The Punnet – July 2019

By July 10, 2019 Newsletter
The Punnet

Can you believe we are halfway through 2019?

Are you ready for the 2019/20 Financial year?

With so many competing priorities in small business, it is not surprising that we get to the end of the financial year and find that HR issues have been at the bottom of the list. But it is worth taking a few minutes to focus on staffing to ensure that you have a smooth transition into the new financial year. In our article, 5 EOFY HR Questions for Small Business, we provide some tips around crucial issues such as the Minimum Wage Increase, that are well worth focussing on to avoid problems down the track.

What is happening in the world of HR?

Minimum Wage Increase

Unless you have been living under a rock, you should be aware that the Minimum Wage increased by 3% effective from the first pay period after July 1st, 2019. The new minimum wage will be $19.49 per hour or $740.80 per week. This increase is available across all Awards. Some Awards have also seen a change in penalty rates and other provisions.

Since the 1st of July 2017, the minimum wage has increased by a total of 9.8%. So if you haven’t recently reviewed your employees’ salaries to ensure they are still meeting the minimum requirements, now is the time.

It is also a great time to check rates for employees that receive a flat hourly rate are still meeting the Better Off Overall Test (BOOT). A recent case in NSW saw a company Director incur a personal fine of $39,000 for underpayment of wages. One of our HR Team, Frances Orr, shared her thoughts on what small business owners can learn from this case in her recent article ‘Are you at risk when paying employees a ‘flat rate’?’.

Penalty Rates

A reduction to the public holiday and Sunday penalty rates under certain modern awards have also taken effect as of 1 July 2019. The applicable awards include:

  • Hospitality Industry (General) Award 2010;
  • Restaurant Industry Award 2010;
  • General Retail Industry Award 2010; and
  • Fast Food Industry Award 2010.

If you would like one of the Strawberry Seed Team to assist you with an audit of your employee wages, please give us a call on (03) 4216 5200 or book a meeting online.

Casual Employees

There has been a lot of talk about casual employees over the last 6 to 12 months. The impact of WorkPac Pty Ltd v Skene (2018), where the issue was whether Mr Skene was actually a permanent employee and entitled to annual leave, opened up a can of worms and we are still waiting to see how the dust will settle as a result of this decision.

At Strawberry Seed, we know that this is an area that causes a lot of confusion. Here are a few things to consider when it comes to casual employment.

Definition of a casual

A casual employee:

  • has no guaranteed hours of work
  • usually works irregular hours
  • does not expect ongoing employment
  • does not receive paid sick or annual leave
  • can end employment without notice (unless notice is required by a registered agreement, Award or employment contract)
  • is not defined in the Fair Work Act

What are the risks?

There are varying levels of risk when it comes to employing a casual. This table (as provided by K & L Gates in a recent webinar) summarises the risks. As you can see, many variables need to be considered to minimise the risk to your business.

Casual Employee Risk Table

There are several differences in entitlements between a permanent (full-time or part-time) and a casual employee. These include access to leave and termination. If a casual employee can prove they are employed on a regular, predictable and systematic basis for a prolonged period, it can change their entitlements under employment law. It can also open up their access to unfair dismissal.

Actions to take if you employ casuals

Before engaging an employee as a casual, think about what the business needs:

  • Are you filling an ongoing vacancy left by a permanent employee?
  • Do you need someone to work on mainly days when you are busy?
  • Do you need someone only to cover periods of leave?
  • Is the nature of the work unpredictable and you need flexibility in the way you employ?

Don’t set and forget:

  • Monitor the employment relationship on an ongoing basis
  • What is the actual nature of the work? Has it changed?
  • Make sure the casual employment does not morph into permanency

Casual Conversion Clause

A casual conversion clause was inserted into 84 new awards, and amended in a further 14, in October 2018. Employers should review the Modern Award/s that apply to their employees and ensure they are familiar with this clause. If this clause is now a part of your applicable awards, the following actions are required:

  • For casuals that have been employed in your business before the 1st October 2018, you should have already provided a copy of the relevant casual conversion clause.
  • For casuals employed after 1st October 2018, employers must provide a new casual with a copy of the casual conversion clause within the first 12 months of their engagement.

We are also recommending that employers consider including the relevant Casual Conversion clause in the Casual Employment Agreement to ensure that they do not miss this step down the track.

Need advice when it comes to employing casuals? Give us a call on (03) 4216 5200 or book a meeting online.

Fair Work Information Statement

A reminder that the Fair Work Information Statement must be provided to employees when they commence employment. Make sure that you issue the updated version for 2019-2020. You can access the link to the new Statement here.

Raising money for Breast Cancer

Our fantastic team member, Helen Byrne, has decided to shave her head to raise funds for the National Breast Cancer Foundation, to help them on their way towards their goal of zero deaths from breast cancer by 2030.

If you can spare a few dollars, we would love to get as much support as possible for this great cause that is close to our hearts and support Helen as she chops of her beautiful long locks!

Make a Donation to Helen

In her own words

A couple of weeks ago, one of my dearest and most beloved friends started chemotherapy and her fight against breast cancer. As she gets ready to shave her head, I have decided to do it with her, raise some money for an amazing cause and donate my hair as well.

The news of my beautiful friend’s diagnosis was a huge shock – she’s a young mother of three, who runs a successful business of her own. I have always been able to count on her when I need it most, and while distance makes it impossible for me to be there to help with the day-to-day tasks, I can make her feel less alone in this one aspect of her treatment.

Several other women in my life have been touched by this disease, including my grandmother, who lost her life to breast cancer before I was born. One of my neighbours, who I used to babysit for, lost her ongoing battle just this last Christmas. My mother’s cousin is currently fighting the disease, my childhood friend’s mother recently got the all-clear at her five years checkup, and my second cousin also battled breast cancer while she was a young mum.

While early detection and treatment outcomes have improved significantly for breast cancer, there is still more that can be done. If you have a couple of dollars to spare, please support this amazing foundation and their cause!

Strawberry Seed Team

Meet the Team

Over the last 12 months, we have grown at Strawberry Seed. We now have a team of HR Advisors and HR Assistants to assist our growing client base around Australia.

Our lovely HR Assistant Chloe is currently on parental leave after the birth of her third child (a beautiful baby girl), and we are looking forward to her return in the next few months. We have also recently welcomed a new HR Assistant, Imelda Lindsay, to the crew!

To learn more about our team, visit the Our Team page.


From L – R: Emily Messina, Cheryl Limmer, Frances Orr, Carli Saw, Chloe Knott and Helen Byrne

Carli Saw

Author Carli Saw

Carli is a Human Resources professional with more than 20 years of experience across a range of industries and a passion for supporting small business.

More posts by Carli Saw

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