks (like many other online systems do) but it also provides value adds in employee engagement, wellbeing and technological support for our coaching programs that other systems don’t have. It also helps us to automate process functions so that we can leverage our expertise more effectively where it should be directed – to helping you to improve your business and lead and manage your people better. That automation also helps you to focus on what really drives your business – your people. Our investment in facilities We have become a member of Waterman Business Centres giving us access to state of the art working, meeting and training/presentation facilities in three locations – at Caribbean Gardens, Chadstone and Narre Warren. So we now have much better capability to provide the right space for the service that you need at any given time. Our continued offerings Of course, we are not “throwing the baby out with the bathwater”. We are still providing the same old every day services that have got us to where we are now. That is the hands on help with understanding and meeting compliance requirements, writing documentation such as employment contracts and HRM policies and procedures, developing enterprise agreements, giving you a hand with staff communications and helping to resolve disagreements and to manage performance, conduct and disciplinary matters. With the range of initiatives that are outlined above, we have new and better ways of doing those things too. Our business is about “Helping PEOPLE in BUSINESS”. Please do not hesitate to contact us if we might be able to do that for you and/or your people by calling me on 0438 533 311 or email me at peter@ridgelinehr.com.au. Peter Maguire Practice Leader Ridgeline HR In 2020, we will be celebrating our 20th anniversary and we will also be growing on the back of all of this refreshment of the Ridgeline HR brand and services. We are looking for people who can do that with us as independent contractors and consultants in both our employee engagement/better workplace services and in our Employment Hero/compliance services. Have a look at what we do and how we do it if this is of interest to you. Then, if you have something to offer us, please feel free to give me a call.  [/av_textblock]

Reminder – Labour Hire Licensing about to hit

The Labour Hire Licensing Act 2018  and regulations come into full effect on 30 October 2019. As from that date, it will be an offence to provide or to use unlicensed labour hire services in Victoria. Essentially, this is any business that provides workers to other businesses or organisations whether as their own agency employees or as contractors. The Labour Hire Authority has been set up to administer and regulate labour hire across Victoria. Who is a labour hire worker? According to the Authority, the answer is : ‘Workers are generally individuals employed and paid by labour hire providers and supplied to host businesses, farms or organisations on a full-time, part-time or casual basis. In addition, if a person supplied by a labour hire provider is entitled to be paid by a host, that person will be a worker under the LHL Act if the labour hire provider also procures or provides accommodation for the person. A person who is an independent contractor supplied to a host by a labour hire provider will also be a worker under the LHL Act if the labour hire provider continues to manage the performance of the contract — for example by providing administrative and payroll functions or performance management in relation to the contractor.” There are some additional considerations which effectively broaden coverage in specific industries namely horticulture, meat and poultry processing and contract cleaning. You can find out whether any labour hire provider or temp service that your business may use is registered to operate at the Labour Hire Authority Note: maximum penalties for using unlicensed labour hire providers are in excess of $500,000. [/av_textblock]

Award modernisation – reimagined …….

In a recent post, I spoke about how the award modernisation has failed to deliver on one of its statutory objectives: “…a simple, easy to understand, stable and sustainable award system..”. I see three primary problems with the award system:

  1. Awards are too complicated and not easy to understand
  2. Because different awards apply to different occupations, employers can have to apply different conditions of employment to different categories of employees
  3. In some cases, award conditions are outdated or unfair

Within individual awards, the Fair Work Commission sensibly put in place phased adjustment of some conditions so as to get employees in an industry across the country on to a common set of conditions. They used annual wage reviews to cushion the impact on those whose entitlement was nominally reducing. They also did this with phased adjustments to penalty rates in some industries. What if they took this a step further and did it across all awards to provide one standard set of conditions for all award-covered workers? Perhaps we could have a system where the core conditions of employment for all workers in an enterprise are the same based on the industry that the business operates in rather than the occupation of the employee. Let’s take the case of an artwork manufacturer and wholesaler who has a designer covered by the Graphic Arts Award, a framer covered by the Manufacturing and Associated Industries and Occupations Award, a driver covered by the Road Transport and Distribution Award and an administrator covered by the Clerks – Private Sector Award. So there are 4 employees and 4 awards with different conditions of employment. So let’s reimagine the system to see what it might look like:

  1. We already have the 10 National Employment Standards that apply to everyone under the Fair Work Act
  2. We could then have National Award Standards that apply to every award covered employee and these could include:
    • ordinary hours of work
    • shiftwork and shift allowances
    • overtime hours and loadings
    • penalty rates on evenings, weekends and public holidays
    • common allowances such as first aid allowance, vehicle allowance, meal allowance, etc
    • annual leave loading
    • annual leave – advance, cashing in and direction to take and closedowns
    • termination of employment and redundancy
    • consultation arrangements
    • dispute resolution arrangements
    • individual flexibility agreements
    • other conditions that are common across awards
  3. Industry/occupational specific schedules of minimum rates of pay, allowances and special rates that are peculiar to the occupation or industry.

There would be some changes required to get all award employees on to the same conditions eg some awards have overtime at 1.5 times for the first 2 hours and some have it for the first 3 hours. Let’s just make it the first 2.5 hours and phase the changes in for everyone just as the Fair Work Commission did with penalty rates etc in some industries. The other alternative as noted above would be to designate one award for all employees in a business based on the primary activity of the business. The minimum rates for the occupation could be drawn from the relevant occupational award but otherwise conditions are common for all award covered employees in a business. There is some precedent in this regard. Before modern awards were introduced, the Transport Workers (Mixed Industries) Award allowed for drivers to pick up the conditions applying to most workers in the business. Either of the approaches noted above would massively simplify compliance for employers and provide fair and equal conditions for their employees. It just requires a bit of imagination and common sense plus the parties involved in the process having the will and the courage to change. [/av_textblock]

Are modern awards too complicated?

Are modern awards too complicated?

The award modernisation process provided a wonderful opportunity to really simplify workplace relations compliance and the abilities of both employers and employees to understand the rules of employment in Australia and in their industry and in their particular circumstances. It was successful in reducing thousands of federal and state awards to 122 modern awards which is great. However, it has done little to simplify the actual content of awards or to get consistency between different awards which could apply side by side in a business. In fact, the process has failed miserably in really “modernising” awards…….and, as for the 4 yearly review which commenced in 2013/14, the government amended the legislation to get rid of that requirement as the Fair Work Commission really couldn’t start the second one before they finished the first…….and the first one is still going. In the recent George Columbaris underpayment case, his supporters have blamed the complexity of the Restaurant Industry Award 2010 as a factor in non-compliance. That doesn’t hold any water in our view for a business of that size (especially as George has a long history of campaigning against penalty rates so he obviously knew about them) but there is no question that it is true in small businesses. Most people open a business with the best intentions and want to do the right thing. As their businesses grow, they need people and that’s when they are confronted by the complexities of our workplace relations system. We help them deal with these complexities every day and, even though we do (and are better at it than most), we are challenged from time to time in understanding just what an award clause really means. To illustrate the point of the complexity, let’s go a step beyond the restaurant industry into the construction industry which, by the way, is really important because of our reliance on infrastructure to drive the economy. Here is a little sample of what you’ll find in the Building and Construction Industry On-site Award 2010: That is just a snapshot but illustrates how ludicrous it is to expect a small business owner who knows excavators (not employment law) to comply. It also shows how patently unfair some of these conditions are. These are the issues that the award modernisation should be dealing with – simplification and fairness in a modern workplace. One of the objectives of modern awards prescribed in the Fair Work Act 2009 is “the need to ensure a simple, easy to understand, stable and sustainable modern award system for Australia that avoids unnecessary overlap of modern awards”. That unfortunately is not happening because the players are still living in the last century – we won’t get a different outcome using the same old tired IR process which created the award complexity problem in the first place…….and that is why the first four yearly review is still going with little to show in the way of “modernisation”. One option for businesses (employers and employees) who want to have something simpler, easier to understand and fitting with their workplace is to put in place an enterprise agreement. This is a complicated process but one that can be beneficial for all parties by doing at the enterprise level what award modernisation has failed to deliver. We can help you through the process. Next we will look at what the award modernisation process could deliver with just a bit of common sense. [/av_textblock]