Issue 111 – Michael’s Corner

James Murphy

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← Issue 111 - Federal Budget 2021-22 Edition


Article No.11


The end of the financial year is a great time to take stock of your business with a view to identifying areas capable of growth or improvement from a HR perspective ….

As employees form a large part of spending in business, their impact on growth should be largely considered when reflecting on the business’ performance.

Steps and Suggestions on What to Do:

  1. Do I need to increase the wages?
  • The Fair Work Commission will soon hand down its annual decision on award wage increases, with an increase to commence on or from the first pay period from 01 July 2021.
  1. Have my employees had a performance review?
  • If you are reviewing the business, why not review employee engagement.
  1. Are my policies and procedures up to date?
  • Your business may have grown, changed direction or new legislation may have come into play in your sector. A review can save a penalty or a fine from the relevant department.
  1. Is my staffing structure the right fit for my business?
  • The right structure and training can assist a business with real growth and build employee confidence.


Wage Increases 

Not getting it right can see the Fair Work Ombudsmen pay a visit.


It is a criminal offence to not comply with an order of the Fair Work Commission (FWC). The FWC can take a matter to court where there has been a contravention of Australian workplace laws. For example, if an employer is asked by the FWC to pay their employees what they are owed and they do not pay the employees, the FWC can take the employer to court.

If the employer is a company, the FWC can take the company to court, but they can also take an individual to court if they were ‘involved in’ the company’s contravention. An individual involved in the company’s contravention may include:

  • a company director/s
  • a human resources manager or other managers
  • an accountant
  • a business involved in the supply chain.

Court Orders

If litigation is successful, a court may impose orders against a person found to have done the wrong thing. Those court orders may:

  • Make a person pay an amount of money as a penalty for not doing what the law says (up to $13,320 per contravention for an individual and $66,600 per contravention for companies).
  • Make a person pay a higher penalty for some ‘serious contraventions’ (up to $133,200 per contravention for an individual and $666,000 per contravention for companies).
  • Make an employer or other person pay an employee their outstanding entitlements (plus interest).
  • Require someone to do something (e.g., give an employee their job back) or undertake training or do an audit.
  • Restrain someone from doing something (an injunction or interim injunction) for example, stop discriminating against an employee; or
  • Pay an employee compensation for loss suffered. 

Performance Reviews

While performance reviews typically happen once or twice a year, feedback should not be limited to those short review periods.

  • Be honest.
  • Do it face to face.
  • Use tangible, pertinent
  • End on a positive note.
  • Choose your words with care.

Remember throughout the year also provide regular, informal feedback based on the 5 dot points above.

Principles to Remember…


  • Approach your evaluations with more flexibility, leniency, empathy, and compassion.
  • Recognise and show appreciation for employees who are engaged and working hard. It is critical for their morale — and for your organisation’s ability to retain them.
  • If remote, use video/ Skype/Zoom or Teams etc. for this conversation. It is more personal and humane.

Do not!

  • Be hard-hearted toward your poor performers. Give them a time-bound grace period to get used to working remotely and to turn things around.
  • Let your old biases creep in. Seek out alternative data. Ask colleagues and reports for information on how well other employees are communicating, collaborating, and helping.
  • Revert to business as usual — instead, think about how to do performance reviews better. In this environment, semi-annual or quarterly evaluations may be optimal. 

Policy and Procedure Updates 

Outdated policies can leave your organisation at risk. Old policies may fail to comply with new laws and regulations. They may not address new systems or technology, which can result in inconsistent practices. Can you imagine a policy that still addresses whether you can bring in floppy disks from home or discusses the proper use of fax machines? Yet there are probably policy manuals out there that still have this information in them.

Bottom line, regularly reviewing your policies and procedures keeps your organisation up to date with the latest regulations and technology, as well as consistent with the industry’s best practices. Your policies are more consistent and effective, and they help protect the organisation, the employees, and your customers. 

The Right Staffing Structure

Does the employee have a position description?

Key to Preparing a Job Description

Reflecting on the organisational problem you identified, clarify the following based on what you need from a person/role to fix that problem:

  • Key responsibilities of the role.
  • Key skills you need the candidate to have.
  • Experience you need the candidate to have demonstrated previously.
  • Qualifications, education, or any particular tickets/licences you require the candidate to have.

You could reach out to colleagues in the industry to ask for their input.

  • Do they hire for similar roles?
  • What attributes or key skills have they found invaluable in those roles?

This kind of input can inspire you and make a job that might seem arduous, more enjoyable.  

To avoid putting the wrong people into your team, consider your existing team dynamics.

  • Is there something missing?
  • Is there a fantastic worker who struggles with attention to detail, but is excellent with customers?

In that case, using someone with excellent attention to detail, even if they are not as confident with customers, might help complement your team.

Please note that this is general advice for information only and any application of legislation and/or Industrial Relations or contractual requirements may necessitate professional advice to suit your individual circumstances. 

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