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People Matter December 2017

Sacking by text is bad news for everyone!

If you need to dismiss an employee, the message from the Fair Work Commission is clear. Don’t do it by text! The Commission has ruled on several occasions that sacking by text goes against good practice.

In March this year, a specialist tour company sent an employee a single text message that read, ‘Your services are no longer required.’

The company believed the woman was running her own business during working hours. They claimed she told them in January 2017 that she hoped to start a business. But on her LinkedIn profile she was listed as a Personal Concierge and Lifestyle Manager for her business from December 2016.

The company claimed her behaviour at work changed and she increasingly stepped outside the workplace to take private phone calls. The woman denied any misconduct and filed an unfair dismissal claim. The Commission found the dismissal was harsh, unjust and unreasonable stating:

“It was harsh because (the employee) had not engaged in the alleged misconduct. It was unjust because (the employee) was denied procedural fairness by (the employer) and was given no opportunity to defend herself.”

By taking a shortcut and sacking their worker by text, the company failed to:

  • Follow a process to investigate and verify their claims about the employee’s behaviour
  • Provide evidence to back up allegations of serious misconduct
  • Allow the employee an opportunity to defend herself against the claims
  • Inform the employee of the reason for her dismissal before sending the text

Victorian Chamber of Commerce and Industry Chief Executive Mark Stone AM said:

“Even with the benefit of a robust investigation process, it is a fundamental part of the unfair dismissal process to give the employee an opportunity to respond before any conclusive decision is made on disciplinary or dismissal action.”

The message to employers is clear. Have a process in place, complete a thorough investigation and gather strong evidence BEFORE you attempt summary dismissal.

We can assist in developing rigorous disciplinary and grievance policies to help you manage cases of suspected employee misconduct. Contact us on 1800 473 378.


Perth electrician foils employer’s GPS tracker!

A Perth electrician accused of putting his love of golf ahead of his $110,000 per year job, has lost his claim for unfair dismissal!

Last year, Aroona Alliance received an anonymous letter about one of its employees, Tom Colella. The letter stated Mr Colella had repeatedly been seen on the golf course when he should have been at work.

The company began an investigation. It discovered that Mr Colella frequently placed his GPS tracking device inside a foil Twisties bag to block its signal and mask his location.

They were unable to prove that he’d been spending work days on the golf course. However the investigation uncovered 21 occasions in the first half of 2016 when Mr Colella claimed he was at work but failed to swipe into his workplace.

He disputed these ‘fraudulent work claims’ by suggesting he’d merely used an alternative entrance that didn’t require a swipe card. Aroona Alliance determined that Mr Colella had been absent from work on at least three of the 21 days. He was sacked but filed a claim for unfair dismissal.

Commissioner, Bernie Riordan stated that Mr Colella ‘openly’ stored his work GPS device in a Twisties packet. As an experienced electrician, he knew this would interfere with the GPS and had acted to deliberately distort the tracking data.

The Fair Work Commission rejected Mr Colella’s unfair dismissal claim and ruled Aroona Alliance had given him a fair go.

While you can’t always eliminate dishonesty from the workplace, a staff handbook sets clear expectations relating to employee responsibilities. For help reducing your risk of employee disputes, speak to us today.


Performance ratings up 8% for every extra 10 hours of leave taken!

When you need to improve workplace performance, encourage your staff to go on holiday! According to accounting firm Ernst & Young, employees’ annual performance ratings increased by 8% for every additional 10 hours of leave taken.

If your business is quiet over Christmas, you might close for a fixed number of days or weeks. The average Australian only has five days’ holiday remaining at the end of each year. But, around 5.3m workers will take, on average, 8.3 days of enforced leave this Christmas.

Compulsory time off means some employees see their leave balances dip into the negative. This makes it harder for them to take time off throughout the year, and it presents a financial risk for your business.

One solution is to develop flexible working arrangements for your employees, so they stay refreshed and productive all year long. Get in touch to discuss how flexible working arrangements could benefit your business.


Research reveals best incentives to increase productivity

Have you wondered about the best incentives to increase productivity or encourage specific behaviours in your workplace? Getting it wrong can be costly and can cause the opposite outcome, leaving staff feeling unmotivated and less engaged.

UK print company, Purely Digital decided to poll workers around the nation to learn which incentives were most valued. Here’s what the survey revealed:

  • 39.1% ‘Small financial reward’
  • 36.9% ‘More annual leave’
  • 16% ‘Activity days’
  • 15% ‘Free product’

More money and leave are rewards that give workers greater freedom of choice, which could account for their popularity.

But, regardless of the rewards, does a short-term employee incentive scheme bring about real change or does it only produce short-term results?

If you’re looking to increase productivity and workplace engagement over the long-term, consider offering options such as flexible working. Ask us how to develop rewarding employee benefit schemes.


Staff money worries cost businesses $33bn in lost productivity

Although, ‘Christmas comes but once a year’, for some the financial hangover lasts longer than the festivities.

After Christmas, staff can feel worried and anxious about their finances as they face the reality of their seasonal spending.

This can affect their productivity and behaviour at work, or even their ability to go to work. AMP’s most recent Financial Wellness report reveals Australians experiencing financial stress lose 6.9 hours of productivity per week. And they miss four days from work each year due to stress-related illnesses.

If you want to support your staff and reduce the impact employee financial stress has on your workplace, why not consider:

  • offering flexibility on pay dates after Christmas
  • offering payday advances
  • talking to staff about practical ways your business can help them focus on work and worry less about money

As you head into 2018 – don’t forget your recruitment planning

As Christmas approaches, don’t forget about your staffing requirements for 2018! Adding this to your to-do list now can save you time and help you get organised for the new year.

Ideally, forecasting staffing levels and recruitment needs should form part of your business planning for each new year. It can also serve as a prompt to review your onboarding processes while looking for opportunities to improve or streamline them.

We can assist with recruiting and onboarding new staff. Why not give us a call? We’ll help you get the new year off to the best start possible.

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