We are on the home straight to Christmas, a perfect time to share what’s on the Radar for 2023.
INTRODUCTION of Family and Domestic Violence Leave
In July this year, the Federal Government introduced a bill to create a universal (meaning for all employees) entitlement to 10 days paid family and domestic violence leave (FDVL) into the National Employment Standards (NES). The new paid leave entitlement will be available to all employees from 1 February 2023. For employees of small business employers (employers with less than 15 employees), the leave will be available from 01 August 2023.
NO MORE pay secrecy clauses
The Government has introduced changes to pay secrecy clauses. The intent behind this change is to promote transparency and encourage gender equality in pay.
All employees now have a right to ask other employees about their rates of pay. This now constitutes a workplace right (protected by the General Protections provisions of the Fair Work Act) under the reforms. This means that employers cannot take ‘adverse action’ against an employee if they ask another employee about their pay or share their own remuneration details with others.
In June 2023 (six months after the Bill passes), it will also become an offence for an employer to enter into a contract with an employee that contains a pay secrecy clause. The penalty is up to $63,000 for an employer.
CHANGES to Sexual Harassment
In September this year an amendment to the Anti-Discrimination and Human Rights Legislation Amendment (Respect at Work) Bill 2022 was proposed with seven legislative changes recommended. These new changes include “a positive duty” on employers to prevent workplace sexual harassment and discrimination, offences for having a “hostile workplace” and powers for the Human Rights Commission to investigate and issue compliance notices on business.
We anticipate seeing more refined information being released early next year and the steps that employers must take to ensure they are compliant with these new legislative changes.
NO END to the Hybrid Work Models
2022 has bought up challenges for many employers in relation to both managing labour shortages and the continued war for talent. While many businesses have begun to adopt more flexible work arrangements off the back of the pandemic, these have still largely been finite arrangements. We expect to see more around businesses investigating and adopting Hybrid working models in 2023. These may include broader work from home arrangements, compressed working week, the 4-day working model, job sharing and flexible working hours. This is a definite – Watch This Space!
EMPHASIS on Employee Well-being
This has been a front and centre topic and will continue to be a key focus for businesses moving into 2023.
The focus of employee wellbeing has broadened greatly over the last several years and the shift has seen employee well-being moving from a simple topic for employers – to an all-encompassing overarching embrace across all areas of the business and businesses will need to take the time to understand what this truly means. It is never a one size fits all approach and we believe conversations are key in unpacking this fundamental topic.
It is only 9 weeks until Christmas which no doubt means you are in the lead up to your festive event to close out the year.
Although these events are a great way for employees to take part in the festivities and for everyone to relax and be merry, they’re still work functions where they are organised and paid for by the employer. Therefore, the employer must still exercise a duty of care to manage any associated health and safety risks that may arise.
I know, I know, I can hear the sighs already… “Here come the fun police!!”
Having fun is important but it is also important to keep in mind that work endorsed parties, even away from the normal work location are still considered a work event and obligations do exist for staff and Directors around workplace health and safety.
The expectation surrounding staff behaviour and conduct does not change at a work function. Workplace harassment, bullying and even violence are serious issues and losing inhibitions after a little too much cheer is no excuse.
Outlined below, are considerations that may assist you to ensure you have a fun end of year event, while avoiding issues that can potentially have serious consequences if neglected.
Assess the risk
This comes in two steps:
Ahead of the Christmas party consider documenting a WHS risk assessment that identifies all foreseeable health and safety hazards and their defined control/s. This would include an inspection of the site prior to the event.
During a site inspection ensure that you speak to management at the venue to ensure Responsible Service of Alcohol and establish your own expectations of overly intoxicated people not being served anymore alcohol.
Nominate a contact person/people for the venue to be able to contact to advise them of an intoxicated person or incident.
Review you HR policies and procedures. Well-written policies and procedures set the ground rules and company’s expectations on appropriate behaviour. This can be a good reminder prior to the Christmas party and if there happens to be an incident, the company will be better prepared. It also assists to remind staff of general expectations.
Alcohol free event
Alcohol is not an obligatory requirement at any event.
Consider your team and your past experiences having end of year parties. Do you have any concerns about serving alcohol at a work event. If you have any concerns at all, consider having an event without alcohol. Perhaps a family event in a park is something that you feel more comfortable with for your business and your team.
Start and finish times
Clearly set out defined start and finish times for the event and ensure that these are stated on the invitation.
Shut down the bar at the finish time and stop paying for any alcohol, even at an after event.
How will employees travel?
Consider how employees will travel to and from the event? This can be as simple as encouraging employees to plan their travel ahead of time.
Choose a venue that does not place the employee in a difficult situation to get home, otherwise assist with transport options for employees.
You may have obligations with your workers compensation insurance for employees travelling to and from work, which will likely include the end of year function.
An aptly worded email ahead of the Christmas Party reiterating the business’ expectations around appropriate standards of conduct and responsible drinking may serve as a timely reminder to employees that workplace policies still apply during these events and as such any misconduct will be dealt with accordingly.
Accompany this email with any relevant policies as noted above.
Manage misconduct and complaints fairly
Even with the best planning, and all measures followed, incidents still happen.
Where alcohol is involved, behaviours are often affected but this does not release the business of their obligations to investigate and respond to complaints/ allegations. Be sure to hear any issues that arrive and respond with procedural fairness.
Be mindful that you may need to take action at the event immediately. Waiting to the New Year to handle a complaint may or may not be the correct course of action.
I know, the end of year party is supposed to be a fun and memorable event! Implementing these safety measures will ensure that it is memorable for the right reasons. After all, we all want to spend our festive holidays safe, happy, and healthy.
The Federal Government is proposing to set limitations on fixed-term contracts.
Concerns have been expressed about the misuse of fixed term contracts in particular where it is seen to extend the probationary period or where a contract continues to be extended.
While there are situations where fixed term contracts are being improperly used, there are also many organisations that rely on fixed term contracts due to nature of their business and funding which do not allow for longer term employment engagements to be considered or justified. Charitable organisations (where fixed term contracts are linked to funding grants) and contracts that are fixed to align with commercial contracts are two key examples.
It is anticipated that the Government may introduce legislation limiting the number of consecutive fixed term contracts that an employer can offer for the same role. For example, contracts may be limited to 24 months’ total duration, subject to some exceptions for specific scenarios that might be negotiated once the reforms are tabled.
It is not yet clear what consideration will be given to maximum term contracts. These contract arrangements vary from fixed term arrangements as they permit either party to terminate the contract early with notice where a true fixed term contract is not able to be terminated prematurely with notice.
If you need any assistance, do not hesitate to get in touch on 1300 1 OUR HR (68 747)
Even with all the opportunities for virtual face-to-face meetings, it is easy to miss visual cues in body language and facial expressions that could be telling you an employee is not coping well. Although some people may have thought working from home was their dream job, the reality is it can feel isolating and can prove more challenging than working from an office.
On Monday 13 April, the Queensland Government announced that students will operate under a home-based learning model for at least the first five weeks of Term 2, up until Friday 22 May. A further decision will be made regarding the second half of Term 2 by mid-May.
During this period, ALL students except for vulnerable students and children of essential workers are to be supervised at home.