What are your business’ New Year’s workplace relations resolutions?

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Nikita Barsby, Senior Associate 

As 2018 gets underway, what will your business do better this year in its approach to workplace relations?

HRD Australia recently reported that the success rate of Australian employers in unfair dismissal cases has dropped below 40% for the first time – while these remain the claim of choice for employees, with an unfair dismissal claim lodged every three and a half minutes in Australia.1
We expect hot topics for workplaces will include managing poor performance and bullying and stress claims, avoiding award or NES breach claims (and the risk of huge new penalties) or discrimination claims.
You will no doubt have seen the extensive coverage of high profile sexual harassment claims.

So, what can your business do to best position itself to avoid and/or successfully defend claims?

Here’s some ideas:

1. Get the foundations right – ensure a basic understanding of workplace relations laws and instruments relevant to your business (or access to a competent advisor), and invest in expertly drafted employment contracts and advice on award coverage issues.

2. Policies & Procedures – implement solid workplace policies and procedures to ensure the right workplace culture and regulatory compliance. Consider a streamlined approach to this by investing in expertly prepared Employee Handbooks and Management Guides.

3. Train your key people – ensure your managers are adequately trained in key workplace relations issues such as bullying, sexual harassment, performance management, complaint/grievances and investigation processes, and provide regular refresher training.

4. Keep your finger on the pulse – keep up to date on key workplace relations issues relevant to your business by subscribing to relevant newsletters and other publications, and by attending regular seminars.

5. Be proactive rather than reactive – prevention is better than cure in workplace relations issues, addressing smaller issues before they develop into larger ones. Develop a relationship with a trusted adviser who can be easily contacted to provide quick and practical advice on workplace relations issues as and when they arise.

Addressing just one or two of the above can go a long way to improving workplace relations in your business. If you would like to discuss setting and working towards your business’ workplace relations goals, feel free to get in touch with one of our lawyers on 9288 4000.
1 Human Resources Director Australia, “Employees claim Unfair Dismissal every few minutes”, 26 October 2017: https://www.hcamag.com/hr-news/employees-claim-unfair-dismissal-every-few-minutes-242817.aspx