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?

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:

Who is included?

When can it be accessed?

Full-time, part-time and casual employees may apply for FDVL if:

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

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?

What should employers do now?

We recommend that all businesses take the following actions immediately:

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.  

Want more?

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.  

2. Prioritise

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.

3. Communicate

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.

Want more?

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. 

Employers often use restraints of trade to try to stop employees from taking their confidential information to a competitor and gaining an unfair advantage over them. But just how enforceable are they? 

A recent New South Wales Court of Appeal (NSWCA) found that whether a restraint of trade is enforceable depends on whether you’re trying to protect a legitimate interest, as well as factors such as their duration and an employee’s seniority.

The background to the case

The case started with a familiar scenario – a senior sales manager left his employer to work for a competitor. However, his employment contract contained three clauses: a confidentiality clause, an ‘exclusive employment clause’ (this said he must devote his time and attention to the employer during business hours and promote its best interests), and a restraint of trade.

The restraint of trade clause was one of the typical ‘cascading’ ones that employers sometimes use that allow for ‘12 months’, ‘9 months’, ‘6 months’, etc, in the hope that a court will enforce the most reasonable duration.

When the employee left and worked for a competitor, the employer alleged he broke all three of these clauses in his contract. 

He then failed to comply with the notice of termination clause of the contract, which provided for three months that he would not work in direct competition. Instead, he started working for the competitor within four weeks of leaving. He also helped the competitor poach a more junior employee who was subject to a similar restraint of trade clause. 

The proceedings

The former employer brought proceedings in the Supreme Court of NSW (the NSWSC)  alleging the employee – and the employee he poached – had breached their employment contracts. It received interlocutory orders (that is, temporary orders), which prevented the employees from working for the competitor until the court decided the case.

The court eventually handed down a decision in the employer’s favour. It found:

The employee appealed the NSWSC’s decision in the NSW Court of Appeal. 

The appeal: Are restraints of trade enforceable? 

The Court of Appeal noted that restraints were only enforceable insofar as they protected an employer’s reasonable interests for a reasonable amount of time.

In this case, the employer had a legitimate interest in protecting its confidential information from a competitor, including its marketing plans and potential weaknesses in its product. As the employee was senior and privy to this information, it was, therefore, reasonable to restrain him from a competitor for nine months.

However, it also noted that the employee he helped poach was more junior and did not have any awareness of the company’s confidential information. It wasn’t reasonable to restrain him from working for a competitor because he could not damage its legitimate interest. 

The Court of Appeal also found that the employee breached his notice of termination provision. He had also breached his contractual and fiduciary duties to his former employer when he helped poach the employee.

The Court of Appeal also found that because the competitor had encouraged the employee to breach his fiduciary duty, it, too, was liable.

What the case means for you as an employer

There are times you can rely on restraints of trade to protect your confidential information, but they need to be proportionate, and they can’t be used as a ‘catch all’ to try to limit who employees can work for. You’re also far more likely to find they’re enforceable against senior employees.  

It’s always a good idea to have restraints drafted properly by your legal adviser. It’s also often a good idea to use ‘cascading’ clauses – based both on duration and geography – so that a court will enforce appropriate terms rather than ‘striking out’ an unreasonable restraint. 

Also. if you’re hiring an employee from a competitor and they have a restraint, proceed with caution. If possible, have your legal adviser check their restraint over before you sign them up.

Want more?

If you’d like to know more about restraints of trade, get in touch.

Alternatively, you can read the full decision here


Working from home has become commonplace. But is it really an encouraging workplace solution? How does it impact your overall human resources? We explore when it works, when it doesn’t and how to ensure it delivers positive benefits to your organisation. Should you really let that employee work from home? Is this key to performance management? More and more employers seem to be answering this question in the affirmative. After all, it is the age of flexible working, so allowing them to stay away from the office when they’re not needed is just what you have to do, right?

Besides, doesn’t letting your employees work from home produce a focused, happy and productive work culture? A HR win right?

The real benefits of working from home

The truth is, there can be real advantages in allowing employees to work from home – both for employers, employees and your human resources department. When Microsoft organised its own study into the topic and surveyed 4,000 IT workers in the manufacturing, financial services, professional services and retail/hospitality industries, it was found that there were immediate benefits. The Microsoft study also revealed that 45% of workers overall and 71% of information workers in retail/hospitality thought their productivity was higher when working remotely. Due to fewer distractions and a generally quieter atmosphere, this in part allowed them to get their daily tasks done.

Microsoft’s findings have been supported by other studies undertaken around the world. For instance in 2014, a Chinese-based NASDAQ listed company, randomly choose half of its 16,000 call centres workers to work from home while the other half stayed in the office. A nine month academic study into the impact of this experiment found that those who worked from home were 13% more productive – largely because they took more calls per minute and fewer breaks and sick days. How about that for HR strategies?

HR strategy or mistake? Common hesitations about allowing employees to work from home

That said, many employers are understandably still concerned about letting employees work from home – much of this concern centres on the loss of control. Potentially rising HR issues and lack of employee engagement. Who knows how hard your employees will work when there’s no one watching over them? What’s to stop them from going off-task or just completing the bare minimum? Isn’t it better to have them in the workplace and under a watchful eye?

Another common hesitation employers have is around whether workers can actually perform their role according to HR policies and procedures, especially when they’re not in the workplace. And there are obvious times this is true – a customer-facing hospitality employee can’t always meet and greet people from their living room; nor can a courier deliver parcels from a home office. 

But there are also many situations that are a little more complex – such as the creative team who must accumulate ideas together, the consultants who need to collaborate to solve a clients’ problem, or the manager who really needs to be accessible to team members, consulting them on their roles and overseeing their work. 

Finally, some employers are concerned about potential security breaches – especially in industries that rely on a high degree of confidential information and data such as professional and financial services. What happens if the employee compromises our systems or introduces a virus to our network from their own device? This could put your human resources department into meltdown. 

Getting around these hesitations: is it worth it?

My industry work with clients has shown that sometimes employers’ fears are well-founded. Some employees won’t do the right thing and shouldn’t be granted such deep trust; sometimes work is best completed in the office where employees can consult face-to-face and bounce ideas off each other, as a supportive team.

However, placing a blanket ban on working remotely can have a negative impact on morale and ultimately affect your business. Instead, for employee management and development I prefer to look at each scenario on a case-by-case basis. Starting with a written policy that states exactly what the rules are around working from home – who’s allowed to do it, when and for what reason.

Beyond that, I also think there are a few key initiatives every employer should do to ensure working from home works for everyone – not just the employee.

How to get working from home right in your workplace

If you’re struggling coming to terms with challenges of working from home, here are key measures every business should consider.

1. Analyse what can be done from home.

In conjunction with your employees, decide which tasks can be performed at home and which are best for the office. Restrict remote time to the days when only those non-office tasks need to be done.

2. Set measurable goals.

HR management is all about setting goals. If someone is working from home, make a list of achievable expectations. Write down what you expect them to achieve while they’re away from the office. If incomplete, their remotely working status should be reviewed.

3. Communicate.

Successful managers constantly let people know where they stand – what they’re doing well and where they need to improve. Unfortunately, when someone works from home it can be “out of sight, out of mind” on this front.

4. Bring people back into the office.

There are benefits of working face-to-face too – both from a social and productive standpoint. By making sure your team come into the office from time-to-time, a noticeable beneficial outcome will show for the business. For instance, set a compulsory weekly or fortnightly team meeting that can’t be missed without a valid excuse.

5. Keep connected.

These days apps such as Slack and Google Hangouts let you stay in constant communication with your team members. Take advantage of these (resist temptation of checking on employees) it may just help with employee engagement.

6. Put the right tech in place.

If you’re worried about your systems being compromised, speak to your IT members. Discuss ways to avoid this and have a written protocol on what’s allowed and what’s not.

And finally…

Real benefits can come from working at home. However, the reality is leadership and management needs to be planted and in some cases, the answer will have to be no. Be prepared for these instances and have a solid, logical reason for why you would deny some employees access to it – and communicate this clearly. By being consistent and transparent, you’ll get the respect from your employees, while helping create a happier, healthier and more productive workplace. If you have any questions regarding flexible working conditions and working from home, speak with the Catalina Consultants team today.

The Royal Commission into Financial Services has been sending shockwaves through Australia’s banking and finance sector. But it’s not just bankers who can learn some valuable lessons from the stories that have been emerging. Some of the key takeaways are just as relevant for human resources (HR) and business owners and managers too.

How the Royal Commission affects HR

The Commission has been unveiling some jaw-dropping revelations about bad business practices and the unethical treatment of customers. This has thrust into the spotlight human resources staff working for banks, insurers, super funds and financial advisers. There’s been some seriously bad stuff going on, and the resulting public relations nightmare is also an HR nightmare.

Spotlighting on financial services, it’s easy seeing how any industry could be similarly affected by unethical or underhanded practices. Take, for instance, the recent media reports in the food industry over fake honey, or the fashion industry’s struggle with ethical manufacturing.

Here are three key lessons for people from any industry.

1. Communication

At its most basic level, HR is all about managing people – and wherever people are involved, the art of communication is key. What the Royal Commission shows above pretty much anything else is a failure of financial institutions to communicate effectively — whether that’s within their organisations, with their staff or externally with customers.

Internally, a lack of communication around accountability has resulted in compliance issues and cultural problems, including permissiveness when it comes to overcharging customers. Externally, a failure to communicate effectively meant customers often signed up for products without knowing any of the terms and conditions of what they’ve signed up for.

And that, in turn, led to unacceptable risk in a sector that was supposed to be all about stability, sobriety and sensibleness.

When mistakes happen — and, in the banks, it seems they were happening all the time — sweeping them under the carpet or failing to acknowledge them only compounds them over the long term. The right ethical approach — and the best business one — is to admit to them with effective, prompt, proactive and timely communication with customers.

2. Compliance

The shambolic state of compliance with many financial institutions has been another of the Royal Commission’s key themes. In short, many of the organisations under scrutiny preferred saving money or generating profits rather than following their obligations under the law.

From an HR perspective, nothing should be more important than operating on the right side of the rules and regulations. As a starting point, this means making sure those rules and regulations inform your organisation’s HR policies and procedures.

But it also means having gatekeepers who will actually enforce these HR policies and procedures too. That’s where the banks fell down. Too often their gatekeepers failed to raise red flags – or at least failed to wave them vigorously enough – when they saw bad things happening.

This is one of the more common issues we see among other businesses too. If your organisation has rules and regulations there needs to be accountability, escalation procedures and reporting around them. The buck has to stop somewhere. If it doesn’t you’re leaving yourself wide open to claims such as bullying, harassment, unfair dismissal and more. You’re also inviting, even courting, bad publicity. And that can hurt your bottom line more than any fine ever could.

3. Culture

Every business needs the right environment, or culture, for success. The Royal Commission has at times unveiled a culture of short-term gain – often at the customers’ expense – that’s deeply embedded within the culture and psyche of financial organisations.

Sometimes this culture has sprung up as a result of badly structured incentive schemes related to remuneration or performance; other times it has simply been a sales-driven, alpha culture that fails to place the customer first.

If your organisation doesn’t have the right culture right now to satisfy your customers and grow your business, what do you need to fix? Do your remuneration structures encourage a culture of risk-taking? Do they take into account the psychology behind your staff’s motivation and the long-term effect on your business? Are you in control of your workplace culture or is it controlling you? Do all your people engage wholeheartedly in what you do, and do it ethically and responsibly?

Remember, nothing is more important to your organisation’s success than its culture. And as an HR person or business owner/manager, you’re the one directly responsible for building it.

Want to build a healthier culture in your workplace?

If you’re looking to better your organisation, then speak with the team at Catalina Consultants. We’re the human resources experts and can put together a bespoke plan to improve your workplace’s culture. Talk to us today.

In the early stages of a business, most owners and managers focus on growth – almost to the exclusion of everything else. But by spending a little time on your human resources (HR) upfront, and then re-examining where you’re at along the way, you can save a lot of headaches and create a more dynamic, successful and profitable business.

There are many examples of startups where neglect for human resources, led to serious issues down the track. Some of the more high profile ones include Uber’s alleged sexist workplace culture to Twitter’s alleged lack of diversity. And these were startups that had already made it big. More common are the ones whose issues get in the way well ahead of that, hampering the business so that it never reaches its potential

It makes sense to make your HR a priority from day one: the first employees you hire are likely to be the most important ones you’ll ever employ. The culture you build together will be the one that permeates through the whole business and, if it’s the wrong one it can take seriously expensive surgery to fix it.

But it also makes sense to keep reviewing and making sure your people and your policies continue to serve your business the right way all the way through your journey.

With that in mind, here’s what I think you should be doing and when implementing your HR procedures:

1. When you’re starting out

When you’re starting out you’re usually looking for work, so it can be hard to envision the day you’ll be so busy with it that you won’t have time to scratch yourself. But, if you do things right, that’s exactly what will happen. And, if you haven’t put the fundamentals in place now, retrofitting them over an existing business will be trickier. That’s why, when you’re opening the doors, I think it pays to look at:

2. A year or two into your HR journey

Hopefully, now things are chugging along. And hopefully, also, those HR steps you took when you first started out have helped keep you on track. But you’ll probably be facing some practical issues that you never reckoned on: the employee who keeps calling in sick, the person whose skills aren’t what you thought they were or the star performer who ups and leaves.

Here’s what I think you should be doing about now:

3. Three-to-five years down the track

By now you’ve grown to the point where it’s simply impossible to be across all the detail for every employee. It’s also when people and culture issues really come home to bite. Here’s what you should be thinking of about now:

4. Once you’re big

It may be tempting to take a breather and sit back but I can tell you that now’s the time you’ll notice everything that didn’t go to plan. How nice it would have been to have had a crystal ball back at start.

This is often the point where businesses change direction, where experiments didn’t happen or when the ground shifts beneath their feet. So it’s also when you often have to start thinking about redundancies and letting people go, not just hiring them.

It’s also when you should probably invest in tech solutions that will help you make things more efficient – not just throwing people at every problem.

Finally, it’s when your core values start to shine through. These should now be the rudder that guides you through growth so go back and look at them. Make sure you still stand for what you said you were going to stand for. Ensure that your people and their metrics for success match these too.

Ultimately, that’s what business success should look like: doing the work you want to do for people you want to do it for without ever compromising what you stand for.

See how we might be able to advise you when it comes to your HR

No matter which stage of business you’re at, we’d love to see how we might be able to assist with your HR capabilities. Get in touch with us today.