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Reports today reveal that supermarket giant, Woolworths self-discovered underpayments over the last nine years with repayments expected to cost up to $300 million. The breach was discovered during a review prompted by the implementation of a new enterprise agreement with salaried employees.

The news today corresponds with the recent release of the Fair Work Ombudsman’s annual report revealing over $40 million was recovered in underpayments – the highest volume it has ever recovered in a single financial year.

Prompting calls for change, leading workplace relations firm Employsure says all businesses – large and small – need to be extra vigilant about their compliance with employee pay and entitlements.

Managing Director of Employsure, Ed Mallett said, the news of large businesses getting it wrong was indicative that “Both giants and the ‘little guy’ are equally struggling to navigate the minefield that is employment relations”.

Illustrating Australia’s workplace system failure, Mr Mallett asks, “If a business on the scale of Woolworths’ size with access to resources, as well as unions to keep it accountable, has made an error, how can regulators expect small businesses to get it right? The root of the problem is therefore in the legislation – not all employers should be branded as ‘wage thieves.’ Often, they make simple, honest mistakes because the system is far too complex.”

In addition, “Unlike larger businesses, small businesses do not have access to the expertise necessary to navigate the complexities of the Fair Work Act, where there are very narrow margins for error. Yet, small businesses make up more than 97% of all Australian businesses and employ more than 5.5 million people1.”

“The small business owner invariably handles all operational and legislative requirements, which include administration workplace relations obligations. They are not HR or legal experts and do not have HR departments, legal departments or finance departments. Put simply, the workplace relations system is too complex and time consuming for Australian businesses.”

Mr Mallett explains this is why Employsure has been busier than ever, “Each year, Employsure takes more than 267,000 calls, with 23% relating to employee wages and entitlements alone. Daily, we take calls from employers confused by what they are required to do to meet the requirements of the Fair Work Act leaving themselves exposed to penalties, fines, and serious legal costs.”

“We are educating and informing employers of their obligations in creating fair and safe workplaces is making an impact in more ways than ever before: it’s the difference between a business that is enabled to grow and a business that neglects their employees and therefore suffers the consequences of getting it wrong. We focus on advising employers, making the complex simple, so they can meet their obligations – which is fundamental to their business success.”

According to research commissioned by Employsure in 2017-18, only 1 in 3 small business employers are confident they are compliant with the Fair Work Act. Further, 1 in 5 admit they know very little or nothing at all about the Fair Work Act and 1 in 4 said they found it difficult to calculate the correct pay, entitlements, and interpret the Modern Awards for their business. In addition, only 10 per cent of managers said they were confident they understood the Fair Work Act.

According to Mr Mallett, “There has been a growing need to reform the system for small businesses that find themselves caught in the web of complexity that is expensive, time-consuming, and poorly explained by regulators.”

“Our views are that government should make practical and realistic reforms that attempt to make it simpler for businesses to do the right thing and build their confidence to employ, which is what the economy needs.”

-ends-

 

Media Enquires.

[email protected]
tel: 1300 651 415

Editor Notes.

  • Employsure is Australia’s largest workplace relations specialists, serving more than 25,000 Australian businesses. Each year, Employsure takes more than 267,000 calls, with 23% relating to employee wages and entitlements alone. Find out more about Employsure
  • Interviews with Employsure Managing Director, Ed Mallett are available upon request.
  • The Fair Work Index Research Report by Employsure explores the employment relations challenges facing Australia’s small and medium-sized businesses. Download the research report
  • Source1: https://www.asbfeo.gov.au/sites/default/files/Small_Business_Statistical_Report-Final.pdf

The race that stops a nation on Tuesday 5 November 2019, the Melbourne Cup, will present multiple distributions and complications for employers dealing with the impact on their workforce.

Loss of Productivity.

If you live or work in Victoria, the good news, is Melbourne Cup day is considered a public holiday.

For the other ‘unlucky’ States and Territories, the celebration is simply another ordinary working day. However, the ‘race that stops the nation’ naturally halts many workplaces, where varying degrees of celebration and festivities are a common part of workplace culture.

While many workplaces will pause for the race, some employers might argue that the loss in productivity is detrimental to the overall business and disruption to clients may look unprofessional. However, Isabella Zamorano a Senior Employment Relations Adviser at Employsure says there are some benefits of allowing employees to take the afternoon off to celebrate the festivities.

“By allowing employees time away from work to attend events like a Melbourne Cup lunch, teams will benefit from bonding time together outside work, getting to know each other in a more casual environment. Social events can encourage staff to stay in their jobs longer.”

Ms Zamorano adds, “We know that by offering additional benefits such as time off work for events, your employees might speak more favourably about working at your business to others thus providing positive exposure for your business.”

Sickies.

For some employees, an afternoon off may not be enough time to celebrate (or recover) so they may be tempted to ‘chuck a sickie’ on the following day or extend the normal two-day weekend to four days, by taking the Monday off sick. In doing so they might be taking non-genuine leave.

Ms Zamorano says employers should ‘saddle up’ for an influx of ‘sickies,’ “The most important aspect of managing employee absences on or after Cup Day is ensuring that the rules for sick days or expectations for Cup Day are understood from the outset.”

She says, “Ensure clear policies are in place upfront and that these are communicated to staff – including those relating to work on public holidays, notice of sick leave absences and the evidence that is required to support such absences. Inform staff in advance of the sick leave policy, including the requirement that they provide a medical certificate as evidence in relation to any absences on Cup Day or the following day.”

The Fair Work Act and the National Employment Standards (NES) make it clear that employers can require notification from employees of any absence and evidence to support any personal leave they take.

When Does The Function End?

It’s not uncommon for a Melbourne Cup lunch or afternoon drink to quickly evolve into after work drinks; so, it is critical for employers to be clear with employees about the start and end times of the function. Ms Zamorano advises employers to, “Explicitly detail what times and where staff are expected to be. For example, “at 3.30 pm work resumes” or “staff may leave early after the race, but the work day ends when staff leave the office.”

“The reason this is important is because events that occur outside the work function can still be an employer’s responsibility such as workplace injuries, harassment claims and even criminal offences.”

Responsible Gambling.

While it’s generally acceptable to have a “punt” in the betting sweeps, gambling is a particularly sensitive subject for certain people. Some cultural or religious groups have prohibitions on gambling as an activity. In other cases, a person may have experience with a gambling addiction. Ms Zamorano says employers should be mindful to ensure that these people are not forced, or negatively impacted.

“You cannot force employees to participate in social festivities, nor would that be an enjoyable experience for those involved. Many businesses host betting sweeps as part of Melbourne Cup celebrations and a number of people who don’t normally gamble will participate on the day. However, employers should be mindful that some people may have genuine objections to gambling, horse racing or alcohol related events.”

Responsible Service of Alcohol.

Festivities always have an element of risk whether it be alcohol related or not. Employers have a duty of care towards employees and should not put their health or safety on the line at the event or after an event.

“Employers should be clear and transparent about their drug and alcohol policies setting out standards and expectations before, during, and after these events as well as being clear on the start and finish times of any employer run events. This will create a defined line as to when the event finished and therefore impact on the employer’s responsibilities and obligations,” she said.

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

Notes to Editor.

  • 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
  • Interviews with Senior Employment Relations Adviser at Employsure, Isabella Zamorano are available upon request.

The NSW Government has unveiled a new mobile reporting system that will give workers the ability to anonymously report dangerous working conditions to the workplace healthy and safety regulator, SafeWork NSW.

The tool, called ‘Speak Up. Save Lives’, was announced by the Minister for Better Regulation and Innovation, Kevin Anderson. Anderson, via a statement, said it would “make it easy” for workers to report potentially fatal workplace  risks.

The tool, a smart application for mobile phones, will allow workers to send up to three photos to SafeWork NSW. The app will use keep the user’s location and details anonymous if they so wish.

The app is expected to go live in early 2020 and will be free of charge.

Senior Workplace Health and Safety Manager from Employsure, Larry Drewsen says, the principle of the initiative is simple: “No one should go to work and never return home.” Adding, that safety is easier when there is a collaborative effort, “From front-line workers and employees all the way to upper management, it’s essential that everybody works together to ensure every Australian worker arrives home safely and without injury after each and every shift.”

Mr Drewsen says safety is a collaborative effort: “Whether you’re a worker, an employee, employer or business owner, everyone has the right to feel safe at work. No workplace should be unsafe to work in, and injuries or fatalities should not be tolerated.”

“Whether your workplace is in the offices of the corporate headquarters city buildings, in a warehouse, in the field, on the road, or anywhere else, making sure your workplace ensures you and your team are safe when doing their job is the number one priority.”

“Lives change forever when there’s a serious injury or death in the workplace. The victims, their families, employers, co-workers, paramedics, and all those involved.”

Mr Drewsen said while the initiative was positive, he had some concerns about the effectiveness of the app.

“In principle, a forum for workers to have easy access to report issues to the regulator is a positive initiative, particularly in situations where issues are not being addressed by management,” Mr Drewsen said.

“However, my concern is that because of the ease of access, workers will be more inclined to go straight to the regulator and bypass the consultation process, thus undermining one of the key objectives of the health and safety system.”

“My real fear is that issues may not be addressed until the regulator, who is already stretched, is able to respond. The potential consequences [there will be] injuries that may have otherwise been prevented through the consultative process.”

“A focus of Employsure’s service is to assist clients in building a positive health and safety culture within the workplace, a critical factor in achieving continuous improvement in the management of health and safety.”

By sharing your knowledge, you can help prevent your workplace and co-workers from becoming a statistic:

  • Over 100,000 serious workplace injury claims are lodged in Australia every year1
  • Untreated mental health conditions cost Australian workplaces approximately $10.9 billion per year2
  • 81 per cent of Australian small businesses admit they don’t fully understand their workplace safety obligations3
  • 1 in 3 small business employers don’t know where to go to find help; admitting they rely on Google for answers4

The initiative coincides with the annual National Safety Month run by WorkSafe Australia in October to spotlight the importance of work health and safety. As the leading workplace specialists for over 25,000 small and medium businesses across Australia, Employsure encourages employers to get involved in the annual awareness event and welcomes the announcement, as a step forward to create healthier, safer and happier workplaces.

To access the tool visit Speak Up on your mobile device.

-ends-

Media Enquires.

[email protected]
tel: 1300 651 415

Notes to Editor.

  • Employsure is Australia and New Zealand’s leading workplace relations specialist, helping over 25,000 small businesses to confidently manage their staff each day. For more information visit employsure.com.au
  • Interviews with Senior Workplace Health and Safety Manager at Employsure, Larry Drewsen are available upon request

Sources.

[1] https://www.safeworkaustralia.gov.au/statistics-and-research/statistics/disease-and-injuries/disease-and-injury-statistics

[2] https://www.headsup.org.au/docs/default-source/resources/bl1270-report—tns-the-state-of-mental-health-in-australian-workplaces-hr.pdf?sfvrsn=8

[3-4] https://employsure.com.au/research/workplace-safety-index/

Announced today, Employsure is bringing BrightHR, a cloud-based HR software service, to the fingertips of thousands of small and medium businesses across Australia and New Zealand (ANZ).

Establishing in the ANZ market as a new service offered exclusively by Employsure, BrightHR is a HR support software that helps small business employers streamline employee data collection, storage and management. It is web-based and is available as a mobile app, empowering users to maintain and act on requests easily anywhere. At time of launch, the award-winning HR software already has over 600 ANZ businesses registered with access to the software and more than 27,000 globally.

The BrightHR service is the latest addition to Employsure’s unique suite of services designed to make the complex simple for small and medium business employers – improving their operational HR management, people performance, and giving them access to the tools and advice they need to confidently manage their business.

Employsure’s Managing Director Ed Mallett says Employsure is about: “Empowering businesses, helping them to understand what systems and practices they need to have in place to meet their obligations.” Mr Mallett says the BrightHR service aligns perfectly with Employsure’s key vision to make managing employees easy for small businesses owners and start-ups: “In a world powered by cloud-based apps, we’re bringing innovative solutions to small businesses  to save them time, help them comply, build in structure and efficiencies, and give them a tool that can be used daily by every member of their growing business. Most importantly, BrightHR seamlessly compliments existing components of the Employsure experience.”

BrightHR’s CEO, Alan Price said: “With demand across the globe for our product increasing fast, I’m delighted that we’re able to help Australia and New Zealand’s diverse and highly skilled small business community tap into the benefits of our cloud-based HR software. Whether businesses are using our software on their laptop, tablet or mobile, BrightHR will save employers time, money and effort.”

BrightHR users can record, monitor and manage employees’ absences, annual leave requests, rosters and shifts in a single place. It also has a feature for workforce scheduling that allows employers to quickly assign and share these working schedules to the team. With the software being accessible through the cloud and its mobile app, time-off requests and approvals are easily accessed by employees and managed by employers making record management and people management simple.

BrightHR capabilities and benefits in a snapshot:

  • Record and monitor staff absence in one central place
  • Store medical certificates and other related documents
  • Stay compliant with a comprehensive audit trail
  • Create digital rosters in seconds for individual employees and the team
  • Track and record employees’ hours of work
  • Notify employees in real-time about upcoming roster schedules
  • Always ensure there are enough staff to cover shifts
  • Manage employee business expenses
  • iOS and Android app capabilities including real-time notifications for employers and employees

Employsure is offering free BrightHR demos and invites businesses across ANZ to try out a new and more efficient way to handle their people management responsibilities.

-ends-

Media Enquires.

[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

About BrightHR.

BrightHR is an international HR software and support service. Their cloud-based software offers users single place to record their employees’ absences, respond to annual leave requests and make shifts and rosters. For more about BrightHR visit www.employsure.com.au/what-we-offer/bright-hr-software/ 

Today is Diabetes Australia, Walk to Work Day – an annual event that helps employers and employees build regular walking into their daily routine for a healthier workplace. Celebrating their 21st year today (Friday 4 October 2019), the event raises money and awareness for Diabetes Australia.

To support and participate in Diabetes Australia Walk to Work Day and raise awareness about the benefits of health and wellness, Employsure dedicated the entire month of September to get their employees moving. The challenge was to get Employsure’s widely dispersed workforce across all states across Australia and New Zealand in offices and in the field, involved and motivated.

Employsure partnered with the Move Spring app to rollout the ‘Step Up September’ initiative to improve individual and collective wellbeing by promoting physical activity throughout the workday. The Move Spring multi-platform app is designed to make fitness fun with group activity tracking, step-challenges, fitness content, chats, leader boards, and more.

Talent Consultant at Employsure, Nicola Scott said the objective was to, “Boost confidence and self-esteem so our staff can continually run faster, climb higher and be stronger in their role. We also wanted to invite friendly competition in to the work environment, encouraging departments to interact more with one another, whilst providing them with the tools and resources to make their health a priority.”

According to Ms Scott, participation was encouraged through Employsure’s internal platform, Workplace powered by Facebook, to get employees sharing their experiences posting their progress throughout the challenge. In addition, prizes were awarded for the top steppers on the leader board.  Incredibly, the top stepper did a whopping average of 41,000 steps per day. Collectively, over 200 employees achieved 41.5 million steps, averaging 9000 steps per day.

One participant said, “The challenge was the best thing I ever did for my physical and mental health – not only have I lost 5kg, I became more aware of my sitting habits throughout the day and made small changes to my lifestyle to incorporate more activity and movement, which has made a big impact on I think and feel.”

“The challenge was good fun because it made me more engaged with Employsure and its values. I also felt more connected to my peers, even if we worked across states, countries and departments,” said another.

With the help of Move Spring, Ms Scott says the pilot company-wide fitness challenge was a success: “The app was flexible enough to fit our business needs and seamlessly tracked steps for a user-friendly experience. It was also a great platform to promote health and wellness in the workplace as it was very customisable and accommodated a variety of activity levels.”

In the spirit of National Walk to Day, Ms Scott says, “All workplaces should be encouraging staff to get up and walk regularly not just to work, but during the working day. Now is a great time to put your feet first and step into your daily routine. Take employees outside for a walking meeting, encourage employees to get off the bus, train or tram a few stops earlier, to incorporate walking into the daily routine.”

For more information and how to get involved in Diabetes Australia Walk to Work Day, please visit walk.com.au and for more information about Move Spring visit movespring.com

-ends-

Media Enquires.

[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

Employment relations expert, Michael Wilkinson from Employsure says the legal protection for large employers in proposed religious freedom laws are ‘deeply flawed and impractical.’

Under the draft Federal Government religious discrimination laws, a large employer with a turnover of over $50 million or more could have the ability to stop their employees expressing their personal beliefs if they can show it would cause financial damage to their brand. The issue has been thrust into the spotlight with the ongoing case between controversial rugby player Israel Folau and Rugby Australia.

Attorney-General Christian Porter has released the draft legislation after months of consultation with religious groups, following an election pledge to protect Australians from religious discrimination. Mr Porter says the rationale for this provision on larger businesses is that it halts businesses trying to dictate what their employees say outside work hours, which he argues is a restriction on free speech.

But Mr Wilkinson says the draft legislation would be challenging to prove, and therefore impractical, arguing, “It will be near impossible for large businesses to satisfy the proposed exemption relating to financial hardship. Most businesses of that scale would be extremely reluctant to argue financial hardship due to the practical market and PR consequences of doing so.”

He raises concerns about the implications and applications of the proposed religious freedom laws. For example, “If a large business implements a code of conduct restricting workers’ statements of belief, their dress, appearance or behaviour it must show that the restrictive code is necessary to prevent financial adversity. This provision does not apply to small businesses and raises questions about whether the legislation could result in such businesses being held to the same standard over time.”

Also problematic according to Mr Wilkinson is the ambiguity on key elements such as, “What is meant by religious belief or activities, but it is intended to provide protection for all expressions of religious beliefs and activities such as prayers and fasting, the commitment to wear certain garments such as head-coverings, and evangelising or seeking to persuade others to follow creed.”

Likewise, it is also unclear according to Mr Wilkinson, what level of losses would be required to prove unjustifiable financial hardship.

Equally, it would be essential to have a “reasonableness” test in cases of indirect discrimination on religious grounds which should ensure complaints are not frivolous.

Expressing strong concerns that the legislation would over-ride existing state anti-discrimination laws, Mr Wilkinson said, “In effect, this is just another case of unnecessary red tape – various protections exist protect employees from discrimination in the workplace and outside the workplace. Is another law really needed?” he asked.

 

-ends-

Media Enquires.

[email protected]
tel: 1300 651 415

Notes to Editor

 

  • Employsure is Australia and New Zealand’s leading workplace relations specialist, helping over 25,000 small businesses to confidently manage their staff each day. For more information visit employsure.com.au
  • Interviews with Senior Employment Relations Adviser at Employsure, Michael Wilkinson are available upon request.

Scott Morrison is facing growing pressure from his backbench and leading business groups to make meaningful changes to industrial relations laws amid warnings that the system is critically broken.

In the past week alone, business groups such as Small Business and Family Enterprise Ombudsman’s Kate Carnell, Small Business Association Australia’s Anne Nalder, and workplace specialist firm, Employsure’s Ed Mallett have ramped up calls for change.

Each of the groups have released reports, submissions, and recommendations with compelling arguments for the overhaul of unfair dismissal laws and the ‘simplification’ of the IR system.

Small Business and Family Enterprise Ombudsman Kate Carnell on Tuesday published a review of the Small Business Fair Dismissal Code saying it is “not delivering what was intended”. The Ombudsman’s review called for separate processes under the code for serious misconduct, conduct and redundancy, and for the establishment of a dedicated small business division of the Fair Work Commission to deal with unfair dismissal cases.

“The code in its current form is not achieving the ends it is supposed to,” Ms Carnell said. “The way it was written left too many holes for lawyers to drive through.”

Ms Carnell said the ambiguity in the code means too many small businesses are being pulled into unfair dismissal hearings which are costly and impact productivity.

On Friday, Employsure and the Small Business Association of Australia announced a new partnership to advocate two key areas of workplace reform.

Employsure, founder and managing director Ed Mallett, said, “There has been a growing need to reform the system for small businesses that find themselves caught in the web of complexity that is expensive, time-consuming, and poorly explained by regulators.”

In the submission letter, Mr Mallett put forward two key areas of reform with corresponding recommendations: “I believe that there are two specific areas where we feel the Government could take constructive (and relatively simple) action to assist small business owners. They are jurisdictional objections and Unfair Dismissal disparity.”

Mr Mallett suggested that the barriers to bringing an unfair dismissal claim are too low.

“An employee is able to file an Unfair Dismissal claim in the Fair Work Commission for a small fee of $73.20 (which is waived in cases of financial hardship). In a no costs jurisdiction, this means an employee can bring a claim that is without prospects of success and is unlikely to suffer the consequences of having to pay the other party’s legal costs,” his submission said.

The cost of bringing a claim could be increased to “deter unmeritorious claims”, the submission said.

Under the current process, every unfair dismissal claim made against an employer in the Fair Work Commission is listed for a conciliation. At this conciliation, a small business owner is required to attend and respond and, in most cases, offer a monetary amount to settle the matter. It is our experience that this offer of a monetary settlement is actively promoted at the conciliation to make the matter ‘go away’,” he wrote.

“We recommend an amendment whereby claims made by ineligible applicants can be reviewed and dismissed by the Fair Work Commission before progressing to conciliation.”

Another push for change is emerging from the backbench, to exempt small and medium businesses from unfair dismissal laws. Other targets are the enterprise bargaining system and modern awards.

Prime Minister has asked Industrial Relations Minister Christian Porter to come up with an IR policy, and business groups are awaiting action.

Queensland Liberal National party senator Amanda stoker said the application of unfair dismissal laws to small and medium sized businesses was a “block to growth.”

“Just as uncertainty about casual employment arrangements stops a business from hiring, so, too, does the threat of litigation from a staff member that’s not working out,” she said.

She also criticised the “ridiculous complexity” of the modern award system saying, “we should accept that this unreasonable complexity has to have played a part in at least some cases of staff underpayment that we see reported.”

-ends-

Media Enquires.

[email protected]
tel: 1300 651 415

Notes to Editor.

  • Employsure is Australia and New Zealand’s leading workplace relations specialist, helping over 25,000 small businesses to confidently manage their staff each day. For more information visit www.employsure.com.au
  • A snapshot  report of the issues facing small and medium enterprises (SMEs) across various industries can be accessed here.
  • Interviews with Ed Mallett, founder and Managing Director of Employsure are available upon request.

Two leading voices for Australia’s small and medium sized businesses, Employsure and the Small Business Association of Australia (SBAA), have today announced a new partnership to advocate two key areas of workplace reform.

Ed Mallett, founder and Managing Director of Employsure, in partnership with CEO of SBAA Anne Nalder are joining forces to propose the need for the simplification of Australia’s workplace system for small businesses.

Employsure, founded in 2011 by a former barrister Ed Mallett, says the collaboration is a logical step for the workplace relations specialists that now support over 25,000 small and medium enterprises (SMEs) across Australia and New Zealand.

“As Employsure continues to experience exceptional growth, innovation, and challenges, we are more focused than ever on inspiring employers to have confidence that their business has the right advice to manage their workplace.”

Mr Mallett said, “There has been a growing need to reform the system for small businesses that find themselves caught in the web of complexity that is expensive, time-consuming, and poorly explained by regulators.”

To initiate the partnership, both organisations are putting forward a legal submission which will be circulated among relevant Government Ministers, urging for critical workplace law reform.

In the submission letter, Mr Mallett advocates for two key areas of reform with corresponding recommendations. He writes, “I believe that there are two specific areas where we feel the Government could take constructive (and relatively simple) action to assist small business owners. They are jurisdictional objections and Unfair Dismissal disparity.”

Jurisdictional Objections.

“Under the current process, every Unfair Dismissal claim made against an employer in the Fair Work Commission is listed for a conciliation. At this conciliation, a small business owner is required to attend and respond and, in most cases, offer a monetary amount to settle the matter. It is our experience that this offer of a monetary settlement is actively promoted at the conciliation to make the matter ‘go away’,” he writes.

“We recommend an amendment whereby claims made by ineligible applicants can be reviewed and dismissed by the Fair Work Commission before progressing to conciliation, thus saving small business owners time and unnecessary expense, as well as avoiding the unnecessary promotion of “go away” settlements.”

Unfair Dismissal disparity.

On the second area of proposed reform, Mr Mallett describes an ‘imbalance’ of the workplace system, which he terms as ‘Unfair Dismissal disparity.’

“As it stands, an employee is able to file an Unfair Dismissal claim in the Fair Work Commission for a small fee of $73.20 (which is waived in cases of financial hardship). In a no costs jurisdiction, this means an employee can bring a claim that is without prospects of success and is unlikely to suffer the consequences of having to pay the other party’s legal costs.”

“This encourages employers to settle, as it is often the cheaper option than proceeding to arbitration or a hearing. Not only is this unfair, it has created a cottage industry of no win, no fee lawyers who prey on recently dismissed employees at the expense of small business owners, knowing that they are likely to receive “go away” money, even where prospects of success are low.”

In Mr Mallett’s final recommendation, he writes, “This could be resolved through the Fair Work Commission taking on a more active role in pointing out clear weaknesses of an applicant’s case which may encourage such applicants to discontinue speculative claims. Further, the cost of bringing a claim could be increased in an effort to deter unmeritorious claims.”

In discussing the partnership, Mr Mallett said, “I am pleased we are partnering with SBAA. This collaboration will allow us to share insights and resources to the wider SME community across Australia. We have a shared commitment to helping Australia’s family and sole businesses succeed. It’s a great honour to work alongside likeminded partners like the Small Business Association of Australia, helping us advocate for small business with relevant policymakers.”

Consistent with the sentiment about the partnership, Ms Nalder said the relationship would promote better conditions for Australia’s small business sector:

“Jointly, the Small Business Association of Australia and Employsure are dedicated to getting a better deal for SMEs and helping businesses connect, grow and prosper. We can achieve this by acting as a voice to government and aligning with key stakeholders to work together on better economic policies for SMEs.”

Today’s announcement was first published in the Sydney Morning Herald: Calls to increase cost for lodging unfair dismissal claims.

Media Enquires.

[email protected]
tel: 1300 651 415

Notes to Editor.

  • Employsure is Australia and New Zealand’s leading workplace relations specialist, helping over 25,000 small businesses to confidently manage their staff each day. For more information visit www.employsure.com.au
  • A snapshot  report of the issues facing small and medium enterprises (SMEs) across various industries can be accessed here.
  • Interviews with Ed Mallett, founder and Managing Director of Employsure are available upon request.

The Australian Small Business and Family Enterprise Ombudsman (ASBFEO) yesterday released proposed changes to the Small Business Fair Dismissal Code (the Code).

Ed Mallett, founder and Managing Director of Employsure, welcomed the initiative of ASBEFO, Kate Carnell, in proposing the need for a revised Code for small businesses that find themselves caught up in the current complex and expensive, time-consuming unfair dismissal system that affects millions of small, family businesses.

Mr Mallett said, “There has been a growing need to reform the Code. Employing new employees is not in itself a difficult process, however if the employment relationship breaks down it can become a complex nightmare for a small business – best described as industrial divorce.”

According to Mr Mallett, unfair dismissal claims are consistently the most common claim year on year in the Fair Work Commission; describing them as, “a growth industry of sorts.”

“With options available to employees like unions, and advocacy groups, and particularly with the rise of no-win-no-fee lawyers, it’s no surprise the employer success rate in unfair dismissal cases are dipping. Lodging an unfair dismissal claim is about as easy as ordering an Uber.”

However, Mr Mallett says it’s difficult for employers to get it right: “Employers are telling us how overwhelming it is to understand what the correct process is for terminating employment in a fair way, in line with the Fair Work Act. What could seem straightforward often lies in the grey area, further highlighting the complexities of the Act.”

“The changes to the Code proposed by Ms Carnell would provide clarity and fairness to the dismissal process for both employers and employees.”

“One of the key aspects of the changes proposed by Ms Carnell is the need for small business employers to know how to follow a fair process when terminating an employee’s employment. Employers require clearer guidelines on what is required to carry out a legal dismissal.”

In an Employsure commissioned survey with small business employers, 68 per cent of respondents said workplace laws are poorly explained by regulators and three-quarters believe they are poorly communicated.

“On behalf of the 25,000 small and medium sized businesses we represent across Australia, we are in full support of the ASBEFO initiative and look forward to seeing the proposed changes become part of a new Code for small businesses. We would like to see the removal of uncertainty and expense associated with the current system,” he said.

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Media Enquires.

[email protected]
tel: 1300 651 415

Notes to Editor

  • Employsure is Australia and New Zealand’s leading workplace relations specialist, helping over 25,000 small businesses to confidently manage their staff each day. For more information visit www.employsure.com.au
  • In 2017-18, the overall employer success rate in unfair dismissal cases was only 39 per cent contrasting to an 86 per cent successful outcome when employers sought advice from Employsure.
  • Interviews with Ed Mallett, founder and Managing Director of Employsure are available upon request.

There is arguably no one doing more to place people at the forefront of workplaces across Australia and therefore, appropriate that Employsure was recognised as a Winner of the Australian Business Awards for Employer of Choice 2019.

The Employer of Choice accolade recognises organisations which have developed workplaces that maximise the full potential of their workforce through practices that demonstrate effective employee recruitment, engagement and retention.

Employsure’s Head of Talent, Michael Morris says the award is recognition of the unique work and vast impact Employsure has on workplaces around Australia.

“Being named an Employer of Choice reinforces that people are at the heart of what Employsure stands for. The Australian Business Awards are the most prestigious for the industry – it illustrates what we do for more than 25,000 businesses across Australia, starts with us. The Award distinguishes our approach to the way we grow and develop our people.

“We have challenged the status quo and have built a culture where we empower our people to do the same. Our people want more than a job and want to be part of something bigger, envisioning a different future for workplaces. Their commitment and adaptability create our unique culture and makes Employsure a great place to work.

“We are honoured to be recognised as leaders in our industry,” he said.

Employsure’s success at the Australian Business Awards follows a string of recognition and successes. Employsure was ranked 13th on the Financial Review’s list of Most Innovative Companies in 2016, listed as one of the country’s top 25 Best Places to Work 2016 by Great Places to Work, recognised for growth in the prestigious Australian Growth Company Awards three consecutive years, 8th on Financial Times Fastest Growing Companies list 2017, and the youngest company to be named an Aon Hewitt Best Employer 2018.

For more information on The Australian Business Award 2019 and the Employer of Choice winners, visit: employerofchoiceawards.com.au.

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Media Enquires.

[email protected]
tel: 1300 651 415
+61 412 033 103

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