Did you know new business owners can be held accountable for breaches of the Fair Work Act that occurred before they took ownership of an organisation?
Time and time again, we see situations where employers have not understood their obligations to employees under the Fair Work Act and have paid significantly for their failure to do so, even new business owners.
Employer obligations are complex and ever-changing making them difficult for employers to keep up with.
We see a lot of issues arise for our clients if it is perceived by employees that their entitlements are not being met and a complaint is made to the Fair Work Ombudsman.
For a single breach of the Fair Work Act individuals (including HR Managers) can be fined up to $12,600 and employers up to $63,000 as well as paying any outstanding entitlements. Multiple breaches of the Fair Work Act can result in multiple civil penalties being imposed. Civil penalty provisions within the Fair Work Act include:
- Compliance with the National Employment Standards, modern awards and enterprise agreements
- Protection of workplace rights and other general protection
- Issues associated with right of entry, and
- Protected and unprotected industrial action.
We continually over-view the workplace relations landscape and thought we’d share some key points for employers in meeting their workplace obligations.
Here Are Our 5 Essentials Of Employee Entitlements:
1 – All employees (including casuals) need an employment contract. A well drafted and detailed employment contract protects both employers and employees.
2 – Ensure you understand and apply the correct employment legislation and industrial instrument for your employees within their contract whether that be; a specific Award, national minimum wage, workplace specific collective agreements or individual employment contracts and agreements.
For example: paying an over-Award salary does not mean the Award will no longer apply to the employee. Employment contracts and individual flexibility agreements must reflect that the salary absorbs certain permittable Award entitlements.
3 – Regularly audit your pay rates, over-time, income tax, superannuation, and conditions of each of your employees under whichever industrial instrument/s applies to your business to ensure they are up to date with current legislation.
For example: if an employee is performing duties at a higher level ensure they are paid any required higher duties allowance, or if the work they are performing on a day-to day basis is consistently different to their position description, changes need to be made to their position description and possibly also their job classification for pay purposes.
4 – The National Employment Standards (NES) are part of the Fair Work Act and are non-negotiable. They apply to all employment relationships regardless of whether a Modern Award, Enterprise Agreement, or Certified Agreement applies. Be aware of the ten minimum standards applicable to an employment relationship under the NES that relate to:
- Maximum 38-hour week
- Requests for flexible working arrangements
- Parental leave and related entitlements
- Annual leave
- Personal/carer’s leave and compassionate leave
- Community service leave
- Long service leave
- Public Holidays
- Notice of Termination and redundancy pay
- Provision of a Fair Work Information Statement
5 – Employee workplace policies are an essential management tool that should form part of your onboarding process. Employees need to be aware of the policies, educated about the topics within the policies and sign a form acknowledging they are aware of and understand the policies. Every business should have the following policies as a bare minimum:
- Code of conduct
- Workplace bullying
- Discrimination and harassment (including sexual harassment)
- Work, health and safety
- Workers compensation and rehabilitation
- Drug and alcohol
- Email, internet and computer usage
- Social media
These essentials of employee conditions should provide a sound foundation to managing your employee and employer responsibilities.
Need Further Advice? Talk To Harrison Human Resources
With our HR Consulting service, we can provide practical advice and guidance on how to ensure your workplace is meeting its employee entitlements.
Simply click here to request an obligation-free 15 minute phone consult to get some initial advice on your HR needs.
Claire Harrison is the Founder and Managing Director of Harrisons, a flourishing HR consulting business that sprouted in 2009 from Claire’s passionate belief that inspiring leaders and superstar employees are the key success factor to any business. With over 20 years’ experience, Claire has worked as a HR Director of multi-national organisations, as a Non-Executive Board Director, and a small business owner. Claire’s corporate career includes working with companies such as BHP, Westpac, Fonterra and Mayne Nickless.