Category Archives: Uncategorised

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.

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

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