By Fizzah Usama

This article outlines 11 common areas of HR and WHS responsibilities that typically catch employers out. You don’t want to make the same mistakes, so get up to speed.

Let’s get started…

1. Keeping employment records

While employment contracts can be made verbally 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 however be noted that the requirement to keep certain employee records under the Fair Work Act 2009 or particular industrial instruments is not optional.

Given the obligation to maintain employee records in a form that is readily accessible and in English (among others), employers should consider implementing an organised system for managing records. This will ensure that you have all your employee records in one place and you can monitor whether they’re accurate and up to date.

Using our HRA Cloud you can simply run a report to check that your required employee records are complete and up-to-date. In addition, the HRA Cloud enables you to generate employment documents including contracts and policies and automatically save them against the employee record.

You can read more about the obligation to maintain employee records here.

2. Managing seasonal workers

If you’ve ramped up your staff to cope with increased demand or work, it is important to double-check that you’ve chosen the right employment arrangement. Choosing the wrong agreement for a fixed-term or seasonal worker can cause serious financial implications for businesses. For example, using a permanent employment agreement, rather than a fixed-term agreement means the employment will not automatically end at a specified time and can mean employers face unfair dismissal claims for terminating the agreement

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 appropriately.

3. Work Health & Safety – inductions

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

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.

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

Regular training and WHS inductions will help to ensure workplace safety policies and procedures are well understood and become a routine-based activity.

4. Work Health & Safety – training assessments

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

If you provide on-the-job training, make sure your employees demonstrate they understand the training and that you 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 in the training or information provided.  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 three-to-six 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 implement them, they have no impact and may not protect your business in the event of a claim.

For policies to be effective, you must:

Formally communicate policies to all employees;

Have evidence that your employee has accepted the policies and any subsequent changes

Retain such evidence in their employee record; and

Provide training including refresher training on policies to all employees.

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 in relation to each of the policies you have implemented within your business.

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, you may not be fulfilling your employer obligations.

Reviewing your policies to check they’re in line with current legislation is a good idea and HRA Cloud can make this an easy process for your business.

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 leads to an employee’s speedy departure.

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

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

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 as an independent contractor who should essentially be engaged as an employee may amount to sham contracting. Sham contracting may attract serious penalties regardless of whether it was unintentional.

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 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 in relation to all work health and safety matters relevant to the work they carry out for the business.

Double-check that you:

  • Make employees, contractors as well as volunteers aware of standard safety protocols;
  • Conduct regular WHS training with them; and
  • Invite them to participate in WHS consultations where appropriate.

9. Unpaid interns and 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 actual 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. Check out HR Assured’s blog on internships and unpaid work here.

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 your HR and WHS obligations. You should invest time in regular updates of your processes and documents. This includes up-to-date training of your HR and WHS personnel.

Other ways you can stay informed in the HR and WHS space:

  • Attend conferences, seminars or other learning opportunities;
  • Read blogs and articles (like this one) or subscribe to newsletters;
  • Subscribe to an outsourced HR solution like e HR Assured.

Inside of HR Assured’s HR software, 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. 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

You should regularly check your hazard, risk and accident registers, and review where matters need to be actioned and those that have been closed.

How current is your hazard and incident or 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.

Have a question about WHS, HR or the information in this article?

If you’re an HR Assured client, contact our 24/7 Telephone Advisory Service.

Not an HR Assured client and need some advice? The team at HR Assured can support your business on a range of workplace matters. Contact us today to arrange a confidential, no-obligation chat.

Fizzah Usama is our Workplace Relations Consultant at HR Assured and FCB Group (our parent company). She advises and supports our clients with any workplace issues via the company’s Telephone Advisory Service.