New Officer Laws and How They Will Affect You

Pre harmonisation there was a liability on people who own or manage an organisation or business – attributed liability which could be CEOs, Senior Managers or even Line Managers. If prosecuted defences could be that you were either not in a position of influence in relation to the breach, or you used all due diligence to prevent the breach.  You had to prove one of these and you were guilty until proven otherwise.

We will get to the definition of an officer in a minute. What is interesting here is that under these new laws an Officer of a PCBU may be convicted or found guilty of an offence regardless of if the PCBU has been convicted. This is big news ladies and gentlemen! Officers will need to show leadership in health and safety and in particular in the organisation’s health and safety performance and Officers will need to prove that they have taken steps to ensure the organisation has complied with and continues to comply with its legal obligations.

We all know there are health and safety laws in place, but this new stuff about Officers is a no hands in pockets law.  Decisions need to be made, directions need to be given and resources need to allocated and these decisions and actions are in the hands of those officers of the PCBU.

In a nutshell the duty of the Officer is to ensure the PCBU (the entity) complies with the legislation. This WHS Act holds Officers personally liable for failing to meet their corporate governance responsibilities of preventing a breach of the Act by the organisation.

Definition of an Officer
Under the WHS legislation an Officer is a person:

  • “who makes or participates in making decisions that affect the whole, or a substantial part, of the business of the corporation or who has the capacity to affect significantly the corporations financial standing.  It includes an Officer of the Crown under section 247 of the Corporations Act or section 252 being a public authority (apart from elected members of a local authority).” 

Note that if you are a partner in a partnership you are not an officer and you are off the hook. You can’t delegate this duty and you have to prove due diligence.  Specifically you need to do the following:

  • Keep up to date knowledge of health and safety matters – understand the trends, best practice, industry standards and legislative requirements.  Read the safety reports and know what is happening at a shop floor level
  • Gain an understanding of the nature of the operations of the organisation and the hazards and risks associated with it – you should know what your top risks are and what’s being done about them, you should know what the organisation needs to do meet compliance with these risks
  • Ensure there are appropriate resources and processes in place for receiving and considering information about incidents, hazards, risks and responding timely.  If you are in a high risks industry, obviously you’d need more resources than a low risk environment.  You also need to develop things like a safety management system, policies, procedures and safe work procedures and investment in controlling hazards and auditing and improvements of existing processes
  • Ensure processes are in place for compling with the duty or obligations

I like to call the above a managers ‘Safety CV’. A list of things you need to do, which all add to your due diligence compliance. What’s interesting is that ignorance is not a defence. For you to say “but…I didn’t know” doesn’t work with traffic police, and it now doesn’t work with workplace health and safety.

The major difference with these new laws is this broader duty to ‘officers’ rather than just Directors and Managers.  The definition of the officer and what due diligence actually means has been clearly defined.

So things that you should consider:

  • Review your OHS Management System to ensure compliance, including operational procedures such as hazard reporting, risk management and incident reporting (systems are my favourite area)
  • Ensure Officers are defined in your system and these officers are identified – give them training so they know what to do
  • Make sure that your identified Officers have appropriate levels of responsibility and accountability and will be able to demonstrate adequate due diligence.  This due diligence needs to be documented.

So there we have it……not only Directors need broad shoulders, but a whole new level of people now need to get involved instead of pointing the finger.  This is a new ball game for those who fall under the Officer definition and gone are the days of relying on the Safety Manager for everything.  I think this can only lead to position things in the world of Safety.

Work Social Functions: How to Avoid Harassment Complaints

No-one likes to be the Christmas Grinch but that time of year has come around again, which means employers should take time out to remember that they must meet their obligations under Equal Opportunity, Occupational Health and Safety and Workers’ Compensation legislation – even at social functions.Employers are vicariously liable for acts of sexual harassment if reasonable steps to prevent such harassment have not been taken.

In addition, the new Equal Opportunity Act 2010 places a positive duty on employers to take “reasonable and proportionate” measures to eliminate discrimination, sexual harassment and victimisation. This means that employers must be more proactive now than ever before about taking steps to eliminate such conduct.

The Courts have considered many a case arising from unacceptable conduct that has occurred at an end of year function. In most of these cases, whether an employer has been found liable, has turned on whether there was effective communication by the employer of the standards of behaviour expected of its employees.

An effective way of communicating this to your employees is to send them an email attaching all relevant workplace policies and reminding them that they are expected to abide by the same standards of behaviour and conduct as they would at the workplace.

Here is an example of what you can send:

“A reminder to all of our employees who are attending our end of year celebration function, the details of which are attached. It is a work function; therefore our policies on Sexual Harassment, Workplace Bullying and Anti-Discrimination apply to everyone.

Please take the time to refresh your memories as to the policies, but most importantly have a great time, look after each other, don’t drink and drive or do silly things that can cause harm. Please do the right thing and behave accordingly. We want everyone to have a great night.

The reality is that any social function involving staff may expose us as your employer to some risk. And let’s face it – especially where alcohol is involved. In the majority of cases, the risk is one that we are happy to take. If you take appropriate care in planning and organising your celebration, then all that’s left to do on the day is to CELEBRATE.”

As an employer here are some DOs and DON’Ts:

DO

  • Communicate with staff prior to the event and outline relevant policies and expectations of behaviour;
  • circulate any relevant policies (Equal Opportunity, Anti-Discrimination, Anti-Harassment;
  • ensure the responsible service of alcohol (including serving light beer and provide non-alcoholic beverages);
  • serve food;
  • be mindful of transport arrangements for staff attending;
  • be alert to harassment or other forms of unacceptable behaviour and take action immediately
DON’T

  • let an intoxicated employee drive home;
  • be afraid to speak to employees who are intoxicated or behaving inappropriately, and if necessary, ask them to leave;
  • serve alcohol to employees under the age of 18;
  • just serve alcohol; and
  • make the event compulsory, or force employees to attend.

Click here to view the full It’s the Season for Social Functions…and Harassment Complaints article in PDF.

End of Year Recruitment: How to Hire the Right Candidate

Advertising is one of the main means of attracting potential applicants. The aim of advertising is to make people aware of a vacancy and persuade suitable people to apply for it. It is also a means of distributing accurate and favourable information about your organisation to the general public.

What steps should you take before writing?
Before you write your advertisement you need to consider the following matters:

1. Identify your target market
Your target market for a suitable candidate will usually belong in one of the following categories:

  • managerial and professional staff
  • clerical staff
  • skilled and trades workers
  • unskilled labour.
2. Select the best medium for your advertisement
You need to choose the medium that will be seen by the greatest number of potential candidates, ie the places they are likely to look for work. The type of advertisement you choose will be determined by the:
  • applicant you want
  • the costs of using a particular medium.

Typical places to advertise are:

  • national and metropolitan daily papers (largest readership) – advertisements may be placed in the employment sections or, for professional and senior positions, the editorial pages
  • local suburban press – a successful medium for advertising unskilled and clerical vacancies
  • trade journals – useful when special skills or types of work experience are required and the potential labour market is small or restricted
  • professional journals
  • the internet – advertisements can be placed on your website (if you have one), on a recruitment site (for a fee), on a news group or on-line forum (for free) by: classifying the job by using appropriate key words, or by type of job, location and other parameters (where there are synonyms for a job title such as “journalist”, “editor”, “writer” and “publishing”, all should be included if possible) providing links to further information about the job if appropriate (eg a link to an area on your website)- ensuring applicants can respond to a job vacancy by electronic mail- monitoring the advertisement and removing it once a vacancy is filled
  • employment agencies
  • business and technical colleges
  • notices on company property (eg in a window or on a gate)
  • internal advertising (on noticeboards and intranets).
Tip: Consider supporting internet advertising with print advertising because new and inexperienced internet users may encounter difficulties accessing your advertisement.

Fair Work Act: Impact of Closing Your Business Over Christmas

With the Christmas/New Year break fast approaching it is relevant that we all update ourselves on the various provisions of the Fair Work Act that may impact on leave taking through the period.In particular it is important to understand that the right of an employer to send an employee on an annual close-down will depend on the applicable industrial instrument (e.g. modern award or enterprise agreement) or, in the case of an award/agreement-free employee, the Fair Work Act 2009.

Please note that the dates set out in this Bulletin were correct at the time it was sent out, but these may vary as individual states gazette changes.

Managing Your Cashflow Over December & January

If you are like most non-retail businesses then the December/January period will represent a slump in your sales and therefore your cash. You planning must start now.

Some simple steps that you can take include:

  1. Follow up all your debtors in the next couple of weeks and reign in as much outstanding debts as possible. The longer you leave it, the tougher the cash crunch for your customers and the longer they will stretch their terms.
  2. No expenditure on new equipment. Wait if you can until January to February.
  3. If your sales are down then you will have excess capacity in terms of your staffs activity. Plan how you will spend this time. Some should be spent on product development, on strategic planning and even on a thorough review of your accounts eliminating unnecessary expenditure.

New KPI Dashboard Product Launch

MAUS today announced the launch of the new KPI Dashboard product. This is a completely online version of our existing bestselling product KPI Scorecard.

Summary: KPI Dashboard will help you to instantly create a “One Page” dashboard for your business. Create business, employee, OHS, HR, sales team and any other scorecard. The ultimate business intelligence and strategic planning tool!

Features/Benefits

  1. Instantly create “One Page” snapshots and dashboards for your business or clients.
  2. Create a single scorecard or dashboard for the business or scorecards for all employees, divisions, products, clients, OHS, HR and more.
  3. The dashboards can compare against targets, last year performance or against the average performance of other similar groups.
  4. Allows instant access to any metric in the business.
  5. Includes impressive graphs, as well as a weekly and monthly activity scheduler.
  6. Automatic export/import option to Microsoft Excel.
  7. Access remotely from your Computer, Mac, Iphone, Ipad, Android phone, etc.

For more information contact MAUS Business Systems.

 

Your Business Success Business Coaching Program

  • MAUS is expanding through the acquisition of ‘Your Business Success’

Your Business Success was a business ‘makeover’ show that ran for 4 years on Channel 9 – the longest running and most successful business reality show ever aired on Australian TV.

The format of the show was simple but highly effective. A well accomplished entrepreneur visits a business to talk with the business owner and provide some advice and clarity around their key business issues. Then, a panel of expert consultants is brought in to further develop solutions to these key issues and get positive results for the business owners.

As part of the Your Business Success business coaching program, 80 of the most knowledge packed episodes have been remastered across 5 key areas of business mastery namely;

If you would like to see an indepth list of each concept covered in the case studies as well as the entrepreneurs and experts featured, please click here to download a PDF of the full Your Business Success Program. (No sign up required).

The following topics/modules are covered in the extensive range of training videos: Building your brand, Promoting your business, Power Networking, Selling for success, Managing your Cashflow, Accounting for Control, Financing Your Decisions, Funding Your Business, Recruiting the right people, Managing people, Work/life balance, Succession planning, Business planning, Franchising, Exporting, New Inventions, Process improvement – manufacturing, Process improvement – retail and services, Using technology to grow and Going green.

MAUS Launches New Version of Policies and Procedures

MAUS takes the Labour out of writing a Manual

Policies and Procedures was designed to help companies develop a complete operations handbook incorporating procedures, workflow documents and business forms into one comprehensive reference manual.

This innovative software will allow you to create a handbook that is specific to your business, not just a collection of standardised policies and procedures. An operational handbook translates a company’s business direction into clear goals and easy to follow guidelines.

This increases the flow of communication between departments and divisions and ensures that staff at all levels are provided with clear procedural information. This software will help you to develop clearly defined policies that will increase productivity. They provide employees with a reference source on many operational questions, allowing staff to make faster decisions while complying with company guidelines.