Author Archives: Bonita Nichols

Minimum Wage to Increase by 3% from 1 July 2019

The Fair Work Commission has announced a 3% increase to minimum wages.  The new national minimum wage will be $740.80 per week ($19.49/hr).

The increase applies from the first full pay period starting on or after 1 July 2019.

The increase will also apply to wage structures within each Modern Award.

As a consequence of the decision, we recommend that you take the time to review staff wages.  At Human Outsource we have developed a very cost effective service offering that incorporates a Better of Overall Test (BOOT) to benchmark how you are currently paying relative to your minimum statutory obligations as well as the development of the necessary paperwork to issue to your staff if remuneration variations are necessary.

Contact us today on 1300 723 911 or email to find out more information.

Employment Contracts for SMEs

January 2019 has already been a very busy month for Human Outsource and one of the things we have been busy doing is providing guidance to several SMEs on the implementation of employment contracts.

While there is no law that specifies the requirement for a written employment contract, it is good practice to have them in place.  By implementing a written employment contract both the employer and employee have a formal record of what has been agreed, which may avoid any unnecessary disputation over the arrangements that are in place.

Importantly, merely having a written employment contract in place is no guarantee that there will not be disputation and having poorly constructed contracts may even create unnecessary confusion, angst and cost to both the Employer and Employee.

Here are 3 tips to ensuring you get things right with written contracts:

1. Regularly review your contract templates.  Ensure that your employment contract templates are regularly reviewed.  Things change over time; legislative changes regularly occur and judgments in employment-related legal proceedings can change the way an Employer governs how certain entitlements and processes are managed.  As such, you need contracts that are reflective of contemporary requirements.  Simply relying on old contract templates that you may have sourced from a colleague, friend or even had from a previous employer may not give you the flexibility or protection you need as an employer.

2.  The right terms of employment for the right job.  When going to the effort of putting a contract in place, make sure you match the right arrangement for the actual job.  For example, we often find that SME’s will tend to gravitate toward casual employment arrangements given the perceived flexibility that comes with such arrangements.  While a casual employment arrangement can be the right one in certain circumstances, a permanent part time or full-time arrangement may be more reflective of the job to be completed and cost effective given the requirement not to pay a casual loading.   Always do your homework and contract with any employee using the most effective employment arrangement (dependent on the situation).

3.  Avoid manipulating clauses in a contract.  When contracts are created, they are drafted in a manner to protect the interests of the Employer, while also ensuring that the Employee receives entitlements that at least meet any statutory minimum entitlement.  As part of the contracting process, employees will often ask for certain clauses to be amended.  In these circumstances we encourage Employers to be very cautious and take appropriate advice before making any changes.  What may look like a simple change to keep a prospective employee happy, may have unintended impacts ‘down the tack’, which can once again cause unnecessary confusion and angst for both the Employer and Employee.

Should you have any questions relating to employment contracts feel free to contact us anytime on 1300 723 911 or

New WHS Enforcement Policy Released in QLD

Workplace Health and Safety (WHS) Queensland released a new Compliance Monitoring and Enforcement Policy in December 2018.

Here is what you need to know:

1.  WHSQ will identify priority safety risks.  Types of risks identified may include hazardous tasks such as ‘Working from Height’, by way of example.

2.  Inspectors at WHSQ will have greater focus on these ‘priority safety risks’ when conducting safety visits.

3.  The policy amplifies the importance of ensuring that duty holders of a PCBU not only comply with legislation but also ‘Approved Codes of Practice’, which can be found on the WHSQ website.

4.  Duty holders of a PCBU can expect increased WHS sanctions under the new policy such as Infringement (Enforcement & Improvement) Notices, licence suspensions (where relevant) and prosecution where there has been systematic management failure to implement safe systems of work.

The key is to have a ‘sustainable systematic management system’ in place that enables duty holders of a PCBU to exercise effective ‘due diligence’.  This involves proactive consultation with the workforce such that there is a close understanding of the risk involved within the operation of a business and that safety risks may be identified and proactively managed so as to either eliminate a risk or control a risk to an acceptable level.

If you would like Human Outsource to look at your safety management systems to see if they are up to scratch, give us a call on 1300 723 911 anytime.


New rules for managing flexible working arrangements

From 1 December new rules were introduced by the Fair Work Commission regarding flexible work arrangements.  Under the rule changes an Employer may only refuse a request (made under Sect 65 of the Fair Work Act) for a change in working arrangements on ‘reasonable business grounds’.  In addition, Employers need to consult with the Employee making a request and genuinely try to reach agreement on a request to change working arrangements that will reasonably accommodate the employee’s circumstances having regard to:

  • the needs of the employee arising from their circumstances;
  • the consequences for the employee if changes in working arrangements are not made; and
  • any reasonable business grounds for refusing the request.

The Employer must give the employee a written response (to an employee’s Sect 65 request) within 21 days, stating whether the request is approved or not.

If the request is rejected, the Employer will have to provide detailed reasons as to why the request was rejected.  Employers may also look to provide some alternate arrangements that may be more suitable to business requirements that the employee can consider.

Ultimately, Employees do not have an automatic right to flexible working arrangements, but in the event that a formal request is made and subsequently rejected, the Employee has a right to be provided with detailed reasons as to why their request has been rejected.  Employees also have a right to dispute a decision, if the request process has not been followed or the Employer has been unable to establish ‘reasonable business grounds’ for rejecting a request.

Should you receive a formal request from an employee regarding flexible working arrangements, just give the team at Human Outsource a call and we can make sure that you not only meet your obligations but also work towards an outcome that works for both you and your employee.


Some Advice for Staff Christmas Functions

Well it’s that time of year again and a lot of our clients have been asking us how they should manage their staff Christmas function.  We have probably all been to a work function where someone drinks too much and starts acting inappropriately.  The key to trying to avoid inappropriate behaviour (in the first place) and managing incident(s) if they occur is to communicate effectively with attendees before the function, in order that they clearly understand the expectations.  It’s also important to get the balance right and to try and avoid your communication being ‘over bearing’ or ‘grinch – like’.  Ultimately, you want staff to have fun without going overboard but they also need to understand that it is a work function.

Here is an email template that we provide to our clients, we hope you find it useful and enjoy the festive season.


The Human Outsource Team!

Good Afternoon,

If you’re new to [insert company name] welcome and we hope you enjoy our end of year function, if you’ve been to a [insert company name] end-of-year function or two, then here is a timely reminder of the details and expectations for the evening.

  • the End-of-Year function will be held at [insert venue].
  • It starts at [insert time]pm and finishes at [insert time]pm.
  • Responsible consumption of alcohol is your responsibility and attendees who are deemed to be intoxicated and/or obnoxious will be asked to leave the function.
  • Bad behaviour and misconduct during the function will be met with the appropriate disciplinary process as it is a work-related activity.
  • [insert company name] is not associated with any after-parties or gatherings when our function concludes at [insert end time]pm and as such, is not responsible or liable for your behaviour and/or actions after that time.

I guess you could say that overall, we’re generally a sensible bunch and capable of enjoying a good party without any problems, but we ask that you take appropriate personal responsibility around your behaviour during the function. So without wishing to be total killjoys, we’d just ask that we remember to respect each other and our surroundings whilst we’re celebrating the end of a fantastic year.

Beer, wine, water and soft drinks will be available, please consume responsibly.

As stated, the party will wrap up at [insert time]pm and after that time, you are on your own!  [insert company name] takes no responsibility for what happens to you after the function has concluded.

Cab-charges will be available for those of you who need them to get safely from the venue to your home.  You can collect these from [insert name] between now and [day of function].  If you are driving, remember that the legal blood-alcohol driving limit is 0.05 and it is your responsibility to ensure you can drive home safely. If you are in doubt, do not drive; get a cab, an Uber or public transport. 

The last thing we want to do leading into Christmas is to go through complaints and disciplinary procedures – because let’s face it, we are all adults and should be able to behave appropriately. Once again, this email doesn’t mean not having fun, it just means remember that you are at a work function.

Have fun, let your hair down and enjoy yourselves, but do so responsibly.

Kind Regards,

[insert Manager’s name]


Managing Mental Health issues in the Workplace

Managing staff that present to work with a mental health problem or illness is becoming more  prevalent.  The stigma once associated with mental health is being broken down thanks to the great work of numerous charitable organisations within Australia who have raised the profile of mental health and made it a mainstream issue that needs to be proactively addressed within society.

People are now more comfortable discussing their mental health problem or illness with family and friends in order that it may be managed so as to allow the individual to lead a full and productive life.  Importantly, this includes conversations within the workplace as well.

Over the past few years we have noticed a definite trend in our clients becoming more actively engaged to assist staff who have presented to work with either a mental health problem or illness.  There is now a realisation people suffering from mental health related issues is prevalent and will impact most organisations in some way.  Moreover, employers are starting to understand that proactive engagement with staff that identify themselves as suffering from a mental health problem or illness can make a significant difference in the productivity and effectiveness of the impacted staff member, which in turn leads to better outcomes for the organisation.

While each instance needs to be managed on a ‘case by case’ basis we recommend to our clients the following key steps in effectively managing staff that present in the workplace with a mental health issue:

1.  Understanding.  Employers need to have a basic understanding of mental health related issues.  Specifically, just because a staff member may be experiencing a mental health issue, it does not necessarily mean that it is long term or permanent issue or that it will significantly impact the operational effectiveness of the organisation.  Importantly, a mental health problem or illness does not mean that an impacted person can not continue to be a productive member of the workforce.  A mental health problem is a problem that affects the way a person feels, thinks, behaves and interacts with other people.  Mental health problems are quite common and can be temporary in nature due to the stressors of life.  Left untreated mental health problems may develop into mental illness that can have more severe impacts requiring intervention from suitably qualified practitioners.

2.  Identification.  Once an employer becomes aware of a mental health problem or illness being experienced by a staff member, the most important step to take is to proactively consult with the impacted person in a sensitive and confidential manner. Employees within an organisation should not feel that a mental health issue be kept secret and should be encouraged to raise the issue if it is starting to have a detrimental impact on their work without fear of reprisal. Employees should have the confidence to raise these sorts of issues in order that they may be managed to the mutual satisfaction of both parties.

3.  Consultation.  Consultation with an impacted employee is vital to ensuring that the right management plan is put in place to allow the impacted person the ability to both deal with their mental health issue and continue to be a productive contributor at work.  The key is for the Employer to listen and understand exactly what difficulties the impacted person is experiencing before any plan is developed.  Importantly, a ‘one size fits all’ approach to the issue needs to be avoided and the initial conversations should be ‘two-way’ in nature so the employer has all the information that is required to develop an effective management plan.  Importantly, if at any point the employer has concerns for the immediate safety and wellbeing of the impacted person, steps should be taken straight away to protect the safety of the impacted person or any other individuals.

4.  Management.  Once there is a full understanding of the mental health issue, we encourage the development of a management plan in order that the impacted employee can be as productive as possible whilst also having the ability to seek treatment/support (as necessary) to deal with their mental health issue.  Once again this does not mean that an impacted person can not work, it may just mean that clever changes are put in place to balance the needs of both parties.  Once developed the employer should then engage in consultation (once again) with the impacted person in order that the plan can be adjusted and  implemented as appropriate.

5.  Review.  As stated earlier, mental health issues can be quite temporary in nature and do not necessarily mean that permanent changes to a impacted persons accountabilities need to be made at work.  As such, any plan that is implemented must be monitored and reviewed on a regular basis.  The plan can then be tweaked over time or even finalised dependent on the circumstances.

At Human Outsource we have developed a comprehensive procedure to enable businesses to manage mental health issues in the workplace.  We have also just released our very own Employee Assistance Program that provides a high quality support service to employees.  Unlike other providers who either use counsellors or inexperienced psychologists we only use highly experienced clinical psychologists.  We also do this at an affordable price where you only pay for what you need.  Call us anytime on 1300 723 911 or for more information visit

Employee status – don’t be in for a super shock

When is an employee an employee?

It might sound weird but this is a question you may need to ask, especially in relation to superannuation.

One of the buzzwords in the Fair Work Act 2009 was ‘sham contracting’.

A key component of this relates to whether a worker is deemed an employee for the purposes of your obligations under the Superannuation Act.

You may have engaged a person whom you believe to be a contractor, only to later have a payment claim lodged against you for the payment of superannuation.

So when is an employee an employee?

Below is a quick guide to determine your obligations as an employer:

  1. Is there a commercial arrangement in place (Contract of Service Agreement)?
  2. Do you allow that person to work elsewhere?
  3. Does the worker have control of how and when the work is completed?

If you answered NO to any of the above three questions, then you may be in for a shock!

For the purposes of superannuation, this person would be deemed an employee and as such you would need to pay superannuation.

If you’re not sure or have concerns, contact us at Human Outsource and we can help you sort this out.

HR Consultants – Everything you need to know!

All you need to know about HR Consultants; from when to know you may need to seek an eternal HR consultant right down to what you should be looking for.

When it comes to managing staff and dealing with complex HR issues within the workplace, it can be extremely time consuming and emotionally draining. Not only that, but the workplace law and heavy compliance burdens surrounding the processes of hiring, managing, developing and exiting staff leaves managers open to danger.

It is important to remember that with HR, it is not just about risk. If people management is a secondary responsibility for you or someone else in your organisation and you lack access to professional human resources consulting services, it might also be costing you dearly in unrealised potential and productivity if you don’t have the time to apply to it.

This is where a HR consultant comes in, to provide a professional level of HR support and allow business owners to have peace of mind when it comes to staff management and HR issues.
If you are someone who is looking to engage a HR Consultant, this is for you. We have summarised some key points to assist you in understanding the point at which you may need to engage a HR consultant, the advantages in doing so and what to look for.

1. When to seek external HR consultants in your business
• When you need assistance in ensuring you are legally compliant as a company
• When you require clarity in understanding your responsibilities as an employer/manager.
• When HR issues are building up and taking away from your everyday responsibilities
• When you are facing issues, which are not quite for a lawyer but above your knowledge
• When you want to steer clear of the Fairwork Commission

2. Reasons for outsourcing your HR
• When you do not have the resources or demand for a full-size HR department
• If you are a small – medium size business and do not require a full-time, in-house HR Manager
• When you do not have the capacity to take on additional work such as HR which requires a lot of time and attention.

3. Advantages of hiring an external HR consultant
• You can save on cost
• You can save on time
• Allows a fresh/expert set of eyes to run over your company policy and procedures
• They can provide a clear and unbiased perspective on issues within the workplace
• They provide you with peace of mind – knowing your business isn’t sitting on an industrial relations or workplace health and safety time bomb.
• Instill confidence – knowing your people are happy, engaged, professionally developed and looked after.
• Security – knowing your HR policies and procedures will stand up when challenged.

4. How to go about outsourcing your HR
• Do your research – ring around and meet with various companies

5. What to look for in an external HR consultant
• Previous experience – should be listed on their website or LinkedIn
• Referrals and testimonials from current or previous clients
• A friendly, personable consultant who you could picture having in your team every day.

Human Outsource is a professional HR consulting firm based in Brisbane, providing human resources consultancy solutions Australia-wide.

Discover the benefits of quality outsourced HR consultants, products and services, based in Brisbane. Your business will thrive more than ever with the experienced HR professionals at Human. Get in touch with your new HR consultant today.

Case Alert: March 2018

Welcome to our new case alert. Each month we will bring you a summary of a case we think may be relevant to you. This month’s case alert will provide guidance to you on issues you may face in the workplace, particularly around redundancy.

Court finds worker’s complaint unrelated to redundancy

A Gorgon LNG project worker has lost his adverse action bid after a court found his complaints about offensive and racist conduct played no part in a decision to make him redundant.

The sheet-metal worker, who was among 116 Hertel Modern Pty Ltd employees listed for redundancy on central Queensland’s Barrow Island, in the middle of last year, alleged the painting insulation and fireproofing contractor dismissed him because he complained about a colleague and his supervisor.

The metal worker told the Federal Circuit Court that after telling a supervisor in June last year that a colleague made racist and demeaning comments to him, he later overheard the supervisor telling his colleague words to the effect that he did not “give a shit about his complaint”.

Following a confrontation, after which his colleague posted a derogatory statement directed to him on Facebook, the metal worker spoke to two construction managers and was told the employer would move the colleague to a different workshop.

Within a week of the metal worker lodging a formal complaint with Hertel’s HR manager in early July, the company made him redundant.

The metal worker alleged Hertel dismissed him in breach of s340 of the Fair Work Act, because he exercised a right under the company’s enterprise agreement in complaining about workplace bullying and harassment.
However, a Hertel superintendent gave evidence that he personally put the metal worker on a redundancy short list after learning that due to a medical condition involving vertigo he could not go on site and work on high scaffolding.

The metal worker had refused a request by the superintendent to go out on site in June last year due to his medical condition, which the superintendent accepted after confirming he had lodged a medical certificate.
The HR manager said when he became aware the metal worker was on the short list, although he did not know why his name was on it, he was concerned it “would look unfair; as though Hertel was punishing” him because the colleague at the centre of his complaints was not on it too.

On the HR manager’s advice, the colleague was also added to the list and subsequently made redundant, along with the metal worker.

Federal Circuit Court Judge Justin Smith found the complaint “played no part in any action taken” by the HR manager to leave the metal worker’s name on the redundancies list.
He accepted the HR manager’s evidence that it was “usual practice” to leave it to managers and superintendents to decide who to short-list for redundancy, and that they did not provide their reasons to him.

Given the frequency of mass redundancies, the fact the HR manager had responsibility for many employees and had worked for the AMWU for eight years, Judge Smith said it was also “unlikely” that he would have made someone redundant to simply get rid of a complaint.

Noting the HR manager had “already dealt with the complaint quickly and efficiently” by speaking to the metal worker and the colleague on the same day he received it, and was awaiting further information, the judge said this was “not the action of someone who readily shirks responsibilities or takes an easy, but unlawful solution”.

Of the superintendent’s decision to earmark the metal worker for redundancy, Judge Smith said his response was consistent with his “duty of care to other workers and [the metal worker] himself on the site” and it was unlikely the “carry on” between the two workers played a role in it.

He said the context of the redundancies also bolstered the conclusion, as the workshop tasks covered by Hertel’s contract were winding up towards the end of the construction phase, while sheet metal workers were employed “to do the whole of that job, not just one part, such as the workshop component”.

Hull & Anor v Hertel Modern Pty Ltd [2017] FCCA 2579 (2 November 2017)

Sourced from:

If you have any questions regarding redundancy or any other workplace issues, please contact us. We are here to help!

Termination – it’s all about the process

Termination is not that hard really.

Many business owners/managers have a perception that it is almost impossible to terminate an employee these days.

However, it is not that difficult if you follow some simple steps.

Terminating is all about process. If you decide to terminate someone and have no process behind the decision, then a successful claim against you with the Fair Work Commission is more likely.

However, if you have a simple process and follow it, you will be in a much better position even if you are challenged through Fair Work.

We have helped our clients countless times in ensuring a process is implemented and followed and we are yet to have a challenge succeed.

Here’s what you need to do:

 Implement a simple process that outlines the steps to be taken when disciplinary action is required.
 When necessary, follow the process.
 Ensure you provide frank feedback to the employee regarding unsatisfactory performance.
 Document any action taken.

Failure to follow your own process will lead to complications later on.

If you are unsure what to do or would like to put some simple steps in place to ensure you have a process that is robust, contact us at Human Outsource for help.

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