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02 4940 8743

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Newcastle NSW 2300
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Welcome to this week’s edition of The HR Connection,

Schools are re-opening in NSW this week with students returning to fulltime education once again. This will no doubt provide some relief for parents working from home and juggling home-schooling. This also provides businesses greater opportunities to bring more of their team back to the workplace. However, even though restrictions have eased for our schools, your business still needs to adhere to the strict Government guidelines.

These guidelines include setting up strategies in the workplace related to social distancing, cleaning, hygiene and more. Our team will be discussing these important actions with our clients and what they mean for their businesses.

Return to Work (RTW) Employee Concerns

Your business may have commenced developing your return to work strategy for your business. As you transition:

  • Have you consulted with your staff regarding the development of your return to work plan?
  • Have you observed any resistance from certain employees?
  • Has any employee(s) raised concerns about returning to the workplace?


Fear and anxiety are normal reactions during these times, given the impact this pandemic has had on our lives and people have become somewhat used to the protection of their homes where they feel safe.

Identify and Alleviate Employee Concerns
As a leader, it is important to identify employees with concerns and instigate open and honest conversations to help reduce their feelings of unease and how/when they might transition back to the workplace. Here are some considerations:

  • Seek to understand the reason your employee is worried. Does s/he have a vulnerable person living at home or do they have an underlying health conditions that you may not have been aware of? Perhaps s/he has anxiety or depression that has been amplified by COVID-19?
  • Discuss the control measures your business has put in place to help mitigate the spread of COVID-19 at work, for example, hand sanitisers at every desk, splitting the team into smaller groups that work alternate days/rosters to ensure you can adhere to physical distancing rules.
  • Identify and discuss the logistics about returning to the workplace e.g. the use of public transport may be a concern, children in day-care and how that might impact work rosters, the need to care for a vulnerable family member etc.


It is important to consider that your return to work plan, right now, may not be suitable for every employee’s situation and may require modification and flexibility. Open and empathetic conversations can assist in identifying concerns and developing an adapted plan for these employees where possible.

JobKeeper Update

We have clients that have employees who would normally earn more than the JobKeeper $1500 a fortnight who have asked us are they still required to pay employees their usual pay by “topping up” the JobKeeper payment?

The answer is, yes, if they are working their usual contracted hours that they were working prior to COVID-19.

If employees are working their usual hours, then they are entitled to their usual pay. By agreement you can reduce an employee’s hours or arrangement, however not their usual hourly rate of pay. We recommend that you put any variation of employment in writing, include a review date and ensure both parties sign the agreed terms.

Underpayment of Wages in the Fast Food Industry

Hero Sushi is the latest company to be heavily fined for underpaying their employees. The Federal Court issued record penalties of $891,000 including fines for two owner directors, a finance manager and two payroll officers of Hero Sushi.

An audit completed in 2016, uncovered a massive shortfall in wages of just over $700,000 for 95 employees of 3 Hero Sushi takeaway outlets – one of them in Kotara. Inspectors uncovered false records that deliberately provided inaccurate hours of work and pay rates with some employees being paid hourly rates as low as $12 an hour. They also failed to pay some workers penalties and loading e.g. weekend and public holidays.

Are you Paying your Employees Correctly?
This case brings the underpayment of wages back into the limelight and is a good reminder of how damaging this behaviour can be to your employees and your brand. The penalties alone for such breaches would likely destroy most businesses beyond repair.

If you have concerns about your payroll and how it is being administered (especially how your awards are being interpreted) or just want to confirm you are paying your employees correctly, please reach out to us.

Federal Ruling on Casual Entitlements

There are over 1 million casual workers in Australia who work a regular pattern of work and that are rostered in advance. It is generally the case that casual workers are paid an increased hourly rate (usually in the form of a 25% casual loading) to compensate for not having entitlements that permanent workers receive e.g. personal carer’s leave and annual leave etc.

Last week it was announced that Workpac has failed in its high-profile challenge against a worker who claimed he was wrongly classified as a casual and should have received permanent employee entitlements.

The employee worked for labour hire company WorkPac from July 2014 through to April 2019, at several mines operated by Glencore Australia.

In October 2018, he claimed he was not a casual employee and sought outstanding entitlements including annual leave, paid personal/carer’s leave, paid compassionate leave and public holiday pay entitlements due under the Fair Work Act and WorkPac’s Enterprise Agreement for coal mining workers.

In response, WorkPac applied to the Federal Court that the worker was a casual employee by common law and under sections 86, 95 and 106 of the FW Act, and that he was a ‘casual field team member’, not a ‘permanent field team member’, under its Enterprise Agreement.

In handing down their findings Justices Mordy Bromberg, Richard White and Michael ruled the employee was not a casual under either instrument.

In doing so, the bench considered the meaning of ‘casual employee’ and relied on the Skene ruling’s determination that a casual is “an employee who has no firm advance commitment from her or his employer to continuing and indefinite work according to an agreed pattern of work”.

The Potential Fallout for Employers
The fallout for this ruling could have massive ramifications for employers, to the tune of billions in back payments, as the ruling could prompt workers who have consistent employment to question whether they are entitled to receive these payments.

Given the significance of the judgement for employers in all industries, the judgement will likely be appealed to the High Court.

Employer groups including the Australian Chamber and Business NSW have been lobbying the Federal Government to change the Fair Work Act to expressly address the uncertainty caused by these recent rulings.

Do you Engage Casual Employees?
In the interim, if you are engaging casuals on a regular basis, it’s important to consider their pattern of work and the manner in which you engage them to limit your exposure  to the types of leave, public holiday and overtime backpay claims that can arise from these latest Federal Court judgements.

We will keep you updated on any appeals or changes to the Fair Work Act in relation to these matters as they happen.

As we begin to actually return to the workplace, Skildare will continue to keep you abreast of changes in legislation and HR that are important for your business via our weekly Newsletter. Plus we will be letting you know of changes as they happen via our Social Media channels so be sure to connect with us on those platforms:


If you have colleagues that would also benefit from this information, please feel free to forward this email to them or direct them to our site to sign up for future issues here.

We continue to take measures to support our clients and our team throughout these crazy times. If you would like to speak with our team, please call (02) 4940 8743 or via email admin@skildare.com.au

Di Loong
SKILDARE DIRECTOR
 

 

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or IF YOU NEED TO CHAT ABOUT YOUR HUMAN RESOURCES DURING THESE CHALLENGING TIMES CALL SKILDARE ON (02) 4940 8743

 

Welcome to this week’s edition of The HR Connection,

Schools are re-opening in NSW this week with students returning to fulltime education once again. This will no doubt provide some relief for parents working from home and juggling home-schooling. This also provides businesses greater opportunities to bring more of their team back to the workplace. However, even though restrictions have eased for our schools, your business still needs to adhere to the strict Government guidelines.

These guidelines include setting up strategies in the workplace related to social distancing, cleaning, hygiene and more. Our team will be discussing these important actions with our clients and what they mean for their businesses.

Return to Work (RTW) Employee Concerns

Your business may have commenced developing your return to work strategy for your business. As you transition:

  • Have you consulted with your staff regarding the development of your return to work plan?
  • Have you observed any resistance from certain employees?
  • Has any employee(s) raised concerns about returning to the workplace?


Fear and anxiety are normal reactions during these times, given the impact this pandemic has had on our lives and people have become somewhat used to the protection of their homes where they feel safe.

Identify and Alleviate Employee Concerns
As a leader, it is important to identify employees with concerns and instigate open and honest conversations to help reduce their feelings of unease and how/when they might transition back to the workplace. Here are some considerations:

  • Seek to understand the reason your employee is worried. Does s/he have a vulnerable person living at home or do they have an underlying health conditions that you may not have been aware of? Perhaps s/he has anxiety or depression that has been amplified by COVID-19?
  • Discuss the control measures your business has put in place to help mitigate the spread of COVID-19 at work, for example, hand sanitisers at every desk, splitting the team into smaller groups that work alternate days/rosters to ensure you can adhere to physical distancing rules.
  • Identify and discuss the logistics about returning to the workplace e.g. the use of public transport may be a concern, children in day-care and how that might impact work rosters, the need to care for a vulnerable family member etc.


It is important to consider that your return to work plan, right now, may not be suitable for every employee’s situation and may require modification and flexibility. Open and empathetic conversations can assist in identifying concerns and developing an adapted plan for these employees where possible.

JobKeeper Update

We have clients that have employees who would normally earn more than the JobKeeper $1500 a fortnight who have asked us are they still required to pay employees their usual pay by “topping up” the JobKeeper payment?

The answer is, yes, if they are working their usual contracted hours that they were working prior to COVID-19.

If employees are working their usual hours, then they are entitled to their usual pay. By agreement you can reduce an employee’s hours or arrangement, however not their usual hourly rate of pay. We recommend that you put any variation of employment in writing, include a review date and ensure both parties sign the agreed terms.

Underpayment of Wages in the Fast Food Industry

Hero Sushi is the latest company to be heavily fined for underpaying their employees. The Federal Court issued record penalties of $891,000 including fines for two owner directors, a finance manager and two payroll officers of Hero Sushi.

An audit completed in 2016, uncovered a massive shortfall in wages of just over $700,000 for 95 employees of 3 Hero Sushi takeaway outlets – one of them in Kotara. Inspectors uncovered false records that deliberately provided inaccurate hours of work and pay rates with some employees being paid hourly rates as low as $12 an hour. They also failed to pay some workers penalties and loading e.g. weekend and public holidays.

Are you Paying your Employees Correctly?
This case brings the underpayment of wages back into the limelight and is a good reminder of how damaging this behaviour can be to your employees and your brand. The penalties alone for such breaches would likely destroy most businesses beyond repair.

If you have concerns about your payroll and how it is being administered (especially how your awards are being interpreted) or just want to confirm you are paying your employees correctly, please reach out to us.

Federal Ruling on Casual Entitlements

There are over 1 million casual workers in Australia who work a regular pattern of work and that are rostered in advance. It is generally the case that casual workers are paid an increased hourly rate (usually in the form of a 25% casual loading) to compensate for not having entitlements that permanent workers receive e.g. personal carer’s leave and annual leave etc.

Last week it was announced that Workpac has failed in its high-profile challenge against a worker who claimed he was wrongly classified as a casual and should have received permanent employee entitlements.

The employee worked for labour hire company WorkPac from July 2014 through to April 2019, at several mines operated by Glencore Australia.

In October 2018, he claimed he was not a casual employee and sought outstanding entitlements including annual leave, paid personal/carer’s leave, paid compassionate leave and public holiday pay entitlements due under the Fair Work Act and WorkPac’s Enterprise Agreement for coal mining workers.

In response, WorkPac applied to the Federal Court that the worker was a casual employee by common law and under sections 86, 95 and 106 of the FW Act, and that he was a ‘casual field team member’, not a ‘permanent field team member’, under its Enterprise Agreement.

In handing down their findings Justices Mordy Bromberg, Richard White and Michael ruled the employee was not a casual under either instrument.

In doing so, the bench considered the meaning of ‘casual employee’ and relied on the Skene ruling’s determination that a casual is “an employee who has no firm advance commitment from her or his employer to continuing and indefinite work according to an agreed pattern of work”.

The Potential Fallout for Employers
The fallout for this ruling could have massive ramifications for employers, to the tune of billions in back payments, as the ruling could prompt workers who have consistent employment to question whether they are entitled to receive these payments.

Given the significance of the judgement for employers in all industries, the judgement will likely be appealed to the High Court.

Employer groups including the Australian Chamber and Business NSW have been lobbying the Federal Government to change the Fair Work Act to expressly address the uncertainty caused by these recent rulings.

Do you Engage Casual Employees?
In the interim, if you are engaging casuals on a regular basis, it’s important to consider their pattern of work and the manner in which you engage them to limit your exposure  to the types of leave, public holiday and overtime backpay claims that can arise from these latest Federal Court judgements.

We will keep you updated on any appeals or changes to the Fair Work Act in relation to these matters as they happen.

As we begin to actually return to the workplace, Skildare will continue to keep you abreast of changes in legislation and HR that are important for your business via our weekly Newsletter. Plus we will be letting you know of changes as they happen via our Social Media channels so be sure to connect with us on those platforms:


If you have colleagues that would also benefit from this information, please feel free to forward this email to them or direct them to our site to sign up for future issues here.

We continue to take measures to support our clients and our team throughout these crazy times. If you would like to speak with our team, please call (02) 4940 8743 or via email admin@skildare.com.au

Di Loong
SKILDARE DIRECTOR
 

 

  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.
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PO Box 889
Newcastle NSW 2300​

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