In the news:

The next issue of the Advance Western Downs Business News Monitor is scheduled for delivery on Tuesday 6 January 2015.

Help for business on workplace issues

Help is at hand for small to medium-sized businesses working through the minefield of important workplace issues through a series of Best Practice Guides available from the Fair Work Ombudsman.

The guides highlight key aspects of the federal workplace relations system, information on best practice concepts, strategies on how these concepts can be implemented and where to find more information.

Some of the issues covered by the guides include:

Small business & the Fair Work Act

The Fair Work Act 2009 sets out a number of requirements that business, including small business, needs to be aware of. This guide includes a checklist to help determine your awareness of the Fair Work Act, and explains:

  • the safety net of minimum employment conditions 
  • the obligation to bargain in good faith at the enterprise level 
  • obligations to keep records and provide pay slips 
  • unfair dismissal laws that apply to small business 
  • protections for employees and obligations of employers 
  • the functions of the Fair Work Ombudsman and Fair Work Australia.

Managing underperformance

Establishing effective performance management systems can have significant benefits for a business. This guide includes a checklist to assist best practice employers and covers:

  • what is meant by underperformance
  • some reasons for underperformance
  • systems for managing underperformance
  • a five-step plan to help employers and employees manage and address underperformance.

Effective dispute resolution

A fair and balanced dispute resolution process is important for the effective operation of any business, and this guide covers.

  • advantages of best practice dispute resolution
  • requirement for a dispute resolution clause in modern awards and enterprise agreements, and the rules regarding overlap between these instruments
  • benefits of a dispute resolution clause where employees are not covered by awards or enterprise agreements
  • features of a good dispute resolution clause, and
  • rules regarding the powers of Fair Work Australia  or other independent persons in resolving a dispute.

Parental leave

This guide offers advice on developing parental leave policies that are practical, flexible and tailored to the specific circumstances of the business and its employees. It explains:

  • the advantages of having a best practice parental leave policy
  • the benefits to employers of parental leave
  • employees’ entitlements to paid and unpaid parental leave
  • what employers can do to make parental leave work for them and their employees
  • how employers can assist a new parent whose partner is on parental leave
  • implementing best practice return to work policies
  • discrimination in relation to pregnancy and parental responsibilities.
  • there is also a checklist on how to achieve a best practice parental leave policy.

Other guide topics covered by Best Practice Guides are work & family; consultation & cooperation in the workplace; use of individual flexibility arrangements; an employer's guide to employing young workers; gender pay equity; workplace privacy; and improving workplace productivity through bargaining.

All of the guides are available on the Fair Work Ombudsman website.

The Fair Work Ombudsman also has Fact Sheets that cover a range of topics and set out minimum rights and responsibilities under workplace law.