New legislation allowing employees access to 10 days of Paid Family and Domestic Violence Leave (FSVL) applies for large business from today, 1 February 2023. What does this mean for employers?
Firstly, what’s changed?
- Full-time, part-time and casual employees will be able to access 10 days of paid family and domestic violence leave in a 12-month period (FDVL)
- Previously, only full-time and part-time employees could access FDVL and only up to 5 days of unpaid leave in a 12-month period
- The full 10-day leave entitlement will be available upfront and can be taken in a single block or in any other manner
- There is no length of service requirement or qualifying period
- The leave does not accumulate year-to-year
- There are now tighter rules about information that must not be included on an employee’s pay slip relating to paid FDVL in order to preserve confidentiality
What is FDV?
Violent, threatening or other abusive behaviour by an employee’s close relative, a current or former intimate partner, or a member of their household, that:
- seeks to coerce or control the employee;
- or causes them harm or fear
Who is included?
- Spouse or former spouse, de facto partner or former de facto partner
- Child, Parent, Grandparent, Grandchild or Sibling
- A child, parent, grandparent, grandchild or sibling of an employee’s current or former spouse or de facto partner,
- A person related to the employee according to Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander kinship rules
- Intimate partners (even if not living together), or
When can it be accessed?
Full-time, part-time and casual employees may apply for FDVL if:
- they experience family and domestic violence
- they need to do something to deal with the impact of the family and domestic violence
- it is impractical to deal with the family and domestic violence outside their ordinary hours of work
What evidence is required?
An employer can ask their employee for evidence that shows the employee took the leave to deal with family and domestic violence
If the employee doesn’t provide the requested evidence, they may not get FDVL
The evidence has to convince a reasonable person that the employee took the leave to deal with the impact of family and domestic violence
Types of evidence
- documents issued by the police service
- documents issued by a court (AVO/ADVO CAN’s)
- family violence support service documents, or
- a statutory declaration
What about Confidentiality?
New regulations prohibit employees from including information concerning FDVL on employees’ pay slips (Regulations)
This includes information about the employee taking FDVL, including leave records as well as any evidence provided by the employee
Payroll systems must be set up to ensure non-disclosure in leave records and on payslips
Pay slips must not mention FDVL, including any leave taken and leave balances
What are the obligations of an employer?
- FDVL is now an NES entitlement
- FDVL has strict record-keeping requirements
- A contravention of these requirements by an employer can lead to civil penalties
- $16,500 for individual; $82,500 for corporation
- FDVL poses general protections risks in that someone may not be treated adversely due to accessing FDVL.
What should employers do now?
We recommend that all businesses take the following actions immediately:
- Update your employment contracts
- Update your Family and Domestic Violence Leave Policy
- Communicate the changes to all employees
- Update your induction processes to ensure all new employees understand the policy and how to seek support
- Ensure your payroll and finance systems are compliant with confidentiality requirements
We are here to help you with any of these changes. Reach out if we can offer you support.
As we head towards the holiday season, it’s fair to say that 2022 was yet another big year for Australia’s workplaces. We look back at seven HR issues that have helped shape the previous 12 months.
1. Labour shortages
Perhaps the most important factor that shaped Australia’s workforce over the past year has been our labour market. With the unemployment rate sitting below 3.5% and with immigration slowing thanks to COVID-19 restrictions of the past two years, many industries and employers have faced a full-blown labour crisis. In fact, a lot of employers have struggled to get new workers while others have failed to keep their existing ones without offering significant pay increases.
It’s at times like these that both recruitment and retention strategies take on a whole new importance. So, if you’re not doing what you can to optimise your workplace culture and keep employees happy and productive, now is the time to start.
2. A new government
In May, the Albanese-led Labor government took office, bringing with them a different approach to industrial relations This included a renewed emphasis on job security and gender equality.
In early September, the government also hosted a Jobs Summit in which it committed to multi-employer bargaining, as well as changes to the ‘better off overall’ test the Fair Work Commission uses when creating Awards.
To help alleviate labour shortages (see 1 above), the government also announced it planned to lift the number of skilled workers it would accept from overseas.
3. Elevation of psychological risks
Mental health has been a major issue in Australia’s workplaces for some time. However, this year, the NSW government made it mandatory for employers to assess the workplace for psychological risks (and protect their employees from them). This elevates psychological harm to the same level as physical harm under NSW law, and means employers have new obligations in the field.
So if you haven’t already assessed the psychological risks in your workplace and taken steps to rectify them, do so as soon as possible.
4. Clarity on contractors
Towards the end of last year, the High Court handed down its Workpac decision, which means that this year – finally – employees have had a higher degree of certainty over their employee obligations.
The distinction between casual and permanent employees is now more obvious, especially when combined with the former government’s legislation around transitioning from casual to permanent. That meant employers could act with a bit more confidence when it came to staffing issues this year.
5. Diversity comes of age
Diversity has been a major issue in our workplaces for some time. However, 2022 was the year that it finally became a workplace priority for many of Australia’s employers. And why wouldn’t it have? Diverse companies are shown to “lure better talent and improve their decision making, customer orientation and employee satisfaction” – all major considerations in a job market like the current one.
6. The workplace changes
While COVID-19 is still with us, 2022 was a year of less disruption than 2020 or 2021. We didn’t have the lockdowns or border closures or anything else that impacted our businesses in quite the same way as we became used to in the two preceding years.
And yet, this didn’t mean we went back to how things were pre-pandemic. Instead, we still kept many of the workplace practices that had been developed over the past two years. A lot of workplaces have adopted more flexibility, with employees using a hybrid model of working both from the office and from home. Some have even abandoned the physical office altogether – or at least now only ask employees to come in once a fortnight or once a month.
This has presented new challenges for managers and business owners, but it’s also introduced new efficiencies – especially when it comes to communication. In many cases, it’s also made output and productivity the main gauges of employee performance.
7. Outsourcing becomes even bigger
With labour shortages and flexible working now very much part of our daily lives, we’ve noticed outsourcing is also on the rise too. To some extent, we believe that’s because employers are now used to having high-quality work performed offsite. But we also think it’s part of a push to keep costs down in light of rising wages and high inflation.
Either way, outsourcing functions – including HR – was a major trend we noticed this year and one we believe is likely to continue in 2023.
If you’d like to know more about outsourcing your HR function, get in touch.
The year’s end is fast approaching, but there are still several HR-related things you need to do before everyone clocks off for the summer break. To help, we’ve created this checklist of the six things you should do to get your HR function right before 2023 arrives.
1. Take stock
With limited time left between now and the end of the year, you should map out exactly what needs to be done. That means, of course, factoring in routine HR tasks such as payroll. But it shouldn’t just be about doing the bare minimum. There’s still probably enough time to get other, more strategic things done too. That could include things like developing recruitment and training plans, working on employee engagement strategies (it’s going to continue to be one of the biggest issues next year) and other important HR tasks.
That said, you’re unlikely to get absolutely everything you want to complete before the break, so work out what your main priorities are and what you need to do to make them happen. Use the tried and trusted technique of ranking each task as ‘Urgent/Non-urgent’, ‘Important/Not important’, and focus on those that are urgent or important.
If some of your big picture stuff is important but can wait until the New Year, work out what you can realistically do this year to progress it, so that you don’t have a mountain of work to come back to once the holidays end.
This can be an unproductive time in some workplaces as people get that ‘end of term’ feeling. But, as a business owner or manager, you can’t afford to let things slide. So let people know your expectations between now and the end of the year. Don’t be oppressive about it – you want people to be happy AND productive But you need to make sure they also get through the work that has to be done. You should also let people know your expectations around the holiday period. Are you closing down for a while? Do you expect people to take leave? If so, let them know.
Over-communicating is always better than under-communicating.
4. Throw a party
You’ve probably organised your workplace party by now. But if you haven’t, there’s still time to do something. No matter how small your workplace, or busy you are, celebrating the end of year is an important point in the calendar and something your people deserve.
Even if it’s just a lunch or some informal drinks, make sure you get people together before the holidays start to reflect on, and celebrate, the year that was.
5. Say thank you
Speaking of which, this is the time of year you need to say thanks (and your office party/lunch is an important part of that). For many of us, 2022 has been another trying year, and it’s important you let people know they’re appreciated.
Saying thank you is important for your workplace culture, as well as for employee productivity and wellbeing.
It’s also important for you as a manager or owner, because it boosts your productivity and wellbeing too. As the Harvard Business Review notes, “Gratitude is good for you.”
So compile a list of the highlights of the past year, who’s been involved in them. And celebrate them either at the end-of-year function or in a company-wide communication. (Or both.) Just be sure to thank everyone for their efforts this year.
6. Get your HR ready for 2023
Finally, it’s worth remembering that while the year may change, the work goes on. There’s nothing worse than arriving back from holidays with a pile of work on the proverbial desk. So, going back to step one above, gear up for what lies ahead by drawing up a list of what needs to be done in 2023.
Make headway into it now if you can, before you go on leave. And plan out what you can’t get through so that you don’t place yourself under unnecessary stress when you arrive back in the new year.
Have a great holidays. If you’d like to know more about HR strategies for the rundown to the end of 2022, get in touch.
At the end of each FY, I recommend business owners and managers review their HR practices and requirements. Also, to look ahead to the next 12 months. And this practice has never been more important than right now. For many businesses, FY2021 is shaping up to be a very different kind of year to any we’ve experienced, and that will have profound implications on your HR strategy.
With that in mind, here are six things you need to know in human resources for the 2021 financial year.
HR Tip 1. Assess your situation
Before you can properly plan for HR, you need to know what you’re planning for. What will business look like in the short-to-medium term and what human resources will you need to make it happen?
Now I know that sounds like a difficult thing to predict right now, but it’s also an important thing. You need to remain realistic. If your business has halved, you won’t be able to afford to run it the way you have in the past. If you’re one of the lucky ones who have a growing business right now, you also need to plan for that.
HR Tip 2. Make a post-JobKeeper plan
A lot of businesses are currently relying on the Federal Government’s JobKeeper wage subsidy to keep their employees ‘on the books’. In some cases, it’s JobKeeper that’s keeping their whole operation afloat during one of the worst economic conditions we’ve experienced in our lifetime.
But JobKeeper was only ever meant to be a temporary solution. At the end of September, it’s scheduled to run out. And whilst the government has been hinting that it may continue financial support beyond that date — at least for some industries — nothing is set in stone. So, if your business is currently relying on JobKeeper, make sure you have a plan in place for when it ceases.
HR Tip 3. Take redundancies into consideration
If you won’t be able to keep on all your employees, the reality is that you may need to start thinking of what action to take. For some, that could mean reducing hours or changing the makeup of your workforce, for others it could also mean redundancies.
If you do have to make some employee’s roles redundant, it’s important that you do it correctly. Take the time to properly assess the needs of your business, as well as who can perform them. You also need to consider whether you can accommodate employees in other roles.
Furthermore, it’s vital that you pay staff their correct entitlements, including any redundancy payment under their employment contract, Award or agreement (or if they don’t have one, under the National Employment Standards). Getting this wrong can lead to expensive claims — something that could be disastrous for business.
HR Tip 4. How will your workplace function in FY2021?
Whilst the COVID-19 pandemic was bad news for many businesses, one positive that seemed to come out of it for many, was that it changed the way people worked. This especially rings true when it comes to working from home.
Many people I spoke to were surprised by how productive and engaged their teams were when they weren’t in the office — and many have vowed to allow greater flexibility as things get back to normal.
Now is the time to work out what your workplace will look like over the coming financial year. If you decide employees should be granted permission to work from home more frequently, make sure you have the HR procedures in place so that it happens correctly.
And, if you don’t want people working from home — that’s completely fine too.
HR Tip 5. Stay atop of legislative changes
The 2021 financial year is bringing with it several important legislative changes. It’s important that you are across these to avoid any hidden surprises later in the year.
Key legislative changes include adjustments to the maximum superannuation guarantee contribution (SGC) which now tops out at $21,694 a year (or a salary of $228,360). At the other end of the salary scale, the minimum wage will go up to $19.84 an hour.
There are also changes to the tax-free redundancy threshold and the Paid Parental Leave scheme. You can read about the legislative changes you need to be across here.
HR Tip 6. Communication is key
Ultimately, the most important thing you can do when it comes to HR is to communicate. And this need to communicate goes up ten-fold in uncertain times.
So if you’re not regularly speaking with your employees, discussing where each other stands and communicating actions, FY2021 is the time to start.
And, if you need help with how to do that in a COVID-disrupted economy, here’s where to start.
Want more expert HR planning advice?
FY2021 is going to be a year like no other. But with the right planning, you can help stay on top of HR issues. If you’re ready to rethink or restructure your human resources, or need help with your HR planning for FY2021, get in touch with the Catalina Consultants team today.
What is an HR audit?
An HR audit is a systematic review of all your human resources processes. Carried out by an independent HR expert, it’s intended to identify exactly how healthy your human resources function is right now, as well as analysing what you need to do to get better. You can use an HR audit to identify any non-compliance, highlight any HR related risks and see how you stack up against best practice. That means it should serve as one of the foundations on which you can build your future HR and business plans and strategy. Here’s our guide to using an HR audit to make sure your human resources function is as healthy as it can be.
What’s included in an HR audit?
You can make an HR audit as narrow or as broad as you like. But the more comprehensive it is, the more effective it’s also likely to be.
That said, we understand that time and money won’t always allow you to do everything you’d like. There are, however, two main sources you should review in detail in any HR audit.
- Your policies and procedures. As a first port-of-call, you should go through every one of your policies and procedures. These should range from everything from your recruitment and selection criteria, through to workplace policies.
This isn’t as simple as just checking your written policies. Policies and procedures can also be informal too. All those unspoken rules and customs that have built up over time in the workplace culture will also count. Working out exactly what these are, though, is not always straightforward at all.
- Your employment documentation. How long has it been since you took a look over your employment contracts and other employment documentation? These are a vital cog in your HR wheel and a source of either certainty or exposure.
What to do with this information once you have it?
Once you’ve identified all of your policies and procedures, it’s time to measure how you compare. Generally, I recommend using it for one or more of three separate measures.
Legal and regulatory compliance
The most obvious thing to look for is whether you’re complying with the rules and regulations that apply. Again, this isn’t always as straightforward as it might seem.
For instance, if you’re like many employers – especially smaller ones – you’re probably using the same contract for all staff, regardless of their role or seniority. And yet, for many of your employees, the contract of employment is just the beginning. There are also the 10 National Minimum Employment Standards, which you can’t contract out of.
Beyond that, however, there are Awards, which are likely to provide for different terms and conditions of employment depending on the role employees perform. This can range from pay rates to dispute resolution procedures and pretty much everything in between. Not being across each of these Awards can leave your company exposed.
On top of this, the regulations frequently change and new laws are introduced. For instance, the rules and regulations on whistleblowers, flexible working and personal and carer’s leave entitlements have all changed or been clarified recently. Failing to keep up with these changes could land you in serious hot water.
Complying with the law may be the first step in getting things right, but what about finding out how you compare to your competitors?
After all, if your rivals operate more efficiently than you do or if they’re offering different terms and conditions to their staff, their HR practices could be giving them a competitive advantage over you.
By incorporating HR best practices into your HR audit, you can see how your human resources policies stack up to your peers and work out where you’re deficient and what you can do to improve. That way, you can use your HR to help get to the top of the pack and stay ahead.
The third and final way you can use the information you’ve gathered is to evaluate whether or not it’s helping you achieve your business goals. Human resources doesn’t exist in a vacuum. It’s a vital part of your operations and it should be used to support and achieve your strategic vision. This often gets lost in the day-to-day of doing business.
For instance, are you really promoting a positive workplace culture? Are you recruiting the right people? Do your employees feel energised and motivated? Do your KPIs and incentive schemes drive the right kind of behaviour?
By going back to your strategy and comparing how your HR processes help effect this, you can often make the tweaks and adjustments you need to get to where you want to be.
Our human resources policies can either hold our business back or propel it forward. By performing an effective HR audit you can give your human resources practices a real health check and give yourself a starting point for refining or even recalibrating your people-related policies.
Don’t have HR issues, have HR solutions. If you’d like to discuss how we could help your business with an HR audit, get in touch with the Catalina Consultants team today.
Looking to sell, list or merge your business? Your HR strategy – or lack thereof – can make a big difference to your value.
If you’re selling, merging or listing your business, your current human resources strategy will play some part in determining how exactly how much it’s worth. From nailing down your policies to making sure your remuneration policies are transparent, we look at everything you need to know about using HR to maximise your sale price.
What a buyer wants from your human resources: certainty
Almost all potential buyers will want to know as much as possible about the human resources practices business they’re acquiring: where the opportunities lie, what liabilities they face and where there might be potential risks. And, when it comes to HR, there’s a lot to take into account – payroll, processes, potential claims, awards, agreements and more.
The first step in maximising your business’s value is to understand what you’re dealing with in the first place. And the only way you can really do that is to carry out your own HR audit or health check.
To do this, you’ll need to examine all people-related parts of your business, including:
- Policies and procedures
- Remuneration and benefits
- Your history of legal claims and employee relations
- Any Awards and Agreements that apply
- Training and staff development.
In short, take the magnifying glass to every one of your human resources policies and processes from hiring to firing and everything in between.
Document what you can
Chances are you’ll find that what you’re dealing with isn’t as exact as you’d thought and there may be some degree of uncertainty. For instance, your policies may not be documented or formal but may have simply come about organically. Perhaps your leave isn’t being recorded properly or performance reviews aren’t being carried out systematically.
Well now is the time to change all of that and to nail everything down in writing.
For instance, if you have no flexible working or leave policy or if you don’t have employment contracts for your managers – address that immediately. If your employees are Award-covered make sure you know what you’re dealing with (the Fair Work Ombudsman can help here).
This is the time to tidy up your processes and make sure they’re documented for the world to see. (Just make sure they also reflect reality.)
Look for any non-compliance
Now that you know what you’re dealing with, part of maximising your value means working out if you’re getting anything wrong. For example, are your policies and procedures at least in line with the National Employment Standards? Are you not complying with an award that applies to some of your workers? Are you failing making the correct super contributions? If so, you’re not just shortchanging your most important people you’re also opening yourself up to exposure to a claim.
Any buyer carrying out their own due diligence on business will uncover this and adjust their price accordingly. Too much potential exposure may even lead them to pull out altogether.
Look for anything that stands out
It’s not just your risk of a claim that a potential buyer will look for, they’ll also be looking at what’s on your books – particularly when it comes to money. For instance, are you paying way over award rates to your workers? Do any of your executives have golden handshakes or golden parachutes written into their contracts?
You can be sure any serious buyer will notice this and downgrade what they’ll pay accordingly.
If employees have masses of leave banked up they’ll probably mark your business down for this too. So if you’re in this boat do what you can to have staff take leave now, if possible.
In fact, if employees aren’t taking leave this could serve as a warning to any potential purchaser, showing that you’re reliant on existing staff and that no one can step in to do their job while they’re away. The more “turnkey” a business is, and the less it relies on key personnel, the more valuable it is also.
Look for savings
Put simply, the less money going out of a business the more profit there will be. And the more profit there is, the more that business will be worth. That means part of priming your HR strategy for sale is also looking for savings.
A lot of businesses are affected by duplication, especially when it comes to administrative roles. This can be amplified in a merger situation, where two back offices will need to come together.
If you need to get your house in order, now is the time for a restructure. If that sounds harsh, remember this – if it doesn’t happen now, it will almost certainly happen on acquisition. When it does, your staff will be dealt with on someone else’s terms, not yours.
So get in first and do it correctly and fairly.
Put your business in the driver’s seat
Finally, when two businesses come together through a merger or acquisition, they rarely come together as equals. It’s also worth remembering that every business only needs one set of HR policies and procedures. Part of making your business valuable (and making sure your staff stay happy) means also making sure your HR practices and strategy are the ones that prevail.
The only way you can do this is by going into any merger, sale or listing with strong, clear and transparent human resources policies and procedures. Without them, your business will be swallowed and consumed rather than seen as something valuable that should be preserved and enhanced.
We can help
If you’re looking to sell, list or merge your business, then speak with us first. At Catalina Consultants, we can assist you in making sure that your HR strategy is up to scratch. Speak with us today.
If you’re like most SME (Small to medium sized enterprises) owners, you probably don’t have a lot of time to devote to implementing a bespoke HR strategy. But that doesn’t mean you can’t get it right.
Running and growing any business takes serious time and effort. And very often so much of that time and effort is spent keeping customers or clients happy that you have very little chance to get around to anything else, especially your HR.
But if you leave your human resource strategy to chance, you shortchange yourself and your business. You’ll end up hiring the wrong people for wrong roles, acting reactively to staff issues and leaving yourself exposed to claims of bullying or wrongful dismissal. When that happens you ultimately end up damaging everything you’ve worked so hard to build.
So if you’re a busy business owner without the time to develop an effective HR strategy, here’s a seven-point plan for getting it right.
1. Do your own HR audit
HR is a wide-reaching term that covers so many functions. These can range from recruiting to people strategy and from payroll to performance management. So before you do anything, examine your business and work out what HR tasks and functions actually need doing. It’s here that you can really start to customise your HR strategy. These should include your hiring and firing, your policies and procedures and payroll. Now, write these down and look at who currently performs them — if anyone does — so that you at least know your starting point.
2. Appoint someone to act as HR custodian
Next, put someone in charge of your HR strategy overall. This doesn’t mean they should perform all these functions. In fact, they probably shouldn’t (see 3. below). It also doesn’t necessarily mean you need a full-time HR person (see 5. below). But it does, at least, mean the HR buck will stop somewhere.
Usually, most SMEs have one person who’s actually interested in human resources and who can take the lead here. But don’t just default to the person who gets along with everyone best. While being a good human resources practitioner requires solid people and communication skills there’s more to it than that. Sure, a good HR person needs to be able to listen. However, they also need to be able to break bad news and make tough calls, which could even include sacking people from time to time.
3. Divvy up the roles
HR tasks range from the administrative to the strategic, and it’s unlikely you’ll find one person with the skills or the capacity to do everything. So now that you know what needs to be done, work out who’s going to what.
Chances are you could move some of the administrative tasks to people already performing admin, while your HR and recruitment strategy could be assigned to your HR custodian.
4. Train your people properly
People will only be effective in any role if they know what they’re doing. If you expect someone to develop a HR strategy, make sure you’ve trained them in how to do it.
Like any discipline, there’s a lot of theory behind human resources. So, if you have an HR custodian, they should understand a bit of the academic side, as well as the practical side. This could range from sending them on a specific AHRI course or another practical skill-based program, through to a full HR degree.
Then again, you may find it easier and more cost-effective to outsource a lot of your HR tasks. Even if you have the skills to perform each of the jobs in-house, is it really the best use of their time? A virtual or outsourced HR provider can often develop a bespoke or custom HR strategy for you. They can perform each HR process more efficiently, more effectively and with more expertise than you could by using your existing staff. They can also step in and provide what you’re lacking whether that’s the strategy, the routine or the support in enforcing your policies or making the hard calls.
6. Invest in technology
There’s an app for that, Apple told us almost a decade ago. And never has that been truer than for the world of human resources. From payroll to performance and from on-boarding to e-learning, you can now find software that will help your HR function more systematically and smoothly. So make use of these and let them help standardise what you do. You’ll find that a lot of cloud-based software can make your life a lot easier for the cost of a small monthly subscription.
7. Hold people accountable
Like any aspect of your business, your HR function will only work if people are held accountable. So be sure that your management team understand what’s required of them and that anyone who has any HR duties also has these included in their KPIs.
Set aside some time each year where you review the direction your HR is taking and whether it still serves your purposes and aligns with your goals. After all, businesses and personnel change, our business direction changes, new rules and regulations get handed down and new HR products hit the market. It’s only by periodically reviewing these and staying up-to-date that you can be sure your HR function is still functioning at full capacity.
Want to improve your HR strategy?
At Catalina Consultants, developing bespoke and custom HR strategies for our clients is what we do best. Talk to us today.