HR Heartbeat: Labour Day, enforceable undertakings, and...

Daylight saving, happiness at work, clocks shifting, labour day and so much more. This week’s HR Heartbeat is packed to the brim with employment relations warnings, and insights employers need.

First published on Tuesday, Oct 03, 2023

Last updated on Friday, Sep 29, 2023

6 min read

Have you heard the latest news?

Everything you need to know about the latest trends impacting employers all over Australia. Keep up to date with the HR Heartbeat.

Let’s get into the headlines.

Labour Day weekend extensions

It’s a familiar time.

With Labour Day falling on Monday, October 2 in the Australian Capital Territory, New South Wales, and South Australia—Friday leave requests took a steep uptick as employees tried to make the most of it with an extra-long, four-day weekend.

This year, around 1 in 5 employees have booked Friday off, with our annual leave planner seeing a 36% increase in leave requests compared to the average Friday during the rest of the year.

Some employers may have seen these public holiday extensions coming from a mile away, but it does add pressure when you’re trying to make sure you’re not left understaffed.
It helps to have an annual leave policy in place, so your employees know exactly what to do when they’re ready to use their hard-earned annual leave. It’ll also outline what your approach to handling multiple leave requests will be. A fair, documented process paired with a digital holiday planner and absence management software can make all the difference.

International Happiness at Work Week 2023

From the 25th to the 29th of September 2023, workplaces around the world marked International Happiness at Work Week.

With the average person spending a third of their life at work, and the global working landscape changing dramatically in recent years—happiness at work is a requirement that more employers are increasingly paying attention to.

Maintaining your employees happiness at work can be the driving force behind higher retention rates, improved employee morale, and so much more.

Check out our top five, easy, inexpensive, but highly effective ways employers can boost happiness in your workplace.

Daylight saving time begins

This year, daylight saving time begins at 2 am on Sunday 1 October in:

  • The Australian Capital Territory
  • New South Wales
  • South Australia
  • Tasmania
  • Victoria

As an employer, you may need to brace for the possibility of a few workers rocking up to work late, coming in groggy for missing an hour of sleep, and maybe even some payroll confusion.

Learn more about how employers need to prepare for shifting clocks in our blog post; The clocks are leaping forward—what does it mean for your payroll?

Everything's on the record

UNSW is the latest to go under the Ombudsman’s microscope.

Legal action has commenced against the University after allegations that it broke its record-keeping, pay slips, and wage payment obligations.

Its record-keeping was apparently so inadequate that it even made it difficult to identify if employees had been underpaid for a period of more than 4 years, starting in 2018.

Investigations kicked off in 2020 after the University self-reported non-compliance with workplace laws. The penalties for these alleged breaches can add up to $66,600 per contravention and up to $666,000 per serious contravention so it looks like they may have to part with a pretty penny.

Investigations have revealed that UNSW:

  • Failed to make and keep records of hours, pay rates, and entitlements for casual academic employees
  • Failed to maintain archives of the required information including pay slips, pay rates and casual loading once again
  • Failed to pay staff wages regularly at the very least on a monthly basis

This is a reminder to all employers that a vital part of compliance is accurate record-keeping.

That’s why we help employers not only stay on top of documentation with a library of expertly written HR document templates, but also backed up with our unlimited, cloud-based, and secure storage system.

That’s an Undertaking

In case you needed another reminder about the importance of staying on the right side of the law and how difficult that can be—here’s a big one.

Starbucks Coffee Australia Pty Ltd has self-reported its staff underpayments, back-paid staff in Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, and the Gold Coast, and signed an Enforceable Undertaking with the Ombudsman. Ooft.

The payments to both current and former employees in the period between 2014 and 2020 include:

  • $4.34 million in wages and entitlements
  • More than $180,000 in interest
  • Over $40,000 in superannuation

These payments were the result of Starbucks not meeting the entitlements their staff were due under the Fast Food Industry Award 2010 and the Fast Food Industry Award 2020.

They also didn’t have written agreements with their employees to lay out workdays and hours, which made it easy to miss entitlements.

If a company as big and recognisable as Starbucks can’t figure out their award obligations, the deck may be stacked against smaller businesses that don’t have the same resources.

Make sure you stay on top of your obligations and on the right side of the law with BrightAdvice. So, you have the support of a 24/7 team of experienced employment relations advisers answering all your burning questions.

That wraps up this edition of HR Heartbeat. Stay tuned for more headlines and all the latest updates that will keep you in the know with all the major employment changes coming your way.

If you’ve got questions about the top HR headlines from this week, ask BrightLightning:

When does daylight saving start and end?

Daylight Saving Time begins at 2am on the first Sunday in October, when clocks are put forward one hour. It ends at 2am (which is 3am Daylight Saving Time) on the first Sunday in April, when clocks are put back one hour.

What sort of records do I need to keep about my employees?

Employers are required to keep a range of records about their employees, such as employment contracts, payslips, timesheets, leave balances, employee details, and the like. This is not an exhaustive list, so it’s best to speak to an adviser if you are unsure whether to keep a particular record in relation to your employee.

What happens if I underpay my employee by mistake?

If you underpay your employees by mistake, you may nonetheless have still breached an award, an agreement, or the Fair Work Act. You should rectify any underpayment of wages or entitlements as soon as possible after you discover it.

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