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Employer told to update “weak” policies after an investigation by Fair Work

The Metropolitan Fire Brigade (MFB) was told to review its recruitment and conflict of interest policies and practices, after a senior manager engaged in “blatant” nepotism.

An investigation found the MFB chief information officer engineered a recruitment process to ensure both her sons were hired, after she falsified their CVs, coached them prior to the interview, and got them to change their names to conceal the relationship. She even offered one of her sons a pay increase and moved him into a permanent role.

In a report into the allegations, Victorian Ombudsman Deborah Glass found this was “a case of deception where the family nest was feathered, plain and simple” and said even the most robust policy would not have prevented the level of deception shown by each of the subjects.

However, she found the MFB’s conflict of interest policy to be “profoundly deficient”, saying it “fails to acknowledge the potential for conflicts to exist during recruitment”.

Ombudsman Glass said while the employer in this case could not be held responsible for the deception perpetrated upon it, its conflict of interest policies were weak, and did not reflect best practice.  She said “…..leaders must ensure they create an environment in which conflict of interest policies are embedded in their organisational culture.”

Key message

Fair Work investigations can happen at any time to any business no matter the size.  Is your business compliant? Get in touch with us to ensure you have the right policies and practices in place to pass the compliance test.

Special offer

Get the right people working for your business with our attraction, recruitment, selection and onboarding module – now 50% off (was $4,000, now $2,000) until the end of July!

Reference:

https://www.ombudsman.vic.gov.au/getattachment/b852e331-7bda-449a-87ea-9db393227039

3.3% increase to minimum wage effective 1 July 2017

The Fair Work Commission (FWC) recently announced a 3.3% increase to minimum wage effective 1 July 2017.

These changes affect employees that are:

  • paid in accordance with the National minimum wage
  • paid as per the calculations in modern awards
  • on government funded maternity/paternity or parental leave

How does this affect you?

Ensuring your employees are paid in line with legislative requirements is critical. Not all modern award wages are increasing, so to ensure compliance and find out if your business needs to take action, give us a call and take the stress out of adding another action to your to-do list.

Special offer

Buy 1 hour HR advice to see if you are HR compliant, and get an additional half hour free! Call 03 9662 9900 to take advantage. 

Why does your insurance business need a digital presence?

Insurance and digital were unintentionally the star of this year’s VERO SME Insurance Index. The index found a significant decline in the use of insurance brokers by SME businesses. The trend towards online, direct solution is on the rise.

Many have argued that regardless of this trend there will always be a place for the advice, experience and knowledge of an insurance broker. And we agree. But the reality is, it’s not such a black and white issue, and Businessary’s digital team thinks there’s some room for compromise here.

A digital romance

What if we could marry up some of the best elements of traditional insurance broking, with the ease, availability and convenience of online business? This doesn’t necessarily mean an online shop or transacting business online – but the reality is that we work with so many businesses within the insurance and insurance broking business that have either no digital presence or a very poor digital presence.

A lot of insurance brokers and agencies have never needed to be online, and the bulk of their clients don’t currently prefer to do business online. But clearly, as the research is showing, the tides are changing and aren’t likely to turn.

See below for our top five reasons why you should invest some time, money and energy in your digital footprint:

Top five reasons to do digital

  1. Your current clients may not be online, but your future and prospective clients ARE! Even if they’re not looking to complete a purchase of their insurance solutions online, potential clients do the majority of their research on any transaction…you got it, online. If you’re not even there (or your presence is outdated or unprofessional), you’re out of the running, friend!
  2. Make it easy to be found! There’s being found on Google, and then there’s being FOUND. Doesn’t matter if they’re current clients or new ones, at many points people need your phone number, office location or find the names of your team. Don’t leave them to search through old emails, make it as easy as a click of the button.
  3. Demonstrate your knowledge and expertise through your website and social media presence. Digital isn’t just about selling, it should be largely about educating. SHOW your clients and prospective clients the value of a broker rather than tell. Share relevant articles and your take on them, talk about emerging risks that your clients need to be aware of, and highlight opportunities for risk mitigation to help them prevent incidents from occurring in the first place.
  4. Make your own life easier! Some businesses have created portals for clients to log in and retrieve their certificate of currency, others put handy claims forms online. Think through some of your most frequently asked questions and whether you’re adding any value to the process or if it could be automated online.
  5. Your digital presence isn’t just another step towards being the insurance broker of choice for your clients, it’s also about attracting and retaining top talent within your business. I don’t know any candidates that don’t give a thorough look at their potential employers’ website and social media.

Many of our clients that end up enhancing their website and social media find that they’re replicating a network and community online that mirrors that of their bricks and mortar community. Make the most of it – link to websites of other suppliers that you would refer people to because you know and trust them. Highlight your clients businesses and the good work they do. Feature any local organisations that you sponsor or charities that you care about and do fundraising for. Have some fun with it!

Sources:

Insurance News – The digital dilemma for brokers

Insurance Business – SMEs turning their back on brokers 

Meet Generation Z – Our future workforce | Businessary HR

Time is flying and another generation is ready to take over the world (and your office). Meet Generation Z, the demographic born between 1994 and 2000. They’ve already entered the workforce, and are called the digital natives, the dot-com kids, the most technologically literate generation of children ever.

So how do you prepare of this generation? How do you hire them? How do you motivate them? How do you keep them interested?

Let’s explore further:

  • According to a recent research study, 74% Gen Z-ers think that a job should have a greater meaning than simply being a bread-winning instrument.
  • However, don’t jump to a conclusion that money isn’t important for them generous pay is high on their priority list, but still, 30% of them would be willing to accept a pay cut in order to work for a cause they can deeply relate to and care about.
  • Their top 7 job search criteria – growth opportunities, generous pay, making a positive impact, job security, healthcare benefits, flexible working hours and a good manager to learn from.
  • They want to be entrepreneurs – new ideas, new opportunities, all at their fingertips with easy to access technology.
  • They are not scared of hard work, but flexibility is very important to them.
  • Although they are a technology generation, they want the face to face contact with their colleagues so they can build valuable relationships.

There is no doubt the education system and the workplace is a changing landscape, catering to new and unexpected clients, employees and markets.

Change is inevitable, flexibility is key and regular business health checks and strategy and workforce planning days are critical to the long term success of any business be it small, medium or large.

 Reference sites:

https://www.monster.com/career-advice/article/gen-z-boss-0816

https://www.roberthalf.com/sites/default/files/Media_Root/images/rh-pdfs/rh_0715_grph_1330x3433_genzinfographic_usa_eng_sec.pdf

Swearing in the workplace… does it warrant summary dismissal? | Case study

Acceptance of swearing in the workplace made summary dismissal unfair

Hanson v Precept Services Pty Ltd [2017] FWC 1488 (16 March 2017)

The Fair Work Commission (FWC) found that in a profane workplace, telling a manager to “get f-cked” did not warrant summary dismissal and the employee was awarded the maximum penalty (6 months’ pay) of $27,787.

In September 2016, the Precept Services operations manager was called to a meeting by the managing director and informed the company had investigated allegations of misconduct against him and was terminating his employment with immediate effect.

The FW Commissioner said the operations manager “was not given a clear indication about the reason for his dismissal, not even in the termination letter given to him at the time…….In addition, he was not provided with any advance notice or forewarning of the matters to be discussed in the termination meeting…”.

The operations manager told the Commission he only became aware of the nature of the complaints, and who made them, after lodging his unfair dismissal application, and that he hadn’t had an opportunity to have a support person present nor to respond to the allegations.

The Commissioner heard the dismissal had its origin in a heated exchange seven weeks’ earlier between the operations manager and the managing director’s wife, who was employed as the company’s national WHS manager.

Following a meeting between the WHS manager and the operations manager’s son, to discuss the latter’s performance as an apprentice electrician, the operations manager asked why he hadn’t been included, saying: “Your sneaky husband made that decision, did he?”

When the WHS manager asked what he meant by “sneaky”, he referred to a terse phone conversation between his own wife and the MD after she had queried the wages being paid her son. The MD had allegedly told her, “f-ck off, you do not have your facts right” before hanging up.

The Commission heard the operations manager then leant over the WHS manager’s desk and asked her, “how would you f-cking feel if I said get f-cked to you?”, and repeated the question before eventually leaving the office.

The operations manager claimed the MD often swore at other employees, including the WHS manager, and that he had also seen him punch and kick walls in the office.

The Commissioner stated that “The evidence establishes that the use of robust language in the workplace was not unusual or uncommon, and that it was accepted and tolerated to a large extent, given the example set by the managing director.”

Although the Commissioner accepted that the employer did not have a dedicated HR specialist, and this “inevitably had an impact on the procedures involved in effecting [the] dismissal”, he concluded that the operations manager was unfairly dismissed.

Key lessons

The need for businesses to have appropriate policies and procedures in place and to follow them is critical.  The Commissioner acknowledged that a lack of HR presence saw this business not following process.  If you are unsure of how to handle a certain situation, speak to a trusted HR consultant prior to acting on what you may think is the right thing to do. Workplace legislation can be complicated, so get the right advice and save yourself some money and time.

Changes to minimum wage and annual leave

Changes to awards

Did you know that the Fair Work Commission (Australia’s national workplace relations tribunal) has made changes to award conditions relating to minimum wage and annual leave?

These changes were effective from July 2016 and an overview of these changes are highlighted below:

2.4% Wage increase – 2016 annual wage review

The Fair Work Commission announced a 2.4% increase to minimum wages. The increase was to apply from the first full pay period starting on or after 1 July 2016.

Who does this increase apply to?

Employees covered by:

  • the national minimum wage
  • a modern award or
  • a registered agreement (in some cases).

However, if employees are paid over and above award conditions, these changes don’t apply.

Annual leave

The Fair Work Commission has also varied some awards with new or adjusted clauses around employees taking annual leave. Most changes took effect from 29 July 2016 and provided changes to the following:

  • cashing out annual leave
  • taking annual leave in advance
  • managing large (‘excessive’) annual leave balances
  • payment for annual leave

Some businesses have overlooked changes to workplace legislation over the years and have found themselves being audited and fined by the Commission.

It is important to understand your rights and obligations as an employer to ensure your business is compliant.  For more information on what awards apply to your business OR to ensure you are compliant with relevant legislative changes, please give us a call and we can help!

Don’t let your business get named and shamed in the headlines

Know your employer obligations!

When it comes to businesses hitting the headlines, the focus is on the ‘underdog’, or the ‘little guy’ – the big bad business taking advantage of its employees.

You only need to open the news to see another case where an employer has underpaid their employees, with many being young and foreign workers. Sometimes the company may not even be aware they are underpaying or be up to date with current rates.

How do you, as an employer, avoid being named and shamed? For starters, ask yourself the following three key questions:

• Are you underpaying your employees, or paying them the right wages?
• Are you providing all the entitlements you are legally required to?
• Are you providing safe working conditions?

We all know how costly these mistakes can be…. fines, back payments and compensation can often be the outcome.

Role reversal

However, what happens when it is the employee who has done the wrong thing by their employer?

Even in these cases, it is up to the employer to ensure that they follow the correct process to avoid potentially unfairly dismissing an employee.

Many companies have lost an unfair dismissal case (again costly!) based on process, that sometimes they didn’t even know they missed!

How can you make sure you deal with an employee in the right way, keep yourself from tripping over process, effectively address and resolve the issue, and potentially dismiss an employee if the situation calls for it?

HR in action

Businessary HR Managers Lynn Ross and Lauren McCleery recently assisted a small business in a case where an employee was continuously signed off by a doctor as unfit for work due to a tough personal situation.

Each week, the employee would advise he was feeling better and he would be returning to work on the Monday, however each Monday he would send through a new doctor’s note signing him off as unfit for work for the remainder of the week.

This was a situation that has gone on for months. The employer became suspicious as the pattern continued and communication became less and less. The employer did not know what to do, what they could do, and were understandably nervous about questioning the employee as it was a situation that involved mental health issues.

After briefing the Businessary team, an investigation was quickly underway and it was revealed that the employee in question was falsifying doctors’ letters every week over several months! This was months of false doctors’ letters that resulted in the employee not doing any work, while the company continued to pay him his usual wages out of compassion for his ‘tough personal situation’.

By getting the right support, the company was able to identify that they were being taken advantage of, conduct a timely investigation in accordance with the correct process and get an outcome (immediate summary dismissal in this case) that was fair and reasonable, and it kept the company out of a messy and expensive unfair dismissal or discrimination claim.

All about the process

We have all heard about those cases where an employee is found to be doing something untoward, but through a slip up in process, the company not only loses in Fair Work, but they end up having to pay the individual for their troubles.

The team at Businessary is here to help with any employee issues, whether it is an employee’s performance or how they have conducted themselves. We can support your business through the process from start to finish and even represent your business in a Fair Work claim should you find yourself in a situation where things have not gone the way you thought they would.

Give our HR managers a call on (03) 9662 9900 to chat further about how we can help your business.

What’s all the buzz about visa changes?

Immigration crackdown on employer 457 visa sponsorship

Heightening scrutiny of the ‘genuineness’ of a particular role being sponsored by a business for a 457 visa has seen many employers seek professional support for the application processes.

Government case officers are scrutinising roles being sponsored, asking:

• Have you tried to fulfill these roles locally? If so where is the evidence?
• Are the roles relevant to your business?
• Why are the roles crucial to the business?

What do you need to do?

If you’re an employer submitting a 457 visa sponsorship application, include detail, detail and more detail. Less questions from case officers means a quicker turn around.

Consider including as much information as possible to address the following 11 points as part of the application process:

• Type of business and your operations
• The industry sector your business operates in
• Any new client contracts that require this particular role to be hired
• The importance of the role with in the business
• Detailed position descriptions
• Job ads and/or agency agreements to show that the local market was considered/exhausted
• Why the business considered international recruitment
• Why the applicant is most suited for the role
• Applicants resume and any other relevant application details
• Signed employment contracts
• Any other information that supports the 457 application process

The 11 points above will help build a business case to streamline the process therefore allowing case officers to understand exactly why the business needs such a role.

It’s also important for approved Australian sponsoring employers to keep records to ensure they can defend their applications if the department audits the business.

For more information, or if you require further advice or assistance with regards to sponsorship criteria, compliance or special considerations when dismissing sponsored workers, give Businessary a call on 03 9662 9900.

_______________________

Employers affected by budget changes to skilled migration

In the recent budget announcement to be launched from March 2018, the government has introduced a new levy employers will have to pay to sponsor foreign talent under the reformed skilled migration regime.

The Government is replacing the requirement on employers to contribute 1-2% of their payroll to training if they employ foreign workers, with a fixed-fee arrangement based on their annual turnover.

Business with an annual turnover of less than $10 million will be required to make the following payment:

  • An upfront payment of $1,200 per visa per year for each employee on a Temporary Skill Shortage visa.
  • A one‑off payment of $3,000 for each employee being sponsored for a permanent Employer Nomination Scheme (subclass 186) visa or a permanent Regional Sponsored Migration Scheme (subclass 187) visa.

Business with an annual turnover of more than $10 million will be required to make the following payment:

  • An upfront payment of $1,800 per visa year for each employee on a Temporary Skill Shortage visa.
  • A one‑off payment of $5,000 for each employee being sponsored for a permanent Employer Nomination Scheme (subclass 186) visa or a permanent Regional Sponsored Migration Scheme (subclass 187) visa.

For more information or to review how you could manage your current employees on a working visa, give us a call!

Reference article: http://www.sbs.com.au/yourlanguage/hindi/en/article/2017/05/09/budget-businesses-pay-levy-bring-foreign-workers-skilled-visas

 

Businessary to present at breakfast seminar on ageing workforce

Businessary’s Managing Director Annabel Rees has been invited to speak at the BJS Insurance Group Workers’ Compensation Breakfast Seminar on Wednesday 10 May. This seminar will focus on managing an ever ageing workforce.

Is your business appropriately prepared to manage the risks associated with an ageing workforce?

Retirement age in Australia will increase to 67 by July 2023 and based on current Government proposals it will increase to 70 by 2035.

As people age, their ability to withstand the rigours associated with their employment, be it physical or cognitive, diminishes. Under the no fault workers’ compensation system, failure to effectively manage the risk associated with an ageing workforce can lead to significant increases in an employer’s premium.

At our upcoming workers’ compensation seminar, Aegis RMS, M&K Lawyers, P2 Group, Businessary and Xchanging will provide answers to the following questions:

  • What are your obligations under OH&S?
  • What are you rights and obligations at law?
  • How do you retain knowledge without ongoing exposure to risk?

Seminar Details:

Date: Wednesday, 10 May 2017

Time: 7:30 – 8:00 am (Registration & Breakfast), 8:00 – 9:30 am (Seminar)

Venue: Melbourne Cricket Ground (MCG), AFL Dining Room (entry through Gate 6A), Please use lifts 14, 15 to access this room

RSVP: By Wednesday, 3 May 2017

Parking: There is limited free MCG parking. Parking is also available at Eastern Car Park (National Tennis Centre)

For more information on this seminar, please contact our team on: (03) 9860 4229 or [email protected]

The real meaning of International Women’s Day – close enough is NOT good enough.

By Businessary Managing Director, Annabel Rees

I wasn’t planning on writing today, I actually was struggling to do much of anything this morning after waking up with a head cold. I’ve had a hectic week, the life of a small business owner is all about juggling cashflow, doing the work and growing the business! Throw into that a renovation that has been going on for two years and I’m not surprised I’m run down!

Equality isn’t a quiet achievement

I don’t always speak out, I grew up in a family where the motto ‘be the quiet achiever’ was reinforced, and prefer to let my actions and results speak for themselves. But more and more over the last few years I’ve found the need to speak out against a wave of complacency that we have come ‘far enough’ with equality. Gender equality, marriage equality, religious, racial equality and more. Today is about gender equality, but the principals apply for equality generally.

I have been the only female in the boardroom, I have been the only female leader on a leadership team, and I am female business owner and leader. I am passionate about making the path for those younger than me easier than my experience.

We have come a long way – and it’s a win-win

I have been watching with interest the lead up to International Women’s Day this year, especially what is different – the kick to kick at the MCG this year to mark the AFLW, my builder greeting me this morning to wish me ‘Happy International Women’s Day’ and a male ex colleague asking my advice on unconscious bias. All are great progress towards equality, and as someone reminded me this morning equality doesn’t mean sharing the ‘pie’ it means having two or three pies, quality is win win, not one wins and the other loses.

But we are far from done.

However, what has led me to write today is the wave of commentary that has accompanied today suggesting we are ‘done’ with equality and need to move on! I’m frustrated and I’m disappointed because I wish we were done already! In the last week alone I have experienced at least three examples of not quite done!

Last week I attended a new client opportunity with a male counterpart for a joint venture. On paper, I have significantly more knowledge and experience in delivering the opportunity however the potential client continued to refer to the male lead in the meeting! Even more frustrating was after the meeting, the potential client contacted my male counterpart and asked if he could deliver the project alone. That happens, clients connect with different people regardless of experience, I was ok with that. What was frustrating was the counterpart suggested that he could accept the offer and I ‘help him behind the scenes’, let him win the business and I would do the work without the credit?!

Those are a few examples that I’m still fuming about, but there are plenty more, and worse, examples every day.

Pay gap

Another baffling and enfuriating example of an equality failure is the gender pay gap. Many on our team come from insurance and financial services backgrounds, which has consistently been listed as the industry with the worst pay gap over the past few years…and even in the news today we can see that little progress is being made.

What makes it worse is that we’ve experienced recent occurrences of men within this industry (prominent men in positions of leadership, no less – and not making off the record ‘locker room banter’) say that they ‘don’t believe there’s a gender issue and we should all stop pretending there is.’ Yeah…that really happened. We have it in writing. I sure hope those men don’t have daughters, mothers, wives, sisters or female friends, because if they do I bet those women are pretty disappointed in that attitude.

By the way, this is a pretty cool article on how to respond to a pay gap sceptic.

So why should we address pay gap and equality (hint: this is the silver lining)

Glad you asked…you see, it’s not only about doing the right thing. It’s also good business. This EY report indicates that no business will thrive in this disruptive climate without gender diversity (and, one could easily extrapolate based on their findings, diversity on the whole).

Actually, scratch that, we don’t have to extrapolate – these exact results found AGAIN (thanks to this article from The Australian) in McKinsey and Company’s research which clearly highlights the dividends of diversity: companies that are more gender diverse are 15% more likely to outperform others; for those that are ethnically diverse, it jumps to 35%.

The stats do tell us that while you may have gender diversity at entry levels of your organisation, the representation dies off significantly the closer you get to the top. But both Harvard Business Review and Forbes reported that businesses that had women on their boards and in leadership positions performed better and were more profitable than those that did not.

I remember years ago businesses were focusing on diversity because it was a buzzword and everyone was doing it, but occasionally you’d hear comments like ‘this would be easier if we had tangible evidence of improved business results rather than ad hoc feedback or gut feel.’
Wish. Granted.

But before you get too hopeful, we need to talk violence against women

We’ve given you a sliver of a silver lining (say that three times fast) in the section above, but would be remiss if we didn’t address the huge, deadly elephant in the room. And it’s not a hidden threat, it’s exposed right from the top.

There were plenty of (arguably deserving) headlines during the recent election of Donald Trump in the USA, particularly around his treatment and comments on women. And while I wholeheartedly cannot understand why someone would a) make those comments or b) ELECT someone into the highest office of their land after making those comments, I do have to point out a bit of hypocrisy on the part of all of us Australians heckling the US citizens and their leader from the other side of the world. ‘Those in glass houses’ is another phrase I grew up with, and in this case it’s entirely right. We hurl stones while the same or worse is happening in our own backyard.

According to Our Watch, here are some of the shocking facts about violence against women, right here in Australia:

  • On average, at least one woman a week is killed by a partner or former partner in Australia.
  • One in three Australian women has experienced physical violence, since the age of 15.
  • One in five Australian women has experienced sexual violence.
  • Of those women who experience violence, more than half have children in their care.
  • Violence against women is not limited to the home or intimate relationships. Every year in Australia, over 300,000 women experience violence – often sexual violence – from someone other than a partner.
  • Eight out of ten women aged 18 to 24 were harassed on the street in the past year.

Had enough? Me too. I don’t know about you, but surely this is what ‘gender fatigue’ means. We’re exhausted from being beaten up and when we see stats like this of womenkind being murdered EVERY WEEK, it’s not just devastating but overwhelming – how are we ever going to surpass these insurmountable obstacles, from pay parity to the basic human right of not being killed?

By the way, I know that’s not what gender fatigue means…my favourite definition of it is definitely from this Terri Psiakis article ‘So you suffer from gender fatigue? Get well soon’ which sums up the idea as: ‘apparently some blokes get a little weary of talking about the ways women aren’t treated equally in the workplace. Poor things – please excuse me while I go and vomit and/or repeatedly punch the nearest wall. If those terribly exhausted male CEOs were actually decent blokes they’d know that for every male experiencing gender fatigue there’s a bunch of professional women fatigued by the number of men suffering gender fatigue.’ 

I don’t know about you, but just quietly, we’re not done achieving equality. 

I’m sick, I’m tired, and I’m still mad as hell. One thing I’m not though, is done. We’re not done. But I can’t make a difference on my own, and neither can you. It’s not about any one of us losing our voice or our power so that those previously oppressed can speak or lead. It’s not mutually exclusive! We can all win, and all have equal opportunities to pursue our dreams without discrimination, but male or female, black, white, foreign, indigenous, gay, straight or otherwise, we have to together bring each other up. #beboldforchange

Interational Women's Day, be bold for change, Annabel Rees, Businessary