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manager managing a remote employee working from home

How to Monitor And Manage The Performance Of Remote Employees

December 2, 2020 | Author: Employsure

One of the biggest challenges with remote working employees that workplaces and businesses face is the lack of face-to-face interaction.  Workplaces and work have been traditionally built...

manager holds one on one meeting with employee

How to Conduct Effective One-on-One Meetings

December 1, 2020 | Author: Employsure

One-on-one meetings are known to strengthen relationships between managers and their direct reports. They encourage conversations and frequent check-ins,...

employees enjoying a virtual christmas party

Tips For a Successful Virtual Christmas Party

November 27, 2020 | Author: Employsure

Every company approaches Christmas parties differently. Since most companies have gone remote, a virtual Christmas party is a viable...

Tips For A Covid-Safe Christmas Party

November 26, 2020 | Author: Employsure

It has been a tough year and now that restrictions seem to be easing across the board, many businesses...

manager giving reasonable management instruction to employee

What are Reasonable Management Instructions?

November 26, 2020 | Author: Employsure

Everyone, at some point of their working life, has probably grumbled to themselves when the boss has asked them...

small business owner using mandatory qr codes in nsw

QR Codes Mandatory For Some NSW Business: Are You Affected?

November 25, 2020 | Author: Employsure

On Monday 23 November, the NSW Government announced that QR check-in codes would be mandatory for all businesses in...

employee on the positive end of employee engagement trends in 2020

6 Employee Engagement Trends for 2020

November 23, 2020 | Author: Employsure

Employee engagement trends had been picking up year-on-year…until the onset of the COVID 19 pandemic came. The isolation and business...

employer managing cash flow

12 Ways to Increase Your Cash Flow

November 23, 2020 | Author: Employsure

Cash flow problems can plague businesses at all stages — whether start-ups or established brands. Insufficient cash flow can...

Casual receiving overtime

Casual Overtime: Is Your Award Affected?

November 20, 2020 | Author: Employsure

Most business owners know all too well about casual loading – the extra pay rate on top of the...

employer closes shop over christmas

Closing Down Over Christmas?: What You Need To Do

November 18, 2020 | Author: Employsure

While many businesses will experience their busiest period of the year in the lead-up to, or during, Christmas, many...

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The Fair Work Commission’s decision to increase the minimum wage is another blow to small business owners already crippled by the coronavirus pandemic, according to Employsure, Australia’s largest workplace relations company.

The new National Minimum Wage will increase by 1.75% per cent to $19.84 per hour, a $0.35 hourly rate rise. In other words, a full-time employee will receive a $753.80 per week, an increase of $13.00.

The date the change comes into effect will be different depending on the industry:

 

  • 1 July 2020: National minimum wage and Group 1 Awards
    • Frontline healthcare and social assistance workers
    • Teachers and childcare workers
    • Other essential services

 

  • 1 November 2020: Group 2 Awards
    • Construction
    • Manufacturing
    • A range of other industries

 

  • 1 February 2021: Group 3 Awards
    • Accommodation and food services
    • Arts and recreation services
    • Aviation Retail Trade
    • Tourism

 

“This wage increase comes at a time when all businesses, no matter the size, can least afford it,” said Senior Employment Relations Adviser, Michael Wilkinson.

“The data the panel has used to decide the new minimum wage has been skewed by measuring the data of big businesses, and doesn’t consider the problems a small business with just a handful of employees face. Even those in Group 3 who don’t have to worry about paying more wages until February won’t have fully recovered from the financial fallout that has occurred in the past several months.

“There’s also the added confusion of the staggered three-stage approach. Splitting the minimum wage increase into different dates will create unnecessary confusion among small business owners in an already troubling time.”

COVID Cost:

While the Federal Government’s $1500 a fortnight JobKeeper wage subsidy has benefited about 3.5 million workers, COVID-19 restrictions have meant cash flow for small business owners has been limited.

“We’ve seen in the past that when the minimum wage is raised, there are often a number of serious consequences that come with it,” said Mr Wilkinson.

“The past several months have been utterly horrific for SMEs trying to get back on their feet. We’ve seen closures because of drought, bushfires and COVID-19, uncertainty in respect to casual entitlements, the impending end to the JobKeeper payment, and now on top of all that, employers are supposed to fork out more money they may not even have?

“A number of our clients have told us how they have pivoted their business during the pandemic to keep money coming in. They’ve made cost-cutting measures that have involved letting go staff, or seriously reducing their hours.

“Factor in a rise to the minimum wage, and it could be the final nail in the coffin for many businesses.

“There have been calls for the JobKeeper program to be extended past the September deadline, but unless that is ever agreed to, business owners should keep their heads out of the sand while preparing for the worst and planning for the best if they want to ultimately stay in business.

Looking Ahead:

With the conclusion of JobKeeper on the horizon and further restrictions being eased across Australia, businesses may need to make more cost-cutting measures.

“What we’re hoping for is a pragmatic approach that will prioritise the needs of all Australians while maintaining the viability of small businesses,” said Mr Wilkinson.

“I believe a freeze to the minimum wage in the future will help support the country’s economic recovery. We last saw it happen in 2009 due to unemployment concern from the global financial crisis, and a global pandemic shouldn’t be any different.

“Employers are operating closer to the margin of profitability than ever before, and we do not know if there will be a second COVID wave, or something else that could drive down business in the coming months.”

When COVID-19 forced the Government to ban mass public gatherings due to health and safety reasons, it decimated the events industry and led to a complete shutdown.

The pandemic saw the cancellation of music festivals and concerts, sporting and corporate functions, and everything else in between.

For Stagekings, it meant in the space of 48 hours, its entire income for 2020 was cancelled with no end in sight.

Being a company that provides themed stage design, scaffolding and other specialised structures to events across the country, it was clear the new rules would have a huge impact on business.

“When the announcement came that mass public gatherings were banned, we were in Melbourne building the set for Ninja Warrior and the Australian Formula 1 Grand Prix,” said Stagekings Managing Director Jeremy Fleming.

“Our employee numbers fluctuate with the nature of this industry. We have a core team of 12 full-time, and then we’ve got up to 40 casuals. When it all went pear-shaped we had to stand down about 23 workers at the time.”

Faced with the prospect of letting go of its hard working and loyal staff, Stagekings had to pivot its business model to ensure its survival during the downturn.

“Looking for ideas on how to get through the crisis, I started talking to a friend in Ireland that has a set-building company over there, and he suggested we look at furniture production,” said Mr Fleming.

“Our head of production is Mick Jessop, and coincidently his hobby has always been furniture. After I suggested the idea to him, he came in with some 3-D printed desk models on Monday morning, and then we knocked up some prototypes. By the afternoon we got in some nice birch ply and cut our first desks. Monday night we set up the eCommerce site on the website, and then Tuesday we went live with the product.”

The team decided to call their new product the IsoKing desk, combining the name of the company with the term ‘isolation’, a practice many workers across the country had already been doing to minimise the spread of coronavirus.

Marketed towards stay-at-home workers and children who were unable to go to school, the desk, which comes in four pieces, takes about 30 seconds to assemble, and can be taken down and put away at the end of the day.

“Demand for the desk took off. We had about 1,200 orders in the first two weeks, and that number is growing,” Mr Fleming said.“It wasn’t long after we completed the standard design that we got started on a standing desk. That then led to smaller desks for children, stands for laptops, monitors and tablets, vinyl crates and even wine racks.

“Not only will this keep a number of our workers in a job, but for every sale from this new business venture, we are donating $10 to Support Act, which is the industry charity for the events industry. There’s 600,000 events crew that have been affected by the public gathering ban. They’re struggling right now, so we’re giving money from every desk to help them.”

When asked what his business may look like six months down the track, Mr Fleming said big decisions will need to be made.

“I can’t see people needing desks indefinitely, so we need to keep going as long as we can with these. We’re already starting to introduce completely different products such as acrylic barriers for supermarket checkouts, to provide both staff and customers an added layer of protection from airborne particles.

“We’ll push this as far as we can until such time as live events are allowed to happen again, and to be honest, the way things are going, I can’t see that we’ll end this. I think it’ll be a side business from now on.

“We’ve had some really good PR for the product and a huge amount of coverage. It’s sort of a rare good-news story amongst all the negativity in the world right now.”

For information on Stagekings visit: stagekings.com.au

Watch their story here.

Bright Safe Product

BrightHR, the international HR software and support service has officially launched, BrightSafe, in the ANZ market.

BrightSafe is a cloud-based software which helps employers keep on top of their health & safety management.

It will be offered exclusively by Australia and New Zealand’s leading outsourced HR solution Employsure.

The software has an average 1,000 logins per month, with 1,300 logins in March. Demand is increasing due to the responsibilities placed on small businesses with employees now homeworking due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Its easy-to-use online features let employers create risk assessments with ease, check whether a workplace activity is high-risk, and store health & safety documents in secure cloud-based software.

BrightSafe also comes with exclusive e-learning courses on a range of topics. To help support businesses through these difficult times, there are courses and toolkits on coronavirus and short-term home working, which are proving very popular with users.

BrightHR CEO Alan Price said:

“With the majority of small businesses working from home currently due to the COVID-19, the demand across the globe for our cloud-based software is increasing fast

“BrightSafe is the easiest way for businesses to get health & safety right, so we’re delighted to be launching this software in Australia and New Zealand’s entrepreneurial and highly skilled small business community.

“Whether businesses are using our software on their laptop, tablet or mobile, BrightSafe will save employers time, money and effort. Our $2 million investment in Australia and New Zealand will provide a fantastic platform to enable small businesses to remain compliant amidst the current pandemic.

Employsure Managing Director Ed Mallett added:

“We’re thrilled to be able to offer this through our suite of services to Australian and New Zealand business owners,” he said.

“As employers, our first job is to make sure our staff are safe. Yet sadly, the maze of regulations means safety can be the hardest part to get right. BrightSafe is the solution, and it fits right in your pocket.

“The current COVID-19 pandemic has also raised some interesting questions about workplace safety, particularly as the workforce moves to a more remote-working model. The solutions won’t always be easy, but BrightSafe will be an incredibly valuable tool as we navigate these new challenges.

“Everyone has a right to work home safely, and as the pandemic passes, BrightSafe will make it that little bit easier to make sure they do.”

Employsure is inviting businesses to get a personalised tour of BrightSafe so they can see for themselves how easy it makes health & safety management. Call the Employsure team now on 1300 207 182.

Employsure is urging business owners to “proceed with caution” when registering for the newly announced JobKeeper package, as the finer details of the scheme are still yet to go before Parliament.

Businesses are now able to register interest through the Australian Taxation Office for the federal government’s $130 billion JobKeeper wage subsidy to help keep workers on their books.

Under the proposed scheme, eligible employees would receive $1,500 per fortnight before tax from their employer for up to six months.

However, while it is pleasing to see that the government has stepped up to help keep businesses running, Employsure Founder and Managing Director Ed Mallett cautioned that things may still change between now and the time it becomes legislation.

“This is not law yet. I’m not saying it’s not going to be – the federal government seems confident in it. But there are plenty of questions that should be asked before it passes through parliament,” said Mr Mallett.

“At the moment we don’t have clarity on how it would apply to casual workers with multiple employers, or at what point it supersedes any accrued leave eligible employees are already using during a stand down. And the advice around who is paying the superannuation on JobKeeper is about as clear as mud.

“We also need to know about the type of work that might be permitted to an employee who receives the payment, especially if it’s fundamentally different to the role that employee would ordinarily perform.

“With a Parliamentary process looming, I fear that the devil will be in the detail – which we’re still yet to see.

“As it stands, very broadly speaking on a rough percentage, assuming your business qualifies for it, you could be looking at about 30 percent of your wage bill being covered.

“There is a risk you may see adjustments on this before it becomes law, such as the opposition taking the view that the payment is simply not sustainable as a cost to the country. This is not a promise from the government, it has to be legislated. At the moment it is just an idea.”

When addressing what employers should do over the coming days, Mr Mallet said to hold off on making any decisions.

“My honest advice is pause and wait and see what happens first. Explain to your employees that you’re trying to understand the finer details of the payment plan. Don’t rush into it and start paying extra money out of your pockets. Stay in cash preservation mode, see how this lands once it passes,” he said.

“You don’t know for sure that you’re going to get that money yet. Either because it won’t come into law in the format that has been proposed, or because your specific business and revenue can’t make the best of the payment as it’s set out.

“The government has come out with this big announcement, and asked employers to go back into the world of making sure they’re employing people. Maybe even getting workers out of Centrelink queues, who have previously been asked to be on leave without pay or stood down, and getting them back into the workforce.

“The government is going to have to look at this in a pragmatic way, remembering the purpose of it is to keep people employed.”

Resource Hub For Employers

Employsure will be able to provide more specific advice on the package’s implications for workplace relations once the law is passed. Further updates as they come to light, will be made through our website employsure.com.au/coronavirus.

employers urged alternatives redundacies

The coronavirus pandemic has forced businesses across Australia and New Zealand to close their doors, putting employers in the difficult position of what to do with staff.

Hundreds of thousands of workers in a number of industries, including the travel, hospitality and retail sectors are facing months of uncertainty, with COVID-19 expected to further spread before the curve is flattened and business can resume as normal.

While employers will often assume that mass redundancies are their only course of action, other options are available and may actually be more cost-effective, according to Employsure, Australia’s leading workplace relations company.

“Letting go of a worker may not actually be the most cost-effective thing to do,” said Employsure’s Managing Director Ed Mallett.

“If you’ve got employees with long-tenure, they may potentially receive redundancy payments of up to 16 weeks, which is a huge sum of money when you’re cash-strapped.

“There are provisions in the Fair Work Act where you can apply to reduce or extinguish redundancy payments because you can’t afford them, but it is a tricky process.

“You need to be very careful and not be under the impression that redundancy is a quick and cheap option. It should be a last resort, and only done when it is thoroughly planned.”

When asked about what other options employers could consider first before redundancy, Mr Mallett said there are several avenues that they could take.

“Re-negotiating the hours employees work during the downturn is one option, often reducing the staff bill 20 to 40 percent,” he said.

“An example of this is agreeing to a four, or even three-day work week. Leave without pay can also be negotiated.

“Reduced pay is another alternative that can be mutually agreed to, as long as it is above the award rate and minimum wage.

“While letting casual staff go can be an easy option, it should be approached with caution. In certain cases, someone who has worked for a business regularly and systematically may not be a casual staff member in the eyes of the law.

“Employers will be making difficult decisions over the coming months, and we’re not yet seeing the true raft of redundancy coming into play, which would cause longer term rises in unemployment. As the Prime Minister has said, every job is essential. The longer we can protect them, the better.”

Resource Hub For Employers

To help employers meet this unprecedented challenge, Employsure has built a free Resource Hub, containing workplace policies, communications, checklists and FAQs. All information is free for business owners and can be found at employsure.com.au/coronavirus

employsure advisors advising clients on coronavirus

Stand Downs: What Employers Need To Know

The shutdowns of non-essential services across parts of Australia may trigger conditions in the Fair Work Act that will allow employers to stand staff down without pay, according to Employsure, Australia’s leading workplace relations company.

In a Government-imposed closure of a workplace, employers may be in a position to stand staff down without pay if those employees can’t be usefully deployed in other parts of the business.

Ed Mallett, Employsure Managing Director, said employers are grappling with the entitlements that apply since the COVID-19 outbreak. In the past fortnight alone calls to the company’s Employer Advice Line have doubled. Today, Employsure Advisers have been inundated with calls from clients wanting to know where they stand in the event of a forced shut down.

“This is an incredibly confusing time for employers,” he said. “The conversation has evolved so drastically in the past few weeks and business owners are finding it hard to keep up. We’ve gone from talking self isolation and remote working to complete workplace shut downs. And the entitlements that apply in all of those scenarios are incredibly vast and complex.

“Employers are doing their best to meet an unprecedented challenge. There’s a huge amount of pressure on their business, but they’ve also got employees to think about and legal obligations they must fulfil.”

Addressing shut down specifically, Mr Mallett said the Government announcement may allow employers to access little known conditions in the Fair Work Act.

“If you are ordered by the Government to fully shut down, and your employees can’t reasonably work elsewhere, you may be in a position to stand them down without pay,” Mallett said.

“The employer needs to be able to show that it is a legitimate stoppage of work, and not just a downturn. This certainly appears to be a legitimate stoppage for many businesses, meaning that unpaid stand down provisions in the Fair Work Act may well apply given the circumstances.

“The requirements under the Fair Work Act mean that unpaid stand downs apply when an employee cannot usefully be employed. However, an employer must show that all steps were taken to find useful employment for the affected employees.

“This doesn’t mean an employer is bound to place employees in positions that are drastically different to their contracted position or significantly change the way they operate the business.

“However, prior to standing down an employee, you should consider all other alternatives, including whether the employee could work from home or in another location, and then if this is not possible, discuss the stand down with them and confirm it in writing.”

“If you’re an employer and you’re struggling to get the right advice through traditional channels, please reach out to us. We can support you. We’ve also built a free online resource hub for employers to help them understand and apply their fundamental obligations during this incredibly confusing time.

Stand Downs: 4 Questions Employers Must Ask

  1. Are there stand down provisions in the Modern Award, Enterprise Agreement or Contract of Employment?
  2. Can you establish causation? Is the Coronavirus (COVID-19) the real reason for the stoppage of work? Has the government ordered you to shut down wholly or partly?
  3. Has there actually been a stoppage of work? By definition, this must be more than a downturn.
    • Stoppage of work does not mean:
      • A slow down of work
      • Inability to operate in your usual fashion
      • Inability to operate without difficulty
  4. Are there other opportunities for the employee to be usefully employed? Either in another position or working from home

If you cannot satisfy these requirements, you cannot lawfully stand down your employees. If you proceed withstanding down your employees without satisfying all of these elements, then you may be opening up your business to an underpayment claim. Should this occur, the onus of proof falls on you as the employer to show that the unpaid stand down was legitimate and each of the steps outlined above were fulfilled.

Considerations

  1. Is the Employee on a period of authorised leave (paid or unpaid)? If so, they are not taken to be stood down.
  2. A period of stand down is counted as ‘service’, which means they are considered to be working. This means:
    • Employees still accrue leave entitlements during the period of stand down.
    • Employees can take annual leave and long service leave while they are on stand down as long as it is authorised
    • Employees should be paid for public holidays (if they would have otherwise worked on the public holiday)
    • This period away from work is counted for purposes of termination, unfair dismissal access and redundancy

Stoppage of work does not mean:

  1. A slow down of work
  2. Inability to operate in your usual fashion
  3. Inability to operate without difficulty

Employsure Resource Hub

To help employers meet this unprecedented challenge, Employsure has built a free Resource Hub, containing workplace policies, communications, checklists and FAQs. All information is free for business owners. It can be found at employsure.com.au/coronavirus

employsure advisors advising clients on coronavirus

More than 25% of calls to Employsure’s Advice Line now relate to the Coronavirus outbreak as employers scramble to understand their workplace obligations.

Potential business shut downs, advice on isolating staff who have travelled through high-risk areas, and leave entitlements top the list of employer concerns.

The spike in calls has prompted Employsure to set up a dedicated Coronavirus Advice Line for its clients, which has already surpassed more than 200 calls per day. This number is expected to increase after the World Health Organisation declared the outbreak as a pandemic, and Australia feels the pinch of isolation and quarantine measures.

Employsure’s Managing Director Ed Mallett said the outbreak had caused anxiety for business owners who want to know where they stand with their employees.

“There’s certainly some trends emerging in the type of information employers are looking for,” he said. “They want to know what to do in the event that one of their staff members is diagnosed with Coronavirus. They also want to understand their obligations should they have to shut down their business. Employee leave entitlements is a common question as employers brace for a situation where they have employees who have to self isolate.

“We’ve set up a dedicated line for our clients and our Advisers are fielding more than 200 calls per day. We’re expecting that number to top 300 within days.

“Our primary advice to employers is that if they have staff who are presenting as sick, or who are diagnosed with Coronavirus, normal personal leave entitlements will apply. However, if you are forcing an employee to self-isolate who doesn’t meet the criteria for self-isolation and who hasn’t returned from a higher risk area, the employer will need to cover the cost of that leave.

“There’s no precedent for situations where a staff member must self-isolate as a result of a Government mandate even if they are currently well. In those situations, the employer can discuss individual arrangements with the employee, including Annual Leave, Long Service Leave, or Leave Without Pay.

“There are provisions in the Fair Work Act to cover the worst case scenario of a government mandated shut down. Your employees will be not be required to come to work and they will receive leave without pay. If you have the cash flow you can consider paying out entitlements such as annual leave however you have no obligation to do so.

“Australia’s workplace relations system is complicated enough. Navigating it through a pandemic takes it to a whole other level. But we’re here to help.”

Employsure has put together an article explaining frequently asked questions for employers that can be here.

Catastrophic weather conditions including extreme heat, strong winds, and low humidity are forecasted for Sydney and its surrounding regions tomorrow – the first time the NSW Rural Fire Service has issued the maximum level of warning in ten years.

While Australia can experience a variety of natural disasters and wild weather conditions, such as floods, bushfires, tropical cyclones, and severe storms. These events can cause devastation and major disruptions to the people, businesses, and workplaces that are affected.

Employers must take this time to plan ahead under their obligations to ensure the safety and wellbeing of their employees.

What if employees cannot attend work due to a natural disaster or emergency?

According to Senior Employment Relations Adviser from Employsure, Michael Wilkinson, “In some circumstances, an employee may have entitlements under their Award or Agreement that are relevant when an employee is unable to attend work due to an emergency or natural disaster. If no such entitlement exists, there are a range of options available to employers and employees depending on the circumstances.”

What if the employer temporarily shuts down the business?

Mr Wilkinson says, if your employer decides to temporarily stop business operations or shutdown the workplace as a result of a natural disaster or emergency, “It is important for employers to apply the correct employee entitlements during the closure. If the closure falls within the stand-down provisions, then the employer might not be required to pay the employee. If the business is closed and it otherwise could have operated, an employee could be entitled to payment.”

Can employers stand employees down without pay?

The Fair Work Act includes provisions which enable employers to stand down employees, without pay, where they cannot usefully be employed during a period because of any stoppage of work for which the employer cannot reasonably be held responsible, such as a natural disaster or emergency.

However, according to Mr Wilkinson, “It is not mandatory for stand downs to be unpaid. Your employer may choose to continue to pay staff, but this is at their discretion.”

“Although employers aren’t required to pay employees during the catastrophic bushfires, many will choose to show compassion and do so anyway. The money goes a long way to support families and the community at this devastating time.”

If NSW employers choose to stand down employees during this time, “It’s important they notify those employees in writing (where possible), including the date which the stand down begins, whether the employees will or will not be paid, and the impact on other employee entitlements,” he said.

What are the alternatives to standing down employees?

Mr Wilkinson encourages NSW employers and business owners to consider a range of options to offer employees during this devastating time, such as:

•    Asking employees to take a period of paid annual leave
•    Where appropriate, consider flexible work arrangements, like working from home.
•    Where there is more than one worksite or workplace and not all sites are affected by the disaster, consider options for sharing work and hours among sites

An employee’s home was badly affected by the natural disaster. Are they entitled to paid or unpaid leave to sort out the personal problems caused by the natural disaster?

“Generally, yes, a significant bushfire event will qualify an employee to take carer’s leave to deal with the aftermath of an unexpected emergency and to support their immediate family or household.”

Permanent staff who have accrued annual leave may also use their annual leave entitlements in these circumstances (with the employer’s agreement) according to Mr Wilkinson.

“Where a member of an employee’s immediate family or household sustains a life-threatening injury or illness, or dies, the employee is entitled to two days’ paid compassionate leave (unless they are casual employees, in which case the leave is unpaid).”

“Where an employee is not entitled to any of the above paid leave, an employer can allow the employee to take paid or unpaid ‘special leave’ to address their personal circumstances at this difficult time.”

“Obviously such times are also difficult for businesses and it is vital that employers and employees communicate about their plans to deal with the impact of the fires.”

Media Contact.
[email protected]
tel: 1300 651 415

About Employsure.
Employsure is Australia and New Zealand’s leading outsourced HR solution for over 25,000 small and medium sized businesses; providing customised expert advice, documentation, and protection to manage their workplace with confidence. For more information on Employsure’s employment relations and health and safety solutions visit www.employsure.com.au

Are you planning to shut down your business over the Christmas and New Year period? It’s never too early (or too late) to start planning.

Businesses planning to shutdown across the festive season, need to confirm close dates and notify staff in accordance with Award requirements from now.

Senior Employment Relations Adviser from Employsure, Messina Angelis says, “The most important step is to check the conditions relating to your right to send employees on an annual shutdown. This will depend on the Modern Award or Enterprise Agreements that apply for your business and will outline the minimum required notice period to notify your employees.”

Employees covered by an Award.

Most Awards will contain terms which allow employers to send employees on an annual shutdown. This is usually subject to an employer giving affected employees at least four weeks’ notice, although an Award may require a greater period of notice. For example, the Building and Construction General On-site Award 2010, requires an employer to give at least two months’ notice of a shutdown. In another example, under the Security Services Industry Award 2010, an employer must provide at least one months’ notice in writing before the leave needs to be taken. The Hair and Beauty Award 2010, it is four weeks’ notice.

Award or Agreement free employees.

The Fair Work Act allows employers who may require an Award or Agreement free employee to take a period of paid annual leave, but only if the request is reasonable. “A ‘reasonable request’ would be if your business is due to shutdown for a period during Christmas and the New Year,” she said.

Matters that can be agreed between the employer and an Award or Agreement free employee include:

  • for paid annual leave to be taken in advance of accrual (when the period of the shutdown exceeds an employee’s annual leave balance)
  • for a specified period of notice must be given before taking annual leave, e.g. four weeks’ notice, and
  • the form of application for paid annual leave

“Make sure you follow any rules under the Award or Agreement about notifying staff and what should happen during the shutdown. If the Award or Agreement doesn’t say anything about shutdowns or directions to take leave, you can’t force employees to use their leave. Instead, you can negotiate with them to take paid or unpaid leave but if they don’t agree, you can’t force them.”

According to Ms Angelis the end of year festive season can be two sided: “Most employees want the festive season off from work to rest and recharge. However, some businesses have the reverse intent – service-based businesses that wish to operate across a key period and meet increased customer demand.”

Ms Angelis says the end of year festive season can be a quiet period for many businesses however, for those in the hospitality, restaurant, and retail industry, “This is the key season for fixed term and casual work and some industries are looking to bolster their workforce and fill specific jobs and meet the increased customer demand.”

For those businesses planning to stay open, Ms Angelis says, “During busy seasons, engaging employees on a casual or a fixed term basis will usually provide employers with the most flexibility in relation to fulfilling their resource requirements.”

However, Ms Angelis warns employers to, “Be extra aware of the requirements and obligations to all employees over this key period such as extra pay or an extra day off, particularly on public holidays.”

“If you aren’t one of the businesses open over the Christmas period – it’s important to check the conditions relating to your right to send employees on an annual closedown. Seek professional workplace relations advice.”

Public holidays.

The various upcoming public holidays over the Christmas – New Year period:

  • Christmas Eve – Tuesday 24 December 2019 (Northern Territory and South Australia from 7pm-midnight)
  • Christmas Day – Wednesday 25 December 2019 (all states and territories)
  • Boxing Day – Thursday 26 December 2019 (all states and territories)
  • New Year’s Eve – Tuesday 31 December 2020 (Northern Territory and South Australia from 7pm-midnight)
  • New Year’s Day – Wednesday 1 January 2020 (all states and territories)
  • Australia Day – Monday 27 January 2020 (all states and territories)

-ends-

Media Contact.
[email protected]
tel: 1300 651 415

About Employsure.
Employsure is Australia and New Zealand’s leading outsourced HR solution for over 25,000 small and medium sized businesses; providing customised expert advice, documentation, and protection to manage their workplace with confidence. For more information on Employsure’s employment relations and health and safety solutions visit www.employsure.com.au

Sexual Harassment


Since the ‘Me Too’ movement, sexual harassment scandals continue to claim the headlines. The headlines include high profile business leaders, political leaders, and movie directors; but for normal everyday working Australians, workplace sexual harassment is a familiar dismal reality.

Findings from the 2018 the Australian Human Rights Commission fourth national report on the prevalence, nature and reporting of workplace sexual harassment in Australia found a staggering one in three (33 percent) working Australians had experienced sexual harassment in the workplace in the last five years. The retail and accommodation and food services industries were found to have higher rates than the national rate with 42 percent and 39 percent respectively.

The Shop, Distributive and Allied Employees’ Association (SDA) approached the commission in relation to conducting an additional survey in response to high prevalence rates in the industry. The survey had more than 3,000 participants and revealed that female members were more likely to have been sexually harassed in the workplace (46 percent) than male SDA members (29 percent).

The Report found over half (54 percent) of SDA members who completed the survey, had been exposed to workplace sexual harassment in the last five years, either by experiencing it personally, as a bystander, or both.

The most commonly experienced type of sexual harassment behaviour for both SDA members (24 percent) and those in the working population (19 percent) was sexually suggestive comments or offensive jokes.

Alarmingly, the findings show that workplace sexual harassment is not exclusively experienced from employee to employee or manager to employee (vice versa), but by customers or patrons in the workplace. One in five (21 percent) SDA members said they had been sexually harassed by a customer in their current job, with female SDA members more likely to have had this experience (28 percent) than their male counterparts (11 percent). Of all workplace sexual harassment incidents experienced by SDA members in the last five years, one in three (36 percent) involved a customer as the harasser.

Female retail workers under the age of 30 were most likely to be harassed, making up 46 percent of all victims of customer related harassment. Of everyone in that age bracket who reported being sexually harassed, they revealed it happened, on average, seven times in the past year.

Senior Employment Relations Adviser Isabella Zamorano says no workplace – big or small – is immune to sexual harassment: “It’s time for those at the top of every business, even small business owners to take strong action against sexual harassment in the workplace.”

According to Ms Zamorano, it is unfortunate that it takes, “Shocking news headlines and important research reports such as these, to spark, necessary dialogue about the implications of unwanted sexual advances in the workplace and extensions of the workplace,” she said.

“The matter highlights that at all levels, professions and industries, sexual harassment is a risk and cannot be taken lightly – not only for the victims but for the businesses that also risk reputational damage and disruption.’ Ms Zamorano urges businesses to be proactive in dealing with sexual harassment. “Don’t wait for a crisis, act now.”

According to Ms Zamorano, there are four key activities employers can take to proactively stamp out sexual harassment in the workplace.

Zero tolerance

“If you haven’t already, formalise a zero-tolerance stance on sexual harassment in your policies and procedures. With your position clearly defined, articulate it to employees through every communication method available to your business. Every staff member — both incoming and existing — should be aware of your company’s policy on sexual harassment, and how sexual harassment is defined in your workplace.”

Train your staff

“While your sexual harassment policy can outline the standards of acceptable behaviour and conduct, training will help your employees retain the information and speak up to report incidents. Employees come from a vast range of backgrounds, beliefs, cultures and ages. Training sets out in very clear terms the type of behaviour that is unacceptable in the workplace.”

Set up a safe and confidential way for employees to make complaints

“Making a claim of sexual harassment can be daunting and deeply personal. Often, many victims stay silent out of fear that it will harm their careers or label them as troublemakers. It’s important that employees are aware of the process to make such complaints, and that their information and details will be treated seriously and confidentially.”

Investigate all claims

“It is up to victim whether they consider a particular incident as a form of sexual harassment. Even if the incident took place out-of-hours, outside your workplace – or even if you don’t find the accusation personally offensive – all claims must be properly investigated.”

Ms Zamorano says, “Sexual harassment is set to take greater prominence in the world of employment relations and it’s important that you have the relevant policies and procedures in place to protect your people and your business.”

“It’s time for business leaders to be proactive and lead the path to change,” she said.

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