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Workplace Relations misconceptions

Workplace Relations is a minefield that employers are expected to navigate.
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Workplace Relations misconceptions

Workplace Relations misconceptions

26 August 2016

Workplace Relations is a minefield that employers are expected to navigate. This can become easier for those lucky enough to employ a dedicated HR professional, but for the vast majority of smaller businesses, this is just an extra role for the business owner, their administration assistant, accountant or bookkeeper.
Rarely would anyone go out of their way to breach their workplace relations obligations knowingly, (FWC fines can be very costly) but interpreting such regulations is fraught with danger – just ask any qualified Industrial Relations lawyer.
We regularly hear about employers being investigated or fined for workplace relations breaches, which is really not too surprising when you consider everything they are expected to know and understand. Different people interpret regulations differently and this is where things can become messy.
The NSW Business Chamber, the state’s peak business group receives in excess of 20,000 phone calls per annum from employers seeking advice, clarification or interpretation of complex workplace relations regulations or modern award rates. They have advised that there are a growing number of misconceptions in the workplace relations space that they often receive questions about.

Some of these include:

Personal/Carer’s Leave (PCL) accumulates from year to year. Answer: PCL accrues from the date of commencement and any unused leave carries over into the following year.
I don’t have to provide notice of termination to an employee still under probation. Answer: Permanent employees are entitled to notice at any time during their employment, in accordance with their contract, award or the National Employment Standards. The only exception to this rule would be if the employee is terminated for serious misconduct.
Casuals are not entitled to Long Service Leave. Answer: Casuals are entitled to Long Service Leave in accordance with State legislation.
An employee can’t take annual leave in the first year. Answer: Annual Leave accrues from date of commencement and can be taken by agreement between the employer and employee at any time.

An employee cannot take paid Personal/Carer’s Leave in the first three months of employment. Answer: As above, yes they are entitled to.

You have to give an employee three warnings before moving to termination. Answer: There is no obligation to provide formal written warnings, however following a fair and reasonable process may assist the employer if the employee takes further action.

“Business owners have enough to worry about let alone spend countless hours each week ensuring they are across all of the changes to workplace relations, superannuation, workers compensation and taxation changes. I’m not surprised that there still remains a large number of misconceptions in the workplace relations space”, said Ben Foley, Murray-Riverina Regional Manager with the NSW Business Chamber.
“I have seen two business partners arguing over the interpretation of an award clause. It is a complex framework and unless you have studied Industrial Relations yourself, there is a good chance you might make a mistake. Mistakes can be costly so we would always recommend seeking advice from someone who understands the law.
“A growing number of businesses in the region are partnering with employer organisations such as ours to manage their workplace relations obligations on their behalf. They want to focus their time and energy on business operations and not worry about the what if’s. Perhaps it’s just a sign of the times that more and more employers will look to outsource these functions to experts, Mr Foley said.



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