The beginning of the New Year is the perfect opportunity to ‘health check’ your business. We published this great article from Madeline Armstrong last year and it is just as relevant today! It takes you through some key items that you should start looking into immediately to ensure your business is compliant from an HR and Employment Law perspective.
Compliance from an employment law perspective
So, you’ve been in business for a few years and have built up a team of employees. Business is booming, but you’re starting to feel some growing pains. You realise that the ‘same old’ just won’t cut it anymore when it comes to managing your people and it’s keeping you up at night.
Don’t worry. We’ve got you covered! There are a few key items to be familiar with and some great resources out there to assist. Let’s have a look at some now…
1. Terms and conditions
Now, don’t let your eyes glaze over here. Stay with me! Whilst employment terms and conditions may be dull, they’re exceedingly important. Having accurate, up-to-date and enforceable employment contracts is critical, as is identifying the applicable Modern Award or Enterprise Agreement (if relevant) that covers your staff. Why? Because they dictate and govern employee entitlements, from hours of work and applicable allowances to termination and redundancy pay. They ensure the fundamentals are agreed, compliant and work for both employer and employees.
As a start point, audit your current contracts, or prepare new contracts that stack up against the ten National Employment Standards (NES), which set out employees’ minimum entitlements. Importantly, these include providing all employees with a copy of the Fair Work Information Statement. Make sure you include the Fair Work Information Statement as part of your new employee process.
The NES applies to all employees, not just award covered employees, so make sure you are familiar with what it includes and doesn’t include.
The Fair Work Ombudsman has a fairly user-friendly site and some really useful free content, so familiarise yourself with the site as a handy go-to.
2. Policies and procedures
With all the work it takes to grow and run your business you may have forgotten to turn your mind to policies and procedures. But please, make them your next priority.
Policies and procedures provide clear directions about the what, why, who, when and how related to your daily business operations. They set behavioural expectations, establish decision-making processes and help avoid problems, ensure consistency in staff interactions, and offer protection against misunderstanding or manipulation. Critically, when it comes to an employee grievance that turns into a claim (for example discrimination or bullying), policies and procedures enable you to show any court or commission how your company deals with such issues, which is step one in defending a claim.
With a relatively small number of employees it may seem like a waste of time to create formal policies, but for the reasons highlighted above, we recommend that you at least prepare and share with employees the following:
· Equal employment opportunity policy;
· Anti-workplace bullying and harassment policy;
· Occupational health and safety policy; and a
· Grievance and complaint procedure.
These policies will ensure that you’re meeting your minimum requirements so that you can defend a claim should one arise in any of these areas. To learn more, check out our policy and procedure article here or call us to discuss.
3. HR processes and employee data
HR collects a lot of employee information so it’s worth considering how you will securely collect, use and store this information. We recommend looking into an online Human Resource Information System (HRIS) to make this easier and set you up for future growth.
Our current favourite product is Employment Hero, which connects to Xero. Two key benefits include the automation of employee contracts based on your own, and Employment Hero’s templates, and employee onboarding – enabling new employees to input their own bank, tax and superannuation details directly, saving significant administration time. We use Employment Hero ourselves, and love how it saves us time and headaches.
4. Organisational design
As your business expands, it’s wise to prioritise the development of a simple organisational design that defines roles, teams, accountabilities, operating procedures and reporting structures. Doing so will help prevent future growing pains. It’ll also assist you when it comes to making decisions about workforce planning, outsourcing and succession plans.
More to come…
These are just the building blocks for compliance. The next layer is building capability. Feel free to use our Compliance & Capability Checklist as a handy resource to check off all the items we’ve discussed and to consider the next steps in capability building. And be in touch!
You can reach me on firstname.lastname@example.org or 0427 214574. I’d be happy to catch-up with you over a coffee to ‘health check’ your business to see how we can best assist you develop the plans, policies, procedures or processes that will help your company flourish.