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Working in HR I am constantly reminded of how lucky we are to live and work in a country where the legislative rights of employees are so high. However, these strong employee rights can (and do!), unfortunately, come with frustrations for business owners. Employees trying to exploit rights put in place to protect them and their colleagues. There can also be unexpected risks for a business as things change from “back in the good old days” mentalities. These are just two of the major headaches business can find themselves in.
At the 2018 SHRM conference, I was privileged enough to be part of an international round table discussion. While discussing sexual harassment in the workplace, I was struck again by how protected Australian employees are. My peers from the US and South Africa expressed concerns that employees couldn’t raise instances of sexual harassment to HR. This was due to fear of victimisation, termination and even career suppression. They were equally struck when I explained that this cannot happen in Australia, due to employee legislative rights. Although the majority of businesses do their best to abide by these rules, business owners don’t always know, or understand the legislative requirements. With legislative requirements associated with employing, paying and managing their team, things can and do get missed.
This was highlighted in a recent media release by the Fair Work Ombudsman following a blitz audit of food precincts around Australia.
72% of the 243 businesses that were audited across Melbourne, Sydney and Brisbane had breached workplace laws to some degree.
That is a huge number, but unfortunately not surprising! When you consider the complexity of modern awards and legislative requirements. Throw in the mix stretched business owners and a predominantly young workforce. It’s no wonder there were so many issues identified within the food and restaurant industry.
While it is important for the Fair Work Ombudsman to continue to review and address non-compliance from the top, it is crucial that business owners are educated in the specific requirements and expectations of their industry.
Information is becoming more readily available for our young workers. They’re exposed to parents and peers who are clued up on rates and conditions, business owners who are knowingly doing the wrong thing, or just putting their blinkers on to the issue, should be expecting a call from FWO!
Ignorance is not bliss when you may be staring down a penalties of tens of thousands of dollars, plus back pay!
For more information on the Fair Work Ombudsman media release follow this link: