Award review on “work and care” underway

Award review on “work and care” underway

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Award review on “work and care” underway

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Yesterday, the Fair Work Commission commenced its new “Work and Care” Review of Modern Awards which, on face value, could bring about the most substantial and biggest range of changes to our modern awards for decades.

When modern awards were created back in 2009, they were essentially a merger and rationalisation of thousands of pre-existing Federal, State and Enterprise-based awards leading to the 121 modern awards that we have today. 

This “Work and Care” Review has its origins in a Senate Inquiry into Work and Care established in 2022 which led to the Minister for Employment and Workplace Relations instructing the President of the Fair Work Commission to initiate the review.

The Fair Work Commission has issued a discussion paper has been issued which sets out the terms and process of the review and addresses relevant recommendations made by the Senate Committee and some other matters. It also has a comprehensive set of questions on the variety of matters to be considered in the review. You can access the report here.

The Senate Committee’s recommendations

Here is summary of the relevant recommendations of the Senate Committee as presented in the FWC discussion paper which shows how far reaching changes could be:

  • An enacted right to “disconnect from work” enabling and supporting productive work from home and flexibility of work, protecting workers’ rights to disconnect from their job outside their contracted hours, reinforcing that right with employers and applying a positive duty on employers to reasonably accommodate the right wherever possible;
  • Amending the Fair Work Act to provide improved rostering rights for employees and, in particular, working carers, by requiring employers to implement rostering practices that are predictable, stable and focused on fixed shift scheduling (eg fixed times and days) and increasing employers’ existing obligations to genuinely consider employee views including working carers on the effects of roster changes andS  other work arrangements;
  • Conducting a work value case in care sectors including early childhood education, aged and disability care and sectors covered by the SCHADS Award with a rage of entitlements specifically mentioned eg payment for work-related travel time, administrative responsibilities and essential training and a minimum shift call-in time;
  • Extending the definition of “immediate family” for carer’s leave purposes to include any person who has been a member of the employee’s household for at least 18 months, an employee’s children including adopted, step and ex-nuptial children, an employee’s siblings or the siblings of an employee’s spouse or de facto partner or any other person significant to the employee to whom the employee provides care;
  • Consideration be given to the adequacy of existing leave arrangements including separate carer’s leave and annual leave;
  • Reviewing access to and compensation for paid sick leave and annual leave for casual and part-time workers;
  • Requiring employers to provide at least two weeks notice of roster changes, to genuinely consider employees’ view on the impact of roster changes and to accommodate the needs of employees plus an employee “right to say no” to extra hours with protection from negative consequences;
  • Reviewing the operation of the 38 hours week with consideration of stronger penalties for long hours and other possible ways to reduce them including through the work health and safety system to ensure safe working hours;
  • Introducing an enforceable “right to disconnect from work, restricting employers from communicating with workers outside their contracted hours except for emergency or welfare reasons plus increase penalties for wage theft for unpaid additional hours;
  • Introducing mandatory annual reporting of companies with 20,000 or more employees in Australia on workplace practices to ensure roster justice and flexible working arrangements and related collection of data on requests for flexible working arrangements made and shift roster changes;
  • Developing a new statutory definition of casual employment that is restricted to work that is genuinely intermittent, seasonal or unpredictable and restricting the use of “low base” contracts, ensuring part-time employees have access to regular and predictable patterns and hours of work with consideration of penalty rates for work outside contracted hours;
  • Developing standard definitions of full-time and part-time employment for inclusion in the Fair Work Act 2009;
  • Undertaking a review of standard working hours with a view to reducing the standard working week.

Please remember that these are just recommendations which are to be considered in the review being undertaken by the Fair Work Commission. Some of the items require legislative change and that would be up to the federal government to negotiate through Parliament. So it will be a while before we know exactly what any award or legislative changes that flow from the Senate Inquiry will look like in real terms.

What this all means

The last year and a bit have delivered far more change in workplace relations law and employment rules via legislation, modern award reviews and decisions made by the Fair Work Commission and the Courts than we have seen in years.

This review tells us that we can expect more of the same in the years ahead.

The other element here is the WHS one that is noted in relation to extended working hours but equally links the positive duty to eliminate or control psychosocial hazards, many of which can be connected to some of the recommendations of the Senate Inquiry – eg around remote work, organisational justice, reward and recognition, etc.

The positive duties are really just being ruled out across the country via State and Territory legislation

For this reason, it is important to consider the agenda here in that broader context and the smartest way to do that is to consider whether any of the issues raised here are demonstrative of an issue in your workplace and the need for you to do something about that.

Conversely, have a think about whether you already accommodate some of the items raised here or perhaps you could actually do so. Remember that the Fair Work Act and modern awards provide minimum standards and there is nothing that should stop you from considering what you might be able to offer more than those in any way.

Given the challenges that we have in both accessing the talent we need for our businesses and looking after our own and our employees’ wellbeing, anything you can do over and above those minimum standards helps you on both counts.

You could also consider negotiating an enterprise agreement with your employees delivering on some of those above award benefits and using that was a public validation of your commitment to your people/your Employer Value Proposition.

We will monitor developments in the review and communicate further as and when developments occur.

If there is anything here that resonates with you and you would like to explore further, give us a call on 1300 108 488 or email enquiries@ridgelinehr.com.au. We would love to have a chat about it.

 

 

 

 

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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Our Positive People Partner offering

Our Positive People Partner offering

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Our Positive People Partner offering

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The introduction of positive duties to prevent sexual and gender-based harassment and to eliminate or control psychosocial hazards has raised the bar on compliance for all “Persons conducting a business or undertaking”. We believe that these responsibilities are especially challenging for small to medium businesses who don’t have their own specialist HR or WHS staff so we decided to design a solution for them.

You are a small business owner probably with 10 to 100 staff and you want to be a good employer but you are finding it tough to deal with the ever increasing compliance burden and the mental health and wellbeing challenges that some of your people have. You haven’t the training or experience in those things and you need to be focused on operating and growing your business.

1 in 4 Australians will have a mental health challenge this year so the odds are that you have some in your workplace.

The responsibilities that you have as an employer fall into the following areas (as set out in the National Mental Health Commission’s “Blueprint for mentally healthy workplaces”):

  • Protect: identify and manage work-related risks to mental health
  • Respond: identify and support people experiencing mental ill health or distress
  • Promote: recognise and enhance the positive aspects of work that contribute to good mental health

So you know that you need help but you are not sure where you can find all that you need to get this stuff right in a practical and affordable way.

That is where we come in. Ridgeline HR has been operating since 2000 and we specialise in “Helping PEOPLE in BUSINESS with PEOPLE BUSINESS” – from hiring to firing and everything in between”. 

We have the expertise in compliance and workplace wellbeing using a structured approach based in positive psychology to help with the positive duties and other change requirements in an engaging and compassionate way.

This is how our “Positive People Partner” offering works:

  • We effectively become your own People and Culture Manager
  • We visit your workplace on a scheduled basis, typically fortnightly or monthly 
  • We get to know you and your people and learn how we can be of assistance to you and them
  • We educate you and your team about key matters such as the positive duties to prevent sexual and gender-based behaviours and to eliminate or control psychosocial hazards
  • We facilitate the consultation process on key issues like those positive duties with your people so as to understand how your people see these and what issues might be of most significance for them in your workplace
  • We undertake the risk assessments and put together the risk management plans in consultation with you and your people 
  • We design the policies, systems and communications that need to be put in place and educate you, your leaders and your people about how they work, why they are necessary and what their responsibilities are
  • We are available for any of your people to call us for confidential discussions on any health and wellbeing challenge or other concern that they might have
  • We will advise and coach you and your leaders on any issues that you need to deal with in the area of people and culture
  • We provide you with access to our established network of quality employment lawyers and other specialists to help with specific issues as they arise
  • We’ll have a bit of fun along the way.

If you would like to explore our “Positive People Partner” offering further, please give us a call on 1300 108 488 for a free no obligation consultation about your needs and ways that we might be able to help.

 

 

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

Opportunity knocks!

Opportunity knocks!

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Opportunity knocks!

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So you have new positive duties to eliminate sexual harassment and to eliminate or control psychosocial hazards, right?

And people are telling you that this is another layer of compliance and risk that you have to negotiate as a business owner or manager or find yourself in hot water, right?

What if I told you that, if you really do value and want to care for your people, this is a great opportunity…..to validate what you are doing right as well as to identify ways that you can do it better?

Like most “compliance questions”, it is about your mindset – are your people assets to be cared for or risks to be managed?

What would it look like if we flipped it?

Let’s revisit a few of the psychosocial hazards in Safe Work Australia’s “Model code for managing psychosocial hazards” and picture them as strengths:

  1. The work demands on our people are reasonable physically, psychologically and emotionally
  2. Our people have reasonable control over their jobs
  3. Our people are well supported.
  4. Our people are clear about the roles that they play in our organisation.
  5. People believe that we manage and communicate change effectively.
  6. People believe that they are properly and appropriately recognised and rewarded for the contributions that they make.

And so on for the rest of the psychosocial hazards. 

When you look at them in that way, how many of those statements do you think might be true in your organisation?

Where do you see that there might be opportunities for improvement?

Changing the language can make a real difference to how you look at the subject matter can’t it? 

And guess what – when you see this as an opportunity knocking, you will find it is actually the best way to manage the risks.

How can we help 

We have been encouraging and helping organisations to adopt a positive mindset to improving workplace culture, communications and people practices for many years so, for us, the new positive duty stuff just adds some context to what we have already been doing with our clients. It is nothing new for us and it needn’t be especially challenging for you with the right guidance and support. 

So for us it is just business as usual with a few more tools in the toolkit. 

Need help?

  • Give us a call on 1300 108 488 or email enquiries@ridgelinehr.com.au to arrange your free first consultation to see how we can help with advice and support on this or any other HR matter

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

Is it time to revive “the e2 initiative”?

Is it time to revive “the e2 initiative”?

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Is it time to revive “the e2 initiative”?

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The “e2 initiative” was a project undertaken by Ridgeline HR Practice Leader, Peter Maguire in association with two quite different organisations that he worked with over a decade ago.

Investors in People Australia was the Australian licensee for Investors in People, a standard of excellence in leadership and development of people originally developed in the UK in the early 1990s. Investors in People is still going strong in the UK and in some other parts of the world albeit that it has never really taken off in Australia.  For further information on Investors in People, see https://www.investorsinpeople.com/. Peter was an accredited Investors in People Specialist who advised and assessed organisations using the Investors in People Standard.

The Australian Institute of Employment Rights (which was created in the WorkChoices era) works to promote the recognition and implementation of employment rights in a cooperative industrial relations framework based on the principles of. the International Labour Organisation.  In 2007, the Institute released The Australian Charter of Employment Rights which sets out 10 fundamental principles on which fair and balanced workplace laws and relationships should be based. There is an accompanying Australian Standard of Employment Rights which provides more detail on how organisations can implement those 10 principles in their workplaces. For further information on The Australian Institute of Employment Rights and its work and publications, go to https://www.aierights.com.au/. Peter was one of the leads for advising and assessing organisations against the Australian Standard of Employment Rights.

What was the “e2 initiative”?

The initiative brought together the two standards – the Investors in People Standard as the measure of “effectiveness” of an organisation and The Australian Standard of Employment Rights as the measure of the “ethics” of an organisation.

The equation:                      ethics x effectiveness (e2) = employee engagement (e2)

The premise for developing the program was that there was a clear disconnect between what we knew then to be best practices in leadership and management of people and what was happening with workplace laws and organisational behaviours and cultures in our workplaces.

The concept was that by bringing the two instruments together we could influence the development of more harmonious workplace relations environments which would also have the dual benefits of improving employee engagement and productivity.

There was also the potential for organisations which implemented the two standards effectively in their workplaces to achieve accreditations as an Investor in People and as an Ethical Employer. 

Are things different today?

In some ways, yes and, in others, no.

LIke then when we were not long into the Fair Work era, we are going through a period of significant legislative change in workplace relations pursuant to the election of a Labor government after years under conservative governments.

Like then, we still have regular reports of large organisations underpaying wages and entitlements and in many cases they are simultaneously harvesting record profits.

We have had inquiry after inquiry making findings of culpable corporate misconduct in so many different jurisdictions.

We also still have peak bodies for unions and employers being openly combative when it comes to any proposed changes to employment rights and workplace relations laws. 

Like today, leadership experts were urging our managers to be accountable, be compassionate, be engaging, be vulnerable and be collaborative. On the other hand, they were being told to  manage risk, reduce costs and maximise profits and they were being rewarded for that. It was the latter that provided organisations’ policy settings.

So there is a lot that really hasn’t changed much at all.

The advent of positive duties

The penny has dropped that the traditional compliance/risk management model as applied by most organisations doesn’t work. 

The positive duties that organisations must now meet in relation to elimination of sexual harassment and psychosocial hazards have been introduced for that reason – it isn’t just about changing policies, it is about bringing about real changes in behaviour – by individuals and work groups and organisations and everyone whom we interact with in the course of the work that each of us do. We all have a role to play in that.

That was exactly what the “e2 initiative” was about – changing workplace behaviours in partnership with all of the people in a workplace.

Need help?

Interested in exploring ways in which we might be able to help you to deal with your new positive duties? Give us a call on 1300 108 488 to arrange your free first consultation to see how we can help with advice and support on this or any other HR matter. 

 

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

Psychosocial hazard #14 – Conflict or poor workplace relationships and interactions

Psychosocial hazard #14 – Conflict or poor workplace relationships and interactions

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Psychosocial hazard #14 – Conflict or poor workplace relationships and interactions

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The final psychosocial hazard that is listed in Safe Work Australia’s Model Code of Practice on Managing Psychosocial Hazards at Work is “conflict or poor workplace relationships or interactions”.

Why is conflict or poor workplace relationships or interactions a psychosocial hazard?

This hazard involves poor workplace relationships or interpersonal conflict between colleagues or with other businesses, clients or customers.

It may involve frequent disagreements, disparaging or rude comments, from one person or multiple people. A worker can be both the subject and the source of the behaviour. It could also be inappropriately excluding a worker from work-related activities. 

Some questions that you might ask to assess whether there are any  psychosocial hazards related to conflict or poor workplace relationships and interactions in your workplace include:

  • Is the workplace one where staff are encouraged to compete with each other and so they don’t support each other?
  • Is there a culture where swearing, name calling, being rude or spreading rumours are commonplace and not addressed appropriately?
  • Are there managers or customers who make unreasonable demands on workers and who are critical or complain when they don’t get what they want?
  • Is the leadership team dysfunctional and not respected by the workers?
  • Does the workplace lack the policies and procedures and the training that are needed to set appropriate standards of behaviour and to effectively deal with any incidences of disrespectful or unsatisfactory conduct?
  • Are changes made to work processes, systems or resources without consulting the affected workers?
  • Do you have managers who micro manage people who don’t need that level of supervision to do their jobs?
  • Is there a lack of defined work processes and clarity of roles and interdependencies between workers?

This list is not exhaustive and while we have based these posts on the model code produced by Safe Work Australia, there can be differences in the specific details for each State or Territory. So you need to check that in the jurisdiction in which your workplace lies.

Need help?

Give us a call on 1300 108 488 to arrange your free first consultation to see how we can help with advice and support on this or any other HR matter.

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

Supporting women experiencing family and domestic violence

Supporting women experiencing family and domestic violence

Latest News & Events

Supporting women experiencing family and domestic violence

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Today is the “International day for the elimination of violence against women”.

So it is an opportune time to refresh on what we all (and particularly we men) can do to influence reductions in both the incidence and effects of family and domestic violence on women.

According to Our Watch, a not for profit established by the Victorian and Federal Governments in 2013 to lead the fight against violence against women, “Violence against women is any act of gender-based violence that causes or could cause physical, sexual or psychological harm or suffering to women, including threats of harm or coercion, in public or in private life.”

They quote some concerning statistics – in Australia:

  • 2 in 5 women (39%) have experienced violence since the age of 15.
  • On average, one woman a week is murdered by her current or former partner.
  • In the year 2021/22, 5606 women (average of 15 women/day) were hospitalised due to family and domestic violence.
  • 1 in 2 women (53%) has experienced sexual harassment in their lifetime.
  • The perpetrators of sexual violence and harassment are predominantly men.

That is why we have to do something about this terrible situation.

The real challenge

I recently had a conversation with an employer of close on 100 people in relation to the positive duties that apply to the elimination of sexual harassment and psychosocial hazards. His view was that people’s private lives are none of his business and employers should not be expected to pry into employee’s private affairs. He really doesn’t want to know.

If we are really going to properly support women who are experiencing family and domestic violence, we need to know and we need to create workplace environments that are safe for women to let us know and to ask for help……and we need to give that help.

The Fair Work Ombudsman has published the “Small Business Employer Guide to Family and Domestic Violence”. 

This states:

“It’s critical that small business employers can recognise the signs of family and domestic violence, so they can help employees get the support they need.

Behaviours that may signal a person is experiencing family and domestic violence include:
` excessive or unexplained absences or lateness
` a sudden or sustained drop in productivity
` unexplained injuries
` social withdrawal
` frequent or unusual work breaks, or unusual start and finish times
` anxiety or fearfulness
` appearing distracted, depressed or overly jumpy
` lack of concentration or difficultymaking decisions
` inability to take work-related trips
` personal calls, texts or visits that cause the employee distress.

If a manager or co-worker suspects that an employee may be experiencing family and domestic violence, it’s appropriate for them to raise their concerns with the employee.

While they’re not counsellors, it’s important they feel equipped to raise their concerns to support their employee or co-worker.”

So the message is clear – we should care about our employee’s wellbeing and we should be asking questions if we see that something’s not quite right whether that is from causes at or outside work. 

Legal obligations

The Federal Government has introduced a couple of significant legal changes in the past year, namely:

  • A new National Employment Standard providing people experiencing family and domestic violence with 10 days of paid family and domestic violence leave per annum (this is a standard entitlement for all employees whether engaged on a full-time, part-time or casual basis) – read more on this here; and
  • A positive duty on Persons Conducting a Business or Undertaking (PCBU) to eliminate workplace sexual harassment, sex discrimination and sex-based harassment – read more on this here

Additionally, sexual harassment is one of the psychosocial hazards in respect of which States and Territories are legislating positive duties on PCBUs to eliminate from workplaces. If someone is experiencing family and domestic violence, this can have a huge impact on their physical, emotional and mental health. Part of the support that an employer can provide is ensuring that work doesn’t aggravate any such condition that an employee might have as a result of experiencing family or domestic violence. 

Please also note that, in Victoria, there has been a positive duty on employers to prevent sexual harassment for a number of years under equal opportunity legislation. Further information is accessible here.

The Respect@Work toolkit.

The Federal Government/the Australian Human Rights Commission has set up a website (https://www.respectatwork.gov.au/) in support of the new positive duty to eliminate sexual harassment etc that was legislated last year.

This website includes lots of resources for organisations to use in developing policies, procedures and practices with respect to the prevention of sexual harassment in workplaces which are suitable for large organisations, Boards of Directors for large organisations but are not very practical for small businesses.

Our HEART approach

We believe that there are essentially 5 elements to a positive duty approach was presented in our HEART model:

HONESTY – Take a good hard look at what is really happening in your organisation with an open mind and a curious mindset.

ENGAGEMENT – Harness the passion and collective wisdom of your people to shape and drive the agenda for change.

ACCOUNTABILITY – Build and deploy the plans, processes and systems to hold everyone responsible for playing their part.

REVIEW – Recognise that this is a journey and not an event. Set goals, monitor vigilantly, celebrate milestones, learn and grow.

TRUST –  Provide a psychologically safe workplace where people speak up without fear and actions show that they are listened to.

How we can help

Whether you need to develop or review policies or procedures or you need a cultural assessment done or you want to run some educational sessions or you need help in facilitating communication and consultation processes or you need someone to support you  with an employee who is experiencing family or domestic violence, we can help.

Call us

  • Give us a call on 1300 108 488 to arrange your free first consultation to see how we can help with advice and support on this or any other HR matter

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