Workers question wages

by 07 Nov 2011

Wages, working conditions and entitlement enquiries were the main reasons people called the Fair Work Infoline for assistance throughout the 2010/11 financial year.

A total of 37% of the 825,219 workers who called the info line raised questions about wages and a further 21% were seeking information on conditions of employment.

Fair Work Ombudsman Nicholas Wilson added that 11% of enquiries related to termination of employment and 9% were about leave entitlements.

“Call volumes averaged 68,768 a month in 2010-11, peaking at 113,573 in July, 2010, coinciding with the start of Modern Award transitional arrangements and an increase in the minimum wage,” Wilson said.

Wilson added that 62% of callers last financial year identified themselves as employees and 37% indicated they were employers. Notably, nearly a quarter of all calls were from New South Wales.

The Manager’s Electronic Resource Centre (MERC) said organisations must ensure their past and present salary policy is appropriate and continually revisited so that no employees are left in the dark about their entitlements and remuneration.

MERC suggests communicating salary packages is a critical HR function and should be equitable, structured and clearly understood by all employees.

The issues of fairness and having a clearly defined system for promotion, merit and salary increases are critical to maintaining employee motivation and performance, according to MERC. Accordingly, the following are offered as integral components of comprehensive salary polices, which should be made accessible to all employees:

1. Clear and current job descriptions, which include the employees’ responsibilities, the reporting relationship and the level of education and experience required.

2. A defined classification or banding structure which clusters jobs with similar levels of skill, experience and responsibility.

3. A salary range for each classification or band is determined by a market analysis of pay scales for similar jobs in like institutions in the same local and/ or similar geographic areas.  It may be necessary to analyze a broader geographic area if there is a shortage of qualified people available locally for some positions, (e.g computer programmer).

4. Particular attention should be paid to the starting salary in each salary range to ensure equity across the organisation.

5. Each salary range should include steps which provide opportunity to increase people’s salaries equitably as they demonstrate high performance.

6. A policy is developed to allow for cost of living increases equitably distributed to all employees on a scheduled basis, e.g. annually.

7. Establish a Compensation Committee, including board members, which meets on a scheduled basis to review ranges, set percentages for merit increases if these are awarded, and generally be the final arbiter on salary questions.

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