Can flexible work be for everyone?

Can flexible work be for everyone?

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Can flexible work be for everyone?

juggling flexibility

So we have the “perfect storm” of lots of factors causing constriction of the labour market in the post-lockdown environment.

There is lots of talk about working from home and hybrid working from those who had to work from home during lockdowns and would like to keep doing that for at least some of the time.

Correspondingly there is a common call to employers to be flexible in this if they are going to be competitive in that tight labour market.

But what about all of those people who can’t work from home because their job (as distinct from their boss) doesn’t allow them to.

Clearly factory workers and drivers and construction workers and those in essential services and health care and childcare and aged care and many, many more cannot do their jobs at home.

So does that mean that they cannot have some flexibility?

It shouldn’t although the options might be more limited.

Here are some to think about:

    1. Introduce RDOs to give people a day off every month
    2. Have an early finish on Friday to let people get organised for the weekend
    3. Allow people to adjust their hours to attend to personal commitments (eg an employee works an extra half hour on each of four days to get two hours off on the other day – perhaps to help with remedial reading at school or to coach a child’s sporting team)
    4. Look at job sharing arrangements where a couple of employees work part-time in the same job
    5.  Trial a 4 day week (it is working well in some places)
    6. Allow people to purchase additional annual leave for extended holidays
    7. Let people use their personal/carer’s leave more flexibly to meet important personal needs that don’t involve sick leave or caring requirements
    8. Extend the use of compassionate leave to more than just the immediate family and household (eg to attend funerals for close friends and other relatives like uncles and aunts and cousins and nephews and nieces

Then there is the law

In some cases, an employee will have a legal right to request flexible working arrangements under National Employment Standards.

The Fair Work Act provides that employees who have worked with the same employer for at least 12 months can request flexible working arrangements if they:

    • are the parent, or have responsibility for the care, of a child who is school aged or younger
    •  are a carer (under the Carer Recognition Act 2010)
    • have a disability
    • are 55 or older
    • are experiencing family or domestic violence, or
    • provide care or support to a member of their household or immediate family who requires care and support because of family or domestic violence.

This includes casual employees who have a reasonable expectation of continuing employment.\

Such requests can only be refused on reasonable business grounds and an employer has to respond in writing within 21 days saying whether they accept the request and, if not, why not.

Awards provide additional detail on how these are to be managed and employees are able to take the matter to the Fair Work Commission for review if their employer refuses their request.

Conclusion

There is a lot to think about in this space whether you are wrestling with hybrid working, wanting to enhance your value proposition as an employer or grappling with your legal obligations.

If there is anything in this that you would like some further advice on, give us a call on 0438 533 311. Take advantage of our offer of a free first consultation.

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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The Great Resignation – fact or fiction?

The Great Resignation – fact or fiction?

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The Great Resignation – fact or fiction?

great resignation

We have been hearing a lot about this – the Great Resignation – from the USA where people are reported to be leaving their employers in droves and businesses are having to up the ante with their employment offerings.

This is perfectly understandable in the USA for a number of reasons.

Firstly, people did not get the sort of support that we got here in Australia with JobKeeper and other government grants and subsidies.

We also have a host of employment protections that Americans do not have because their workforce is much more casualised than ours and they also have lesser legislated employment conditions.

And they had much higher COVID infection rates (at the time of writing, the USA had 74 million infections (about 22% of the population) as compared to Australia’s 2.5 million cases (less than 10% of the population) .

Those factors mean that the experience of American workers through the pandemic has been very different to ours.

One thing that workers world wide will have been doing through the pandemic is having a good hard look at their working life from a couple of perspectives – what sort of employer they work for and what place work should take in their lives.

This is happening in Australia too and we are seeing people leaving employers for six main reasons:

  1. They want greater flexibility in the way they work.
  2. They have moved away from cities to get out of and minimise future potential for lockdowns.
  3. They have the opportunity to move to more secure work or a different industry where they see career opportunities.
  4. They have been working in industries like healthcare and aged care and childcare and education where people have been under pressure for a long time and burnout has become commonplace.
  5. They were unhappy with their treatment by their employer during the pandemic and have the opportunity to do better.
  6. They have opted to retire or just opt out of the workforce.

Of course, there are also the minority who have chosen not to get vaccinated.

The labour market is the tightest that it has been for decades – it is really hard to attract any applicants let alone good ones.

A primary reason for this is the border closures and the impact that has had with no international students, migrant workers or backpackers available especially for industries like hospitality and agriculture/horticulture which have been reliant ion these workers for years.

The border closures also impact seriously on occupations where we have skills shortages – like engineers, tradespeople and accountants to name a few. 

So it is what you might call “the perfect storm” that must be navigated to attract and retain talent.

So will this current labour crisis be further exacerbated by the predicted “Great Resignation” hitting our shores?

We think that the opposite is the case – that one of the reasons that we are struggling to find candidates for good jobs is that people are staying put.

Most employers and employees have tried to do the right thing by each other during the pandemic and lockdowns and work restrictions. There is a bit of loyalty that goes with that experience. Plus, given the still insecure environment that we are in as a nation, why would you leave the security of your current job where you know what it is like, you have established relationships, you know what the rules are and you have your leave entitlements etc as an insurance policy if things do go downhill with the pandemic?

So the better question is “how do you get that person you need to see better opportunity and security with you?”

The lesson we can take from the USA is that, albeit that our labour market situation has different causes, it is time to get proactive with your employee value proposition and your labour marketing strategy. 

If you would like to see how we can help you to do that, give us a call on 0438 533 311 or email enquiries@ridgelinehr.com.au.

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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FWC rules that dismissal for refusing mandated vaccination is fair

FWC rules that dismissal for refusing mandated vaccination is fair

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FWC rules that dismissal for refusing mandated vaccination is fair

covid vaccine injection

At a time when businesses are grappling with what they can do with employees who refuse vaccinations that are mandated by public health orders, a majority decision of a full bench of the Fair Work Commission has provided some relief.

That decision upheld the dismissal of an employee by Sapphire Coast Community Aged Care for refusing to have a flu shot that was mandated by a public health order.

The employee claimed that she had a medical exemption but that did not stand up to scrutiny because the medical certificate was issued by a doctor who did not examine her and relied on her advice to him that she had had a previous reaction to a vaccination. On the other hand, the employer relied on the advice of the Chief Health Officer and public documents which indicated that adverse effects of flu vaccinations are rare and the fact that she might have had a reaction to a vaccine in the past did not mean that she should not have the flu vaccination.

In the original decision earlier this year, the FWC ruled that the employee could not perform the inherent requirements of her job without a flu shot.

The Full bench was considering her application to appeal which they rejected as they found that she didn’t have a valid medical exemption.

Clearly, this tells us that, subject to going through due process, if there is a public health order requiring vaccination of employees as a condition of working in the particular industry setting and an employee does not get vaccinated and does not have a valid medical exemption, the employee’s services can be terminated due to their inability to meet the inherent requirements of the job.

This obviously has ramifications for the construction industry in Victoria where workers are not permitted on construction sites without having at least the first COVID vaccination or providing a valid medical exemption.

We are hearing numerous reports from our clients about employees who are hesitant or refusing to get vaccinated and do not have any basis for a medical exemption.

Most employers we speak to tell us that they don’t want to sack anyone for not getting the jab but they might reluctantly be forced to do that with any employee who chooses not to be vaccinated. Many of these employers are small businesses often in regional communities where relationships go beyond just the workplace and so this is quite a stressful situation for employer and all of their employees.

If you need assistance in dealing with a situation such as this, give me a call on 0438 533 311 – your first consultation is free.

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

PARTNER LINKS

Smilsafe

TELL US WHAT YOU NEED HELP WITH

Dealing with the construction industry lockdown and vaccinations

Dealing with the construction industry lockdown and vaccinations

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Dealing with the construction industry lockdown and vaccinations

lockdown vaccination

Construction businesses are being called on by the Victorian Government to lift their game in assuring compliance with COVID safety requirements.

The Government has advised that nearly 50% of construction sites inspected were not compliant and that around 150 construction sites had become contact sites.

Initially, the directive was that all construction workers had to get a first jab of COVID vaccination if they were going to be permitted to work on a construction site.

Then, on last Monday following violent demonstrations, the Government decided to lock down the industry for 2 weeks.

What does this mean for construction employers?

If there is no other work available for construction employees, they would then be stood down without pay for the two week lockdown. People will be able to return to work on Tuesday 5 October 2021 provided they have provided their employer with proof that they either:

  • Have had at least one dose of COVID-19 vaccination, or
  • Have medical exemption issued by an authorised medical practitioner.

Employers must verify what each employee’s situation is in relation to vaccination and must maintain records of vaccinations and exemptions.

If an employee does not provide the required evidence or just refuses to get vaccinated, the employer must not allow them to return to work and so that again means that the employee would be stood down without pay until such time as the employee produces the evidence required or the vaccination mandate directive is lifted (which is not likely to happen soon).

You should ensure that stand down directions with reasons are provided in writing to each employee that is being stood down.

We are assisting many construction employers in dealing with this issue by providing advice and drafting communications and notices for them.

If you need assistance, call us on 0438 533 311 or email enquiries@ridgelinehr.com.au.

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

PARTNER LINKS

Smilsafe

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Why was lockdown engaging?

Why was lockdown engaging?

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Why was lockdown engaging?

 As we continue the progression back to the new normal (whatever that might look like), one of the interesting things that many businesses and studies are reporting is that employee engagement levels have actually increased during the COVID-19 lockdowns.

Why would that be the case?

Are there lessons that we can take from this?

Let’s explore why that might have happened.

 The Lucky Ones

There are people who have continued to work pretty well in line with their contracted hours of work albeit perhaps in a different setting (eg at home) or with modifications within their workplace. They would be grateful that they have had the good fortune to get through this difficult period largely unscathed especially when they look at others who have been locked down for months.

 A taste of flexible working

Of course, there are people who have enjoyed the flexibilities that go with working from home and the saving of time on the commute to work. For many, time is the most precious of commodities and they would see significant silver linings in the clouds of COVID-19.

There are lots of stories about people getting better balance in life during the last year and a balance that they want to retain.

Doing things differently

We also know that there are those who haven’t enjoyed the physical isolation but have learned new ways to be connected eg with various virtual teleconferencing platforms.

Learning and experiencing new ways of doing things have their own rewards and have opened up new possibilities with work that people value.

So all of the above are things which have contributed to employees feeling more engaged with their workplaces/employers.

We think there is another that is really important to recognise.

Loss of the physical and visual comfort zone

When people are in the office, we can see them and have intended or incidental face to face interactions which give us a sense of comfort that we are in control and things are OK with them.

For many managers, this is very much a case of all is OK in the world as long as people have their heads down and bums up and unless someone puts their hand up to say otherwise.

So what happens when that comfort zone is stripped away ie people are working from home so we can’t see them and we can’t just walk over and talk to them?

For many managers, that means that “I have to have check-ins with people to keep on top of things and ensure that the work is getting done, our customers are being satisfied and I am meeting my responsibilities as a manager.” 

If you are in that space, you have probably had more conversations/1-on-1s with each of your people during lockdown and guess what? Because of that, people can feel more connected and more valued and more engaged.

Smart businesses will explore with their people what lessons you can take from the lockdown experience that will make a positive difference to your “new normal workplace”.

We know that regular, positive and constructive conversations with people make that difference regardless of the setting in which they work. 

If you would like to learn how to do that, we would love to help you.

 Give our Practice Leader, Peter Maguire a call on 0438 533 311 to book a free consultation!

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

PARTNER LINKS

Smilsafe

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Heads up on award wage increases – round 3

Heads up on award wage increases – round 3

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Heads up on award wage increases – round 3

When the Fair Work Commission handed down last year’s annual wage review decision it divided awards into 3 groups based on the level of impact that COVID-19 had had on the particular industry. Some had the 1.75% increase applied from 1 July 2020, some from 1 November 2020 and those worst affected now have their turn from 1 February 2021. These are in the main awards that apply in the hospitality, entertainment, tourism and retail sectors.

The relevant awards are:

 Air Pilots Award 2020
 Aircraft Cabin Crew Award 2020
 Airline Operations-Ground Staff Award 2020
 Airport Employees Award 2020
 Alpine Resorts Award 2020
 Amusement, Events and Recreation Award 2020
 Commercial Sales Award 2020
 Dry Cleaning and Laundry Industry Award 2020
 Fast Food Industry Award 2010
 Fitness Industry Award 2010
 General Retail Industry Award 2010
 Hair and Beauty Industry Award 2010
 Horse and Greyhound Training Award 2020
 Hospitality Industry (General) Award 2020
 Live Performance Award 2010
 Mannequins and Models Award 2020
 Marine Tourism and Charter Vessels Award 2020
 Nursery Award 2020
 Professional Diving Industry (Recreational) Award 2020
 Racing Clubs Events Award 2010
 Racing Industry Ground Maintenance Award 2020
 Registered and Licensed Clubs Award 2010
 Restaurant Industry Award 2020
 Sporting Organisations Award 2020
 Travelling Shows Award 2020
 Vehicle Repair, Services and Retail Award 2020
 Wine Industry Award 2010

For employers, the different scenarios that can apply are:

1. If you have employees who are covered by a modern award and you otherwise apply all of the terms and conditions of the award, you must ensure that employees are paid at least the award rate for their classification as adjusted for this decision.

2. If you have employees who are award free and not covered by an enterprise agreement, you must ensure that they are paid at least the National Minimum Wage as adjusted for this decision.

3. If you have employees who are covered by an award and you pay them on an annualized wage basis or on a salary or all purpose rate which sets off certain monetary employment conditions such as annual leave loading, overtime and shift loadings, penalty payments and allowances, you need to recalculate the rate of pay to ensure that the employee remains better off overall against award entitlements and comply with any award provisions that might apply to annualized wage arrangement.

4. If you have employees who are covered by an enterprise agreement which provides for annual adjustment of wages in line with Annual wage Review decisions of the Fair Work Commission, you need to adjust wages by 1.75% from the operative date for the relevant award.

5. If you have employees who are covered by an enterprise agreement but the agreement does not provide for annual adjustment as per 4., you need to ensure that wages paid are at least equal to those applying to the underpinning modern awards or the National Minimum Wage as applicable from the relevant operative date.

6. You need also to have regard to any provisions in employment contracts which might provide an obligation to pass on any increases separate from or additional to any of the above scenarios.

The Fair Work Ombudsman has a Pay Calculator Tool on its website and also publishes Pay Guides for each award – these provide detailed advice on ordinary time and overtime and penalty rates for each classification in the relevant award. You can access these resources at https://www.fairwork.gov.au/pay/minimum-wages/pay-guides.

If you need assistance in understanding and applying the effects of this decision in your business, we are happy to assist.

To can take advantage of our free first consultation – contact us on 0438533311 or at https://ridgelinehr.com.au/contact-us/

 

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

PARTNER LINKS

Smilsafe

TELL US WHAT YOU NEED HELP WITH