The Top 5 stories of 2013

by Cameron Edmond19 Dec 2013
2013 has been a big year for HR, and for HC. This year saw the passing of the journalistic torch from Stephanie Zillman to Cameron Edmond, as well as a rebrand of our physical publication from HC Magazine to HR Director Magazine. The end of this year also marks the departure of our long-time editor Iain Hopkins, and the arrival of Joshua Gliddon.

But enough about us, what about you? With some big changes in IR laws and more to come – as well as a change in Government (twice, kind of…) and some tragic closures, HR hasn’t been short of the limelight this year. With that in mind, here are the stories that had you all clicking this year:

Five signs your employee is about to resign
Resignations are part of the working world. The concept of a ‘job for life’ has all but dissipated, with a more individualistic take on work enthralling the younger generations. If you suspect a staff member might be looking to jump ship, Robert Walters boiled it down to five warning signs to look out for:
  • Lateness.
     
  • Increased sick days.
     
  • More time spent on personal emails, phone calls and websites.
     
  • Negativity towards their work or colleagues.
     
  • Focus on the short term rather than any long-term plans or solutions.
How to tell an employee they smell
Approaching the bad habits or poor hygiene of an employee is a difficult area, as HR runs the risk of offending the employee in question. However, bad breath, niggling coughs and foul body odour are all drains on productivity.
Susan Heathfield, US-based HR expert, outlined key points for HR to keep in mind when approaching the issue:
  • Start with a soft approach to set the employee at ease, but don't beat around the bush.
     
  • Tell the employee directly what the problem is as you perceive it.
     
  • Whenever possible, attach the feedback to a business issue, such as the impact on the team.
     
  • Advise that the behaviour is not just affecting the business and the employee's co-workers, but may affect the employee's career.
     
  • Be sensitive to the fact that different cultures have different norms and standards for appearance, bathing, and dress and differences in cooking and eating traditions, too.
FBT Changes – the impact on you and your organisation
In an attempt to end the carbon tax earlier, Prime Minster Kevin Rudd announced a cutting of fringe benefits tax (FBT) car concessions. The cut would remove the statutory reporting method of valuing the taxable value of a car fringe benefit. Instead, the operating cost method would have to be used.
Slammed by the motoring industry and Coalition alike, the change was annulled following the 2013 election.

Rescinding a job offer: HR’s best practice approach
HR may need to rescind a job offer for a variety of reasons. For example, internal factors could mean the budget for a particular role is suddenly cut, or perhaps it’s determined that the role in question could be spread across already existing employees. External factors could include the candidate failing a background check or falsifying information on their application.

Legal factors to be mindful of when rescinding a job offer may include:

Discrimination: Anti-discrimination laws protect all qualified candidates as far as race, background, religion, age, disability and gender. If an employer rescinded a job offer based on any of these categories and hired a person outside of the protected categories, the rejected applicant may take the matter further.

Misrepresentation of the position or company: If an individual quits his or her job for a promised new job, only to discover the company is moving offices and is rescinding their employment offer on their first day of work, the applicant may be able to prove that the intended move was known by the employer before the job offer was made. As a result, the individual may seek compensation.

Breach of contract: A breach of contract occurs when an employer or employee violates a signed employment contract, which outlines the terms of employment as well as the company policies. If the potential employee can prove that the employer violated the employment contract, for example, the employer attempts to enforce work hours outside of what was agreed upon and then rescinds employment because the employee won’t work those hours, they may be in breach of the contract.

Are you ready for 457 visa changes?
A number of changes to the subclass 457 visa program took effect on 1 July, and HC was there to cover the news when it broke. One of the foremost changes included the extension of powers of the Fair Work Ombudsman (FWO) to monitor key aspects of employers’ compliance with 457 visa conditions, namely that:
  • 457 visa holders are being paid at the market rates specified in their approved visa, and
     
  • The job being done by the 457 visa holder matches the job title and description approved in their visa.
According to the department, the changes are necessary in order to safeguard jobs for Australians first and foreigners second. The aim of the 457 visas is to sponsor people to fill genuine skills gaps, and IMMI stated that for employers and workers alike who are using the program appropriately, there will be no adverse effects.
 
We here at HC thank you for your support, and we’ll see you next year when we return!
 

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