Get Started with an Annual HR Support Subscription!

During a phone discussion with a new client last week, the gentleman said to me that he often has questions or little issues that come up on the HR radar, but he doesn’t always know the best way to address them.  As a result of this, some of those little issues have turned into bigger issues, hence the reason for contacting me.  This gentleman had been referred to me from a client of mine who has become a great advocate for having a Red HR Annual HR Support Subscription in their business.  Under a HR Support Subscription with Red HR, clients can contact me as often as they like with their questions / concerns on HR matters for a one-off annual cost.

For employers who may be a little time poor during business hours, I can also be contacted outside of working hours.  Like a gym membership, it is up to you how often or how little you use it.  Below is a list of what is included in an Annual HR Support Subscription with Red HR: 

  • Direct and strictly confidential response by phone or email from Melinda Dixon, the Principal of Red HR, on all of your day to day Human Resource Management issues, no matter how small or how big the issue may be.  There is no limit to the number of support calls / emails you can initiate;
  • Monthly Red HR e-bulletins to keep you informed and up to date on the HR/IR landscape and how it affects you and your business;
  • Red Alerts to bring important HR issues to your attention as they arise; 
  • A 20% discount on professional fees quoted for HR Management projects that fall outside of the scope of the subscription.  If a specific task or project to be undertaken on your behalf, falls outside of the scope of the subscription, you will be advised of this at the time of your enquiry and a quotation for the work to be undertaken will be provided before proceeding.

The one-off annual cost is very attractive for employers of small to medium enterprise.  They need to know they can obtain advice on HR matters as and when required, whilst keeping the cost of such advice under control.

If you would like more information on the Annual HR Support Subscription with Red HR, or if you would like to get started with one today, please contact Melinda Dixon from Red HR on (07) 3399 4977.

An Employer’s Right to Insist on Clearance from Company-Nominated Doctor

A recent decision by the FWC on an unfair dismissal case (Mr Darrin Grant v BHP Coal Pty Ltd [2014] FWC 1712 (14 March 2014), caught my attention as I felt there are many businesses that could relate to the circumstances of this case.

In this matter, BHP Coal employed a boilermaker at their Peak Downs Mine from November 2003 until his dismissal in May 2013.  The employee had injured his shoulder several times, both at work and outside work, before shoulder surgery in September 2012.  The employee had been on a lengthy period of injury-related absence from July 2012, until his attempt to return to work in April 2013 after receiving a general medical clearance by the employee’s own doctor.  Unfortunately the information BHP Coal had received from the employee’s doctor was quite insufficient, and the employee refused to attend several scheduled and rescheduled company-organised medical appointments to determine whether he had any restrictions on his ability to work.  The employee continued to refuse to attend, despite being warned this could lead to disciplinary action, including dismissal. 

The Decision

Commissioner Paula Spencer said it was reasonable for the company to both require the worker to be medically assessed and for this assessment to be carried out by a doctor chosen by the company.  She said that when the worker sought to return to work, he gave the company only general medical certificates that failed to specify the injury, rehabilitation or any potential restrictions on his capacity at work.  She said, “that situation alone would reasonably have caused the company to seek further information, before allowing the employee onto the mine site to perform potentially dangerous work, in an inherently dangerous workplace.”  She said the increased safety risks inherent in mining operations also meant that BHP Coal was justified in seeking to have the worker’s medical assessment performed by a doctor with knowledge of mining and the company’s operations.  She said the occupational physician’s expertise was the “interaction between medicine and the workplace” and he had knowledge and experience of the mining industry, while the employee’s doctors did not.  In considering all of the facts of this matter, the Commissioner believed BHP Coal was entitled to dismiss the employee in this case.

Lessons for the Employer

Although BHP Coal may have won this case, the Commissioner did make mention that the Peak Downs Mine “took no steps, during the employee’s absence to monitor the situation or to understand what steps” the company might need to take to facilitate the boilermaker’s safe return to work.  She also said that the company should have also done more to explain to the worker why it required him to take part in a further medical assessment after being given the all-clear to return by his own doctor.

If anyone has any questions on this case and/or similar concerns within your business, please don’t hesitate to give me a call on (07) 3399 4977 or 0414 570 988.

Kind Regards


Unfair Dismissal Claims for Social Media Breaches

The Fair Work Commission’s role in dealing with unfair dismissal claims on the grounds of termination for breaching a company social media policy is becoming very frustrating for our industrial umpire, in more ways than one.  As social media sites continue to rise in popularity, so does the expectation on society to understand the good, the bad, and everything in between regarding social media.  We have observed the FWC are showing noticeably less leniency towards employees who have the argument that they were ignorant of how social media sites work.  This last point would also be particularly difficult to prove for those employees who were found to have an active account on Facebook.  At the same time, some employees believe that any conditions relating to social media usage should only apply during work hours, and what one may post out of hours is their own business. Unfortunately this is not a strong argument either, particularly in today’s context.      

With social media sites continuing to cause many a headache for employers, it is imperative for business owners to develop and implement a company social media usage policy, where such a policy may not already exist.  At the same time, it would also be of value for employers to run a training session on the company’s social media policy and have such training include an overview of how the more common social media sites work.  As with any company policy, the content should be clear in how it should be interpreted, reasonable, and most of all lawful.

Learning about Pre-existing Medical Conditions before Hiring

Asking a prospective employee about any pre-existing medical conditions can be dangerous territory for an employer, if it is not handled correctly.  Particularly if a prospective employee who was advised they had been unsuccessful for the job, could show that an employer had taken adverse action against them based on a pre-existing injury.

So here’s a tip……………

When recruiting for a role that has certain physical requirements, employers should have such requirements documented as part of the position description which is discussed in the interview process, and ensure that any questionnaire about a prospective employee’s pre-existing health conditions is directly related to the specific physical requirements of the position being recruited.  


Resource Planning for the New Year

Interesting to note, November is one of the biggest months on the calendar for staff recruitment as employers start putting plans into action for additional resources they are going to need for the beginning of the new year.

Whether you would like a second opinion of a proposed recruitment advertisement, help with preparing a job description, undertaking thorough reference checks, or for those who recognise they may need some support throughout the whole process, the Red HR Recruitment Support Package is a great solution.  Whatever assistance you may require, it is tailored to you.

If you find yourselves having to conduct a recruitment campaign for a new member of the team, please don’t hesitate to shout out if you would like some assistance with the process.


Are you up to date with workplace changes for 2014FY?

Well we may be almost at the end of Q1 for the 2014FY, but it appears there may be some employers who are still getting their heads around the changes to workplace legislation that came into effect from 1 July 2013.  Therefore, for those who may need a reminder, here is a summary of the key changes:

  • The 2013 minimum wage increased by 2.6%.
  • Superannuation contribution increased from 9% to 9.25%.
  • The age limit to pay Superannuation has been removed, and employers will now be required to contribute to complying superannuation funds for employees aged 70 and older.
  • The default casual loading for award/agreement free employees increased to 24%.
  • The high income threshold has increased to $129,300 (ex superannuation).  Employees who earn in excess of this amount will not have access to the Federal Unfair Dismissal Jurisdiction.

With a new Federal Government being announced on the weekend, I wonder what Mr Abbott and his team may have on their agenda for Australian workplaces.

Welcome to our New Website

Well it has been a long time coming, but our new website is finally here!!!

I would love to receive your feedback on what you think, so please send me your comments.  Further, do not hesitate to let me know if there is some additional information you would like to receive, or an area of HRM you would like to learn more about and/or if there are some specific topics you would like me to cover in my Blog posts.

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