Beware! You could go to jail for underpaying your staff
If you’ve been listening to the news, you may have heard that Woolworths has been caught underpaying staff by as much as $300 million. And they’re not the only ones who have been exposed.
Companies such as Dominos, the Commonwealth Bank, Made Establishment, and Sunglasses Hut are amongst those who have been called out for similar indiscretions.
Wage underpayment and theft seems to be rising in prevalence, and the Fair Work Ombudsman is taking this very seriously as can be seen by the number of businesses who are being investigated and caught out. Underpaying your staff could have dire consequences for you and your business, especially if proposed changes to legislation are approved.
Current laws already include fines and possible jail time for offenders. However, after reviewing the effectiveness of current employment laws, the federal government is considering harsher penalties against wage theft.
Almost three-quarters of New South Wales businesses audited in 2018 were found to have made errors in payroll according to the 2018 Fairwork Commission Report. The complexity of the modern award system and mistakes in HR/payroll systems have been blamed for the increase in wage underpayments.
Excuses aside, a salary is a legal contract with an employee, and by not honouring it, you are breaking the law. The New South Wales Government is taking this issue seriously. This month, it’s launching a free legal service for migrant workers and temporary visa holders who are being exploited. The service will be funded for three years to help hundreds of workers each year who feel they have been unfairly paid or dismissed.
If companies such as Woolworths and the Commonwealth Bank get it wrong with all the resources at their disposal, how are small to medium businesses meant to get it right? We’re here to help!
The HR Dept are here to provide expert advice to help you get your payroll right and to comply with all regulatory requirements.
Reality TV star wins a case for compensation
It might seem crazy, but a recent court case with the NSW Workers Compensation Commission has defined a Reality TV Show Contestant as an employee, despite her contract stating otherwise.
Nicole Prince, a contestant in Seven Network’s House Rules, was awarded compensation for psychological injuries gained while competing on the show. The landmark court case ruled that contestants are employees, bringing into question what other benefits they are entitled to, such as mental health support.
The case highlights the importance of understanding the definition of an employee. Things to consider are:
- Remuneration – what are they being paid?
- What are they allowed to wear?
- Who provides the equipment and the resources required?
- Is this their only source of income?
- Who determines the person’s work tasks and hours?
- Where does risk and goodwill for services being performed lie – with the person or the business?
While this is by no means an exhaustive list, it highlights the importance of understanding the difference between a contractor and an employee. We can help you avoid any confusion so get in touch.
What happens when managers date their subordinates?
McDonald’s CEO, Steve Easterbrook, is the latest fatality for having a consensual workplace relationship. Easterbrook broke company policy governing workplace relationships. He’s not the first, and probably won’t be the last.
Having a policy around workplace romance might feel excessive, but these relationships can be fraught with danger. They can lead to favouritism and uncomfortable situations. Worse yet, what happens when the relationship goes south and things end badly. The impact on a business can be substantial.
When could a consensual relationship in the workplace be classed as harassment?
The answer really depends on the differences in seniority. The #MeToo Movement has highlighted a number of women who have been involved in ‘consensual’ relationships with their senior managers simply because they feared retribution if they said no.
According to recent research by the Society for Human Resources Management (SHRM), the world’s largest group of human resources professionals, one-third of American adults have had a workplace relationship. Work is a known place to meet people and start relationships. With this in mind, is it worth having a company policy that governs workplace relationships, and how complicated should it be?
A 2018 survey of 150 HR Executives by Challenger, Gray and Christmas, an executive coaching firm, found that 78% of companies surveyed have a policy discouraging dating between subordinates and managers. Perhaps all that’s needed is a policy that makes it mandatory to declare workplace relationships and requires staff to act professionally with no displays of public affection.
The HR Dept can help you identify what workplace policies will help you prevent and manage inappropriate staff behaviour.
Ghosting – The trend you don’t want to experience
A survey of job seekers and employers by job search engine Indeed found 83% of employers have been ghosted. Ghosting included:
● not replying to recruiters
● not showing up for interviews
● failing to sign the paperwork
● failing to turn up for the first day of work
The survey also identified these reasons for ghosting:
● An underwhelming offer
● They changed their mind and weren’t comfortable saying so
● They didn’t get along with the recruiter
● They didn’t know what to do
The HR Dept offers these tips to ensure candidates have a positive experience and don’t ghost you:
● Understand the job market. Is your offering competitive?
● Keep it simple. Long and arduous recruitment processes will disengage candidates.
● Sell yourself. You are probably not the only company they’ve applied to. Why should they choose you?
● Read the signs. Learn to spot a possible ‘ghost’ before they disappear.
Don’t get ghosted. The HR Dept can help you refine your recruitment processes to ensure you reach the right candidates and avoid being ghosted.
Work hours follow the law of diminishing returns
Research shows that work hours follow the law of diminishing returns. Productivity peaks and then starts to decline the longer an employee works. Long hours lead to a decline in employee health, significant increases in the risk of workplace injuries and increased mistakes that negatively impact client relationships.
The more your employees work, the less productive they are (in other words, you’re paying them more, for less).
Conversely, working less can increase productivity. Microsoft Japan and New Zealand company, Perpetual Guardian, both trialled four-day working weeks and were surprised at the productivity increase. Perpetual Guardian was so impressed it made the change permanent.
Talk to the HR Dept to see how you can maximise productivity to positively impact your bottom-line.