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Small Business HR Advice for Everyday Australian Businesses

With over 15 years of experience in HR support for small businesses in Australia, Fresh HR Insights are proud to look after these businesses and ensure that they are up to date and compliant with their HR policies. There are few other HR support services on the Gold Coast that are better placed or offer a more varied range of HR support packages than us.

We know how to balance the complicated world of HR for any type of Australian business, and that’s why it’s our job to support you with this vital part of your business so that you can remain focused on your job, while we do ours.

We also have experience in supporting businesses of all sizes and budgets and can recognise that not every incident requires full-scale engagement. It’s for that reason that we do not tie you into long-term contracts or retainers.

You may for example, just simply want us to look over and draw up a new company employee handbook for you or deal with a single incident of conflict resolution in the workplace right through to full workplace investigations and findings. Further than that, individual incidences of unfair dismissal claims or employee termination can also be discussed. We support and act as representatives in Fair Work unfair dismissal claims as well as ensure that you are paying the correct rates with our expert BOOT analysis.

The bottom line is that at Fresh HR insights, we know what a minefield the job of small business HR can be, and we’re happy to tell you that we’re here to guide you through it. We’ve got the experience, we’ve got the expertise, and we’ve got the desire to help you get back to running your business while we take care of your small business HR needs.

Contact us to get support for small businesses, employee termination procedures, virtual HR for small businesses, conflict resolution in the workplace & unfair dismissal claims.

 

 

Here’s what others say:

“We have been a client of Fresh HR insights for over a year now. As a small business owner this is a vital talent to tap into. Paulette is always swift, concise, and spot on with her advice. The time we have saved with research and writing policies is remarkable. HIGHLY recommended for ease of adding a HR/ER expert to your companies skill set. 

“Paulette has done wonders for our association. I recommend her completely.
She was flexible and available for our smaller sized business.” 

“Everyone needs Paulette from Fresh HR Insights. She is just amazing. She is incredibly knowledgeable, and professional with experience covering such a variety of areas. If you have a question, she is your one stop shop for answers and solutions. I cannot recommend her more highly.” 

Read more testimonials HERE.

Small Business HR Support, as you need it!

We have developed a number of different packages and services for our client base. You can use the links below for further information or you can contact us directly at support@freshhrinsights.com.au.

 

On-Call HR Support

  • Lacking Time?
  • Or Unsure Of Your Legal Obligations As An Employer?

We come across many a Small Business owner on the Gold Coast and in South East Queensland that finds nothing is ever simple and situations are complex and leave them waiting for an unfair dismissal claim? Often this leaves them wondering why you even bother with employees. It does not have to be this way. Enquire today about our Telephone and emailed based HR / ER support. We do not run a call centre – you get direct access to an employment relations expert whenever you need assistance. We help you resolve HR / ER issues & put a plan in place to avoid future problems. The hours in our HR/ER support bundles include phone, emails, forms, correspondence letters, advice, policies, procedures, and onsite meetings. We have you covered.

Example areas for advice include:

  • Managing employee issues such as lateness for work, absent without leave, underperformance and poor conduct;
  • Dealing with complaints of Bullying and workplace investigations;
  • Termination of employment, what you can and cannot do, and what is the correct procedure to follow;
  • Conflict Management and Communication strategies;
  • Advice on meeting legislative requirements;
  • General advice on the Unfair dismissal or other Fair Work Commission processes;
  • How to respond to and deal with workplace complaint​; and
  • Employee entitlements including the correct awards and pay rates;
  • Pragmatic advice on Human Resources issues
  • Guidance on disciplinary actions for example, informal and formal warnings
  • Guidance on Redundancies and terminations

NO FIXED CONTRACTS AND NO RETAINERS

 

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Workplace Investigations

A workplace investigation is an impartial investigation into formal complaints about unethical behaviour at work, bullying, harassment, discrimination or conduct contrary to internal policy.

Fresh HR Insights conduct independent and impartial investigations ranging from informal complaints to complex matters involving significant and highly sensitive allegations, to make findings of fact. We can review your internally conducted investigation and provide recommendations with regards to the process undertaken, and mitigate potential external testing and challenges. We can also get right to the heart of the problem and help you address it in the workplace.

Fresh HR Insights investigator is experienced in dealing with complaints from operational to senior executive and board level and dealing with parties represented by unions. In some instances, we investigate possible breaches of workplace laws and always consider the principles of procedural fairness and natural justice when undertaking the investigation.

When should you investigate?

Timing is of the essence. You should conduct a workplace investigation as soon as practicable to demonstrate that the alleged conduct will not be tolerated, and that the issue warrants immediate attention. An informal response to complaints made about inappropriate behaviour, bullying or harassment is simply not appropriate. Employers may be held vicariously liable for harassment and bullying behaviour at the workplace, so it’s vital to address such complaints promptly and appropriately.

Delays in initiating a workplace investigation could result in loss of evidence as witnesses’ memories become unreliable, documents are misplaced or footage is taped over or erased. In some cases, you may not become aware of allegations until some time after the incident occurred. Whilst an immediate investigation is optimal, the requirement to investigate as soon as possible is not diminished in delayed circumstances – even if you suspect little evidence remains.

Fresh HR Insights Approach

In the case of a workplace investigation, we will:

  • Discuss the matter with you, and clearly identify the allegations.
  • Set out with you an investigation Plan which covers – terms of reference, instructions, applicable policies and procedures, Special considerations, and estimated timeframe
  • Review all relevant internal policies, documented procedures, codes of conduct, employment contracts, and professional standards where applicable.
  • Identify and review relevant industrial instruments, and material legislative and regulatory requirements.
  • Conduct interviews with the employees and parties who are relevant to the allegations.
  • Gather documentary evidence including emails, text messages, file notes, and digital evidence.
  • Review and assess all the evidence gathered to identify whether any aspects are inconsistent with witness testimony.
  • Provide the complainant(s) and respondents(s) with the opportunity to review and comment on the possible inconsistencies.
  • Invite all those that need to be interviewed to separate interviews and provide an interview protocol for each. We use a calendar system so meetings fit in with individual availability (even out of hours)
  • All meetings are done using the ZOOM platform and recorded for the purpose of transcribing for our records
  • Perform analysis in accordance with the Fresh HR Insights Workplace Investigations Framework and draw conclusions making findings of facts.
  • Provide an investigation report for management that clearly sets out the allegations, evidence, analysis, and findings.
  • If requested, provide a separate report that includes a set of recommendations addressing the base cause of the complaint.

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Casuals

The Fair Work Act 2009 was amended on 26 March 2021 to make changes to workplace rights and obligations for casual employees and these changes apply from 27 March 2021.

This included the introduction to the definition of ‘casual employee’ into the Fair Work Act 2009 (Cth) happened for the first time. This focuses on the offer and acceptance of the employment relationship rather than the current pattern of work.

The National Employment Standards (NES)  also changed so that it includes an entitlement for regular and systematic casual employees to request to be moved to full-time or part-time employment.

And The Court will be allowed to offset any casual loading paid to the employee against any claim for unpaid entitlements (e.g annual leave, personal leave) where an employee was properly characterised as a perm employee.

An employer (except a small business employer with less than 15 employees) has to offer their casual employee the option to convert to full-time or part-time (permanent) when the employee has worked for them for 12 months, has worked a regular pattern of hours for at least the last 6 of those 12 months on an ongoing basis and could continue working those hours as a permanent employee without significant changes.

There’s now a new proactive obligation on employers, they have an obligation to offer conversion rather than the previous situation of employees making the request. The obligation to offer casual conversion doesn’t apply to small business employers with less than 15 employees.

There’s also a new Casual Employment Information Statement (CEIS), it’s similar to the Fair Work Information Statement (FWIS) and it needs to be given to every new casual employee before, or as soon as possible after, they start their new job. This is in addition to providing the FWIS.

AUGUST 2026 – Narrowed category of who can be a casual employee, and changes to how they can attempt to compel their employer to convert to permanent employment every 6 months

A significant change is the new, narrowed definition of casual employment which will mean that fewer employees will be able to be employed and remain employed on a casual basis.

This will significantly affect industries with a large casual workforce – ranging from hospitality, tourism, childcare, labour hire and retail amongst others in particular.

Currently, the Act defines casual employment on the basis of whether the offer of employment involves ‘no firm advance commitment to continuing and indefinite work according to an agreed pattern of work for the person.’

The new definition will, however, characterise casual employees by ‘an absence of a firm advance commitment to continuing and indefinite work’ and that the employee is entitled under a fair work instrument or contract of employment to a casual loading or specific pay rate for casuals.

But this will, similar to the new ‘employee v contractor’ test, be determined on the basis of:

  • the ‘real substance, practical reality and true nature of the working relationship’, rather than the terms of the employment contract; and
  • consideration of the totality of the relationship and the degree of control, remuneration, and who decides the hours worked by the employees.

This essentially means that if the relationship changes and shifts from a genuinely casual nature to one where there really is in substance a firm advance commitment to continuing and indefinite work according to an agreed pattern of work, the employment will really be permanent.

Do not get caught out – 

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Casual Conversion Pathway

These changes also take effect from 26 August 2024

Casual employees may give written notification they would like to change their employment to part-time or full-time after 6 months’ employment (or 12 months for small business employers). Employers must respond after 21 days, with a range of form, content and notice requirements. This request, if rejected, maybe remade by the employee every 6 months.

An employer may reject the employee notification, on the basis that:

  • the employee does not meet the definition of a casual employee; or
  • there are fair and reasonable operational grounds; or
  • accepting the notification would result in the employer not complying with recruitment and selection processes required by legislation (such as in government).

RISKS – If the employee is unhappy with the outcome, they can apply to the Commission for it to make a binding decision to make their employment permanent (even where the employer disagrees).

For many employers, just having to defend such a claim about how they employ their staff through a costly legal process may be of great concern.

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Custom Packages

Facing a workplace issue and don’t know where to turn? Reach out today and we can guide you in the right direction

We don’t believe in using a cookie-cutter approach so we are happy to customise an HR package to suit your specific needs. Alternatively, we work with you on a project-by-project basis with a quote supplied before the start of each project.

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Redundancy Process

The Fair Work Act 2009 (Cth) (FW Act) provides that a person will not be unfairly dismissed where the person was dismissed as a result of genuine redundancy. To obtain the “genuine redundancy” exemption a redundancy must meet certain criteria under section 389 of the FW Act, namely that:

  • The employer no longer required the person’s job to be performed by anyone because of changes in the operational requirements of the employer’s enterprise;
  • The employer complied with any obligation in a modern award or enterprise agreement that applied to the employment to consult about the redundancy; and
  • It would not have been reasonable in all the circumstances for the person to be redeployed within the employer’s enterprise or an associated entity.

All awards and registered agreements have a consultation process for when there are major changes to the workplace, such as redundancies. The consultation process sets out the things the employer needs to do when they decide to make changes to the business that is likely to result in redundancies. This has to be done as soon as possible after the decision has been made to make these changes.

Consultation requirements include:

  • notifying the employees who may be affected by the proposed changes
  • providing the employees with information about these changes and their expected effects
  • discussing steps taken to avoid and minimise negative effects on the employees
  • considering employees’ ideas or suggestions about the changes.

Getting this process wrong can have significant financial implications on a business. Book in a FREE 30-minute appointment to find out how we can assist you 

 

LET’S CHAT »

Termination Process

Myths abound when it comes to terminating employees. The nature of the termination process makes this a stressful issue which most of us prefer to avoid but it doesn’t have to be this way.

At Fresh HR Insights, we explain in easy-to-understand language what your responsibilities as an employer are and we’ll help you navigate the world of termination. No two situations are the same, so rest assured, we’ll delve into your specific circumstances to give you advice that applies to you and your business. 

 

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Performance Issues

Employers in many cases wait too long before talking to an HR expert like Fresh HR Insights, hoping against odds they will be able to fix the problem without outside help or that the employee will on their own accord leave the business.

As in most cases, prevention is better than a cure as early advice can avoid costly or complicated situations down the track. Often, issues get out of hand simply because it’s been left too long, or ignoring the problem hasn’t worked.

We have an in-depth understanding of the processes needed to manage employment-related issues in line with Fair Work expectations and requirements. Many claims are ruled in favour of employees simply because due process wasn’t followed by the employer.

We can coach you to navigate through issues and claims using the correct processes and steps, we can get involved in the process of facilitating employee meetings, drafting correspondence and more, or we can conduct investigations as an unbiased third party – whichever approach is most appropriate and feasible for your business and circumstance.

Some of the HR consultancy and employee management services we offer assistance with include:

 

  • Performance management
  • Terminations
  • Unfair Dismissal or general protection claims
  • Complaints and grievances
  • Workplace investigations
  • Mentoring managers
 

Don’t worry, the team at Fresh HR Insights is here to help. We take the time to understand your unique circumstances so we can give you tailored advice. We don’t live in a black-and-white world and seek to find a solution and different courses of action, taking into account varying levels of risk.

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Policies & Procedures

Policies and procedures are a necessary part of any business, they provide direction to employees and govern the rights of both the employee and employer.

HR Policies and procedures set guidelines on a series of issues that may be faced in the workplace and provide managers and employees with a guide on how those issues should be handled.

It is important that all employees are engaged under an Employment Agreement, or similar, to protect the business. There are also a number of minimum policies and procedures that Fresh HR Insights recommend are written and implemented for all businesses no matter what industry or size.

Policies and procedures  serve as the foundation for consistent and fair decision-making and operations.

  • Firstly, they provide clear guidelines for employees, fostering a harmonious work environment and minimising misunderstandings or disputes.
  • Secondly, these documents ensure compliance with employment laws and regulations, mitigating legal risks for the business.

Contact us to discuss how we can support you and your business.

Or review our Comprehensive Employee Policies and Procedures package

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Small Business New Team Member Documents

Grab your FREE Small Business New Team Member Starter Documents. Included are:

  • New Team Member Starter Pack
  • Fair Work Information Statement
  • Induction/ Orientation Checklist
  • Record-Keeping Checklist (as per Fair-Work-Act)
  • Superannuation Standard Choice
  • Taking on a New Employee Checklist
  • TFN Declaration Form

You can find out more information and grab your FREE downloadable forms HERE.

 

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Base Employee Handbook

The Australian Employment Legislation System is a NIGHTMARE when it comes to navigating the employment relationships.

You have Federal, State, Territory Laws, and Industrial Awards and Agreements to comply with.

  • Termination and Unfair Dismissal claims
  • Bullying and Sexual Harassment Claims
  • Ensuring a safe working environment
  • Absence and sick leave

THE LIST GOES ON!

We have taken out the guesswork and done all the hard work for you.

Check out our Base Employee Handbook HERE.

 

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Contractor v Employee

The ‘contractor v employee’ merry-go-round is back, but with the ability for even legitimate contractors to bring ‘unfair contract’ claims in the Fair Work Commission.

The introduction of a new ‘ordinary meaning’ definition of who is an employee and an employer for the purposes of the Fair Work Act2009 (Cth) (FW Act) will determine whether a person is genuinely an employee or a contractor.

This definition will be tied to the common law meaning, and the question will be determined by ‘ascertaining the real substance, practical reality, and true nature of the relationship’ between the individual and the purported employer.

Persons found to be employees will then have access to all rights under the Act and other legislation.

The exception to this is for contractors being paid above the threshold (which is yet to be disclosed) or who give a written ‘opt-out’ notice.  The ‘contractor high-income threshold’ is expected to be higher than the current high-income threshold for employees of $167,500.

Need Help??

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Right to Disconnect

(Not in force till Aug 2024 – this is purely for information)

Closing Loopholes 2 has introduced a new right for workers to disconnect outside of paid hours

Specifically, employees will have a right not to respond to unreasonable out of hours contact from their employer or third parties (such as clients).

The right to disconnect permits an employee to refuse to monitor, read or respond to contact, or attempted contact, from an employer or third-party outside the employee’s working hours unless the refusal is unreasonable.

Whether the contact is unreasonable will turn on:

  • the reason for the attempted contact;
  • the method of contact (and the ‘level of disruption’ it causes);
  • the extent that the employee is compensated to be available to work during the period in which the contract is made;
  • the extent to which the employee is compensated of working outside ordinary hours;
  • the nature of the employee’s role and the level of responsibility;
  • the employee’s personal circumstances (including any family and caring responsibilities); and

whether the contact is required under a law of the Commonwealth, State or Territory.

Need Help??

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RISKS For Empoyers

This will be a protected right for the purposes of the general protections, and accordingly, disciplinary action against employees who have failed to respond outside of work hours will need to be approached cautiously given the risk of a general protections claim this will generate

Greater issues for particular categories of employees – such as for part time employees with caring responsibilities who may be contacted on days off, employers with offices in varying time-zones, or whose operations run 24/7 such as in emergency services, mining, construction, etc

Employers should review their employment contracts and or put in place policies to address any requirement for outside of hours contact, and dealing with compensation for such required availability.

The statutory provisions will commence on 26 August 2024, and from 26 August 2025 for small business employers

Need Help??

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