What are your New Year’s Resolutions? New Year resolutions for employers in 2019

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by Senior Associate, Joanna Knoth & Associate, Renae Harg 

Now that the festive season is over, employers can focus on the year ahead. What New Year’s resolutions are you making for your business?

Below are some practical New Year’s resolutions that may minimise your employment law risks.

Resolution one: Review employment contracts

The business should review its current employment contracts – for example:

  • Does every employee have a written contract in place?
  • If so, do the contracts accurately capture the terms and conditions of the employee’s employment?

Employment law can change rapidly. Contracts should be reviewed regularly to ensure they continue to protect your business.

An annual employment contract audit can be a useful way to minimise risk.

Resolution two: Review workplace policies

The business should review its workplace policies and procedures.

Often, workplace policies are created and then forgotten about. However, matters that should be addressed in workplace policies and procedures arise all the time – for example, does your business have a policy in place regarding family and domestic violence leave, which was implemented, as part of the NES, in December 2018? Policies and procedures should be reviewed regularly to ensure they include all relevant matters and are consistent with the law.

Resolution 3: Reassess casual employees

The business should review its classification of its casual employees.

This is particularly important in 2019, given the 2018 decision of WorkPac Pty Limited v Skene [2018] FCAFC 131 (Skene).

In Skene, it was held an employee was who engaged as a casual was actually a permanent employee. The employee was entitled to back payment for annual leave. For more information, please see our blog on the decision here

Resolution 4: Schedule training for the upcoming year

The business should consider its training requirements.

The start of the year can be quiet, providing a good opportunity to schedule training for the year ahead.

The business should consider providing its employees with refresher training on issues such as workplace bullying and sexual harassment.

Managerial training sessions on issues such as performance management and dealing with ill and injured employees may also assist in mitigating risk.

MDC Legal has a range of ready-made seminars to present and can also tailor specific training to the requirements of your business.

Resolution five: Check employee pay rates

The business should check the pay rates of their modern award covered employees.

The business must ensure it is complying with the minimum pay rates set out in any applicable modern award. Failure to do so could result in claims against the business, and the imposition of penalties by the court.

Minimum pay rates in modern awards rise on 1 July each year. Employers should conduct regular checks to ensure they have not missed any minimum pay increases.