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Employer responsibilities & WHS responsibilities

December 21, 2015


Below we outline 12 common areas of HR responsibility that typically catch employers out. Consider our corresponding questions and whether you would benefit from a workplace compliance check-up.

1: Keeping Employment Records

While employment contracts can be verbal in Australia, make sure you always record an employee’s terms and conditions when you hire them. This can be done in a letter of engagement or through a more formal contract.

It should be noted that regardless of the rules around employment agreements, under the Fair Work Act 2009 keeping employee records is not optional.

Are your records up-to-date?

Do you have an organised system for managing your employees’ records? Getting assistance in drafting template contracts of employment is a great way to ensure you are using appropriate documentation to reflect the intended terms and conditions of any employees engaged with your business.

Using HRA Cloud it’s easy to identify employees who don’t have a signed employment agreement on file specifying the appropriate pay rates and leave entitlements. Simply run a report to check that your employee records are complete and up-to-date.

2: Managing Seasonal Workers

If you’ve ramped up staffing to cope with an increased demand, double-check you’ve chosen the right employment arrangement.

Have you chosen the right agreement?

When you’re not an expert it can be difficult to determine whether a casual, fixed term, or contract arrangement works best.

Use the Employment Contracts/Agreements in HRA Cloud to ensure that you engage your workforce in the most appropriate way.

3: Work Health and Safety – Inductions

In any business, ensuring your workforce understands how you manage workplace safety, the systems you have put in place i.e. reporting accidents, fire evacuation plans etc, and what their responsibilities are is an important component of complying with relevant legislative requirements.

Have all your workers completed a WHS induction?

It is crucial that you ensure all your workers have completed the WHS induction and that this is recorded in their employee records for easy reference and auditability.

Consider how long ago the induction took place and whether there has been much change to your WHS management system.  Are their some of your workforce who could benefit from re-doing the WHS Induction?

Think about instigating practices that require your workforce to undertake the WHS induction process every year or two. This helps ensure workplace safety policies and procedures are well understood and become a routine-based activity.

4: Work Health and Safety – Training Assessments

It’s important to conduct regular assessments and ensure adequate supervision and training is provided to all workers.

Is your on-the-job training effective?

If you provide on-the-job training, make sure your employees demonstrate they understand the training and continue to monitor their understanding.

With HRA Cloud, you can capture training and competency data and systemise record keeping, alerts and reminders for follow up to ensure there are no gaps or potential training risks.  Run a report to identify all the training and competencies that have expired and not been renewed. Also look at anything expiring in the next 3-6 months to build into the training plan.

5: Enforcing Workplace Policies

Introducing robust, and compliant workplace policies is good business practice. But, if you don’t enforce them, they are meaningless and won’t protect your business in the event of a claim.

Do you enforce your policies?

For policies to be effective, you must:

  • Formally communicate policies to all employees
  • Have evidence that they have accepted the policies and any subsequent changes
  • Retain such evidence in the employee record.

By using HRA Cloud, you can ensure that all your workers are bound by your workplace policies. Use the employee management system to ensure that you have an auditable record for each employee of the policies you have in place within your business.

Have you updated your policies?

It’s great that your business has policies and procedures in place, however if they are not regularly kept up to date with current legislation they may be meaningless.

You should review your policies to check that they haven’t fallen out of step with current legislation.  Use the policies in HRA Cloud to ensure that you are up to date.

6: Onboarding and Induction

Research shows that poor onboarding and high turnover often go hand in hand. And it’s not surprising that disappointment in the early stages of a new job often lead to an employee’s super speedy departure.

Make sure that employees can hit the ground running by implementing a clear onboarding process that introduces them to the business values and culture at the outset of employment.

How well do you look after new hires?

Use HRA Cloud to help ease new hires into your organisation. The pre-employment workflows help ensure employment records are complete on commencement. And the platform provides easy access to HR and WHS policies, for viewing, acknowledgment and ultimately enforcement.

Use the induction workflows to adopt a consistent and standard new employee induction process and ensure all the key bases are covered.

7: Contractors

Always be mindful that hiring a worker who should be an employee as an independent contractor amounts to sham contracting. This is something that attracts really stiff penalties whether it was unintentional or not.

Do you know the relevant contractor tests?

If you’re hiring contractors, make sure your workers meet the relevant tests that distinguish a contractor from an employee. Use HRA Cloud’s Contractor Module and Contractor agreement to manage contractor engagement and records.

8: WHS and Volunteers

As a person conducting a business or undertaking (PCBU), you must consult with all workers who carry out work for the business who may be affected by work health and safety.

Do you include volunteers in WHS?

Double-check that you:

  • Make volunteers aware of standard safety protocols
  • Conduct regular WHS training with them
  • Invite volunteers to participate in WHS consultations if appropriate.

9: Unpaid Interns/Graduates

In Australia, unpaid internships must benefit the individual as a genuine training or learning opportunity. The more the internship requirements start to look like work, the more likely that it is work, and you must pay them. The same is true for trial periods. All workers should be paid for work trials.

Are you inadvertently underpaying interns and graduates?

Double-check what you expect your volunteers and interns to do. It’s important to make sure that you are not inadvertently underpaying them and breaching workplace laws.

10:  Keeping up to Date

You must ensure that you keep on top of a plethora of HR and WHS priorities, updates and renewals.

You should look into conferences, seminars or other learning opportunities that you could send your HR team or other management persons to attend.

Do you keep yourself and your team up to date with changes in the HR/IR space?

With HRA Cloud you can run reports on training and competency to determine which employee certifications have expired or are up for renewal.

You can also run reports across the HR and WHS Checklist Processes to see what’s been completed and whether any actions are still outstanding. And you can keep important records up-to-date by viewing which documents have expired or will be up for expiry.

11:  Workplace Health and Safety – Hazards and Accidents

Check your hazard and accident registers. Mark complete any hazards that have been eliminated or accidents that have been closed to remove them from your registers.

How current is your hazard and incident/accident register?

Check any controls have been put in place and consider getting an independent review of your registers to identify any new controls or actions that may assist in improving workplace safety.

12:  Hiring

It’s never too early to anticipate hiring needs, so now is a great time to plan your hiring strategy for the year ahead.

Book a time with HR Assured

Now is the time to give these 12 common areas of HR and WHS responsibility an annual check-up and put your business on a strong footing for the year ahead.

Contact HR Assured today if you want support to get on top of tuning your HR and WHS.