The Employsure blog keeps you on the cutting edge of workplace relations. You will stay up to date with industry trends & changes to legislation in the HR industry. We are Australia's fastest growing professional service company, we provide employers with solutions to employment issues.
Employers who deliberately underpay or don’t pay their workers will face up to 10 years jail under new laws pledged by Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews, should the Government win the November 24 election.
Hefty Fines And Stern Sentences
Under the proposed new laws, employers who deliberately withhold wages, superannuation or other employee entitlements, falsify employment records, or fail to keep employment records would face fines of up to $190,284 for individuals, $951,420 for companies and up to 10 years jail.
Support For Employees
The new laws would also make it faster, cheaper and easier for workers to get the money they are owed by their employer through the courts. For claims of up to $50,000, court filing fees would be lowered, claims would be heard within 30 days and court processes would be simplified.
To make sure employers follow court orders, an automatic enforcement model would be introduced that puts the onus on the employer to demonstrate they have complied with orders and paid the entitlements owed to workers.
Wage theft offences will be investigated and prosecuted by the Victorian Wage Inspectorate – a new employment watchdog the Victorian Government is establishing to promote fair industrial relations practices and better education, compliance and enforcement of state-based employment laws.
The Inspectorate was funded with $22 million in the Victorian Budget 2018/19 and will have resources to enforce new long service leave laws, child employment and owner-driver laws. It will also oversee labour hire licencing and enforcement, and establish portable long service leave for contract cleaning, community services and security industry workers.
Winter is here and along with it comes the dreaded flu virus. This year more than 1.5 million Australians will miss work because of cold and flu. Read our tips below to get ahead in the fight against the flu!
5 tips to Avoid Flu At Work
1) Prevention is the best cure: Eat a healthy and balanced diet
2) Get the jab: Flu shot offered by your GP can reduce your risk of developing the flu by 70-90%
3) Rest up: Adequate sleep can reduce your risk of developing the flu
4) Sharing is not caring: Keep your distance from colleagues who are showing symptoms of cold and flu
5) Sanitisation and hand hygiene: Keep your workstation sanitised and practice great hand hygiene
The Fair Work Commission has announced the largest Minimum Wage percentage increase since 2011. The decision will have a significant impact on businesses, industries and more than 2.3 million employees who are paid at the National Minimum Wage or minimum Modern Award rates.
The outcome of the annual wage review has delivered the following changes, effective from 1 July 2018:
A 3.5% increase to all Modern Award rates (with weekly wages rounded to the nearest $0.10)
A 3.5% increase to the National Minimum Wage, taking it to $18.93 per hour (and $719.20 per week for a full-time employee), an increase of $0.64 per hour
The Commission’s decision only confirms the basic increase in minimum rates while confirmation of the specific rates (including new allowance rates) for each individual Award has not been released. These will be released before 1 July 2018.
If you need any advice on understanding and implementing these changes to wages please call us on 1300 651 415 to discuss.
Question: Someone at my mate’s business has started asking questions about some of the shortcuts they take in the business. Can he be fired for whistleblowing?
Answer: An employee who raises concerns or questions about unethical or illegal conduct within the scope of their employment is known as a whistleblower. In most cases, an employee who brings attention to these sorts of issues don’t wish to continue employment and will often resign on their own volition. However, in some circumstances, the employee does not resign, which presents an interesting dilemma for employers who may still wish for that employee to no longer be part of the business. So, can you terminate an employee who is a whistleblower?
Where the whistleblower meets the criteria under the relevant legislation, the short answer to this question is no. However, it is necessary to consider the issue on a case-by-case basis, as employees may have rights under various laws.
Risks associated with terminating a whistleblower
General Protections Claim
The Fair Work Act 2009 protects employees from being treated adversely (such as being terminated) for actions like exercising a statutory right to make a complaint or inquiry about their work conditions, environment or employer. Terminating an employee, in the first instance, for speaking out could be against the Fair Work Act and could result in the employee lodging a costly and drawn out claim against you and the business.
Effects on workplace culture
Regardless of the approach taken, as an employer, you need to consider the most appropriate options before acting, this may include seeking legal advice or speaking with your Workplace Relations Specialist. Careful planning will help reduce any unwanted negative effects such as the impact on other staff and workplace culture. Employees who witness poor treatment of colleagues, may be less inclined to make reports of future poor behaviour or processes within the workplace.
Corporations (eg. Company, Trusts with Corporate Trustees) are covered by the Corporations Act 2001. Before responding to any instance of whistleblowing, you need to consider the implications and protections under the Corporations Act. The Act generally prevents employers from acting unfavourably towards any employee who discloses information of relating to certain types of illegal or unethical behaviour.
If you do terminate an employee in breach of these provisions, the Act allows them to request a court to reinstate them to their original position or a position of similar level and remuneration. Additionally, these employees are also protected from civil litigation brought against them by their employer for breach of contract. These points are worth considering before you terminate an employee for whistleblowing.
The Corporations Act also protects employees from employers who victimize them for disclosing sensitive information. The employee can seek damages (financial remedies) from employers for acts of victimisation in response to whistleblowing. In addition, if you do victimise an employee for whistleblowing, you could face criminal charges under the Act.
The provisions of the Corporations Act are also mirrored in various state laws, so these laws also need to be considered before acting.
What if none of these risks are present?
If the employee’s disclosure is not protected by the Fair Work Act or Corporations Act, you may be in a position to take disciplinary action against the employee or even terminate their employment. This will typically be permitted where the disclosure is in some way a breach of the employment contract or employee handbook – for example, if it involves disclosing confidential information in breach of the contract, or use of the IT systems in breach of the employee handbook.
Law to protect whistleblowers
The laws in this area may appear extensive. However, recent unethical and illegal workplace practices brought to attention by employees of both 7-Eleven and the Commonwealth Bank of Australia have prompted Parliament to consider formalising protections into legislation. If the proposed legislation is passed into law, it means businesses will need to implement their own policies and internal processes to deal with whistleblowers, or face significant penalties.
Reduce risk from the start
Prevention is always better than a solution. Fair, reasonable and safe practices and procedures within the workplace help to avoid these sorts of issues arising. Avoid whistleblowing from happening by remaining compliant from the start. If you’re unsure of your compliance or policies and procedures regarding whistleblowers, speak with an Employsure Adviser today on 1300 651 415.
Tips, Tools And Tactics For Managing Poor Performance
It’s one of the hardest aspects of supervising staff or running a business: managing an employee’s poor performance. It’s a common headache for many employers that can strain personal and professional relationships while impacting the smooth operations of the business.
There are right and wrong ways to address poor performance, and things can go wrong if not handled with care and respect to an individual’s unique circumstances. Fortunately, there are steps employers can take to manage the situation without impacting the working relationship.
Regular performance reviews can assist in identifying any issues before they become larger and it is recommended employers deal with poor performance quickly, as the problem does not usually solve itself. Depending on the type of performance issue, this can be done in an informal or formal manner.
Examples Of Poor Performance
Poor performance or underperformance is a person’s inability to do their job and failing to meet the standards required of the company. Poor performance can manifest in the workplace in a number of ways, such as:
Inability to fulfil the standards and expectations of an employee’s role
Failing to ensure work is completed within a required timeframe
Repeated errors in work
Some of these contributing factors fall on the responsibility of the employee. However, it is important to not assume an employee is intentionally underperforming, but instead find out why the employee is underperforming. Many cases of poor performance are unintentional. Sometimes an employee will be unaware they are underperforming and won’t change unless they are told otherwise.
Common Reasons For Poor Performance
Many cases of poor performance come from a simple misunderstanding or lack of ability to satisfy the assigned role or position. Some cases are more complex and require a tailored approach to manage the situation.
Some of the most common reasons for poor work performance include:
Misunderstanding of standards and expectations for the job
Not enough training or support
Personal reasons or sickness
Low morale or job satisfaction
When it comes to new employees who are underperforming, they might not fully understand the job description and performance expectations. In this case, extra guidance and support will help ease them into their role. If an employee is a long-term member who has performed well in the past, there could also be a deeper underlying issue needing to be addressed.
How To Manage Poor Performance
Managing poor performance can be done through an informal or formal process. Depending on the type of performance and scale of the problem, one method may be more effective than the other.
Not all cases of poor work performance need a structured process. Sometimes informal intervention is the quickest and most effective way to resolve minor issues. This may include:
Giving verbal feedback on the spot
Allocating a buddy to help the employee
Providing extra coaching and mentoring
Giving the employee a written list of tasks to manage their duties
If an informal approach does not address the issue, it may be necessary to establish a performance improvement plan (PIP).
Performance Improvement Plan
A Performance Improvement Plan is designed to give employees the support they need to improve their skills over a reasonable period of time. By encouraging an open dialogue and constructive feedback, both parties can work together to identify the key issues and work towards improving performance.
Transferring, Demoting Or Dismissing An Underperforming Employee
If the PIP proves to be unsuccessful, there are a range of options that an employer may have open to them, depending on the circumstances. By mutual agreement, an employer may be able to transfer or demote the employee into a role more suited to their ability, or decide to terminate their employment entirely in accordance with correct procedure. In any case, an employer should be sure to follow the correct process and keep a record of all relevant information to avoid any chances of a claim against the business (for example, an unfair dismissal claim).
Support Is Available
Managing an employee’s poor performance is a tricky and often difficult task for managers and business owners. If you need support, advice or guidance in managing an underperforming employee or want to know your obligations, call an Employsure adviser on 1300 651 415 for a confidential discussion.
For many small businesses, high-quality customer service is vital to the ongoing success of the business. What can you do to avoid, or manage, an employee who is rude to your clients or customers?
Prevention is key – recruit for success.
When hiring, make sure you’re attracting the right employees by asking about their values and vision for the business. It’s a good sign if their values and vision align with yours.
Determine if the behaviour is considered serious misconduct.
If an employee is rude to customers – determine how severe the rudeness is and/or if it is serious misconduct. If it is severe enough, or falls under serious misconduct, termination of the employee may be an option.
Examples of serious misconduct
being drunk at work
safety violations (to clients or co-workers)
Identify cause of rudeness and provide ongoing management.
Identifying the reason for the employee’s behaviour means you can help avoid it happening again. Possible reasons for rudeness:
lack of training
low staff morale
Contact Employsure on 1300 651 415 for advice managing and avoiding serious misconduct and ‘rude’ employees.
An employee has a family pet who requires surgery and at home monitoring. Do they have to take unpaid leave, or can their personal carer’s leave be applied?
Our specialist says:
Pets can be a wonderful addition to the family and, in fact, many people would argue they love their pets as they would their own child. However, the responsibilities of owning a pet can be unpredictable, stressful and sometimes impact employee’s attendance at short notice. Leave entitlements and how these are adopted into your business’ policies, can be inconvenient during times of pet-related pressures, however there are a number of options available to employers.
Under the Fair Work Act 2009, personal carer’s leave and compassionate or bereavement leave allow employees the right to take leave in various circumstances where they may be required to care or provide support to immediate family members or members of a household. Unfortunately for pet owners, the definition of immediate family member or a member of the household does not include pets.
Some workplaces can choose to include pet leave policies as an additional perk. This benefit tends to be found in pet care industries where it’s common for employees to have a pet. When deciding whether to implement pet friendly policies, employers should consider whether limiting leave benefits to pet-related matters is fair considering employees without pets would miss out on this additional leave option. Also, by taking on pet-friendly policies, employers need to consider how a pet is defined, as the emotional attachment to different animals becomes very individual-based. You might find it difficult to be as sympathetic to an employee requesting leave for the death of their beloved goldfish.
If your business does not have leave perks for when an employee requires time off work, for example to take their ill or injured pet to the vet or attend to other emergencies, you can agree to allow your employees to access their annual leave. Or, if they do not have enough annual leave, you can grant them unpaid leave. Alternatively, where mutually agreed, you can also allow for temporary adjustments to hours of work. This can be done by varying contracted hours of work or having employee’s work make-up hours where permitted under the Modern Award.
If you’re not sure what the best approach is for an employee who needs time off to care for their pet, contact Employsure for advice on policies and leave on 1300 651 415.
For many small businesses, high quality customer service is vital. It can ensure return business, positive online reviews and word-of-mouth recommendations to that customer’s personal network. So, what do you do when an employee demonstrates poor, or in some instances, totally unacceptable customer service?
Terminating employees requires a well-structured, thought out plan. Things to consider include are:
how severe is the “rudeness”?
is it brand damaging?
is it going to impact your business long-term?
is this a one-off or a regular or repeated behaviour?
what is the context surrounding the employee’s behaviour?
can if be considered serious misconduct?
According to Fair Work, serious misconduct can include:
being drunk at work
safety violations (to customers or co-workers)
the employee refusing to carry out lawful and reasonable instructions that are consistent with the employee’s contract of employment
Depending upon the severity of the rudeness, you may need to terminate the employee. Remember though, when terminating an employee for serious misconduct, there are procedural steps that must be followed. If any one of these incidents have occurred and you’re not sure what the next step should be, make sure you contact Employsure before speaking with the employee to avoid a costly unfair dismissal claim.
If the rude behaviour is not severe enough to warrant serious misconduct, you might consider giving the employee a warning, or even final warning, to avoid the behaviour happening again. These warnings pave the way for a future termination in case the behaviour continues and you do need to terminate the employee.
Ongoing management of the employee
Sometimes, rude behaviour by staff, can be a sign of larger underlying problems that may exist in the business. If you suspect this to be the case, it may be useful to consider:
Lack of training.
How to manage this:
implement a consistent and on-going customer service training
set clear expectations in Performance Management plans and workplace policies
Low staff morale.
How to manage this:
reassure and encourage staff to voice their concerns with their manager before things escalate
encourage open communication within the team and make sure there are opportunities to foster constructive feedback
ensure your managers are approachable
Inconsistent / unclear expectations.
How to manage this:
performance management plans are a fantastic way to track, measure and document employee performance and behaviour
set clear expectations, goals and identify gaps in the employee’s skills / knowledge or training to avoid frustration or confusion
How to manage this:
recognise and try to be aware of stressful situations employees may be experiencing outside of the workplace that could be impacting their performance of mental health during work hours
offer open conversations with your employees to help support performance management.
check in with your staff outside of management meetings – ask if they are ok or if there is something you can do to help improve their ability to work.
These strategies are a fantastic way of managing “rude” employees, however, a proactive approach is always best.
However, if an employee’s rudeness is severe enough, or can be considered serious misconduct, make sure you speak with an Employsure advisor on 1300 651 415 to about employee performance management, how to avoid an unfair dismissal claim and implementing policies for future employees to follow.