Author Archives: Mark Algie

Developing handy employment and liability insurance products

Over the past 12 months, Human Outsource has been working with Nexus Risk Services ( to develop a suite of insurance products that protect businesses from employment-related liability claims.  As you probably all know, claims made by workers against organisations (including their officers and directors) is on the rise, so it is good to have ‘piece of mind’.

We believe that the three (3) insurance products that we have developed are some of the best on the market on the basis that if an insurance claim is triggered, you receive legal support from Human Outsource’s trusted employment law experts at FAC Law (, as opposed to a legal firm that simply sits on a general insurance panel.

In creating these insurance products, it was also important to Human Outsource that we did not profit from the activity.  Human Outsource does not receive any commission (whatsoever) from the products offered.  We did this to avoid any conflict and to ensure that we can offer a superior suite of products to our clients at a cost that is lower than many of the mainstream insurance products currently on the market.

Our insurance products are underwritten by SUA and are offered on the basis that if you are a Human Outsource client that has followed our advice, you are able to access FAC Law (specifically) to defend any claims that may be made against your organisation or its officers and directors.  We believe that this places you in a superior position, so you can rely on not only our HR services to mitigate against the risk of a claim but have robust insurance protection in the event a claim is made.  Terms and conditions do apply.

If you clink on this link: you can access the insurance brochure and policy wording information for each product.

Should you be interested in any of these products, simply give us a call on 1300 723 911 so we can assist.

Avoiding Stress Claims

Over the past few months we have observed a significant rise in ‘stress claims’.  Under the relevant workers compensation legislation in each State, workers have the freedom to lodge a workers’ compensation claim if work can be established as a significant contributing factor to a mental health condition.

Of particular interest is the number of senior staff within organisations that have been lodging claims.  In most cases these claims relate to being unreasonably tasked or being contacted and/or required to work excessive hours (outside of their contracted ordinary hours or work).  In supporting their contentions, claimants typically tender emails, chats or SMS text messages (that are all date/time stamped) that establish that they have been contacted or forced to work outside of their contracted hours.  While in isolation each piece of evidence may not be significant, multiple pieces of correspondence can build a picture that an individual has had to work unreasonably or excessively.  While contracts of employment for staff may contain provisions that allow for reasonable additional hours of work, this may not be enough to stop a claim if the weight of evidence indicates that the additional hours has not been reasonable (in the circumstances).

We would offer the following tips to avoid or at the very least mitigate against these types of claims:

  1. Refrain from communicating with your staff outside of normal working hours.  If you do need to communicate make sure that it is only for essential purposes.
  2. Monitor the correspondence that you receive from your staff.  If correspondence is being routinely received outside of the workers contracted hours of work, intervene and conduct proactive counselling (with notes of the session taken) to ensure that they can better manage their work demands (appropriately).
  3. If you receive a workers’ compensation claim for a mental health condition that has allegedly arisen at work, make sure that you contact us to get advice before responding to the insurer.  In certain circumstances such claims can be rejected if the medical condition surfaced as a consequence of reasonable management action implemented in a reasonable way.  A good example of this may be receiving a stress claim immediately after you have conducted a disciplinary process with the staff member.

While the workers’ compensation system quite rightly covers mental health conditions that surface in the workplace, it is important that those cases that you do not feel are legitimate are managed appropriately.

About standing workers down amid the COVID-19 pandemic

As a consequence of the CIVID-19 (Coronavirus) a number of our clients have been impacted in different ways.  In trying to manage these impacts we have had several clients contact us regarding standing workers down without pay.

The stand down provisions specified in the Fair Work Act, 2009 do not give employers a blanket right to stand workers down.  Furthermore, there are a series of conditions that must be met before these provisions should be considered including:

  1. Has there actually been a stoppage of work in all or part of the business,
  2. Is the stoppage for a reason outside of the businesses control, and
  3. Can affected workers be employed to perform other useful work within the business.

Importantly, a downturn in business trading conditions does not typically trigger these provisions.

The risks associated with the unjustified use of the stand down provisions is high and can include:

  1. Workers seeking back payment of wages for the whole period of the stand down,
  2. Constructive dismissal claims (such as unfair dismissal and general protections claims), and
  3. Workers alleging that the stand down amounted to unreasonable management action causing them a psychological injury in relation to which they bring a workers compensation claim.

The approach we have taken with clients where there may not necessarily be sufficient justification to stand workers down without pay, is to consult with workers (in a genuine way) to secure the flexibility they desire.  This can not only include taking a period(s) of unpaid leave but also interim wage reductions and interim changes in hours of work.  All workers are acutely aware of the circumstances that we are now faced with and we have found that they will generally work with employers to achieve arrangements that will assist your businesses at this time.

While consulting with workers to secure flexibility will not guarantee that a claim ‘down the track’ will be made, it will mitigate against the impact of any claim given that you have consulted and secured mutually acceptable arrangements for genuine reasons.

If you are considering arrangements to sustain your business that includes requesting workers to take unpaid leave, we would suggest you contact us on 13090 723 911 so that we can work with you to implement arrangements that will allow you to trade through this period of unprecedented business disruption.

COVID-19 (Coronavirus): Free advice to SMEs

The COVID-19 (Coronavirus) pandemic has created unprecedented business disruption.  For businesses that have either had to close (due to government mandated directives) or businesses that have experienced a significant downturn in trading conditions, measures will undoubtedly now need to be taken to effectively manage your workforce.  Different measures to consider include:

  1. Taking paid or unpaid leave,
  2. Modifying hours of work,
  3. Modifying remuneration,
  4. Adjusting accountabilities to continue doing useful work, and
  5. Redundancy.

When implementing these types of measures there are risks including wage claims, constructive dismissal claims, general protections (adverse action)claims and even worker’s compensation claims.

Importantly, there is no ‘silver bullet’ in managing these issues and we find that even within specific businesses there is not a ‘one size fits all approach’ meaning that workers are often managed on a case by case basis.  The key is to ensure that you follow the right process, dependent on your circumstances.

At Human Outsource we have already helped dozens of SMEs grappling with these issues over the past few weeks.

Call us now on 1300 723 911 for a free consultation.  As part of that consultation you will receive free general HR advice related to your circumstances with no obligation to engage us for further services.  Ultimately, as a company we have the interests of SMEs as our core focus and as such we are happy to help any Australian business through these tough times.

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