Single Touch Payroll is Now Law

“The Senate has today passed legislation to extend Single Touch Payroll (STP) to employers with 19 or less employees from 1 July 2019.

These businesses can also of course opt in early.

The passage of legislation follows months of uncertainty for small business after STP was officially rolled out for employers with 20 or more employees from 1 July 2018.

The ATO still intends to allow micro-businesses (less than 5 employees) to adopt low-cost, alternative STP solutions” – Australian Bookkeepers Network (The Buzz News Update)

 

For more information on Single Touch Payroll and how it affects your business give one of our friendly team members at Admin Advantage a call.

(07) 3879 9003

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Probation Periods

I have recently read an interesting article on Probation periods. I was long thought that they were a set period, but this is not true.

There are no set rules for the period that a probation period may apply, however, many employers set the probation period at six months as this generally allows both parties sufficient time to assess each other and decide on whether the relationship should continue.

During this time either party may terminate the employment relationship with minimal or no notice depending on the conditions of the employment contact, agreement or Modern Award.

Six months continuous service is also the minimum trigger point for access to unfair dismissal provisions of the Fair Work Act 2009 (12 months service for businesses with less than 15 employees).

The article went on the further discuss induction process and the relevance in ensuring that the staff member know what is expected during their probationary period along with a relevant job description and copies of relevant workplace policies, procedures and manuals.

With Critical Steps in the process:

Inform the new employee that they are on probation and that their performance will be closely monitored and assessed.

It should be made clear to the new employee that:

  • If they have any queries/problems associated with performing their role what process to follow to gain assistance and/or training.

 

  • Regular performance feedback sessions will be held to assess the new employee and allow them to raise any concerns that they may have regarding their duties.

 

  • Specific time periods should be set for these feedback sessions and agreed and confirmed by both parties e.g. weekly, monthly or three monthly.

 

  • The employee should be informed that if their performance falls below the required level during the probation period they will be given every opportunity to improve to the required level but if they are unable to meet the expectations of the employer that they may be terminated.

 

  • Before the end of the probation period a formal interview should be held between the new employee and the employer where their performance over the probation period is discussed and if the performance is below the required standard they may have their employment terminated.

 

Although there is no access to the unfair dismissal protections of the Fair Work Act 2009 if the termination takes place within the minimum service period, other provisions of the FWA may apply such as Section 342 General Protections or Adverse Action, breach of contract or discrimination.

These provisions or actions generally are applied where the termination is not handled properly and the employee is not provided with feedback on their performance during the probation period where any deficiencies are clearly defined, and opportunity given for the employee to rectify the areas of concern or where the termination was based on a discriminatory basis such as absence from work due to a temporary illness or injury.

Extending a probation period

The Fair Work Act does not prescribe a probation period in relation to unfair dismissal laws, it refers to a minimum employment period of six months for employers with 15 employees or more and 12 months for 15 employees or less.

If the probation period extends beyond the minimum employment period and the employer terminates the employee, the employee would have access to the unfair dismissal laws.

Therefore, fixing the probation period to a time within the minimum service requirements is the most common option chosen by employers.

(BO2, 2018)

 

References

BO2, C. (2018). Probations Period Article No.43. Essentials, Leigh’s Corner.

 

 

 

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Industrial Relations Update April 2018

Industrial Relations Update April 2018

POSTED ON: WEDNESDAY, APRIL 18, 2018
INDUSTRIAL RELATIONS UPDATE APRIL 2018
FAMILY AND DOMESTIC VIOLENCE LEAVE

The following abbreviated summary follows the recent decision of the Fair Work Commission as part of the 4-year review of Modern Awards to insert a model domestic violence clause into the awards to allow employees to access 5 unpaid days where they can provide reasonable proof that they are experiencing family or domestic violence issues.

Summary of Decision 26 March 2018 – 4 yearly review of modern awards — Family and Domestic Violence AM2015/1 [2018] FWCFB 1691

This decision takes a cautious regulatory response to this issue with the following decision of the Full Bench of the Fair Work Commission.

“We have decided to provide five days’ unpaid leave to employees experiencing family and domestic violence, if the employee needs to do something to deal with the impact of that violence and it is impractical for them to do it outside their ordinary hours of work.

We have decided to defer our consideration of whether employees should be able to access paid personal/carer’s leave for the purpose of taking family and domestic violence leave.

The extent to which the new entitlement to unpaid leave will be utilised is unknown, as is the impact of the new entitlement on business.
We propose to revisit this issue in June 2021, after the model term has been in operation for three years.
At that time, we will consider whether any changes are needed to the unpaid leave model term, and whether to allow access to personal/carer’s leave.
At that time, we will also revisit the question of whether provisions should be made for paid family and domestic violence leave.”

The Full Bench exempted from this general finding the Australian Government Industry Award 2016, the Road Transport and Distribution Award 2010 and the Road Transport (Long Distance Operations) Award 2010, which are to be the subject of separate consideration.

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FLEXIBLE WORKING ARRANGEMENTS

Also as part of the 4 yearly review, the FWC considered the ACTU claims in relation to flexible working arrangements and, although some of the claims were rejected, the FWC has determined that there needs to be additional provisions inserted into the awards to meet the expectations of employees with family and carer responsibilities, and the abbreviated summary below sets out the basis of their decision and what to expect once the clause is finalised.

The Full Bench reached the provisional view that the modern award minimum safety net should be varied to incorporate a model term to facilitate flexible working arrangements for parents and carers.
The provisional model term proposed by the Full Bench is summarised below.
The provisional model term would supplement the NES in the following ways:
?The group of employees eligible to request a change in working arrangements relating to parental or caring responsibilities, will be expanded to include ongoing and casual employees with at least six months’ service but less than 12 months’ service.
?Before refusing an employee’s request, the employer will be required to seek to confer with the employee and genuinely try to reach agreement on a change in working arrangements that will reasonably accommodate the employee’s circumstances.
?If the employer refuses the request, the employer’s written response to the request will be required to include a more comprehensive explanation of the reasons for the refusal.
?The written response will also be required to include the details of any change in working arrangements that was agreed when the employer and employee conferred, or, if no change was agreed, the details of any changes in working arrangements that the employer can offer to the employee.
A note will draw attention to the Commission’s (limited) capacity to deal with disputes.
We will circulate these model clauses when they are finalised and update the policy manuals where required.
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FINES INCREASE FOR UNDERPAYMENT OF WAGES
The Fair Work Ombudsman is targeting organisations that are deliberately underpaying their employees and are becoming increasingly effective at prosecuting these employers with large fines being imposed in the Federal Circuit Court.
The recently introduced Fair Work Amendment (Protecting Vulnerable Workers) Act 2017 has increased penalties for these offences to up to $630,000 for companies and up to $126,000 for individuals where serious breaches are found to have occurred and the employer has deliberately attempted to pay wages and conditions below the mandated amounts.
These changes also include increases in the penalties for failing to keep proper records (which are to be retained for seven years) to $63,000 for employers and $12,600 for individuals.
It is becoming increasingly important to ensure that employees are paid correctly and that the provisions of the Fair Work Act and the National Employment Standards are being met. This includes ensuring that any contracts and/or contractors are being paid correctly, including superannuation entitlements where applicable.
Referenced by BO2 Corporate Essentials
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NEW EMPLOYEE PROBATION PERIOD

When a new employee commences work, there are a number of things that must be put in place to ensure that the new relationship gets off to the right start and continues in a positive manner.

The first step before any employee commences their role is that they should go through a comprehensive induction process which includes:

         Information about their new workplace

         Explanation and access to the workplace policies and procedures

         Job description and responsibilities

         WH&S procedures and workplace specific requirements

         Orientation of work area and amenities

         Security information

It is also a good idea to assign an existing employee or supervisor as the new employee’s mentor for the first six months.

The letter of offer or contract of employment should clearly define if there is a probation period in place and the duration of this probation period.

Access to the Unfair Dismissal Protections of the Fair Work Act 2009 for employees only applies when the minimum service requirements of 6 months’ service for a business with more than 15 employees or 12 months for a business with less than 15 employees are met.

You may require a shorter or longer probationary period but the requirements of the Fair Work Act 2009 do not change. Many employers therefore set their probation periods at 3 to 6 months with the majority of employers choosing the 6-month period.

The probation period is when the employer is able to assess the suitability of the new employee and how they fit into the workplace and perform the role they were employed to perform.

During the probation period either party may terminate the employment relationship with or without notice (usually a week’s pay in lieu of notice) depending upon the stipulations contained in the employment contract or applicable award.

There are some important actions to take during this probation period to give the employee the best possible chance of success and to defend the employer’s position against potential claims if the position is terminated.

These actions include:

1.       Clearly define the role, responsibilities, and expectations of the role

2.       Meet with the employee on frequent occasions to discuss their progress and how they are performing in their role

3.       Provide meaningful and challenging work within the scope of the role of the new employee to ensure that you can properly assess their competence and behaviour

4.       Advise the employee of any specific areas where their performance or behaviour is below the required standard and provide advice, assistance and support to help them reach the required standard

5.       Advise the employee that if they fail to meet the required standard that their employment may be terminated at the end of their probation period or before in accordance with their contract of employment or award

6.       Give feedback on the employee’s attempts to improve

7.       Do not make promises to the employee that their work will continue after the expiry date of the probationary period as this is an assessment period

8.       Before the expiry of the probationary period make a clear decision on whether to keep the employee or terminate their employment

9.       If the decision is to terminate the employee it should be done before the probation period expires otherwise the degree of difficulty in managing and defending the termination increases significantly

The probation period is the opportunity for both parties to assess their suitability to work together in a workplace and specifically for the employer to assess the suitability of the employee in their role.

It is important for the employer to closely monitor the new employee during their probation period to ensure that any decision made is based on solid grounds.