22 Jan 2018
Article by: Julian Arndt
The new year inevitably brings good intentions. From an ER and HR perspective, it also presents the ideal time to assess the shape your business is in. As the year gathers momentum, it may end up being your only opportunity in 2018 to address any issues that have languished in the ‘not now’ or ‘too hard’ baskets.
Here's nine questions to ask yourself early in 2018. Dealing with these issues will carry you a long way beyond a happy new year.
1. Does your business have an up-to-date employee template contract?
If not, it is time to replace your template contract before your next employee arrives.
2. Do all your employees have written contracts that pertain to their current employment position?
If your contracts for some employees are out of date, the business may be running a considerable risk. “Reasonable notice” claims are the first of many potential headaches that can arise when your employees’ obligations and entitlements are not clearly and accurately recorded.
3. Do you have compliant and effective workplace policies and are your employees aware of them?
At an absolute minimum, in addition to a current Code of Conduct, all workplaces should have the following policies in place:
4. Is your enterprise agreement (EA) due to expire in 2018 or 2019?
- Complaints and Grievance,
- Social Media
- Information Technology (including any workplace surveillance),
- Drug and Alcohol (for safety-critical industries), and
- Discrimination, Harassment and Bullying.
If so, the time to start planning for the EA bargaining process is now. New issues on the radar with Fair Work Commission (FWC) include forensically examining loaded rates and a much stricter Better Off Overall Test (BOOT).
Employers will need to ensure their EAs genuinely improve upon the conditions in underlying awards. Many EAs that were approved in the past would not likely survive the FWC’s new EA ‘triage process’, where a specialist team of agreement assessors place agreements under the microscope before they reach a member of the Commission.
5. Are you aware of the changes to Modern Awards and the Four-yearly Review and their implications?
All businesses should be aware of what Modern Awards apply to them (including those awards which underpin their EAs). Modern Awards will continue to change as the Four-yearly Review continues into its fifth year.
6. Do you have injured employees undertaking long-term absences?
Do not let these employees slip off the radar. Now is the time to make sure that you are up to date with the status and progress of these employees in order to develop a plan and timeline going forward.
7. How many long-term casuals are on your books? Do you know their rights?
New Modern Award casual conversions provisions are due to be implemented soon, following the Casual and Part-Time Test Case of 2017. Will your casual employees have the right to convert to permanency? More importantly, has your organisation complied with its new award obligations to notify casual employees of their right to convert?
8. Are your regular contractors legitimately engaged as contractors?
The vast majority of regular legitimate contractors are entitled to superannuation contributions from the principal that engages them.
9. Did 2017 raise any employee disputes, contractual or award interpretation queries, or entitlement calculation questions, which remain unresolved?
The new year is a good time to call the experts to discuss outstanding issues that might be tempting to throw back into the too-hard basket.
Contact ABLA on 1300 565 846 or firstname.lastname@example.org if you have any questions raised in this article.
This article was written by Julian Arndt, Senior Associate at Australian Business Lawyers & Advisors (ABLA) for HRD Online.
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