Episode 01 IRSimplified Podcast

Welcome to the first episode of the IR Simplified podcast.

With future episodes, anything that is mentioned in the show will appear here as a show note.

You can find this podcast on iTunes by clicking below.

Did Steve Knott Get It Wrong?

Photo Credit: Lars Plougmann via Compfight cc
Photo Credit: Lars Plougmann via Compfight cc

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.

Way Off The Mark

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Who’s To Blame? The Act or Industry?

Productivity and wages blowout.

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.

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Workplace Investigators. To License or Not To License?

Workplace Investigators. To Licence or Not To licence? | IRSimplified.com.au
Workplace Investigators. To Licence or Not To licence? | IRSimplified.com.au
Photo Credit: ankarino via Compfight cc

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.

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Why We Love Unions (And You Should, Too!)

Why We Love Unions (And You Should, Too!) | IRSimplified.com.au
Why We Love Unions (And You Should, Too!) | IRSimplified.com.au
Photo Credit: Âtin via Compfight cc

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?
Solution.
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

Negotiating Your Enterprise Agreement

Enterprise agreement bargaining table
Image courtesy of suphakit73 / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

After giving is some serious thought and more than a little bit of prior planning, you have decided that an Enterprise Agreement will be a good thing for the future growth of your business.

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

An Enterprise Agreement’s Most Dangerous Clause

Photo Credit: Olivier Hill via Compfight cc
Photo Credit: Olivier Hill via Compfight cc

What do you think the most dangerous clause in an Enterprise Agreement is?

A ‘restrictive’ clause on wage increases?

Nope.

A clause on productivity improvements, if it makes it into the agreement?

Nope. Not even close.

How about the clause classifying the positions?

Once again, no.

All of these are fairly innocuous when compared to what has to be the most dangerous clause ever to find its way into an enterprise agreement.

“The Charter of Union Workplace Delegate Rights”

This clause is hardly as benign as most would lead you to believe and looks something like this.Continue reading

Planning Your First Enterprise Agreement

Your First Enterprise Agreement | IRSimplified.com.auYou’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.

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Enterprise Agreements. What Are They?

Enterprise Agreements. What Are They? | IRSimplified.com.auWith 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)

Modern Awards v Enterprise Agreements

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Workplace Bullying. What Is It?

Changes to the Fair Work Act 2009(cwth) that came into force on 01 Jan 2014 mean that a worker who believes that they are being bullied at work, can apply to the Fair Work Commission for an order to stop bullying.

Under the Act, a worker is being bullied when a person or a group of people repeatedly behave unreasonably towards a worker or a group of workers AND the behaviour creates a risk to health and safety.

Examples of bullying behaviour

The Fair Work Commission website lists the following as examples of what bullying behaviour may be.
Bullying behaviour may involve, for example, any of the following types of behaviour:

  • aggressive or intimidating conduct
  • belittling or humiliating comments
  • spreading malicious rumours
  • teasing, practical jokes or ‘initiation ceremonies’
  • exclusion from work-related events
  • unreasonable work expectations, including too much or too little work, or work below or beyond a worker’s skill level
  • displaying offensive material
  • pressure to behave in an inappropriate manner.

It is important to note, that for the behaviour to be classed as bullying, the behaviour must be repeated and unreasonable and must create a risk to health and safety.

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Significant Decision From Full Bench Fair Work Commission Regarding Bullying.

Yesterday, the Full Bench of the Fair Work Commission handed down a decision of significance with regards to the way that it assesses applications for an order to stop bullying under s.789FC  of the Fair Work Act 2009.

An employee lodged an application for an order to prevent her from being bullied at work. The applicant was allegedly subjected to bullying behaviour from November 2007 through to May 2013, though no bullying behaviour has occurred since May 2013.

This decision deals with the jurisdictional objection from the respondent, being that the Commission has no jurisdiction to hear and determine an application involving alleged bullying conduct which occurred prior to 1 January 2014, the date that Part 6-4B commenced

Points of interest:

  • Paragraph 7: Reference to ‘is at work’ in s789FD(1) simply provides the context in which the bullying behaviour has taken place. The alleged bullying behaviour must take place prior to the making of an application for an order under s. 789FF.
    This was in response to the submission from the respondent that a worker can only be bullied at work from 1 January 2014, when the  legal characterisation of ‘bullying’ came into force.Continue reading