Industrial Relations is one of those interesting areas where despite very little changing legislation wise, there is always something happening in it.
As industrial relations professionals, we need to stay abreast of these changes, and developments. One of the easiest ways to do this is through the use of technology.
With this in mind, and in no particular order are 5 essential tools that I believe every industrial relations practitioner should be using.
Ever since I discovered this app in 2011, I have been a full blown convert to it, and would be lost without it. The software is useable across all platforms and devices. Something that you start on your Mac or PC can be synced with, and continued on your smartphone/tablet.
Not only are there browser plugins that will allow you to clip webpages to be stored in Evernote, there are apps that will allow you to draw free-hand, and even a smart notebook from Moleskine that has been created with Evernote in mind.
With both paid and free versions of Evernote available, it won’t cost you anything to try it out. In fact, if you follow the link IRSimplified.com.au/Evernote, and install Evernote on you computer, you will get free access to the premium version for one month.
There is a never ending battle for supremacy in industrial relations in Australia.
On one side of the battle ground you have the employer associations screaming at the government that Australia’s restrictive workplace legislation is killing productivity, blowing out wages, and restricting growth.
They also claim that the current Right of Entry provisions give the unions virtually unrestricted access to their business.
On the other side are the employee groups, or trade unions, and they are screaming the opposite. The legislation doesn’t go far enough to protect employees from unscrupulous employers or enshrine job security. And that the Right of Entry provisions are too restrictive and don’t allow permit holders quick access to workplaces to protect members when things go bad.
Both sides claim that only by joining their organisation will you be able to protect yourself from the evil that will soon come.
And yet throughout all of this, the poor business owner/manager and employee are quickly forgotten. The reality is that they are nothing more than pawns in a popularity contest to see who holds the most influence with the government of the day.
Members Are Being Lied To
The cold hard truth of the matter is that both employer and employee groups don’t want their respective potential and current members to be able to solve their IR problems themselves, because if they did, they would soon realise that there is no point in staying a member.
Whilst they do provide a ‘service’ to their members in the form of a contact line to seek advice on their IR related issue. Actual advice on how to prevent it happening again is scarce or vague at best.
Both sides tell their respective members and future members, that Australia’s employment legislation is extremely complex, and it is only with their expert help that the average person will be able to understand it.Continue reading
Steve Knott, Chief Executive of AMMA, when talking about the Fair Work Act 2009 stated “… for too long employers have battled an ineffective and uncompetitive workplace system that creates barriers and distractions to leadership, innovation and productivity.” That unions were “…forcing employers to process a phone book of union claims, effectively excluding any real opportunity to look at ways to improve the competitiveness and productivity of the business”. He goes even further to say that “The system also leaves employers under a constant threat of strike action”
Is he right, making misleading comments, or showing his lack of understanding of Australia’s employment legislation?
It should be noted that the comments above were made in support of the Fair Work Amendment (Bargaining Processes) Bill 2014 which is currently before parliament.
These terms are two of the most common ones used as ‘proof’ that the Fair Work Act 2009 is a failure.
Those on the industry side of the fence are all too quick to point out that because productivity is the lowest that it has been in a decade, and wages growth is high, that the Fair Work Act has indeed failed.
Has the Fair Work Act actually failed, or are they just scaremongering to increase public awareness of their brand/increase membership?
If the Fair Work Act has indeed failed, how much of this failure is the fault of industry?
I think they have short memories when it comes to the wages that they offered at the start of the mining boom. Bribing potential employees with the high wages to prevent a skills gap when mining took off.
There has been a bit of a discussion of late around the requirement for ‘independent workplace investigators’ to be licensed as Private Investigators under relevant security providers legislation.
Whist some within the IR/HR profession do believe that it is required, there are others who are not so sure, and some who steadfastly refuse to even consider the possibility. This is made even more confusing by the recent article by Josh Bornstein in the Australian Financial Review where he claims that the field of workplace investigations is largely unregulated.
It isn’t unregulated, there is legislation governing investigations, it just isn’t enforced.
Whilst it is my belief that in Queensland, workplace investigations fall under the Security Providers Act 1993 and that those doing the ‘investigation’ need to be licensed, he does raise some interesting points about the quality of the investigation provided.
Licensing requirements aside, there appears to be a bizarre level of resistance by those from a Human Resource/Industrial Relations background to obtaining the minimum standard of training required to become a licensed investigator.
Hardly a day goes by where there isn’t some sort of commentary about how bad unions are, and why they are the worst thing to hit Australian businesses since the removal of slave labour.
Fortunately for the lazy, arrogant and incompetent managers, they are the best friend that they can have. Here are some of the top reasons why we should open our arms up to the union movement.
Gives You Someone To Blame
Have you just negotiated an enterprise agreement that didn’t go as well as you thought it would, or with the exorbitant wage increases is going to cost the company more money than originally budgeted for?
Before the C Level managers or board ask you the question about how it happened, make sure that you point the finger at the union official who sat at the negotiating table and told you what you had to put in to your agreement.[GARD]
Saves You Actually Having To Talk To Your Staff
Are you sick of talking to your staff about changes or think that all they do is come to you all the time to whinge and whine about the smallest thing? Do you really want to tell them all to harden up, though know you can’t because it would be in breach of your company’s touchy feely Code of Conduct?
Close the door and ignore all of them. They will eventually get the idea that you don’t care about their kindergarten sob stories and take the matter straight to the union official the next time they come by. Or, if things are really that bad, they may get the union official to make a special visit just to talk to you.
You will be able to breathe a huge sigh of relief that instead of having to talk to 10, 20, or even 100 staff members you will soon be dealing with one union official. Remember, as soon as you start talking to a union official about something, it gives you someone to blame for whatever happens next.Continue reading
What’s got you confused is how you make it happen.
Do you just give your staff an agreement that you prepared earlier and wait for a yay or nay from them? Or, do you give them a blank sheet of paper and get them to write down their wish list, picking and choosing what you want to put into it?
Whilst the process of negotiating an enterprise agreement is relatively easy, there are certain things that need to be done, and in the right order, otherwise you may have some explaining to do when you seek approval from the Fair Work Commission.
Notice Of Employee Representational Rights.
Before you can start bargaining for the enterprise agreement, you need to let your staff know that it is happening. This is where the Notice of Employee Representational Rights comes in.
Schedule 2.1 of the Fair Work Regulations 2009 specifies the content that the notice should have.
It is also worth noting that the notice of employee representational rights should be just that, and not have anything else attached to it, either in the email notification or when/if the notice is placed on a notice board.[GARD]Continue reading
You’ve made the decision to start negotiating your first Enterprise Agreement. Before you send off your Notice of employee representational rights, there are a few things you need to think about first.
Do You Really Need One?
This is probably the most important part of the whole Enterprise Agreement porcess. If you aren’t 100% sure that your business needs one, then don’t start the process.
Having an enterprise agreement in place will lock you into the terms and conditions that are in that agreement until another one takes its place or it is terminated.
An enterprise agreement is ideal if you business is going to experience growth during the agreement’s lifetime. Having one will simplify the the process of paying your staff by taking away the confusion that exist with the Modern Award system.
With regards to the Fair Work Act 2009, an enterprise agreement is an agreement on certain employment conditions between an employer and their employee(s).
Enterprise Agreements can be between a) An employer and group of employees; b) More than one employer and group of employees; c) One of more employers and one of more unions for a genuine new enterprise (Greenfields Agreement)