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

 

 

Roll on 2019

The People & Culture Office 2019

Who’s in holiday mode already? 🙋🏻‍♀️ We don’t tend to make a fuss over Christmas in terms of gifts and over consumption (except for when it comes to my Mum’s cheesecake) but I always look forward to actually having a legitimate excuse for nanna naps, eating leftover BBQ for 3 days & moving from the lounge to the pool & back again.

Anyway I’m sending a big peace out to 2018 ✌🏻 and I hope to see you all in 2019, remember one of the best ways to start the new year off is to consolidate your strategic goals, review your values and whether they are reflecting in your workplace culture, and most importantly, engage The People & Culture Office as your strategic partner to assist with HR solutions to implement cultural change and strengthen your workplace relations framework.

Work is hectic – getting help doesn’t have to be

I can still be contacted via email for appointments in the new year & urgent matters.

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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

 

 

 

 

 

Celebrating 6 months in business

 

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This Sunday will be the 6 month anniversary of the launch of The People & Culture Office.

In January of this year I was made redundant and after an appropriate period of comfort eating and laying on the lounge binging on Netflix I decided I needed to have a serious think about what I was going to do. There were literally no jobs in HR at my level, and over the preceding 12 months I had noticed a distinct decline in career friendly/ challenging positions in female oriented roles in Kalgoorlie- Boulder (has anyone else noticed this trend?)

After some market research and some imposter syndrome related discussions with my partner the conclusion was to take my redundancy payout and invest it in myself – and The People & Culture Office was born.

It’s been an interesting ride and here was what I’ve learnt so far;

SME’s are in need of risk minimisation & strategic HR solutions but don’t understand the value it can bring to their business.

My biggest hurdle to overcome & the sole purpose of this blog.

My mission is to build the capacity of small – medium enterprises through people & culture initiatives, by helping to create more successful, productive and high performance organisations. To achieve this businesses need to put their employees at the forefront of embedding their strategy into the organisation. But to do this successfully they need to create a positive culture and have the HR framework in place to ensure their strategic goals become reality. To put it simply; culture eats strategy for breakfast.

Viewing HR as an admin function only or having a series of policies that are short statements about legislative requirements is not adding value to your business and won’t cut it in the changing business environment.

Outsourcing your HR function is a very cost effective business decision my business model works on a once-off or project basis, I don’t lock people into contracts, nor do I charge an annual fee. Depending on your business needs I don’t need to stick around for months or years on end. The People & Culture Office can provide a framework for your HR needs with ongoing HR support as and when required.

Working from home has a lot of distractions

See Exhibit A

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Exhibit B

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Exhibit C

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Not getting paid every fortnight is scary

It’s fricken scary man

I’ve discovered so many local businesses that I had no idea existed

I’ve also had a hard time trying to find businesses online or even an email address to make contact- if I can’t find you, how can your target market find you? Businesses such as Kalsec Creative  and Pride and Prominence can manage your content for you and help you put strategies in place to reach your market.

It’s given me a platform to meet some dynamic business Owners & Managers

We have a lot of forward thinking & amazing leaders here, we just need others to jump on board and experience what they have to offer. Business is all about change; whether it’s addressing the decline in retail, making your event unique to smash attendance numbers or coaching business owners for greater outcomes. We have the resources here, there just needs to be a desire for progress and a willingness to think outside of the box.

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

 

 

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

 

Small & medium enterprises have the highest rate of employee resignations

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A recent survey from the Australian Institute of Management (AIM) finds that small & medium enterprises across Australia have the highest rates of resignation from employees. AIM surveyed more than 500 organisations across Australia covering 270 job roles and 25,000 employees.

The average rate of employee turnover in Australia is 15%, employee turnover is costly, with reports of increased stress, reduced staff morale and loss of corporate intelligence affecting the remaining workforce. Other effects include reduced customer service, satisfaction and productivity, in addition to the financial burden of recruiting and training new staff. It’s easy to discount how much losing an employee actually costs you in the long run. Conservative estimates place the cost at around 20% of the employee’s annual wage, but this can go up to 200% for highly skilled workers.

The AIM survey found that the top 3 reasons for employees choosing to leave an organisation were;

  • To seek a new challenge
  • There was limited scope for career progression
  • Insufficient financial reward

The survey also found that 4 in 5 employees are unhappy at work.

Most businesses would call in the experts if they were losing 15% of their clients per year right? So when it comes to employees why isn’t more being done to reverse trends?

To attract and retain quality employees business needs to implement strategies to engage and motivate employees, this includes being realistic about industry trends in compensation & benefits, job design and leadership. As a business owner you are an expert in your field, but you don’t sit down at the end of each week and work as an accountant, IT administrator or marketing expert, so why not outsource your employee matters to an experienced HR professional that understands contemporary practices designed to increase workplace culture & capacity within your business?

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