How COVID-19 is Impacting Australia’s Industrial Relations System
With new jail sentences in Victoria and changes to Modern Awards rushed through, COVID-19 is set to shake up industrial relations and employment laws.
Despite industrial relations being federalised over 10 years ago, Victoria has legislated their own jail penalties for business owners and directors. Individuals who are convicted under the new Victorian Wage Theft Act 2020, which criminalises underpayments, face a maximum of 10 years imprisonment the federal government has also indicated intentions to criminalise wage theft.
This move parallels some of the most rapid industrial relations reforms in Australia’s history seeing changes to Awards rushed in a matter of days. Meanwhile, Prime Minister Scott Morrison has vowed to overhaul Australia’s Industrial Relations system at a federal level, in a move to prioritise getting Australian’s back to work. The COVID-19 pandemic has already left permanent marks on Australia’s employment laws, proving significant changes to modern awards can be rushed. Not only has the cost of non-compliance increased, but the ever-shifting goalposts for employers have created a higher level of uncertainty in the rules.
The Fair Work Ombudsman v Priority Matters Pty Ltd & Anor case decided that Directors who displayed wilful blindness were found to be personally liable for unpaid wages. This landmark court decision sets a new precedent for further fines to be handed down against directors of non-compliant operators. The Victorian Parliament passed the Wage Theft Act 2020, which criminalises underpayments with a maximum of 10 years imprisonment.2 With Victoria making the first step, it is expected that other states will follow suit as these types of larger reforms often make their way across the country through harmonisation. State-based labour-hire legislation is a suitable example where legislation written by the State Government in Queensland was adopted in a similar form by the Victorian and South Australian governments shortly after. Federally, the Attorney-General Christian Porter has indicated the federal government will be taking a strong stance on wage theft as well.
With the entitlements of modern awards becoming increasingly complex and goal posts shifting at an unprecedented rate, many Australian businesses have found themselves unable to keep up.
Pay calculators and award compliance software have become the new industry standard.
Within Tanda, our award engine automatically adds compliant pay rates to your rosters and timesheets, including base rates, overtime, allowances, and higher duties. All managed awards, including the hospitality award, have built-in base rates that sync with payroll and update when Fair Work mandates change. This means that award rates are updated in accordance with all future Fair Work changes and birthdate rollovers for employees, keeping businesses compliant without constantly monitoring Fair Work’s site for updates to complex rule sets.
To put our award engine to the test sign up for a free trial of the system.
Product Updates |
Managing leave requests without tedious manual entry.
In a first for workforce software, leave management now has intelligent automation. We believe that intelligent automation will transform the way you run your business. Automation is already everywhere in Tanda. From simple functions like sending bulk rosters to all staff, to more complex operations, such as our Cognitive Rostering. Only Tanda automates the filling of leave hours. It does the job faster whilst still leaving you in control. Set-up your Autofill workflow in Settings > Time Off Autofill builds on leave management’s powerful integrations to Tanda’s award interpreter, rosters, mobile app, and more. It moves leave calculation beyond one-size-fits-all numbers to ease the labour of manual entry. When your employee puts in their leave request, Autofill does so much more than automatically put 7.6 hours per day. Autofill automatically populates leave requests with days and times from regular hours of work or rosters. Your payroll officer gets an immediate calculation of leave hours based on these items. Tanda is already an industry leader for workforce management software and with Autofill, our product is even more powerful. Autofill for Leave moves leave calculation beyond one-size-fits-all numbers. Businesses want to eliminate hours of repetitive work without being robbed of control. Autofill automates the same steps every manager goes through to set exact leave hours, before handing back to them for final approval. Instead of doing it all manually, they just need to check and approve. Depending on how you process leave, choose to fill first from either Regular Hours of Work (RHW) or Rosters — with the other being a fall back if there is no data in the first step. As we build out RHW to work to fit more use cases, we recommend setting RHW as #1. Additional use cases can include: Full-Time staff working an average of 38 hours per week Fortnightly regular hours Minimum guaranteed hours If the employee doesn’t have RHW entered in Tanda, we still recommend filling from RHW first. If Tanda does not detect RHW, the leave hours will still be filled from their roster. Important: If you’re filling from the roster you must check that the leave request only includes ordinary hours (e.g. does not include hours the employee would not have worked or that would have been overtime). Try Autofill now. At Tanda, we always wonder what it would take to reduce our customers’ workload. As compliance requirements continue to move into the digital space, Autofill will help you keep track of accurate leave hours without spending hours behind a screen. Try it on Tanda now.
Awards & Rostering |
How much do full-time staff really cost?
Being in the business of managing staff costs, we often hear people say that casual staff just cost so much more than their full time equivalents. I mean, that extra 25% is a killer, right? Especially for staff who work a fairly consistent schedule each week, it’s almost like free money. For a while there I went along with that, not really giving it much thought. But today the thought struck me – casuals miss out on plenty of benefits afforded to full and part timers, so are they really better off? I decided to investigate further. What follows may surprise you. First – how many days in a year does a full time employee work? Weeks in a Year: 52 Working Days in a Year: 260 So far so good. We’re going to ignore the 1 or 2 days that we’re off by, for the sake of a nice round number. Next, let’s look at this full time employee’s entitlements, in days. Annual Leave: 20 (4 weeks) Personal Leave: 10 (2 weeks) Public Holidays: 10 We’ll assume a 7.6 hour work day and 17.5% leave loading. So how many hours of leave are we paying? Annual Leave – Base: 152 Annual Leave – Loading: 26.6 Personal Leave: 76 Public Holidays: 76 Total Hours of Leave Paid: 330.6 Earlier we calculated how many days of work one can work in a year, now let’s subtract leave taken to get a more accurate figure. Days of Leave Taken: 40 Actual Days Worked in a Year: 220 Actual Hours Worked in a Year: 1672 Divide 330.6 (hours of leave paid) by 1672 (hours worked) and we get 19.77%. Remember, we are comparing this to the 25% loading paid for casual staff. So from this perspective, yes, your full time and part time staff are still cheaper – but only by 5.23%. And even that number is probably on the low side. We ignored long service leave and maternity leave because they are a bit more unreliable. Both they are also costs (or accruals) that can definitely add up! When you take into account the fact that you only have to pay casuals when you need them, it’s easy to see why more and more Australian employers are turning to casual staff. According to the ABS, this has been growing steadily since the 90’s, and today over 1 in 5 jobs in Australia are casual.
Awards & Rostering |
Easter Penalty Rates 2015 — What you need to know about paying staff
Easter is coming up soon, and that means two things! A new season of Game of Thrones to feast on, and – perhaps less excitingly – public holiday rates to pay staff. As a business owner, accountant, or bookkeeper, it’s important to be aware of how public holiday rates over Easter and ANZAC Day should be paid in your state. First, let’s see when the holidays will be in 2014. You might be surprised! If your business is open on any of these public holidays, you’ll need to pay staff the appropriate public holiday rates. You should check your award, which will tell you exactly what multiplier or penalties to apply, often under a Public Holidays section. A common multiplier is 2.5x. Some businesses pay staff salaries, or pay casually “above award”. Public holiday penalties still apply! If you have a contract, it should cover this – check with Fair Work if you are unsure. Staff who don’t work on a public holiday If you have full or part time staff who should have worked on any of the weekday public holidays – Good Friday, Easter Monday, and Easter Tuesday in specific cases – they are still entitled to pay, even if they do not work. Generally you’ll pay at base rate for the hours staff would have been entitled to. Of course, if staff do work on the day, you’ll pay at a higher rate as dictated by the award (see above). But keep in mind: this only applies if they usually work on that day. For example, a part timer in Queensland who generally works Tuesday to Thursday probably wouldn’t get paid the public holidays because there’s no public holiday on those weekdays. Check your award/agreement to be sure! If your award dictates how rostered days off work, you should check to see if staff with an RDO on a public holiday are still paid. In some states, some kinds of businesses are not permitted to open on public holidays due to trading regulations. If this applies, you will probably still be required to pay staff who would otherwise work on that weekday. Again, if you’re not sure, it’s best to ask. Staff who work on a day that isn’t a public holiday Keep in mind that the rest of the award doesn’t shut off just because it’s Easter. For example, if you are in Tasmania and pay Saturday rates, you’ll still need to pay these on Easter Saturday (which is not a public holiday for you). Did you know… If an employee takes sick leave around a public holiday (eg. Thursday April 24 to Monday April 28), they still get paid the public holiday if they were otherwise supposed to work that day (ie. full/part time) If an employee takes annual leave, public holidays during the leave period don’t count towards their annual leave balance Public holidays do not need to be paid for staff on unpaid leave Staff cannot be forced to work on a public holiday if they have reasonable grounds for doing so. Common reasons include: the amount of notice given, family responsibilities (especially over Easter), and whether one could reasonably expect the business to be open on a public holiday. Tanda’s employee time clocks automatically interpret industry awards – including public holidays – so you can be sure you paid staff right, without tedious manually data entry Add the Fair Work Infoline to your speed dial, they are always happy to help. The number to call for any payroll queries is 131 394. Note: none of the above constitutes formal payroll advice. Always check with your accountant, bookkeeper, or Fair Work.
Industry Insights |
Giving Employee Feedback: 7 Ways to Constructively Deliver Bad News
Wouldn’t management be so much easier if everyone just did their job? You might feel sometimes like your job description would better match that of a babysitter than a business manager. But the sad fact is, unless you provide your staff with proper leadership; productivity, efficiency, morale, and overall quality of work will suffer. Part of effective management is providing your personnel with feedback when they’ve done something incorrectly, or perhaps just less correctly than you would prefer. Ideally, you want to train your workforce to act as you would in a given situation. This takes time, patience, and consistent positive reinforcement. So how can you communicate to your beautiful and unique snowflakes that they’re not meeting your standards without alienating, offending, or irritating them? Here is a list of best practices that can help you deliver a difficult message in ways that will improve employee attitude, engagement, and performance. 1. Focus on Positives Even if you’ve been stuck with the worst employee in the world, even if they come into work smelling like a Cypress Hill concert in un-ironed slacks made of organic hemp, you’ve got to find a silver lining. To be clear, this doesn’t mean sugar-coating the negatives. It just means balancing criticism with praise. Build employee confidence first, then present avenues for improvement. The thing to remember about creating a harmonious work environment is it begins and ends with being nice. The simplest gestures can prevent resentment, discontentment, and hurt feelings. Keep your employees happy, and you’ll be a much happier manager. 2. Objectivity This can be tough. It’s important not to let your emotions get in the way of effective management. Subjectivity can get you into all sorts of trouble: favouritism, nepotism, and a plethora of other –isms worth avoiding. A cool head is needed for command decisions, plus your employees will reflect the attitudes you present to them. Come to work angry, and you’re likely to look out and see an office rife with cantankerousness. 3. Always Deliver Negative Feedback in Person It’s a busy day, you hear a bad report, and you want to get it handled quickly. So you just shoot of an email with a textual reprimand. A very tempting scenario, but not the best idea. People can read into messages more or less than you intend. If there’s a problem with an employee important enough for you to respond personally, then it’s important enough to respond to it in person. 4. Time your Feedback Correctly Timing is everything. You have to take the opportune moment. For minor infractions, or something of a sensitive nature (a conflict between employees for example), allow a bit of time to pass so that tempers might cool before addressing the situation. Similarly, don’t call an employee out in front of their peers. Wait for the right moment, when they’re not under scrutiny, to approach. You don’t want to embarrass an employee, and you never know what can get the blood running to someone’s cheeks. 5. Location, Location, Location Along the same lines as timing, the location of a performance review can have a great impact on how receptive an employee might be to your suggestions. Go to an empty conference room, any neutral ground will do. 6. Pay Attention to How You’re Being Perceived This means watching your phrasing and body language. Present problems in a sympathetic light, and avoid negative syntax: “I don’t think… You shouldn’t… This isn’t…” Maintain eye contact, without being creepy. Keep gesticulations, mannerisms, and movements calm and casual. Aggression is an animal instinct, don’t release the beast during a performance review. 7. Be Clear With Your Criticisms, Leave No Room for Interpretation Convey your meaning quickly, clearly, and without ambiguity. Be direct with your employees, let them know exactly what you disapprove of, how they can improve, and if there’s a need for it: a warning as to what continued instances of the undesired behavior will result in. Alternatively, reinforce desired actions. If they’ve done anything right at all, mention it, and offer praise. Building an effective team is a complicated process, but armed with common sense and a healthy dose of positivity, you can put together an office environment that runs like a well-oiled machine.