What happens when no one turns up for work?
As Prime Minister Scott Morrison’s 3 Step Framework for a COVIDSafe Australia is rolling out, employers are faced with a new challenge – will their employees want to return to the workplace?
While we don’t have enough data yet to confirm if working from home is the new ‘normal’, we do know there are some challenges getting employees back to the office.
For some workplaces, such as restaurants and retail, there is no question that employees need to physically return to their workplace for the business to operate. Physical distancing measures aside, many employees may be afraid to return to work due to health and safety concerns. For these employees, employers should share their COVIDSafe risk assessment and consult with employees about the new safety measures.
What about employees who have enjoyed working from home and found it works?
Some employees may want to delay their return to the office or may not want to return at all. These employees have realised they can successfully work from home, avoid the commute and forego workwear most of the time. For organisations that can facilitate long-term remote working, different considerations need to be discussed.
Businesses have several considerations when planning a return to work where some or all of the workforce wish to continue with more flexible working arrangements. In particular, employers will need to take into consideration:
- Whether they require employees to be in the office all or part of the time
- If staggered days or hours will facilitate physical distancing requirements
- Whether any cost savings from reduced office resources offsets the costs of ensuring employees are supported at home through cybersecurity measures, ergonomic workstations and insurance requirements
Finding the right balance for both the employee and the organisation could reap long-term benefits when it comes to retaining talent. Ultimately, it’s a business decision to enable flexible working arrangements for staff and how employees who don’t want to return to the office are managed.
If you need a hand, give The HR Dept a call. We’re here to offer help and guidance on putting together your COVIDSafe plans and preparing your workplace procedures for returning staff.
Casual work … clear as mud?
A recent landmark ruling by the Full Federal Court of Australia has left employers and unions asking for a clearer definition of casual employment.
According to current laws, a casual employee is someone who does not work regular and systematic hours. In the ruling between Workpac vs Rossato, the court looked at not only the contract and payslips of the casual worker, but also the actual working relationship and hours of work.
In this case, Rossato claimed he should have been classified as a permanent employee and was therefore entitled to the benefits of a permanent employee. The court found that although Rossato was on a casual contract, his work was regular and systematic and agreed he was misclassified as a casual.
His payslips didn’t provide clear evidence of receiving a casual leave loading so the employer was unable to deduct the leave loading payments from the additional benefits they were required to pay.
What does this mean for employers?
Even in the case where an employee is happy with their casual status and leave loading, the employer runs the risk that once their working relationship ends (especially if it doesn’t end well), the casual employee can make a similar claim as Rossato.
Reviewing your casual employees and their agreements to determine if their work has become more regular is important to ensure you are compliant. If you are concerned that your casual contracts and processes may be at risk, call us.
JobKeeper may be changing, are you prepared?
With lockdown ending sooner than originally expected, and only 3.5 million workers receiving JobKeeper payments, the Treasurer is reserving his right to vary the JobKeeper Payment Scheme. In fact, JobKeeper payments could end earlier than the original timeframe of September.
A full update is expected mid-July. Although for employees of Childcare Providers, we’ve already heard JobKeeper payments will end on 20 July. In this industry, there will be a transitional payment of 25% of their fee revenue from 13 July until 27 September.
With potential changes looming, including the possibility that JobKeeper payments will be stopped earlier than expected, employers should prepare now. By doing workforce planning and considering different outcomes, businesses can be ready for any potential changes that could be announced.
Contact us if you need assistance with planning for different workforce scenarios and outcomes – including how to manage staff reductions, if required.
Redundancies: make it personal
When you read the headline 3500 employees laid off in 3-minute Zoom call, you may think “what?”.
There’s no doubt coronavirus has impacted many businesses. But before making employees redundant, ensure you know your options which include:
- Can they take leave?
- Can you stand them down?
- Can you reduce their hours?
If there’s no other alternative and you must make them redundant, remember to show compassion and consideration for their mental health and wellbeing.
While coronavirus has changed many things, it hasn’t changed the requirement to act lawfully.
Where possible, tell employees in person, one-on-one. Give them some time to ask questions so they understand their situation and yours. Not doing so can lead to implications further down the track should employees lodge a grievance with their union or Fair Work Australia.
If you’re in doubt about your options and the best way to talk to your team, The HR Dept can help. We’re here to guide you and support all the way.
“That’s my stapler!”
Has coronavirus and social distancing ended communal stationery? One office retailer reported a 200% increase in label makers and other office supplies. It’s a trend they expect to continue into early next year.
It seems employees are deeply concerned about shared office resources such as cutlery, coffee makers, biscuits, staplers and other shared stationary. There’s even consideration for offering personal mini-fridges.
Is any of this taking things too far? Do employers need to get the labelling machines out?
Having protocols in place for high traffic areas and shared resources could help ease employees’ fear when returning to work. Contact us for advice on what to do with shared resources.