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People Matter July 2017

Seasonal employment- Your employer’s checklist

Whilst it is the middle of winter, it is time to start planning for seasonal workers. Whilst seasonal employment may be practical for you and your temporary employees, there are a few things to bear in mind. Here we review the main areas, and provide pointers to help avoid the pitfalls.

Casual contracts – These offer flexibility for both you and the worker, but incur a ‘loading’ of 25% above the full-time rate to compensate for lost leave entitlements and the ability to terminate without notice.   Ensure you are paying the right rate under the Award/NES.  The fact that someone is happy to work for you cheaply does not make it legal.

Fixed-term contracts – These are useful for covering demand where the start and finish date is predictable.  Whilst the rate of pay is lower than casuals,  you must provide annual leave, public holidays and personal leave. Include a notice period, so you can terminate the contract early without paying out the remainder.

Agency workers – Agency costs can be high, but they do save time and admin. Just be careful, before you know it, you can have paid excessively for a basic role.

Existing workforce – Using existing staff to cover peaks through paid overtime or a ‘time in lieu’ arrangement are options. Check contracts and the relevant Award. to see what is possible. Again, watch the costs don’t overrun.

Other things to get right with seasonal workers include superannuation, award requirements, leave entitlements and visa status.

The HR Dept has years’ of experience sourcing labour cost effectively.  For practical solutions to your labour needs, call us.

Domestic Violence Leave

The Fair Work Commission (FWC) has handed down a joint decision in the Family and Domestic Violence Leave Case.

Both sides of the political spectrum are claiming victory on the outcome.

The decision means that all award covered workers may soon have access to unpaid family and domestic violence leave; and

personal/carer’s leave for the purpose of taking domestic violence leave.

For the Unions, this falls short of their ultimate prize of paid domestic violence leave, however access to carer’s leave was a win.

Employer groups on the other hand were pleased that support for, separate and paid domestic violence leave entitlements in awards was not forthcoming.

Whatever your leaning, the FCW decision means Australia delivers a world first with rights to domestic violence leave being legislated for award workers, albeit unpaid in this first ruling.

How will the ruling affect your business? How will you cater for a mix of award and non-award based while ensuring reasonableness? Give The HR Dept a call for advice.

Hack attack from own employee

To get hacked by an employee once is unfortunate. To be hacked twice by the same employee looks like carelessness. But that’s what happened to a Californian security firm.

The first time, the employee hacked into the payroll system and falsified records to show that he was working vast amounts of overtime. When this was uncovered in 2014, he was dismissed.

The “ex” employee then hacked into the firm’s system again. This time he went on a spree of causing malicious damage. It included, stealing client information to lure them to his own new venture, deleting or corrupting back-up files and sabotaging the company’s website. In what must be a business owner’s worst nightmare, this included posting unflattering pictures of them on the site with the words “Are you ready?”.

The damage this caused was described as debilitating, and the ex-employee was ordered to pay the equivalent of $450,000 in damages.

Not a pretty picture. So what can you do to mitigate the risk of an employee going rogue? Clearly, much of the defence you can put up will come from your IT department or consultant rather than HR. That said, HR can play an important role too. First, let’s consider the execution of a cyber-security policy. Unfortunately, 90% of all successful cyber-attacks are down to human error. So, you can use HR to ensure that all staff understand the cyber polices and their responsibilities under them.

For instance, who’s in charge of granting access to sensitive data stored online? Do they fully understand the consequences of inadvertently dishing out a username and password? Does everyone know how to identify a suspicious email and what they should do? And the old chestnut of not leaving a laptop without password protection (or any laptop) in the pub!

But you can go further than this with HR. Good recruitment in the first place to minimise the risk of a bad egg. And putting restrictive covenants in employment contracts to stop staff taking clients with them if they leave. For further advice, give us a call.

A healthy commute works wonders

Recent studies and anecdotal evidence reveal that if you want to boost your employees’ morale, then an active commute could be the answer!

Rather than rewarding employees with one off-perks like socials and lunches, it has been suggested that it is more valuable to offer benefits that promote long-term happiness, like a cycle-to-work scheme.

So if you are looking at ways to keep your staff happy, engaged and motivated get them on their bike. Long-term solutions focused on health and work/life balance may be the answer you are looking for.

The decline of the CV

In the digital age, we can legitimately ask if CVs are on their way out. When employers are looking for great talent, more and more are using creative and online ways to find the right candidates.

With the recruitment world constantly changing, big hitters such as Ernst and Young have decided to remove their ‘2:1 degree only’ policy, because it excludes a large pool of otherwise eligible, high quality candidates. 

An increasing number of employers feel that CVs are no longer relevant and that they do not accurately represent the individual. In their place, they are using online personality tests and online talent databases. If you know what you are looking for, online platforms could now be the default recruitment tool for you.

If you need assistance in finding the perfect candidate, The HR Dept is here to help.

When is a casual not casual?

The Fair Work Commission (FWC) has ruled casual workers may request a move to a permanent role after 12 months of working regular hours.

Where a casual employee has worked a pattern of hours on an ongoing 12 months, which, without significant adjustment, could continue to be performed in accordance with the full-time or part-time employment provisions of the relevant award, the worker may request to become permanent.

“Some employers do engage indefinitely as casual’s persons who under the relevant award provisions may be, and want to be, employed permanently,” the FWC said in its decision summary.

The decision covers 85 modern awards, including hospitality, retail, manufacturing, community services, child care and farming sectors.

Businesses can decline, where the request would need a significant adjustment to the employees’ hours or their role would cease to exist.

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