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February 2022 Newsletter

Welcome to the first HR update for 2022. The purpose of these monthly updates is to keep you and your business across the critical employment updates as they unfold. If there is a particular topic you would like covered or you would like to submit a question to our ‘Ask an Expert’ please email enquiries@liquidhr.com.au. We will choose one to two questions to incorporate each month.

New Resource Hub

We have been busy building a resource hub for all our current clients with hundreds of up-to-date templates at your fingertips including:

  • Contracts of employment
  • Policies
  • Letters
  • Forms
  • Checklists
  • HR Guides

You can view the resources available at https://liquidhr.com.au/resource-hub/

Access to these resources is free for all current Liquid HR subscription clients. Login details will be sent within the coming weeks. If you have any suggestions on additional resources that would be beneficial for your business, please let us know.

Is Your Business Compliant?

With the new year well underway, it is a great opportunity to look at your current employment arrangements to make sure you’ve kept up to date with the continuous employment law changes.

We’ve included a checklist below to help you assess your current compliance:

  •  We have identified the modern award coverage and classification for every position in our business
  • We are compliant with every provision in the identified modern award/s including, but not limited to, minimum hourly rate, penalty rates, overtime provisions, allowances, break times and hours of work arrangements.
  • For employees paid an annualised salary under a modern award, we have undertaken a review every 12 months as per the award requirements.
  • We are paying all eligible employees the minimum 10% superannuation required.
  • We are aware that super will be increasing to 10.5% from 1 July 2022 and we have a process in place to ensure this is executed.
  • Since 1 November 2021 we have been complying with the new superannuation stapled fund requirements. We have updated our contracts of employment to reflect this change.
  • We are aware of the removal of the minimum $450 threshold for super payments from 1 July 2022.
  • We have a process in place to ensure every casual employee is reviewed on their 12-month anniversary to determine if they need to be offered part time or full-time employment. We understand that we must write to all casual employees within 21 days of their 12-month anniversary advising them of the outcome (not applicable for employers with fewer than 15 employees).
  • We understand the Fair Work Commission is currently reviewing the minimum wages in modern awards with any increase normally effective from 1 July each year (there have been some stagged increases in 2020 and 2021 due to Covid). We have in place a process to manage increases and have budgeted appropriately.
  • Our independent contractor agreements have been reviewed to ensure they reflect the recent high court decision regarding independent contractor arrangements.
  • Our employment contracts have been reviewed at least annually
  • Our employment policies and procedures have been reviewed at least annually
  • We issue the Fair Work Information Statement to all new employees
  • We issue the Casual Employment Information Statement to all new casual employees

Learning And Development On A Budget

Learning and development is an important part of an employee’s life cycle that allows them to grow in their role and keeps them engaged. It helps to retain and attract top performers, improve culture, increase productivity, and contributes to a strong company image.

Most people think of ‘learning and development’ as attending conferences or formal training courses, but these options can be costly and aren’t the only way for employees to develop.

If formal training programs aren’t within your budget this year, there are many other options to continue your team’s development.

  • Mentoring – this is the most obvious, low-cost method of learning and development and often an effective one. Providing an employee with a dedicated mentor who can advise and guide them through their career gives the employee a stable source of information and support. The mentor can also provide opportunities for the learner to work on new projects with them and build their skills.
  • Google Garage – Google Garage is a free platform provided by Google with hundreds of courses in a wide variety of disciplines. Some of these courses require payment, but many are free. Each Google Garage concludes with a certificate of completion for the employee to add to their resume.
  • Ted Talks – Ted Talks are a collection of video lectures and opinion pieces by field experts. These free videos are available online and can be used in conjunction with in-house mentoring to increase an employee’s knowledge base and challenge current methods and ways of thinking.
  • Team sharing – holding monthly meetings for each team to share what they are currently working on and explain some of their work provides an opportunity for the employee to learn within their organisation. It can also provide an opportunity for the employee to learn presentation and public speaking skills when it is their turn to present for their team.
  • Australian Graduate School of Management (via the University of New South Wales https://navigator.agsm.edu.au/catalogue/free-courses) offer free online training sessions in the below topics:
    • Collaborative leadership
    • Effective coaching and mentoring
    • Foundations of Emotional Intelligence
    • Inclusive leadership
  • Upskill in Microsoft Applications via Microsoft Learn https://docs.microsoft.com/en-us/learn/
  • Access online training from industry professionals for a small fee. For example Simon Sinek offers short online classes from $30. See https://simonsinek.com/InspireU They are live from America, but a recorded session is made available.

However you choose to invest in your team’s learning and development, you should ensure it’s aligned with your company values and goals, as well as the individual’s needs and skill gaps.

Independent Contractor v Employee

On the 9th of February 2022 the High Court handed down two decisions related to independent contractors which has shifted the way we identify independent contractors.

A link to each of the cases is available below:

Construction, Forestry, Maritime, Mining and Energy Union v Personnel Contracting Pty Ltd [2022] HCA 1 (9 February 2022)

ZG Operations Australia Pty Ltd v Jamsek [2022] HCA 2 (9 February 2022)

Prior to the above ruling, when determining whether a worker was an employee or independent contractor, the courts looked at both the terms of the contract, but also the totality of the relationship, that is how the relationship operated in practice. In many instances this saw employees engaged as independent contractors later claiming they were employees and not paid appropriate entitlements e.g., leave accruals.

In the recent ruling, the High Court has shifted focus to the contract of employment. Whilst there is still an element of complexity and factors such as the amount of control the employer has over the worker are still considered, the High Court in their recent decision focused on the rights and obligations in the contract itself, not how the relationship played out after the worker was engaged.

This decision has prompted many employers to review their independent contractor agreements to ensure the contract clearly outlines the nature of the arrangement and the agreed terms.

Ask An Expert

If you have a question you would like to submit for us to incorporate in our next update, please email enquiries@liquidhr.com.au

We have a full-time employee that commenced with us on the 1st of September 2021. He had a six-month probation period that is scheduled to end on the 28th of February 2022. We have a few concerns regarding his performance that we have discussed with him, and we would like more time before confirming the successful completion of his probationary period. Can we extend his probationary period? If so, for how long?

The first thing we need to determine is the size of your business. If your business has fewer than 15 employees, then you have a 12-month minimum employment period (commonly referred to as a probationary period). For a business with 15 or more employees, this period is 6 months.

During a probationary period if you dismiss an employee for poor performance or conduct, they cannot make an unfair dismissal claim. It is important to note that all employees regardless of length of service can make and adverse action (general protections) claim if they feel they were terminated due to a workplace right they have e.g. due to their age, gender or because they made a complaint in the workplace.

You cannot extend a probationary period beyond the 6- or 12-month period and still be protected from an unfair dismissal claim. The only exception to this is if the employee has been on a period of leave without pay (excluding an unpaid stand down). The period of leave without pay isn’t counted towards the 6- or 12-month period.

In this particular instance, we would encourage you to determine the employee’s suitability prior to their 6-month anniversary.

For more information on the above, please contact us on 1300 887 458 and speak with one  of our HR Consultants. If you are interested in learning more about our HR services, including HR OutsourcingHR ConsultingHR Advisory Services, contact us at enquiries@liquidhr.com.au.