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  • HR Heartbeat: Honesty is the best policy, mandatory training extension, and...

HR Heartbeat: Honesty is the best policy, mandatory training extension, and...

Take a peek into this week’s HR Heartbeat for updates on flexible working arrangements, the changes coming to the Northern Territory’s work health & safety regulations, and more.

First published on Friday, Jun 30, 2023

Last updated on Friday, Jun 30, 2023

3 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.

The truth will keep you employed

After an employee lied about the status of his cancelled driver’s license, he was terminated in a move that was deemed harsh by the Industrial Relations Commission. Although his dishonesty did warrant disciplinary action.

While holding an Australian driving licence was a key selection criterion for the employee’s position as a Team Leader – Traffic Facilities, the Commission found that the employer failed to follow the employee’s award disciplinary process. And on top of that, they also failed to consider his mental health condition, length of service at the time of dismissal, and his age.

The employee was reinstated but didn’t receive his pay entitlements for the time he was out of work.

The lesson here for employers? Make sure you consult any applicable award or agreement for guidance on how to conduct workplace processes and when they apply to you. You can check out the full case here.

More flexible than ever

Earlier this month, specifically Tuesday, June 6th 2023 unpaid parental leave entitlements and flexible working arrangements were widened to cover more National System employees.

These major changes followed on from the Secure Jobs, Better Pay amendments in December 2022 and are designed to increase accountability when consulting on flexible working arrangements.

What are the key changes?

  • Pregnant employees are eligible for flexible work arrangements.
  • Employees experiencing family or domestic violence are eligible for flexible work arrangements.
  • Employers must make genuine attempts to reach an agreement with employees requesting flexible work or extensions to their unpaid parental leave beyond the original 12-month period.
  • Both parties (that’s employers and employees) can refer disputes to the Fair Work Commission to resolve matters when an agreement can’t be met.

These changes don’t apply to employers in the Western Australian or Queensland State industrial relations system.

Time for the Northern Territory to check mental health and psychosocial risks at work

The Northern Territory’s new work health & safety regulations designed to address workplace psychosocial hazards come into effect from 1 July 2023.

These changes will make businesses’ existing duties to manage psychosocial risks clearer instead of imposing new requirements.

So, what will businesses gain?

  • A clear definition of what a psychosocial hazard and risk is.
  • A clear direction on how to manage these psychosocial hazards and risks in the workplace.

Plus, the Northern Territory Government have shared that a new code of practice is also in the works. It’ll provide practical risk management guidance to support businesses in meeting their health & safety obligations.

So, that’s something to keep an eye on.

Three more months for mandatory training

The Australian Capital Territory’s Work Health and Safety Amendment Regulation 2022 includes reforms for the management of silica-containing products. This will bring the Territory in line with jurisdictions like NSW and Victoria regarding specific control measures for handling respirable crystalline silica.

Part of these reforms was completing mandatory silica training by 1 July 2023. But the Minister for Industrial Relations and Workplace Safety has announced a three-month extension to this deadline.

All workers who carry out high-risk crystalline silica work—or those engaged in an occupation listed in the specified occupations of the health & safety legislation—now have until 1 October 2023 to complete the nationally accredited course 10830NAT Course in Crystalline Silica Exposure Prevention.

Failure to complete this mandatory training by the new deadline could leave businesses at risk of penalties.

Giving your employees the training they need is vital, and not just to keep up with your health & safety obligations. Access to free e-learning courses like those available on BrightLearn can be a great motivator for staff. Especially with courses like effective communication and time management that help them in and out of the workplace.

That brings us to the end of 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.

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