RECOMMENDATIONS from the Productivity Commission’s review of the Workplace Relations Framework will need to be taken into account by most business managers over the next year.
While the review has not produced wholesale changes so far, there are a number of recommendations that employers should be aware of, according to workforce specialists WFS Australia – a ‘workforce software’ development group.
WFS Australia strategy director for Asia-Pacific and Australia-New Zealand, James Kissell, said the Productivity Commission’s recommendations were aimed at balancing the needs of businesses and their workers in the key areas for penalty rates, unfair dismissal and labour awards flexibility.
The Productivity Commission has recommended reducing Sunday penalty rates in line with Saturday rates to embrace the seven-day economy. Businesses may need to re-evaluate the way they roster staff, ensuring they get the right mix of workers on the weekends based on their hourly rates, experience and abilities, preference for working hours, and whether they need to have time off.
“Some workers may want more hours to make up for the reduced penalty rates, while others may be unwilling to work on Sundays if they aren’t getting those higher rates,” Mr Kissell said. “An automated workforce management system makes it easy to get a clear view of each person’s situation and managers can make rostering decisions accordingly.”
The commission has recommended changes that will make it harder to bring unfair dismissal claims, which can be a drain on company time and resources. Mr Kissell said often employees argue they were dismissed or demoted because they exercised a workplace right.
“Using an automated workforce management system means businesses have a clear audit trail and proof of how employees have been treated,” he said.
“It also means that businesses are less likely to make mistakes, for example, when ensuring staff have adequate time off and are rostered fairly.”
The Productivity Commission reported some awards may be changed, while individual flexibility arrangements were likely to be encouraged in future. Businesses may be required to update their processes to comply.
Mr Kissell said this could be as simple as a change in hourly rates, or it may involve changes to things like rest times and the minimum amount of time between shifts.
“Managing these changes can be complex without an automated system,” he said. “Employers that have such a system would only need to update the relevant parameters and their employees will automatically begin receiving the benefits of their new award.
“Ultimately, if companies communicate clearly with staff and are transparent about their efforts to accommodate everyone’s needs, they are more likely to have an engaged and loyal workforce.
“Implementing a workforce management solution can help simplify and streamline this process.”