Attention business owners – we’ve entered a new decade, and the big question you need to ask is, when did you last take a close look at your business to see whether it is protected should any unforeseen employment issues arise?
The start of the year is always a good time to review your internal systems and processes to ensure they are reflective of your current business set-up and operational needs.
Taking the time to review these allows you to not only identify any incorrect, obsolete or inadequate documentation but also determine if you are missing any key documents that could come back to bite you throughout the year.
It is also essential to consider if you are across changes to a dynamic and rapidly evolving industrial relations and employment landscape. It’s quite easy to miss important updates and amendments to workplace instruments and/or legislation when you’re busy running your business.
For example, have you got causal employees working in your business? How many hours are they working each month? It’s important you know this because if they come to you asking to be converted into part- or full-time employees, and are successful, your business may be liable for annual leave entitlements (amongst other entitlements).
This was a result of the WorkPac v Skene (Skene) decision where a new clause was added into modern awards giving casual employees the right to request conversion to full or part-time employment.
Why is this important? You should be assessing your current workforce, how many hours are being worked by team members, and determining whether any casual employees (if you have any) may request a conversion.
Taking time to understand awards and to ensure you are paying employees their correct entitlements will minimise the chance of underpayment (wage theft) and dealing with the associated financial repercussions (fines and reimbursement) as well as reputational harm.
To get you started, we’ve prepared some short questions that you should consider. By answering them, you’ll get a better picture of your current workforce, and if your current approach to managing it is fit-for-purpose.
- How many employees do you have now?
- Is your workforce a mix of casual, part-time and full-time employees?
- Have any casual employees requested conversion to a part or full-time employee?
- Do you have formal employment contracts?
- Do you have required policies and procedures in place and are you actively communicating these and enacting them (including but not limited to):
- Bullying & Sexual harassment
- Disciplinary procedures & termination
- Have you got performance management processes in place for underperforming employees?
- Are you paying your employees in line with their legislated award rates?
Finding a few gaps when answering the above? If so, it might be time to talk to an experienced employment law practitioner who will take the time to understand your business and discuss strategies you can use to mitigate the risks of any employment-related matters.
This could include a review of existing contracts through to the drafting of new contracts, procedures and policies aimed at protecting your business, now and into the future.
Individual liability limited by a scheme approved under professional standards legislation (personal injury work exempted).