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Amendments to the Public Holiday Act

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Amendments to the Public Holiday Act

On 13 October 2015 amendments to the Holidays Act 1983 were passed by the Queensland Legislative Assembly prescribing that from 2016:

  • The Queen’s Birthday has moved from the first Monday in June 2016 to the first Monday in October 2016
  • Labour Day will go from the first Monday in October 2016 to its former May date being the first Monday in May 2016
  • There will be no longer be a public holiday in June

Just a reminder of the Public Holiday in December for 2015 – they are;

  • 25 December – Christmas Day
  • 26 December – Boxing Day
  • 28 December – Boxing Day holiday (additional holiday as Boxing Day falls on a weekend)

This means, if penalty rates are applicable to your employees, public holiday rates apply for each of these days.

If you need any further information regarding public holiday provisions – Contact Brismark Business Services on 3915 4213 or [email protected] – we’re here to help.

Source:  CCIQ – IR Alert, 20 October 2015



Long Service Leave – Understanding & managing it in the workplace

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Long Service Leave – Understanding & managing it in the workplace

Long Service Leave is an entitlement that is unique to Australia and most would say is a deserved reward for an employee’s many years of service to one employer.  But at times the administration of this leave is very tricky.

I often field questions regarding the complexities of the long service leave entitlement.  Click on the following button to see a few regular questions regarding long service leave and relevant answers.

 

 

If you need any further information on Long Service Leave or assistance in calculating entitlements – Contact Brismark Business Services on 3915 4213 or [email protected] – we’re here to help.

 




Ice in the Workplace

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Ice in the Workplace

Long gone are the days where ‘ice’ was something to help chill your drink – the drug known as ‘ice’ is receiving a lot of publicity regarding its devastating effects on lives and families.  However, this drug can also have an effect on your workplace.

Ice is considered to be the most potent form of methamphetamine on the drug market and belongs to the ‘stimulant’ class of drugs.  Methamphetamines, such as ice, is known for their stimulant properties due to the increased levels of serotonin in the body. This regulates a person’s energy, mood and appetite, making the user feel exhilarated, energised, confident and powerful.  These effects can last between four and twelve hours.  So why is it a concern for the workplace?

Implications for workplaces

The use of methamphetamines, including ice, in the workplace has enormous implications for business owners regarding Workplace Health and Safety compliance and practices.  While under the influence, user’s concentration and ability to judge speed, distance, and coordination are severely impaired.  In addition, the immediate after effects include the inability to sleep for several days; resulting in ongoing fatigue, poor concentration and impaired judgement.  In other words. It is not safe for a person who is or has been using ice to drive, operate machinery, or work in any situation where safety is required.

Signs a worker may be using ice

It is often difficult to identify the signs and even more difficult to then manage the situation safely, appropriately and within legislative requirements.  Some signs that could indicate ice use can include:

  • Extreme tiredness at the beginning of the working week
  • Unexplained irritability, agitation or mood swings
  • Difficulty concentrating, poor work performance
  • Unexplained patterns of absenteeism/lateness
  • Mental issues such as paranoia, depression, moodiness
  • Apparent unconcern about otherwise serious matters
  • Health problems, such as poor appetite, palpitations, infection injection areas on the body or lesions

The important thing to remember is that these are only indicators, NOT all employees who are exhibiting these signs will be using drugs.  However, these observations may assist in employers/managers having performance or safety related discussions, before taking it further.

Recommended workplace strategies

As an employer, you have an obligation to eliminate risks to the health and safety of your employees while they are in your workplace.  Risk management is the process of recognising situations which have the potential to cause harm to people and property and making an informed decision about how best to avoid that harm.

  • Workplace policies – nothing can be managed or resolved without a comprehensive, clear and concise drug and alcohol policy – it forms the base for managing these issues in the workplace
  • Training – it is important that supervisors/managers are educated about the symptoms and provided with the skills and knowledge to assist in managing these issues appropriately
  • Awareness – all employees should be educated on the company policy, the effects of drugs and alcohol, the impact it could have on the workplace and their ongoing employment

There is a generic policy in your Workplace Health and Safety manual – however if you haven’t communicated this to staff it does not afford you much protection.  Brismark can assist you in upgrading the generic policy to a workplace specific policy that can include testing programs and procedures for investigating breaches of the policy.  In addition, we can provide you and your staff with a training session to assist in not only implementing your policy but educating them on the effects of drugs and alcohol in the workplace.

If you want to find out more or would like Brismark to assist you in writing and implementing a workplace policy, please contact Business Services on 3915 4213 or [email protected].

Source:  CCIQ blog, by Colin Fruk, 24 September 2015




Proof: Thorough drug and alcohol policy supports dismissal

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Proof:  Thorough drug and alcohol policy supports dismissal

A recent decision by the Fair Work Commission (FWC) provides encouragement to businesses, that a good policy can support a dismissal process.  This all resulted from an unfair dismissal case which was upheld by the FWC, agreeing with the employer that the employee deserved to be sacked.

Case in Point

On 27 January this year, the morning after Australia Day, an employee of a Western Australian business, commenced work at 6am.  He was operating a forklift, when he was subject to random drug testing, conducted in line with the company’s Fitness for Work policy.  The initial reading was 0.026%, with a subsequent test 20 minutes later being 0.020%.

There were on site anonymous self-testing facilities available to the employee at the time he commenced work on that day.  However, he did not choose to self-test and commenced work on the basis that he felt ‘okay’.  Despite having consumed 20 beers and getting just 4.5 hours sleep the night before.  So how did the company progress the process from here?

  1. The Health and Safety officer met with the employee and advised him that he was in breach of the policy and was required to leave the premises
  2. The company offered to provide a taxi, but the employee declined and drove himself home.
  3. On 3 February, the employee attended a meeting, with his representative and officers of the business to discuss the breach and any mitigating factors that may have led to the breach
  4. The employee was provided a letter at the meeting entitled ‘Breach of Fitness for Work Policy’ which concluded with the statement ‘Given the above, the business will be terminating your position’
  5. At the meeting the company agreed to review this decision, taking into account matters raised at the meeting
  6. On 6 February, the employee was advise that the business had taken into account any mitigating matters raised at the meeting three days prior, and the decision to terminate his employment remained

Consequently, the employee believed his dismissal was harsh, unjust and unreasonable, and filed an unfair dismissal application stating that his intoxication was a genuine mistake and not willful or deliberate.  In addition he claimed that it was a first time offence, relatively minor and did not result in any actual harm.  He also requested that the FWC consider his length of service, generally good performance and disciplinary record.

So what caused the FWC to determine that the dismissal was fair?

  1. They considered – section 387 of the Fair Work Act – was there a valid reason for dismissal?
    • The primary document and reason for dismissal was the Fit for Work policy – ensuring that an employee is able to ‘perform work in a manner that does not pose a risk, compromise or threaten the health and safety of themselves or others’ – therefore it was supported by alcohol and drug screening in order to achieve this objective.
    • The policy provided for:
      • screening at many stages – prior to employment, on a random basis, for cause, incident based and self-screening
      • a retest after 20 minutes if there was an initial positive reading for alcohol
      • clear consequences, including termination of employment, if they still had a positive reading
  1. They also took into account the employees defense that he ‘felt okay’ and his length of service
    • The commissioner stated that if this evidence was put to the ‘front bar’ that after 20 cans of full strength bear and 4.5 hours sleep, he felt fine – it would be greeted with a very Australian saying related to animal manure.
    • In addition, the employee knew when he was drinking:
      • that he had to attend work the next day,
      • that he could not attend work with a breath alcohol reading beyond zero due to his 30 years previous work experience and the Fit for Work policy
      • other employees had been recently dismissed for having breath alcohol readings beyond zero

 

Finding:  Therefore, it was found that the business had a sound, defensible and well-founded reason to dismiss the employee

 

  1. The FWC then considered, was he notified, given the opportunity to respond and allowed to have a support person in any discussions relating to the dismissal
    • The employee was allowed a support person present
    • The employer had already reached a decision to dismiss the employee prior to the meeting on 3 February as per the termination letter issued – which did not offer the employee the correct procedural fairness

 

Finding:  The commission agreed that better procedural fairness could have been adopted – however when considering the total actions of the company in conjunction with the relevant reason for dismissal – they decided that a minor defect in the process should not triumph over the substance of the dismissal.

 

Conclusion:  The commissioner concluded that ‘the employer had a valid reason, and was satisfied that the dismissal was not harsh, unjust or unreasonable in the circumstances.

 

This case highlights the importance of a well-rounded and thorough drug and alcohol policy, the benefits of following that policy when breaches occur and ensuring the correct processes are followed.  If they didn’t have a history of ‘zero tolerance’ and were inconsistent in the application of the policy, the result may have gone the other way.

Brismark can assist you in creating a drug and alcohol policy which can be applied to your business.  If you are concerned about managing situations involving drugs and/or alcohol, or require assistance with the implementation of any other workplace policies, contact Business Services on 3915 4213 or [email protected].

Source:  CCIQ blog, by Darrel Giles, 8 October 2015




Malcolm Turnbull is the new Prime Minister – What does this mean for business?

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Malcolm Turnbull is the new Prime Minister – What does this mean for business?

On Monday 14 September 2015, Malcom Turnbull was successful in his challenge to Tony Abbott for Prime Ministership.

With his success – what will this mean for business and Industrial Relations?  Malcolm Turnbull has been tight-lipped about Industrial Relations over the last five years, in previous years he had shown his support for business interests in IR.

In 2009 during his time in Opposition, he urged the Rudd Government to lift the threshold under which small businesses are exempt from unfair dismissal laws from 15 to 25 staff to provide additional protection for these more vulnerable organisations.  So now the Liberal party is in government and he is the Prime Minister can we expect to see some reforms to the Fair Work Act?  Only time will tell.  However, Brismark will continue to keep you informed of any proposed changes or reforms as we become aware.

If you need any Industrial Relations or employment law advice please contact Brismark Business Services on 3915 4213 or [email protected].

Source:  HC Online, 14 September 2015, by Miklos Bolza



What should be in an induction program?

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What should be in an induction program?

There are minimum legal requirements regarding what should be provided in an induction to new employees.  Relying in the Brisbane Market Site Induction to assist your business meet its legal requirements is not enough.  The Brisbane Market Site Induction is completed at a site level to comply with the sites legal requirements, not each individual businesses legal requirements.

From a legal perspective, induction of employees should deal with workplace policies relating to health and safety, bullying, discrimination, sexual harassment, privacy, social media, internet and email usage.

Providing this information during an induction will assist you if there is need to discipline employees on cases of breaches and defend any claims of vicarious liability for offenders.

As a general rule, anything you expect your employees to know about in the work environment, as well as policies/procedure or company practices should be included and signed off as part of an induction process.

There are differences from business to business and industry to industry – however there are some basic rules and regulations that all employees need to be aware of at the outset.  Simply relying an assumption that the employees should know certain standard will not provide a defense if laws are breached.

Induction Checklist

There is a sample checklist included in your WHS Manual that can be either used as a checklist by your business or as an outline for topics to be covered and you can create your own checklist.  Click on the link below to access a copy of this checklist.

induction checlist button

 

 

 

Brismark does provide a number of courses that can assist in the compliance with the legislative requirements for your business, these are currently run as per the annual course calendar or direct for businesses at group rates.  We are in the process of converting some of these courses online, so as to make them more accessible to businesses when and where they need them.  If you are interested in accessing these courses, let us know to help escalate this project and get them to you sooner.

In the interim, if you would like any support, advice or information regarding induction processes, Brismark can assist your business in developing an internal induction for a small investment.  If you require any further information please contact Brismark Business Services on 3915 4213 or [email protected].

Source:  AHRI Assist