This month we’re going to be talking about common employee blowouts.
DISCLAIMER: We are sharing common problems our clients experience. BespokeHR are not legal practitioners and any advice provided in these blogs do not take away the requirement to seek legal advice where required.
Our phone can ring up to 30 times a day from clients in crisis mode. Even employers who are doing everything right – can be in a situation where they find themselves in hot water.
“Paulette, my employee is threatening to sue me…”
That three letter word can send shivers down the spine of the most seasoned business owners.
“I’ve just received a call from Safework SA as one of my staff reported me for not feeling safe in the workplace. One of my staff members have come to me and advised they are being bullied – what do I do?”
When it comes to bullying, it is generally never straight forward and to make it even more complicated, we are also finding an increasing trend where the person who makes the initial claim can end up being the biggest bully of all.
“One of my staff member’s claiming they’ve been underpaid for the last 12 months in comparison to her friend who is in the same industry and she’s saying it’s illegal…”
You need to be aware of your specific award rates and what your obligation as an employer is to comply with the relevant award or tool that you are under.
“I have a staff member who is claiming he needs stress leave and it’s the business’ fault. He says he’s completely burnt out and if I don’t give him paid leave for it, he’ll take it to Fairwork…”
As an employer you have a range of health and safety obligations by law. There are a few things you need to know about stress claims and we’ll share a little more about that later.
There are countless claims and allegations that staff make, and we’re here this month to dispel some myths and equip you with comprehensive information on what you can do to safeguard yourself against such allegations.
This week we’re covering four common employee blowouts that can occur, and what you can do to protect yourself and the business in the process.
It’s fundamental you get some things in place to ensure you have a basic level of protection.
It’s common, especially for small businesses to have a “handshake agreement” in place, particularly in some industries where it’s a part of the culture of that industry (eg building & construction, trades, arts, freelancers and hospitality).
However, this just simply won’t hold up if something goes pear shaped. Even if you only employ 1 or 2 team members it is still critical.
It’s important to have an agreement put down in writing.
A contract enables both parties to clearly outline exactly what is expected and agreed upon in regards to roles, responsibilities, pay rates, hours, conditions and grounds for instant dismissal.
It is important to understand the difference between casual, part-time, full-time and salary based contracts. Make sure you’ve chosen the correct contract that matches the requirements in which you engage your team. (Need help with this? Click here)
Without an appropriate contract in place, it is difficult to prove what has been agreed upon, with no reference point or proof if an employee is to escalate a claim.
It is then important to regularly review these contracts at least every two years and preferably annually, as laws, compliance and circumstances are continuously changing.
By basic, we mean having a code of conduct, grievance policy, social media/IT, fair treatment and/or a bullying & harassment policy.
A general employee handbook which outlines what’s expected of an employee can be helpful for both the employer and the employee, so they know directly what the business will and won’t tolerate.
There are many more policies you can have in place, and the more processes and policies you have documented and communicated to your staff, the safer you are in assuring an employee has responsibility to conduct themselves in a particular manner.
However, we warn employers against simply copying policies and procedures from other people, which you certainly don’t use, do the opposite of or comply with, as this can be more dangerous than having no policies in place at all.
If you don’t have the Fairwork Statement attainable or easily found and downloadable, you must provide a copy
You can find a copy of the Fairwork Statement HERE.
According to Fairwork, the statement has information on:
– The National Employment Standards
– The right to request flexible working arrangements
– Modern awards
– Making agreements under the Fair Work Act 2009
– Individual flexibility arrangements
– Freedom of association and workplace rights
– Termination of employment
– Right of entry
– The role of the Fair Work Ombudsman and the Fair Work Commission.
It’s not a requirement, but it’s certainly extremely useful to provide an employment handbook.
This is something that’s central that really encapsulates well your standards, the things that are really important to your business and the way you do things.
A lot of the times you’ll see your values, mission and culture prompts in that document as well. These are the critical foundations and the DNA of your organisation and how you operate.
These areas are not meant to scare you, but prepare you for any worst-case-scenario situations that may arise, so you can approach them with confidence.
Check out more below.