New Book. The Art of War for Industrial Relations

New Book. The Art of War for Industrial Relations

The Art of War for Industrial Relations is the title of the soon to be released book by Cameron Blewett.

There is no denying that the nature of industrial relations is changing all the time.

Sun Tzu starts the book with:

The art of war is of vital importance to the State.
It is a matter of life and death, a road either to safety or to ruin. Hence it is a subject of inquiry which can on no account be neglected.

The same can be said about industrial relations.

Yet the question remains, why do so many businesses ignore it until it is too late?

The Art of War for Industrial Relations aims to change the way that we look at industrial relations.

Rather than preparing for an industrial relations battle, we need to turn to Sun Tzu again.

The supreme act of war is to subdue the enemy without fighting

This quote reaffirms my own view that industrial relations is won in the workplace. NOT in the Fair Work Commission or the press.

This book was written to encourage business owners to look to the teachings of the past, rather than the next bright shiny object. It is only when we do this, that we will be able to solve the problems of the present and the future.

You can prepurchase your copy of the book by following this link.

Use the code “20percent” for a 20% discount on the purchase price. (This includes delivery to Australian addresses).

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Industrial Relations Myth Busting

Industrial Relations Myth Busting

I am constantly amazed by the number of myths surrounding industrial relations.

It is even more amusing that even though we are in 2017, these myths don’t look like fading away any time soon.

So, with that in mind, here is 2017’s contribution to industrial relations myth busting.

Myth 1: Industrial Relations, Employee Relations, and Employment Law are all the same thing

While it is possible that industrial relations and employee relations are the same. Employment Law is totally different.

Industrial and employee relations happen in the workplace. Whereas employment law happens in the court.

Yes, you do have to comply with the Fair Work Act when running a business. Though you don’t need to specialise in it to run one. In the same way that you don’t need to be a traffic law expert to drive a car.

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Myth 2: A Human Resources or Law degree will teach you all you need to know about industrial relations.

I don’t know how this one started, or why it is still alive.

These degrees may contain one or two modules that relate to industrial relations. Whereas your knowledge of industrial relations comes from spending time in the trenches.

Learning about people.

Relating to them.

Understanding them.

Myth 3: Industrial relations battles are fought and won in the Fair Work Commission

This has to be one of the most embarrassing myths that I have ever heard.

Sadly, it is one of those myths that are fed by certain members of the legal fraternity.

The reality of things is that regardless of whether you win or lose a matter in the Fair Work Commission, you have lost the battle.

Industrial relations ‘battles’ are won and lost in the workplace. Nowhere else.

Myth 4: Engaging a contractor through their company (pty ltd) means they aren’t an employee

This is a tricky one, and will depend a lot on the how much ‘independence’ the contractor has.

If you are only engaging one person, and set down the hours they can work, start and finish times, etc, they may be an employee.

Though like everything else, it is safer to get advice rather than guess and get it wrong.

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Myth 5: An unfair dismissal complaint will cost my business thousands

This is one of those myths that is being promoted by those with an agenda to push.

Yes. An unfair dismissal complaint may cost you.

How much it costs you depends on how rigid you are and whether you are willing to compromise.

Myth 6: Penalty rates MUST be reduced for me to stay in business

Now this one technically isn’t an industrial relations related myth. It has more to do with the way a business is run than anything else. Though that hasn’t stopped alleged experts from using it to push their agenda.

The reality of things is that if the margins on your business are that tight, you probably shouldn’t be in business.

Are you trying to set yourself apart from your competitors, or are you in a race to the bottom to see who can sell the cheapest widget?

Myth 7: We need to start battening down the hatches to prepare for the coming IR war

While there may be an IR war on the horizon, (depending on who wins the next election), businesses shouldn’t be gearing up for a fight.

What they should be doing is engaging with their workforce.

If you think there is a war looming, employ quality people now to identify any smouldering embers, before they turn into a forest fire. They could also attempt to restore the ‘trust’ and ‘faith’ they have lost in management.


As with everything else in life, don’t take what some people say as gospel. Always, seek out advice and do your own due diligence.


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Online Medical Certificates. Good Or Bad Idea?

Why are employers still asking for medical certificates?

What are your thoughts on medical certificates?

Are they something useful, and necessary to “prove” that an employee is unfit for work?

Or, are they one of those “we have always done it” things?

What if you received a certificate from the Melbourne based online doctor, Qoctor?

Aren’t All Certificates The Same?

My go-to “expert” has a few things to say on this matter.

If I understand the article correctly, he isn’t a fan of them.

In fact, I would go further and suggest that he doesn’t think they are worth the paper they are written on.

Sadly, this ‘expert’ doesn’t appear to have a modern view on this.

Workplace Investigation and the Support Person

Support person.

It is one of those areas of workplace investigations that causes no end of confusion.

This article will discuss the finer points of having a support person present during a workplace investigation.

Though, before we get to that, we need to understand what a support person is.

Section 387(d) of the Fair Work Act 2009 states

any unreasonable refusal by the employer to allow the person to have a support person present to assist at any discussions relating to dismissal; and

This has been further clarified by the Full Bench decision in the V.A.T.E v de Laps [2014] FWCFB 613

In layman’s terms, a support person is there to ‘support’ the person, not be their ‘advocate’. (more…)

Introduction to workplace investigations

IR Simplified: Workplace InvestigationsWhat do you know about workplace investigations, and could you do one?

Before you break out the magnifying glass, pipe, and deerstalker’s cap, there are a few things you need to know.

To begin with, workplace investigations are something that should be taken seriously. Though that doesn’t mean that every investigation will be an inquisition.

By the same token, it also doesn’t mean everyone can be a ‘workplace investigator’. (more…)

Why I Don’t Agree With The Penalty Rate Decision

IR Simplified Penalty Rates DecisionThe FWC’s decision to reduce penalty rates has divided the industrial relations ‘community’. The pundits claim that the decision will help small business, and increase employment.

Discussion around the decision has created a false dichotomy.

If you support the decision you are anti-worker. And, if you disagree with it, you are anti-business.

It also highlights one of the reasons why industrial relations in Australia is the way that it is.

The reality of the decision is that it will do very little to support small business, and could quite possibly be to it’s detriment. (more…)