The beginning of the new year is the perfect opportunity to ‘health-check’ your business. With the second half of 2018 bringing with it a few key changes to employment conditions, our friends at Corvus have provided us with a handy guide to the key items you can action right now to ensure your business is compliant for the year ahead.
Compliance with Employment Law
Employment law doesn’t change all that often, but it does change, so it’s a good idea to do a bi-annual check-in to make sure you’re up-to-date. With Award rates updated 1 July each year, mid-year is the time to focus on pay rates, while January is the best time to cover other key compliance items – such as the following:
1. Terms and conditions
Three key changes occurred last year that you will need to make sure you have actioned:
- Changes to long service leave legislation: Employees can now take long service leave after 7 years, rather than 10, and they can also ask to take shorter periods of leave.
- Inclusion of domestic and family violence leave in modern awards and National Employment Standards: All employees can now access 5 days of unpaid leave if they are dealing with domestic or family violence.
- Changes within most awards that enable casual employees to request conversion to full time and part time roles when they have been working 12 months in a regular pattern of hours with the employer – and a requirement for the employer to advise their employees of the right to request such conversion.
As a further general overview and check-in on your current practices, the Fair Work Ombudsman has a user-friendly site and some really useful free content, so familiarise yourself with the site and bookmark it as a handy go-to.
2. Policies and procedures
When key employment conditions change (as with the ones above), you need to ensure that your policies are up-to-date and in line with these changes. In addition, it’s also worth considering whether there are any policies and procedures that you do not currently have, but may need to adopt and roll out to employees.
Policies and procedures provide clear directions about the what, why, who, when and how related to your daily business operations. They set behavioural expectations, establish decision-making processes and help avoid problems, ensure consistency in staff interactions and offer protection against misunderstanding or manipulation. Critically, when it comes to an employee grievance that turns into a claim (for example discrimination or bullying), policies and procedures enable you to show any court or commission how your company deals with such issues, which is step one in defending a claim.
Last year we saw so many businesses dealing with grievances, some well, some not so well (and many hitting the headlines). Make sure you consider how your business can deal with grievances in a way that best manages all the risks involved, and without too much of a dent in productivity, while the grievance is resolved.
With a relatively small number of employees it may seem like a waste of time to create formal policies, but for the reasons highlighted above, we recommend that you at least prepare and share with employees the following:
- Equal employment opportunity policy;
- Anti-workplace bullying and harassment policy;
- Occupational health and safety policy; and a
- Grievance and complaint procedure.
These policies will ensure that you’re meeting your minimum requirements so that you can defend a claim should one arise in any of these areas, but more importantly, will also send a message to your employees about what conduct you will condone, and what you will not: just make sure your actions match your words.
3. HR processes and employee data
HR collects a lot of employee information so it’s worth considering how you will securely collect, use and store this information. We recommend looking into an online Human Resource Information System (HRIS) to make this easier and to set you up for future growth.
A current favourite product is Employment Hero, which connects to Xero. Two key benefits include the automation of employee contracts based on your own (or Employment Hero’s) templates, and employee onboarding – enabling new employees to input their own bank, tax and superannuation details directly, saving significant administration time and headaches.
4. Organisational design
As your business expands, it’s wise to prioritise the development of a simple organisational design that defines roles, teams, accountabilities, operating procedures and reporting structures. Doing so will help prevent future growing pains. It’ll also assist you when it comes to making decisions about workforce planning, outsourcing and succession plans.
These are just the building blocks for compliance. The next layer is building capability. Corvus’ Compliance & Capability Checklist is a handy resource to check off all the items discussed and to consider the next steps in capability building.
For more information, feel free to email Kim at Kim@corvus.com.au or Leonie at Leonie@corvus.com.au – they would be happy to catch-up over a coffee to help you ‘health check’ your business and develop the plans, policies, procedures or processes that will help your company flourish!