Flexible thinking puts modern awards
in the picture
COVID-19 has conclusively demonstrated remote working is possible and potentially beneficial to both the employee and the business. The expected fall in productivity hasn’t eventuated. Employers can potentially reduce their physical office footprint, resulting in cost savings. While many employees are finding the flexibility allows them to work around their lifestyle, bringing greater work-life-balance.
However, the pandemic also means the need for flexible work arrangements can be expected to continue for some time. Yet most modern awards don’t “expressly provide for nor deal with issues relating to working from home arrangements”.
What does this mean?
The absence of an express provision in modern awards to facilitate working from home, makes it difficult to practically apply flexible working arrangements. For example, an employer may need to pay overtime if an employee would like to start and finish their day later or earlier than the award allows for.
Introducing the draft Flexibility Schedule
To make flexible working more practical for businesses, the Fair Work Commission has released a draft Flexibility Schedule to facilitate flexible working discussions during and beyond COVID-19. The draft Flexibility Schedule will be trialled for 12 months and is a possible inclusion in the appropriate modern awards.
The terms of the draft schedule are believed to be particularly relevant to small businesses, who are less likely to have enterprise agreements which facilitate flexible working arrangements. It’s important to note that not all the proposed clauses will be suitable for all awards and some tailoring may be required for the schedule to meet the particular needs of an occupation or industry.
For help and assistance in understanding the draft Flexibility Schedule and how to apply it to your business, give The HR Dept a call.
If the paper trail runs out, things can
quickly go south
A recent case in the NSW Supreme Court has proved how important following through on paperwork is. In this case, a former CFO has been awarded a total of $1.1 million in damages over an unsigned contract dispute.
The court found the absence of a signed employment contract did not affect the employee’s entitlement to reasonable notice and benefits.
During the court case, it came to light that the employee had initially started as a CFO and was later promoted to Finance Director. At this time, a new contract was discussed and a draft contract was sent to the incumbent demonstrating a common intention that the original contract no longer applied. The draft contract wasn’t finalised or signed. Despite this, the court found that the entitlements indicated in the draft contract were still relevant and applicable.
Following the paper trail
Business can get busy. It’s easy to drop the ball on some things when you’re juggling multiple tasks and issues within your business. COVID-19 has exacerbated the situation with businesses having to move quickly and unexpectedly as they get hit by pandemic-related curveballs.
It can be so easy to lose track of where you are up to with staffing matters. However, as this case shows, it’s important employers make sure they update paperwork and follow through on agreements.
Help is at hand
COVID-19 has resulted in multiple changes to the working conditions of employees and businesses. Ensuring all your employee records, contracts, HR policies and processes are up to date can protect your businesses and back up your decisions and actions. When you enlist help from an expert at The HR Dept, we’ll ensure your “people paperwork” is up to date.
The forgotten risk of working from home
The need to work from home brings an increase in the risk of cybersecurity attacks. Currently, scam attacks and phishing emails are on the rise, making it more important than ever for your business to have a cybersecurity plan.
To keep your data safe and avoid breaching any data privacy rules:
- teach your employees how to identify scams, for example, noting strange email addresses and website links
- consider how your staff access and share sensitive data and information
- make sure any devices used by employees to carry out their work duties (whether it’s a personal device or a business device) has up-to-date security software installed with all patches applied
- use multi-factor authentication to keep data, software and devices safe and secure
There has never been a more important time to place a focus on cybersecurity. Get in touch with us if you don’t know where to begin.
Managing difficult conversations remotely
In business, difficult conversations are inevitable but working remotely can make them easier to avoid. Unfortunately, the problem won’t go away. In fact, your staff may be unaware there are any issues.
If you need to have a difficult conversation, these five tips can help:
- Know the reason for the conversation and identify your desired outcome.
- Put aside time to talk. Difficult conversations take time. Try adding a human connection by using video conferencing.
- Use reflective listening. Paraphrase employee issues so they feel understood.
- Be aware of the risks. Follow company policy and try to maintain a fair process throughout the conversation. Be aware that emotions could run high – especially because of the pandemic.
- Keep communication flowing. Make sure employees have opportunities to approach you if needed.
Remember, difficult conversations are more successful when framed by solutions and understanding.
Ask for support
If you need to have a difficult conversation with an employee, The HR Dept is here to offer fair and impartial support.
Function over form … How to create
a productive home office
Working in a cluttered home workspace makes it difficult to focus and could clutter your mind – contributing to your stress levels.
For a successful home office:
- Aim to be away from distractions
- Ensure you have some natural light and greenery
- Use functional, comfortable, ergonomic furniture
- Keep technology under control — the more devices you have, the more cable clutter you need to manage
- Know where your power points are and make sure you have internet access
- Keep things simple
While it’s great to create a space that feels personal, you still need to ensure your workspace makes you feel confident and professional.