What’s the tea

Settle down and get comfy because I’m about to spill some tea.

Tea Spill GIF - Tea Spill The GIFs

Last month I was visiting a friend and we were all chatting, her husband, who works for one of the bigger employers in town, was telling me how the organisation had sent out an employee feedback survey.

The workplace has quite a low morale, pays are low compared to the rest of the industry and there are quite a number of FIFO workers. The sentiment amongst the residential workforce in general is that the big bosses are more concerned with putting profit over our community.

So the crews are assembled in the meeting room and management start discussing the terrible feedback from the employee survey and they ask if anyone would like to make a comment on the issues (let’s not lose sight of the fact that these types of surveys’ sole purpose IS for employees to make a comment – this is information they already have).

Silence………. nobody speaks a word. Then finally a voice pipes up “People are too scared to say what the issues are” discussion ensues and a couple of people, respectfully, share their input.

The meeting ends and those who spoke up are pulled aside and given a bollocking for what they said.

😳🤔 Do you think they get the irony of their actions?

Anonymous employee surveys are an excellent way to gain insight into the workplace culture, employee morale and what you are doing both right & wrong – as long as the organisation, and by that I mean management, is mature enough to accept the good with the bad and take action to make meaningful changes for the better.

All too often you see companies invest heavily in “yay team” training sessions or social activities in an effort to improve culture while failing to address the real issues.

Organisational culture is accepted behaviour, not expected behaviour

Culture flows from the top down

A strong & positive culture comes from strong & positive leadership. Words don’t change a culture. Displaying company values around the premises & in communications, or imprinting mugs, mouse pads, note pads, or key chains with the (company’s) values might be nice reinforcement, but these things do not define or change a culture.

Culture change comes from concrete and noticeable changes in leadership behaviour: what they do; who they hire; who they ask to move on; who they listen to and emulate; where they spend their time; what they talk about in meetings; what they measure; how & where they invest their $$.

When you listen to employees talk which pronoun do they elect to use when talking about the company? “We” or “They”? “They” suggests disengagement and at its worst, alienation.  While “we” suggests that employees feel as though they are part of something meaningful and significant.  They are engaged, productive & proud employees.

Do people want to work for your company and what do they write about you online? High turnover & finding it hard to attract quality talent (or keeping them) is a sure fire sign there is something wrong within your organisation, or within a particular department.

Going back to my story at the beginning of the post, I did a Google search to see what employees had to say about their experiences working there, here are snippets from the 5 most recent reviews;

“Your Employees Matter Too, Not Just Shareholders”

“Over worked, under paid and no real sense of being appreciated”

“Only management and share holders matter workers are nothing”

“The people working there are essentially good shame about the management”

“Upper management being very detached from daily struggles in the working environment and low pay rates”

Ouch! Now think about my reference to the FIFO workforce, the Kalgoorlie mining community is small and bad news spreads fast, the FIFO community draws from a much bigger pool. The number of FIFO onsite kinda makes sense doesn’t it?

Want to learn more about workplace culture? You can find more blogs here, here & here.

Like what you see? Click around and discover how partnering with us can give your business a competitive advantage by aligning strategy with people & culture, or, give us a like on Facebook for regular updates on industry trends, blog posts & photo’s of me having coffee at my regular haunts and / or my dog & cat disrupting my work day

Simone Pickering | The People & Culture Office

IT’S TIME FOR HR TO MOVE BEYOND POLICIES, PRACTICES AND PROCESSES. THE PEOPLE & CULTURE OFFICE CAN PARTNER WITH YOU TO GAIN A COMPETITIVE ADVANTAGE THROUGH PEOPLE & CULTURE INITIATIVES CONTACT US TO ARRANGE AN APPOINTMENT TO DISCUSS WHAT SOLUTIONS WE CAN PUT IN PLACE TO DRIVE ACHIEVEMENT OF YOUR STRATEGIC GOALS.

Constructive dismissal; what is it and have you been guilty of it?

Employee Working Contract| HR Consultant | The People & Culture Office

“It would be a good idea for you to leave before we have fire you” “Times are tough and everyone needs to take a pay cut of $20,000 per year” “Tamara keeps complaining that Karen is bullying her, I mean that’s just Karen, we all know that, Tamara should just leave if she can’t handle it” “We need to change your work days & hours, I know you’ve said before you can’t work these days because you can’t get childcare but we need to make the change regardless”

Constructive dismissal, or forced resignation, is when an employee has no choice but to resign because of the conduct of the employer. The employer may expressly ask the employee to resign, or the employer’s conduct may leave the employee feeling that he or she has no other choice but to leave their employment.

This conduct generally involves an employer engaging in a serious breach of the employment contract or indicating that it no longer wishes to perform its side of the employment contract. This can include taking actions to make unauthorised variations to the employment contract such as extreme pay-cuts, demoting the employee, dramatically changing their working hours or relocating the employee. It is irrelevant that the employer’s insistence on the employee’s resignation was based on good intentions, for example to save the employee from embarrassment, or, to make it easier for him or her to find future employment; or whether the employer intended or anticipated that the employee would quit their job.

It is not always evident that an employee has resigned involuntarily. It is therefore essential for you, as an employer, to review the events leading up to an employee’s resignation. For example, if an employee resigns in the ‘heat of the moment’, they may argue that they felt they had no other option but to resign. Where a resignation is given in the heat of the moment or under extreme pressure, special circumstances may arise. An employer may be required to allow a reasonable period of time to pass and / or the employer may have a duty to confirm the intention to resign if, during that time, they were advised that the resignation was not intended.

Whether a principal contributing factor in the termination of the employment relationship was an act, or failure to act, on the part of the employer always depends on the individual circumstances of the case. Some examples of constructive dismissal can include:

  • where an employee resigns because he or she is told to resign or he or she will be sacked;
  • where an employee is subjected to ongoing sexual harassment or discrimination;
  • where an employee is subjected to systematic humiliation, verbal abuse or put-downs and adequate proof of this treatment is available;
  • where there is a serious and ongoing failure to provide a safe and healthy workplace, the employee has notified the employer of the problem and there is no improvement;
  • where an employer actively campaigns to force an employee out of work by acting in such a way as to make it impossible for the employee to continue to do his or her job and adequate proof of this treatment is available; and
  • where an employee has been demoted and the demotion involves a significant reduction of the remuneration or duties of the employee.

A clear example of constructive dismissal is found in the case of Hobbes v Achilleus Taxation Pty Ltd ATF (the Achilleus Taxation Trust). Here, an employee resigned after he was paid under half of what he was owed over a period of 4 months. It was decided that it was clearly a situation of forced resignation due to the conduct of the employer, and therefore instead amounted to a dismissal by the employer.

A situation where constructive dismissal was found not to exist was in the case of Bruce v Fingal Glen Pty Ltd (in liq). This concerned an employee who resigned after the employer repeatedly paid wages late, and failed to make any superannuation contributions. The payment of wages were usually 1 to 2 days late, but on occasion were paid even later. The Commission found that while the employer’s conduct was improper, the employee was not in a situation where they were left with no other option that to resign. Therefore, the employee could not argue constructive dismissal.

A leading Australian case on constructive dismissal is that of Mohazab v Dick Smith Electronics. Mohazab was an employee of Dick Smith Electronics. During questioning about the disappearance of stock in the store the employee was told that he was to either resign or face a police investigation. A letter of resignation was prepared by the employer and given to Mohazab to sign. After this occurred, Mohazab brought an unlawful termination claim, and Dick Smith argued that Mohazab had voluntarily resigned because of his concerns regarding the police. The court decided that the decision to resign or face police investigation amounted to termination at the initiative of the employer. This was because Mohazab had no effective or real choice but to resign, and it was only because of his employer’s action that termination had occurred.

In a case published by the Australian Government’s Comcare agency, an employee developed a psychiatric condition following persistent bullying as a result of her being promoted to a management position in a restructuring move by her employer. The worker did not receive any management training prior to her appointment as team leader, and there was widespread bitterness in the team about the removal of the previous team leader. Several team members reportedly engaged in increasingly hostile behaviour towards the new team leader, including spreading rumours, disobeying requests, making offensive comments, being rude, and failing to help to the team leader when she was very busy and clearly required assistance. The team members then convened a meeting (too which the bullied employee was not invited), where a document listing complaints about the new team leader was drafted and given to the team leader’s manager. The manager accepted the document, and refused to intervene in any meaningful way when requested to do so by the bullied employee. The bullied employee sought assistance from other managers, who did not intervene, until finally she was forced to leave her position due to the development of a psychiatric condition. The bullied employee took legal action, where a judge found that the employer was negligent in its duties to create a safe working environment. It was found that the managers involved had the capacity to take action that would have prevented the damage caused to the bullied employee, but failed to do so.

The bullied worker received compensation of $339,722 at the expense of her employer as a result of psychological injury acquired in the workplace. This case demonstrates the clear need for employers to be responsive to bullying complaints so that these sorts of cases do not occur. Bullying is an issue that gets worse the longer it is left unaddressed.

All constructive dismissal cases make it clear that employers need to carefully consider their actions and their legal obligations when they decide they wish to be rid of an employee. There is rarely a low-risk shortcut that can substitute proper redundancy discussions or performance management.

BASED IN KALGOORLIE, THE PEOPLE & CULTURE OFFICE IS AN INDEPENDENT HR CONSULTANT WHO CAN PARTNER WITH YOU TO OFFER A ONE STOP HR SOLUTION, WE ONLY CHARGE YOU FOR THE WORK WE PERFORM; NO CONTRACTS, NO ANNUAL OR MONTHLY FEES, JUST QUALITY SERVICE. CLICK HERE TO LEARN MORE

 

 

 

Employment Contracts – what to put in and what to leave out

Employee Working Contract| HR Consultant | The People & Culture Office

The importance of having effective, well-drafted, and compliant employment contracts in place cannot be understated. If you don’t scrutinise your contracts to make sure they’re legally correct, or if you have not given much thought to this important business document, you may be very disappointed about the degree to which you can protect your commercial interests or defend your position in the case of a workplace dispute.

An employment contract is an agreement between an employer and an employee that sets out the rights and obligations of each party.  As with any contract, the law requires certain conditions to be met before it will recognise an employment contract.  Employment relationships can take on several different forms and each form will create certain rights and obligations on the parties involved. The terms of employment contracts will also vary depending on the nature of the relationship between the parties and what rights and responsibilities are sought to be created.

Let’s start off with things that shouldn’t be included in an employment contract – basically anything policy related, and, anything you may want to the flexibility to alter in the future as your operational needs change. For example the inclusion of access to a motor vehicle in the employment contract makes it a contractual inclusion to which both parties are now bound too. If the job role no longer requires access to the vehicle, or if vehicle usage & allocation needs to be reviewed for financial reasons, negotiation with the employee is required and there would be very few employees who would be happy to give a contractual benefit up without being compensated in some other way. Similarly, commitment to training or recognition & reward programmes, these are best left to policies where the contents can be modified, or made obsolete as operational needs and budgetary requirements dictate.

The inclusion of policies is risky. Incorporating policies within a contract should be avoided as it may give rise to mutually enforceable duties and potentially create a breach if the employer fails to abide by its own policies. Instead, policies should be separate and acknowledged under the employment contract as a clause containing reference to the organisational policies and the employees’ obligations.

Let’s look at a hypothetical employment contract where the employer has stated the content of their Drug & Alcohol Policy within the terms and conditions of the employment contract. The policy states that it is a 3 strikes and you’re out policy, but, the employer has just obtained a major contract which a large percent of existing employees will be mobilised to. The client has a zero tolerance policy and the employer now faces a disconnect with their contractual obligations to it’s employees, and their constraints of having sufficient ongoing work for their employees should they test positive whilst on their main clients site. Well written policies will always contain a clause that if at anytime the legislative, policy or business operational requirements is so altered that the policy is no longer appropriate in its current form, the policy shall be reviewed immediately and amended accordingly, on the other hand renegotiating contracts with employees, particularly to conditions that the employee considers unfavourable, is messy and unpleasant.

So what should an employment contract contain?;

  • The position they are being appointed to, it goes without saying that this should be consistent with the position they applied for, unless consultation and discussion has taken place.
  • Employment status ie: Full Time, Part Time, Fixed Term or Casual. If the position is being offered on a fixed term basis for the duration of a prescribed project or coverage on a long term absence such as Parental Leave, the factor to determine the termination of the term must be explicit ie: when the project ceases or by XX date. ** Failure to monitor cessation terms on Fixed Term Contracts can result in a permanent and ongoing employment relationship with said employee, for this reason you should always ensure you have stringent processes in place.
  • The position they will report to (not the person currently holding that position).
  • Remuneration expressed either as a salary or hourly rate.
  • Hours of duty
  • Date of commencement
  • Location of workplace
  • Is the offer of employment is subject to any conditions? ie: Police Clearance
  • The industrial instrument they are being paid under ie: the applicable Award or Collective Agreement

The Terms and Conditions of Employment should contain information that relates to the probationary period, notice periods to terminate employment, how and the frequency of pays, superannuation, leave entitlements, the requirement to comply with the organisations policies & procedures, confidentiality, restraint of trade, other employment  a dispute resolution process – PHEW!

So the key take away’s are; 

  • An employment contract is a legally binding document, that when put together with little legal or strategic consideration can have significant detrimental impact to business.
  • By understanding the reasons for certain clauses in employment contracts, employers can help ensure that their employment contracts accurately reflect the terms and conditions of the employment relationship and sufficiently protect their interests.
  • Employment contracts should be reviewed and amended whenever there are material changes to an employee’s role, particularly when an employee is moved into a new position.
  • If in doubt as to the effectiveness of a clause, or how a particular clause works, an employer should obtain proper advice, and should certainly do so before making amendments.

    BASED IN KALGOORLIE, THE PEOPLE & CULTURE OFFICE IS AN INDEPENDENT HR CONSULTANT WHO CAN PARTNER WITH YOU TO OFFER A ONE STOP HR SOLUTION, WE ONLY CHARGE YOU FOR THE WORK WE PERFORM; NO CONTRACTS, NO ANNUAL OR MONTHLY FEES, JUST QUALITY SERVICE. CLICK HERE TO LEARN MORE

 

 

Changes to flexible work arrangements commence 1 December 2018

Employee Working | HR Consultant | The People & Culture Office
The People & Culture Office – your first choice for HR solutions

As of tomorrow the new changes to requesting flexible work arrangements come into effect for all businesses under the national workplace relations system. If you are a Sole Trader eg: Jane Smith T/as Janes Cafe, an unincorporated partnership eg: Jane & Bob Smith T/as Janes Cafe or an unincorporated trust eg: Jane and Bob Smith as trustee for Janes Cafe you fall under the WA Industrial Relations Commission, so these changes do not effect you. The majority of employees in Australia fall under the Federal system which covers all constitutional corporations or in layman’s terms it is any business with “Ltd” or “Pty Ltd” after its name. All other states in Australia have referred their industrial relations powers to the Federal system but Western Australia being Western Australia has chosen to keep the State based system.

So what are the changes and how do they effect your business.

Come December 1 2018 there will be a right for certain employees to request flexible working arrangements from their employer. An employer can only refuse such a request on “reasonable business grounds”.

More specifically, the requests may be made by:

  • permanent employees who have completed 12 months of service
  • casual employees who have been employed on a regular & systematic basis for a sequence of periods of employment of at least 12 months, and have a reasonable expectation of the arrangement to continue

Eligible employees are entitled to request a change in their working arrangements if they:

  • are the parent, or have responsibility for the care, of a child who is school aged or younger
  • are a carer (under the Carer Recognition Act 2010)
  • have a disability
  • are 55 or older
  • are experiencing family or domestic violence, or
  • provide care or support to a member of their household or immediate family who requires care and support because of family or domestic violence.

Examples of changes in working arrangements may include:

  • hours of work (eg. changes to start and finish times)
  • patterns of work (eg. split shifts or job sharing)
  • locations of work (eg. working from home).

Employers must give employees a written response to the request within 21 days, stating whether they grant or refuse the request and may refuse the request only on reasonable business grounds. If the employer refuses the request, the written response must include the reasons for the refusal.

Further, it is unlawful under:

  1. The Fair Work Act to take adverse action against employees including termination of employment
  2. State & Federal legislation to discriminate against employees either directly or indirectly through their employment because of their family or carers responsibilities

Employers must accommodate their employees’ family and carer responsibilities where it is reasonable to do so. Whether a refusal to accommodate such requests is unreasonable will depend on the facts and circumstances of the particular situation. A defence is available to employers on the basis that an adjustment is not reasonable if it would cause an unjustifiable hardship on the employer taking all circumstances into account, including consideration of:

  • the requested arrangements are too costly
  • other employees’ working arrangements can’t be changed to accommodate the request
  • it’s impractical to change other employees’ working arrangements or hire new employees to accommodate the request
  • the request would result in a significant loss of productivity or have a significant negative impact on customer service.

Reasonable grounds for refusal for a small employer may differ vastly to those that are reasonable for a large, well resourced employer.

For example if the employee is in a customer facing role or manning a busy switchboard, and you are a small – medium employer with a minimal number of similar employees to provide coverage for the absence, and recruiting may be impractical given the hours of engagement, then you may be able to justify that you have reasonable business grounds. The same situation with a large employer with 20 + admin staff would struggle to provide such a justification.

Similarly a non customer facing role who can complete the bulk of their tasks online, and with minimal interaction, such as an accountant or engineer would have quite a good case to suggest their absence from the office to work from home would create minimal disruptions to the operations.

The future is now

The reality is flexible working arrangements will soon become the new normal, and not just for the legislated requirements we have now. In a recent white paper released by Employment Hero on what Australian employees want from their workplace, flexible work arrangements rated in the top 3 wants with 45% of respondents indicating it was important to them when choosing a prospective employer. The same group, when asked what benefits they would like their existing employer to introduce, overwhelmingly stated flexible work arrangements with 59% of respondents giving it priority over other benefits such as career development, financial incentives and “feel good” benefits such free massages.

The next generation crave flexibility. The Deloitte 2017 Millennial Survey reveals that “flexible working continues to be a feature of most millennials’ working lives and is linked to improved organisational performance, personal benefit, and loyalty”. Overall, 84% of millennials reported that some degree of flexible working ranging from flexible start and finish times, flexible roles and flexible locations including work from home were highly desirable.

These arrangements are not identified as “simply a nice to have” but as being strongly linked to improved performance, employee retention and loyalty. Further, the report notes that organisations that have adopted flexible work indicated any earlier misgivings that opportunities would be abused appeared to be unfounded with 78% of respondents feeling trusted by their line managers. If you would like to read more about the changing millennial workforce Click Here. I also shared my thoughts on whether the changing face of the workplace was a contributing factor to the skills shortage in residential mining and trades positions here.

The inclusion of flexible work policies into your HR framework isn’t just about millennials or working mums, as we hurtle towards a large ageing population it provides the flexibility for the ageing workforce to continue working well beyond 65, something that will become more and more a necessity with superannuation unlikely to accommodate most retirees needs into their 80’s & 90’s.

Flexibility as a workplace norm builds diverse and inclusive workplaces, it allows those who would otherwise be somewhat excluded or restricted within the workplace to be able to contribute to the organisations success, it allows organisations the ability to attract & retain talent as we see a societal shift in personal priorities. Creating a flexible and agile workplace goes beyond creating “an accommodation for working parents”, rather it’s a strategy that enables a competitive business edge in the ever changing world of work.

At The People & Culture Office you only pay for the work we undertake for you;  no annual or monthly fees; no contracts; just quality, local, service. Click here to learn more

 

 

 

 

 

Why outsource your HR function

HR | Kalgoorlie | The People & Culture Office

More than just hiring & firing, HR is an integral component of any business looking to succeed. Human Resources is the function in an organisation that manages all employees and ensures maximum engagement & productivity, as well as make sure the company is protected from any issues that may arise from the workforce.

There’s no denying that HR focus has dramatically changed in recent years. In the not so distant past, HR was primarily an admin function, the dreaded “fun police” when it came to workplace policies or it was a task lumped in with Payroll.

But today’s astute business leaders understand in order to succeed in today’s (and the futures) business environment they need to move their HR function away from focussing on personnel management and administrative tasks, and direct their focus towards managing employee engagement and strengthening workplace culture. Smart business owners see the benefits in ensuring their employees are happy and as a result will continue to stick around for the foreseeable future.

By outsourcing your human resource operations you can improve compliance, save money & attract the best talent. The People & Culture Office can offer your business long term support so you can focus on achieving business success. We are on hand to support all businesses, wherever you may be.   

No annual fee’s                  No contracts                  Just quality service

BASED IN KALGOORLIE, THE PEOPLE & CULTURE OFFICE IS AN INDEPENDENT HR CONSULTANT WHO CAN PARTNER WITH YOU TO OFFER A ONE STOP HR SOLUTION, WE ONLY CHARGE YOU FOR THE WORK WE PERFORM; NO CONTRACTS, NO ANNUAL OR MONTHLY FEES, JUST QUALITY SERVICE. CLICK HERE TO LEARN MORE

 

When you just don’t like your co-workers

HR Consultant | The People & Culture Office

You spend a large chunk of your life at work and usually it’s spent with people that normally, you wouldn’t willingly hang out with. Unless you want to be miserable at work, or get fired, you need to find away to work around it. You don’t need to like the people you work with, but you do need to be professional.

The most common reason cited by employees for not liking co-workers relates to the employee in question exhibiting, to some degree, challenging behaviours. I wrote about the impact challenging employees have on business here. Some of the most common challenging, or toxic behaviours found in the workplace are;

The Hot Mess

Incompetent, unreliable & erratic, The Hot Mess can kill productivity for the whole team.  Whether they just don’t know how to do their job, or just don’t want to, they bring everyone down with them. Fun fact – Studies have shown low performing employees to be the most happiest in the team & often rate their workplaces as a great place to work. Ahhh ignorance is bliss.

The Slacker

We’ve all worked with one, finding a way to get out of work is a full time job for The Slacker. Like The Hot Mess they are a major drain on everyones time and enthusiasm and don’t really seem to care what others think of them. If they can find away to get out of something they will.

The Martyr

The complete opposite of The Slacker but The Martyr comes with its own set of problems,  not just a hard worker, they generally insist on doing everything themselves and aren’t shy about letting everyone know either. The Martyr is a control freak that creates unrest in the workplace, undermines the confidence of team members and is “that person” who comes to work when sick and spreads there germs around. Life Pro Tip if you do this – no job & no employee is that important,  all you are doing is infecting your co-workers and reducing productivity even further, just stay home kids.

The Socialite

Funny, entertaining and everyone’s best friend, The Socialite treats everyday at work as though it’s their own private party or stage for the day. For The Socialite, gossip & chatting are always the core component of the day, and while having some fun at work is must, The Socialite has a hard time distinguishing between what’s appropriate and what isn’t. Perhaps in what can be a bit of a dark side to The Socialite, they can be very charming, often blinding & manipulating management and colleagues to their poor behaviour.

The Sociopath

An employee with sociopathic tendencies leave a trail of destruction where ever they go, they poison the atmosphere and create a hostile environment for everyone else. Just 1 destructive employee can wreck the morale for the entire team, if placed in a customer facing role they can cause serious damage to your reputation & bottom line.

Karen Gately, the author of The People Managers Toolkit gives the following strategies on how to deal with coworkers you just don’t like;

Choose your attitude

The key to getting along with anyone lies in your ability to choose your attitude.  Of course, their attitude matters also, but the reality is you can’t control other people.  Focus on what you can control; that is your own thoughts, emotions and behaviour.

So many of us waste energy thinking and talking about people we don’t like.  How often do you replay annoying events or conversations in your mind?  Do you ‘roleplay’ scenarios in your mind about the conversations you intend to have with some people? Do you imagine yourself winning an argument with your nemesis? Do you allow your emotions to build as you invest in the drama unfolding in your mind?

We all have the power to choose the thoughts and emotions we invest in.  The ability for anyone to offend us or drain our spirit entirely depends on our response.

Pick your battles

While of course it matters to stand up for ourselves when being mistreated, in many circumstance we can simply choose to ignore the things that otherwise upset us.  We have the choice to simply walk away and disengage rather than wade into an argument.  We can choose to let thoughtless comments or unintentionally offensive remarks ‘go through to the keeper’.  Choosing for example to see someone’s words as ill-considered is healthier for our relationship with them, than assuming their actions are malicious.

Judge carefully

Ask yourself if you are being unfairly judgmental.  Sometimes the actions we see as wrong are simply different to the way we would approach things. Reflect on why you don’t like the person and challenge any unfounded assumptions or unconscious biases you may have.   For example, the woman you perceive as being attention seeking, may be simply talkative and unaware that her enthusiast sharing of stories about her life is coming across as insufferable self-indulgence.

Build bridges

Look for ways in which you can build trust, respect and rapport. Common interests are a safe place to start.  Find out things about the person you find interesting or respect.  This can be particularly challenging with some people, but appreciate the good that can be found in most people and give credit where it is due.

Rapport can be built by finding common ground as well as by being empathetic.  However, it’s important to understand that most rapport-building happens without words and through non-verbal communication channels.  People build rapport subconsciously through non-verbal signals, including eye contact, facial expressions, body positioning and tone of voice.

Based in Kalgoorlie, The People & Culture Office is an independent HR Consultant who can partner with you to offer a one stop HR solution, we only charge you for the work we perform; no contracts, no annual or monthly fees, just quality service. Click here to learn more

 

Are you getting employee discipline & termination right?

Employee Working | HR Consultant | The People & Culture Office

The discipline or termination of an employee is never easy. It’s important that your termination procedure is compliant with Australia’s unfair dismissal laws and is based on an understanding of your employee’s rights. If you have employees you should have comprehensive policies and procedures in place to educate employees on the expected standards of behaviour and how you will approach any disciplinary actions relating to a breach of those standards. I’ve written about the importance of workplace HR Policies here and here.

Under Australia’s workplace laws there are some keys steps that must be followed for a termination to be lawful, the big one is whether the action taken meets the principles of “procedural fairness” or “natural justice”. This means the employee has been made aware of the allegations concerning their conduct and are given the right to defend the allegations put to them, this implies an opportunity that might result in the employer deciding not to terminate the employment if the defence is of substance. An employer may simply go through the motions of giving the employee an opportunity to deal with allegations concerning conduct when, in substance, a firm decision to terminate had already been made which would be adhered to irrespective of anything the employee might say in his or her defence. An example of this is walking into a disciplinary meeting with a pre-written letter of termination or warning in your notebook ready to pass across the table to the employee once you have put the allegations to them.

More and more with unfair dismissal cases Fair Work is looking at the process the employer followed as opposed to the conduct of the employee, it pays to have good policies & procedures in place and more importantly, to follow them. Particularly with breaches of policy such as WHS and Medication, Drugs & Alcohol the Commission is going to want to see evidence that the employee;

  • knew what was required of them
  • knew a breach of the safety requirement / policy could result in dismissal
  • An adequate investigation took place
  • was given a fair opportunity to respond to the allegation
  • failed to give an adequate response to the allegation

In regards to breaches of Medication, Drugs & Alcohol policies employers must verify a breach has occurred, this requires the sample to be sent for GCMS testing to confirm the presence of illicit substances in excess of the Australian Standards, a positive at the cup is not a verified positive result.

Best Practice

  • Failure to warn employees that their conduct may lead to their dismissal is usually considered a major employer omission by the Commission. This means there should be a ‘paper trail’ which documents the relevant incidents leading up to a dismissal.
  • Proper documentation is essential. It is advisable to have the employee sign the notes of any discussions relating to performance, although the employee is not legally obliged to do so. The employee should be given the opportunity to have a support person present, chosen by the employee.
  • The employee must be informed about all problems, be given an opportunity to respond, and allowed a reasonable period of time to remedy them.
  • In regards to written warnings the employee should be told this is the first warning in a process which may end in termination.
  • Under unfair dismissal laws, there is no statutory period of time in which a warning (verbal or written) remains valid.
  • The period a warning remains enforceable will depend on a number of factors, including the seriousness of the problem and the nature of the offence.
  • Between three and eight months is usually appropriate, but will obviously vary depending on the circumstances, such as how often the criteria for satisfactory performance can be applied to an employee.
  • A ‘shelf life’ of a year or longer for a written warning would be considered extreme in most cases before a tribunal.

BASED IN KALGOORLIE, THE PEOPLE & CULTURE OFFICE IS AN INDEPENDENT HR CONSULTANT WHO CAN PARTNER WITH YOU TO OFFER A ONE STOP HR SOLUTION, WE ONLY CHARGE YOU FOR THE WORK WE PERFORM; NO CONTRACTS, NO ANNUAL OR MONTHLY FEES, JUST QUALITY SERVICE. CLICK HERE TO LEARN MORE

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