Fresh HR Insights – Gold Coast HR Consultants has been busy over the last few months and although we have managed to have our monthly newsletter go out on time we didn’t manage to get them onto our website. We know how much our follows love them so here goes all the missing one’s for this year so far: –



We’re all familiar with the problem of absenteeism. But presenteeism, or sickness presence, could account for as much if not more of a loss in productivity than sickness absence. Recent report’s have found that personal money troubles, work-related stress and perceived pressure from managers were all contributing factors. The tough economic conditions saw the problem worsen, with staff worrying more about possible downsizing and job losses. As well as affecting the productivity of those staff who report for work when unwell, sickness presence can adversely affect general staff morale and contribute to longer recovery periods from illness

Definition Of Presenteeism: The practice of coming to work despite illness, injury, anxiety, etc., often resulting in reduced productivity. While presenteeism is often defined as attending work while sick it can also be viewed as the tendency to stay at work beyond the time needed for effective performance on the job or a situation where an employee no-longer wants to be there but has nowhere else to go (yet) There are a multitude of reasons why employees may come in while unwell. One of the frequently cited reasons is employees who are worried about their job security, such as in a downsizing organisation feel pressured to come in to work regardless of their health. Employees can also feel pressured by their peers. If they feel like they may be criticised or judged negatively by their work colleagues they again, will be less likely to stay off when unwell. With ever increasing pressures placed upon many individuals’ workloads, some employees now feel that regardless of the state of their health, they cannot afford to take any time off.

At the start of the 20th C it was good practice to turn up when sick as one person being off could hamper an entire production line. Now culture has swung in the opposite direction, where employees are more likely to skip on lunch and coffee breaks in order that they can get more work done. As if to compound this issue, not only has culture changed, but mind-sets have almost become backwards as well. Many employees now proudly pronounce that ‚ πthey have never taken a day off sick‚ π, when they should in fact be saying I gave my entire office the flu rather than taking a few days off‚ π.

So what can we do about it?

  1. Counter any hint of criticism from colleagues so that employees do not feel coerced into attending when they are not well. Employees cannot be judged upon how many days they are present or not present at their desks.
  2. Ensure that there are adequate policies and procedures in place to ensure there isn’t anything that might discourage employees to take a sick day. Procedures should be in place so that an employee can take a day of without fearing what impact it will have on the security of their job.
  3. Focus on wellbeing. Wellbeing is increasingly being incorporated into workplace strategies to ward off the effects of sickness and stress allowing individuals to focus on their work.
  4. Set the correct example. If leaders are sick, they should not be present as much as employees. Little more needs to be said on this point other than to say that the same rules should be applied to everyone.
  5. Offer flexible working arrangements or working from home so that employees have the best working environment suitable for their needs. Studies show that flexible working arrangements actually raise output levels from employees while at the same time reducing stress.
  6. Change mind-sets so every employee is clear that if they are unwell they should not be at work.
  7. Cross train employees so that different business functions can be covered by available employees should one be absent. This will not only raise levels of empowerment, top employees enjoy learning new skills.
  8. Leaders should be having meaningful dialogue with employees. This way they are more likely to be able to detect and pre-empt any issues and deal more appropriately with them should they actually arise. They need to be suitably trained and empathetic to employees so that they can find out how the employee is feeling. While physical ailments may be able to spot, it is worth remembering that mental or psychological symptoms may be much harder to pinpoint.
  9. Change the culture within the organisation. Remove aggressive‚ π absence policies and begin moving to a more trusting one.

Information sourced from Investors in People (

April 2014

Frequently asked questions and the answers

Must I pay employees for sick leave if they don’t have a medical certificate? Employees are entitled to sick leave if they are unfit for work because of personal illness or personal injury. Sick leave is paid at the employee’s base rate for the ordinary hours worked as long as they provide proof of illness when requested. The NES permits an employer to request reasonable evidence from the employee of their reason for taking sick leave. Evidence is generally a doctor’s certificate, or can be a statutory declaration (a written statement by the employee, declared in front of an authorised witness). Some Modern Awards and enterprise agreements may also state the types of evidence that an employee must provide to substantiate their absence from work. If an employee is asked to provide evidence of their illness or injury and they fail to provide you with anything, then you are entitled to treat the absence as unauthorised and as unpaid leave

I’m selling my business, do I need to let my staff know? It is likely that you may have consultation provisions in an award or EA that applies to your employees so that you would have to advise employees of the sale and its impact on employees. If your employees are not being offered employment with the buyer you will need to provide notice (to permanent employees), accrued leave entitlements and possibly redundancy pay. If your employees accept employment with the buyer you will need to provide notice as required and pay any leave that is not being transferred to the new employer in accordance with the Sale Deed and the Fair Work Act. This is an area where advice before you sign the Sale Deed is essential.

Can we expect our staff to attend unpaid meetings? An employee that is paid on the basis of an hourly rate is entitled to be paid at least the minimum hourly rate for every hour that you require the employee to work. This includes staff meetings and training where there is an expectation that the employee attends. If an employee is paid an annual salary and their contract stipulates that the salary covers all hours worked, there may not be a requirement to pay the salaried employee, provided the offset/absorption clause in their contract covers is drafted correctly and the request and additional hours are reasonable. Please note that there is always an obligation on the employer to ensure that the employee’s salary is sufficient to cover all entitlements under the appropriate industrial instrument.

(the above answers are not a substitute for professional legal advice. Fresh HR Insights advises all our clients to consult with us prior to making any employee related discussions such as termination or redundancy)

May 2014


BSB41013 Certificate IV in Human Resources BSB41412

Certificate IV in Work Health and Safety

Employing a trainee in your workplace will be a rewarding opportunity for your organisation and it gives you the opportunity to help someone gain real skills in your workplace through both informal and formal training activities. The best part is as an employer of a trainee your organisation may be eligible to receive incentive payments from the Federal Government and training subsidies from the State Government.

Benefits to the employer

  • An effective way for you to attract and recruit staff
  • There is a probationary period to ensure you have selected the right person
  • The training costs are met by the government
  • The training is conducted in your workplace
  • Trainee is trained specifically to your business requirements.
  • Increased productivity, worker motivation and staff retention.

Fresh HR Insights provides on-the-job training, with negotiations around timing, location and nature of the training to suit your business needs. Trainees are supervised in their own workplace where they will develop skills during their normal daily activities. The trainee will also undertake formal training, working through self-paced modules supplied by Fresh HR Insights, participating in one-on-one training with their trainer. Trainees in will have regular visits from their trainer once every month. A record book is kept for each of the competencies and is signed off by the trainee, the supervisor and the trainer, once the trainee has demonstrated competency for that particular unit.

Training visits are scheduled as required. A typical training cycle involves Fresh HR Insights visiting your workplace once every month, spending between 1 – 3 hours with the trainee. If you have priorities for training or areas of concern, you can speak with the trainer and these can addressed during the training sessions. We are very flexible, just let us know when you are very busy and we can reschedule training to meet your needs. The best place to develop new skills is in the workplace, together we will help the trainee gain skills which will make them a very productive, effective worker for your organisation.

Benefits to the trainee

  • Hands on experience in the workplace to align with their learning
  • One-on-One dedicated trainer every month to go over areas of concern and support their learning development
  • Receive a nationally recognised qualification on competent completion of traineeship
  • The training component is undertaken by a Registered Training Organisation (RTO)
  • Have the opportunity of a rewarding career in Human Resources and/or Work Place Health and Safety

For more information please contact Fresh HR Insights on or on 0452471960