August 24, 2011

Paid parental leave doesn’t need to be a burden.

Filed under: General - 24 Aug 2011

Ever since the Government launched the Paid Parental Leave Scheme our HR HelpDesk clients have been asking us how to navigate their way through the paperwork.

Most clients understand that even through they aren’t out-of-pocket for the paid parental leave payments, there is confusion about the administration.  For others, there are implications for employees who already have a paid parental leave scheme in place as part of their benefits programme.

If you haven’t been making paid parental leave payments, you need to consider the following:

Updating employment policies to detail the process involved in taking paid parental leave
Updating payroll systems to accommodate the paid parental leave payments
Reporting to the Family Assistance Office

If you have been making paid parental leave payments, you need to consider the following:

Determining whether or not you can or want to legally abandon existing paid parental payments if they are in your employment contracts
Whether employees will be willing to negotiate existing agreements containing paid parental payments in light of the Paid Parental Leave Scheme
Updating systems to make payments on behalf of the Family Assistance Office

The HR HelpDesk can help you review your HR strategy and your employment contracts, policies and procedures to ensure the Paid Parental Leave Scheme does not become a burden.  Get prepared so you don’t find yourself in a mess of paperwork and possible compliance issues.

Call 1300 624 654 or email support@hrhelpdeskaustralia.com.au to speak to an adviser today.

August 10, 2011

What exactly does social media mean for my business?

Filed under: Campaign 09 strategy, General - 10 Aug 2011

May 2, 2011

Pay packet audits by Fair Work yields fines and back pay.

Filed under: General - 02 May 2011

The Fair Work Ombudsman takes a very dim view of underpaying staff especially young and vulnerable workers.  Just look at the Ombudsman’s press releases in April and see just how serious Fair Work takes the correct payment of wages and entitlements.  Some very high profile companies have had to fix up back pays for their workers and some paid large fines because the ombudsman determined they knowingly breached the law.  Others have made simple small errors or missed a condition in the award but because of their size the underpayments significant: and the ombudsman unforgiving.   Fair Work simply expects each business large or small to fully meet its obligations.  If larger organizations with full time HR professionals struggle to get the detail right,  how would you go if the ombudsman came to do an audit on your business.   We know from experience the answer for most will be not very well.Just about everyone of our clients has made changes to their contracts, job descriptions, pay rates or conditions as a result of our HR Help Desk start up process.  We begin each new client with our own records and documentation audit and in a recent case it saved them not from the ombudsman but from a Fair work Commissioner in an unfair dismissal.   We and the client followed termination protocol to the letter and the termination stood: the employee then claimed she was paid incorrectly due to a dispute in her grading with a supervisor.  The new Job description was very specific and the award conditions spot on: the claim was dismissed and the client ecstatic.   So if you aren’t sure you will survive an audit from Fair Work then talk to an HR professional sooner rather than later.  Its very painful if you get pay and conditions wrong.

September 19, 2010

Flexible arrangements need to work for both parties.

Filed under: General - 19 Sep 2010

An employee of one of our clients was returning to work after maternity leave looking to continue her career and adjust her arrangements so that she could work from home 5 days per week.  Her view was that since Flexible working arrangements were ingrained as part of the New Employment Standards she had the right to request and be granted the new conditions.The HR Help Desk reminded and counselled the business leader that flexible arrangements needed to be mutually agreed upon and that this needed further discussion in order to get a win-win outcome.  The employee’s current role required a considerable amount of face to face contact with clients and as such working from home wasn’t an option.  For the employee resuming normal duties at the office would not be possible given her families circumstances.  Our help desk advisor worked through their structure to look for responsibilities and duties that did not require client contact and could be completed from home.  A new position was created that delivered the flexibility the employee was looking for and in return a badly managed process was given a real focus by a now willing employee.  Both parties are delighted and as a consequence the businesses reputation as a “good employer” has been boosted.

Employers have rights too you know…..

Filed under: General - 19 Sep 2010

A union representative visited a regionally based business recently demanding access to all employees and insisting all HR and payroll records be made available immediately!  The business, already a client of the HR Help Desk, rang for guidance on what they could and couldn’t do when it comes to union right of entry.  Our advisors reminded the owner of the union’s legal responsibilities and processes that it must follow.  We explained the avenues available to the union should they wish to meet with the employees.  The union representative, seeing that his bullying and intimidating style was not going to work then attempted to stop production.  The owners remained calm, talked to the employees and notified the police.  The Help Desk allowed the owner to get immediate answers and guidance so that they could stay in control and not be intimidated.  Epilogue: the union never did return to talk to the employees and the union representative who attempted to stop production will be required to explain his actions to a magistrate.

When behaviour turns ugly in the workplace you must act and act decisively.…..

Filed under: General - 19 Sep 2010

The HR Help Desk received a distressed call from the leader of a medium sized regionally based business after an employee complained that he had been physically threatened by his manager.   It seems the business has been subjected to this manager’s bad behaviour and poor performance for some time, his “quirky ways” tolerated because he had a technical skill that was seemingly rare and important to the business.  The threat however forced the Managing Director to act and called the help desk for guidance.A preliminary investigation found the manager had a history of bullying allegations yet there was no formal investigations conducted.  His performance described as mediocre and although management claimed to have conducted a review there were no documented evidence. Management had effectively lost control over this person and as a consequence was losing the respect of the wider team. 

To regain control, the HR help desk investigated the threats and with the MD conducted a counselling and performance management discussion with the manager.  Given the severity of the breach a final written warning was issued.    The HR advisor also re-launched their performance management process to all staff and outlined a charter of behaviour of fair and unfair tactics in the workplace.  Epilogue:  the bad behaving manager resigned and left the company.  His technical skill not rare and was replaced.  Management have regained control and are working with an advisor on re-establishing respect in the workplace. 

Managing recruitment on your own is sometimes false economy…..

Filed under: General - 19 Sep 2010

Small to medium organisations are in a fight to attract new recruits and are competing in the open market with larger better resourced companies.  To avoid outrageous recruitment fee’s ranging from 15 – 20% of salary many opt to go alone, drop an advert into Seek and hope for the best.An Artarmon based services business found itself with new employees that;  weren’t performing, abused Facebook and personal leave privileges, arrived late and presented poorly.  While they needed the professionalism and scrutiny offered by recruitment firms they just couldn’t afford the fees and found themselves hiring problem employees and called the HR Help Desk.Firstly the Help Desk cleaned up their performance management process so that the leaders could take back control over standards and behaviours in the office.  Secondly we helped those individuals who were unprepared to accept the changes to move on gracefully. Then using “Recruitment Options” found replacements for vacant positions.  HR Help Desk has a unique offering in which you can choose the level of support you need by outsourcing any or all of the key elements of the recruitment process.  In this case the owners wanted the Help desk to screen the candidates, recommend a short list for interview and do reference checks.  Together we hired 8 new team members with the right skills, competencies and attitudes for a fraction of traditional recruitment fee’s.The business is thriving, the team stable and the environment friendly and productive.  It just took some out of the box thinking and a unique service from the help desk.

A CBD based Professional Services business has a date with Fair work Commissioner over unfair dismissal claim.

Filed under: General - 19 Sep 2010

Over the course of about 18 months this small firm put up with mediocre performance from one of its managers.  And whilst there were discussions about performance they were too informal.  They  lacked any real sense of consequence and there was no record or documentation to support the decision to terminate.As a result, an unfair dismissal claim was lodged and an arbitration hearing set with a commissioner.It became clear that although the dismissal was probably reasonable it was harsh simply because they did not follow due process.  In order to settle, the company negotiated a further severance on top of its original termination package.

Because the firm and the directors took a “too soft” approach to managing performance it cost them dearly.  An unproductive employee, lost revenue, damaged reputation, legal costs and consultancy fees and precious time that could have been better invested in looking after clients.In the end they relied on the HR help desk to prepare them for the hearings and to install a new performance management system.  We helped set up a quarterly goal setting process, a new appraisal system and one on one support in delivering feedback.  The new approach focuses on having robust discussions about outcomes….documented and well recorded.  

August 29, 2010

Poor Performance Management in the Fair Work age.

Filed under: General - 29 Aug 2010

Since Fair Work was introduced there has been a dramatic increase in the number of claims made by employees for unfair dismissal.  And while the act does make it easier for employees to make a claim, in order to stay out of court you must follow some simple principles when it comes to managing an underperforming employee.  Here is an actual case study of a termination that did not go well. 

Over the course of about 18 months this small Professional Services firm put up with mediocre performance from one of its managers.  And whilst there were discussions about performance they were too informal.  They lacked any real sense of consequence and there was no record or documentation to support the decision to terminate. As a result, an unfair dismissal claim was lodged and an arbitration hearing set with a commissioner. It became clear that although the dismissal was probably reasonable it was harsh simply because they did not follow due process.  In order to settle, the company negotiated a further severance on top of its original termination package.  Because the firm and the directors took a “too soft” approach to managing performance it cost them dearly. Approximately $23,000 in severance pay, legal and consulting fees. On top of this; an unproductive employee, lost revenue, damaged reputation, and countless hours of time that could have been better invested in looking after clients.

Here are the common mistakes we see all too often

-          Performance discussions are  “too soft”
-          Have not conveyed your expectations.
-          Haven’t put a time frame for improvement
-          Have not documented each …

Frequently Asked Questions

Filed under: General - 29 Aug 2010

1.       An employee has been working 40 hours a week since they started, is it okay for them to continue on those hours?

No, the National Employment Standard states that 38 hours per week is the maximum weekly hours of work, plus reasonable additional hours. Your employment contracts must reflect this standard. Terms in employment contracts cannot exclude or provide for an entitlement less than the NES. A breach of a provision of the NES may result in penalties of up to $6,600 for an individual and $33,000 for a corporation

2.       An employee says that everyone in the same organization is covered by the same award, is that correct?

No, the award coverage will differ from person to person and from industry to industry. It is important that every employer/employee knows which Modern award and level they are classified on.

3.       Does every organization need an Employee Policy Manual?…

Next Page »