1.75% increase to minimum wages for Group 3 Awards effective 1 February 2021 .
From the first full pay period on or after 1 February 2021, new minimum rates and allowances start in awards for the Accommodation and Food Services, Arts and Recreation Services, Aviation, Retail and Tourism industries. Following on from Group 1 Awards increasing from 1 July 2020 and Group 2 Awards increasing 1 November 2020, Group 3 Awards increase from the first full pay period starting on or after 1February 2021. Below is a list of Awards affected: Air Pilots Award Aircraft Cabin Crew Award Airline Operations-Ground Staff Award Airport Employees Award Alpine Resorts Award Amusement, Events and Recreation Award Commercial Sales Award Dry Cleaning and Laundry Industry Award Fast Food Industry Award Fitness Industry Award General Retail Industry Award Hair and Beauty Industry Award Horse and Greyhound Training Award Hospitality Industry (General) Award Live Performance Award Mannequins and Models Award Marine Tourism and Charter Vessels Award Nursery Award Professional Diving Industry (Recreational) Award Racing Clubs Events Award Racing Industry Ground Maintenance Award Registered and Licensed Clubs Award Restaurant Industry Award Sporting Organisations Award Travelling Shows Award Vehicle Repair, Services and Retail Award Wine Industry Award This is the final Group of Award increases as a result of the 2020 Award rate review. HOW CAN WE HELP? Essential HR specialise in human resource management and industrial relations helping small to medium sized businesses navigate their way through the complexities around employing people. With a powerful combination of technology and expertise, we will deliver efficiencies, compliance and forward thinking to your business that you never thought possible. Click here for further information or contact me directly at
If you’re like most business owners and managers, you probably wear many hats and are responsible for many areas of your business. You’re the CEO, bean counter, marketing whiz, sales guru, lead developer, and more. So you’ve typically got your hands full developing growth strategies, optimising the cash flow, managing customer relationships, product and service innovation, not to mention the human side of running your business. At any one time, you may be trying to effectively on board new hires into your business, figure out the best way to develop a stellar employee, while you performance manage another. Of course, when things get really busy, you tend to concentrate on the things you like to do rather than prioritise the things that need to be done. So while you’re masterminding your latest marketing campaign, you certainly wouldn’t be the first business owner to put HR compliance in the too hard basket. But it still needs to be done. And the problem is, the longer you leave it, the more painful it is, especially when you get it wrong. Here are 7 common HR mistakes you need to fix right now. 1. National Employment Standards (NES) & Awards With Australia’s complex employment laws, modern awards and agreements, underpayment of wages is alarmingly widespread. And apprentices and trainees are particularly vulnerable to being underpaid at work. But make no mistake, underpaying employees (even inadvertently) attracts big fines and back pay claims. 2. Employment contracts You can find yourself in all sorts of trouble if you don’t record an employee’s terms and conditions when you hire them. Employment contracts written in plain English help you minimise costly and time consuming disputes by providing certainty about the legal rights and obligations of both you and your staff. 3. Independent contractors For employers, hiring contractors is not just about the lower overheads, it’s the ability to adapt quickly to changing demands. However, while contractors run their own business and provide services to your business, you can’t classify a worker as a contractor simply because they have an ABN and they offer specialist skills. Furthermore, having a worker sign an agreement that states they are not an employee does not necessarily make them so. 4. Workplace safety It doesn’t matter what your business does, or how low risk it is, as a business owner you have legal responsibilities to provide a safe place of work for your employees, contractors, volunteers, visitors, customers or the public. Though it may cost to implement safe practices and install safety equipment, the effect of not taking action can be costlier still. 5. Workplace policies It’s one thing to create sound workplace policies, and quite another to actually enforce them. But your policies are only effective if they are uniformly enforced and properly communicated to your employees. Plus, you need to regularly audit your workplace policies to ensure they are up to date with relevant laws and other internal policies and procedures. 6. Performance management While you may have a valid reason to dismiss an underperforming member of your staff, if you don’t follow due process, you’ll end facing and potentially losing an unfair dismissal claim. Procedural fairness is absolutely critical to how Fair Work Australia decides an unfair dismissal cases. If you fail to show you have applied procedural fairness before you dismiss an employee, it will usually result in a finding that the dismissal was unfair. 7. HR automation If you’re still relying on an individual in your business to process your payroll and manage HR tasks, it’s only a matter of time until you come unstuck. HR automation can help you save time and money by streamlining business processes, and making your business more efficient, which in turn helps to improve profitability. And without an HR system in place, how can you be sure you’ll put your hands on the right HR records and documentation when you really need them? Fix it now Remember, HR compliance isn’t just for the big end of town. And while you may have pushed it to the bottom on your to-do list, as a small/medium business owner, it’s time to step up and fully understand what you need to do to get on top of your HR tasks and processes before things go awry. Here at Essential HR, we live and breathe HR – it’s what we are experts in. We can quickly have you up and running, and compliant with your HR needs quickly and efficiently. Want to know more. Visit and get in touch with us for a free 1:1 consult.
1.75% increase to minimum wages for Group 2 Awards effective 1 November.
From the first full pay period on or after 1 November 2020, new minimum rates and allowances start in awards for the construction, manufacturing and a range of other industries. Following on from Group 1 Awards increasing from 1 July 2020, Group 2 Awards increase from the first full pay period starting on or after 1 November 2020. Below is a list of Awards affected: Aluminium Industry Award Animal Care and Veterinary Services Award Aquaculture Industry Award Architects Award Asphalt Industry Award Black Coal Mining Industry Award Book Industry Award Broadcasting, Recorded Entertainment and Cinemas Award Building and Construction General On-site Award Business Equipment Award Car Parking Award Cement, Lime and Quarrying Award Clerks—Private Sector Award Coal Export Terminals Award Concrete Products Award Contract Call Centres Award Cotton Ginning Award Dredging Industry Award Educational Services (Post-Secondary Education) Award Electrical, Electronic and Communications Contracting Award Food, Beverage and Tobacco Manufacturing Award Gardening and Landscaping Services Award Graphic Arts, Printing and Publishing Award Higher Education Industry-Academic Staff-Award Higher Education Industry-General Staff-Award Horticulture Award Hydrocarbons Field Geologists Award Hydrocarbons Industry (Upstream) Award Joinery and Building Trades Award Journalists Published Media Award Labour Market Assistance Industry Award Legal Services Award Local Government Industry Award Manufacturing and Associated Industries and Occupations Award Marine Towage Award Maritime Offshore Oil and Gas Award Market and Social Research Award Meat Industry Award Mining Industry Award Miscellaneous Award Mobile Crane Hiring Award Oil Refining and Manufacturing Award Passenger Vehicle Transportation Award Pastoral Award Pest Control Industry Award Pharmaceutical Industry Award Plumbing and Fire Sprinklers Award Port Authorities Award Ports, Harbours and Enclosed Water Vessels Award Poultry Processing Award Premixed Concrete Award Professional Diving Industry (Industrial) Award Professional Employees Award Rail Industry Award Real Estate Industry Award Road Transport (Long Distance Operations) Award Road Transport and Distribution Award Salt Industry Award Seafood Processing Award Seagoing Industry Award Security Services Award Silviculture Award Stevedoring Industry Award Storage Services and Wholesale Award Sugar Industry Award Supported Employment Services Award Surveying Award Telecommunications Services Award Textile, Clothing, Footwear and Associated Industries Award Timber Industry Award Transport (Cash in Transit) Award Waste Management Award Wool Storage, Sampling and Testing Award HOW CAN WE HELP? Essential HR specialise in human resource management and industrial relations helping small to medium sized businesses navigate their way through the complexities around employing people. With a powerful combination of technology and expertise, we will deliver efficiencies, compliance and forward thinking to your business that you never thought possible. Click here for further information or contact me directly at
Quick Summary of JobKeeper enabling stand down directions
JobKeeper 2.0 eligibility and amount of subsidy Changes to the Fair Work Act – Qualifying Employers From 28 September 2020, employers who remain eligible for JK 2.0 (referred to as Qualifying employers) can no longer request employees to take annual leave – usual rules in modern awards, enterprise agreements and the Fair Work Act will apply. All other JK Direction powers continue to exist. JobKeeper enabling stand down directions Qualifying employers can give eligible employees a direction to reduce their hours or days of work, including to work no hours in certain circumstances. These directions are referred to as a JobKeeper enabling stand down direction. Examples are: Not work on one or more days that they usually work Work for a shorter period than the employee usually works on a particular day or days Work less hours overall than the employee usually works Not work any hours at all. If a JobKeeper enabling stand down direction applies to an employee, the employee has to comply with it. When an employer can give a direction A qualifying employer can give an eligible employee a JobKeeper enabling stand down direction if: The employee can’t be usefully employed for their normal days or hours because of business changes attributable to: government initiatives to slow coronavirus transmission (such as an enforceable government direction); the coronavirus pandemic, or the employer meets the requirements for the direction, such as the direction being reasonable. How to give a direction To give a direction qualifying employer need to: Notify the employee in writing at least 3 days before giving the JobKeeper enabling stand down direction. This applies unless the employee genuinely agrees to a shorter timeframe. Consult with the employee (or their representative) about the direction and keep a written record of the consultation. Give the employee the direction in writing. When a direction is in place, it doesn't apply: When an employee is taking authorised paid or unpaid leave (such as annual leave or long service leave), or During any time the Fair Work Act says the employee is entitled to be absent from work (as opposed to taking leave), for example on a public holiday. Changes to the Fair Work Act – Legacy Employers Employers who are no longer eligible for JK 2.0 (“legacy employers”) can only use (more reduced) Fair Work Act flexibilities if they meet a 10% decline in turnover test and obtain a “10% Decline in Turnover Certificate” prior to each period. Legacy employers can give JK Directions to: Reduce employees’ hours, but the hours cannot be reduced to less than 60% of the employee’s ordinary hours as of 1 March 2020 and employees must work at least two consecutive hours per shift Change the duties of employees Change the location where the employees perform their work To give a direction legacy employer need to: Notify the employee in writing at least 7 days before giving the JobKeeper enabling stand down direction. Consult with the employee (or their representative) about the direction and keep a written record of the consultation. Give the employee the direction in writing. HOW CAN WE HELP? Essential HR in partnership with Employment Innovations are leading providers of employment services designed to increase productivity and ensure compliance. Its services and solutions include all the tools that every Australian small to medium-sized employer needs – including workplace advice, legal services, outsourcing payroll, payroll software, human resource management & HR software. Click here for further information or contact me directly at
In August 2019 the Full Federal Court of Australia determined that personal/carer’s leave was calculated in working days, not hours. That decision was overturned on 13 August 2020. The High court has clarified that: the entitlement to 10 days of personal/carer’s leave under the National Employment Standards (NES) is calculated based on an employee’s ordinary hours of work, not working days 10 days of personal/carer’s leave can be calculated as 1/26 of an employee’s ordinary hours of work in a year. This has now been reflected in the Fair Work Information Statement HOW CAN WE HELP? Essential HR in partnership with Employment Innovations are leading providers of employment services designed to increase productivity and ensure compliance. Its services and solutions include all the tools that every Australian small to medium-sized employer needs – including workplace advice, legal services, outsourcing payroll, payroll software, human resource management & HR software. Click here for further information or contact me directly at
Award Flexibility During the COVID-19 Pandemic Update
With the continued impact of COVID-19 on workplaces, the Fair Work Commission has announced the decision to extend in a number of modern awards the temporary Award Flexibility provisions and unpaid pandemic leave (Schedule X). The extension of the temporary Award Flexibility provisions affect the below modern awards: Restaurant Award Clerks Award Hospitality Award Vehicle Award Fast Food Award Education (General Staff) Award For full details go to the Fair Work Ombudsman’s website. The extended unpaid pandemic leave (Schedule X) effects some awards. There are different end dates for Schedule X so please ensure you check your Award. You can see a full list of Awards with unpaid pandemic leave and their new end dates by going to the Fair Work Ombudsman's website. HOW CAN WE HELP? Essential HR in partnership with Employment Innovations are leading providers of employment services designed to increase productivity and ensure compliance. Its services and solutions include all the tools that every Australian small to medium-sized employer needs – including workplace advice, legal services, outsourcing payroll, payroll software, human resource management & HR software. Click here for further information or contact me directly at
Today the Fair Work Commission announced a 1.75% increase to minimum awards wages. For anyone not covered by an award or an agreement, the new national minimum wage (NMW) will be $753.80 per week or $19.84 per hour. Unlike previous years, not all award increases will be effective the first full pay period starting on or after 1 July 2020. Instead, awards will start on 3 different dates for different groups of awards. The 3 groups are: Group 1 Awards - from 1 July 2020 Frontline Heath Care & Social Assistance Workers Teachers and Child Care Other Essential Services Group 2 Awards - from 1 November 2020 Construction Manufacturing A range of other industries Group 3 Awards - from 1 February 2021 Accommodation and Food Services Arts and Recreation Services Aviation Retail Tourism HOW CAN WE HELP? Essential HR in partnership with Employment Innovations are leading providers of employment services designed to increase productivity and ensure compliance. Its services and solutions include all the tools that every Australian small to medium-sized employer needs – including workplace advice, legal services, outsourcing payroll, payroll software, human resource management & HR software. Click here for further information or contact me directly at
Workplace legislation is complex and for ever changing. Over the last few months we have seen temporary changes to Modern Awards to accommodate the effects of COVID 19 in the workplace. For as little as $250 per month you can have access to unlimited workplace advice, HR templates and representation in the event of any complex workplace claim, without further legal costs. We will also carry out a compliance audit for you. Ease the HR headache and let us support you. For further information click here or contact me directly at
Temporary changes to the Fast Food Industry Award 2010
The Fair Work Commission recently announced temporary changes to the Fast Food Industry Award 2010 to allow for more flexibility for employers during COVID-19. The changes include new provisions for part-time employees and annual leave arrangements. These amendments are effective from the employee’s first full pay period on or after 19 May 2020 until 31 July 2020. These changes apply to employers under the Fast Food Award who do not qualify for JobKeeper and employees covered by the award who are not eligible for JobKeeper. To find out more click here! About Essential HR Essential HR, located in Adelaide, works in partnership with Employment Innovations, making employment easier by combining HR, legal & payroll services with technology. With a powerful combination of new age technology, partnerships and expertise, we will deliver efficiencies, compliance and forward thinking to your business that you never thought possible.
Ben Thompson (CEO at Employment Hero) and Simon Obee(Principal Lawyer at Employment Innovations) ran a very informative webinar yesterday looking at what the WorkPac v Rossato casual employee entitlements decision mean for your business? On 21 May, the court decision of WorkPac Pty Ltd v Rossato  FCAFC 84 gained a lot of (somewhat misleading) media attention and has left many Australian business owners feeling unsure where their casual employees stand. To see the helpful guide Ben and Simon have put together, unpacking the WorkPac v Rossato decision, click here.
Taking sick leave during stand down? Is this allowed?
On 18 May 2020, the Federal Court handed down its decision in Communications, Electrical, Electronic, Energy, Information, Postal, Plumbing and Allied Services Union of Australia & Ors v Qantas Airways Limited  FCA 656 which concerned accessing personal/carer’s leave and compassionate leave during a period of stand down. The Federal Court has determined that employees stood down pursuant to s.524 and s.525 of the Fair Work Act 2009 are not able to take paid personal/carer’s leave (“sick leave”) or compassionate leave whilst stood down without pay. Find out more from EI legal: CLICK HERE
Opportunities to build a better business during and post COVID 19
The Coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak in Australia has managed to challenge every aspect of business operation in a very short period of time. I am sure the experience has exposed many strengths and weaknesses in your business and continues to do so. I understand that many business owners, managers and employees are feeling a mixture of emotions: sadness, anxiety, stress, helplessness etc. However, I write this article, not to further communicate the horror effects COVID 19 is having on businesses, but to talk about the opportunities to build a better business post COVID 19 through good HR systems, practices and strategies. This experience has certainly highlighted the need for businesses to future proof themselves, and now is your opportunity to develop and implement changes that will achieve this. Some trigger points indicating there are opportunities to improve in your business are: • Drowning in paperwork? • Using antiquated or inapt technology? • Losing focus from the bigger picture? • Experiencing too many employee issues? • Unsure how to manage your employees? • Lacking updated policies and procedures? • Concerned about meeting your legal obligations? • Wasting money on inefficient HR and payroll systems? • Experiencing high staff turnover? • Hearing employee excuses instead of ownership? • Losing your best employees and customers? • Concerned your processes are a compliance risk? • Confused about who to ask regarding HR matters? Below I look at 5 opportunities you can implement during this period to future proof your business. Implementing better HR and Payroll systems and processes A good starting point that won’t cost you a fortune is implementing HR and Payroll technology such as EI Payroll and Employment Hero (HR Platform). Although they are two different platforms, they seamlessly integrate. Just by implementing these systems alone you will reduce time spent on HR administration and payroll processing by 70-80%. This means you do not need to allocate full-time resources to manage these activities across your business. Here is a list of what the benefits are: Creates a paperless environment – saving you thousands on paper and stationary, all activities will be completed via the platform, such as timesheets, rosters, employment contracts, ever-occurring letters including salary increases, promotions, job transfers, warnings and terminations and any other events that may arise. Improves and makes less confusing compliance - reducing the risks of underpaying or overpaying staff, fines from Fair Work Ombudsman for non-compliance and legal fees to defend an employee claim. Boosts efficiency and productivity – Everything is securely kept in the cloud. This means there’s no such thing as lost files, relevant staff can work remotely, it’s easier to work with external consultants, your employees can check their details on the go and new starters can onboard and commence induction activities before they walk in on their first day. Goodbye filing cabinets. Engaging with your people – through employee self-service, staff can maintain their own personal details, have access to company policies and procedures and other important information. They will also have access to Learning online, receive Company announcements, complete performance reviews online and much more. EI Payroll and Employment Hero was built here in Australia and empower SMEs by providing automated solutions for employee management and engagement, payroll and employee benefits. Check out Employment Hero at Performance Management System In my experience as a HR professional working across the SME industry, the number one pain point is employee performance. Often there is either no review process and employees simply miss out on getting any feedback and development or the process in place is all-encompassing, inconsistent and often has little impact in improving performance. Having a high performing team and maximising the return on your investment is going to be key to future proofing your business. Ultimately your business is only as good as the people in it. A performance management system does not need to be complex, time consuming and about filling out paperwork – these do not work! What a performance management system needs to achieve is a culture of learning and development through constructive feedback, encouragement and mentoring, empowering people to take responsibility to achieve great things and recognising and fostering talent. It also needs to cater for those who are not doing a good job and work with them to improve or exit the business. Workforce Restructures Many SME’s grow organically and as a result may reach stages of growth where the organisational structure becomes ineffective. Often the resources you employee in the early days of growth are not the resources you need later. You may experience the constant exiting of staff who no longer suit the needs of the business, replacing them with new resources to accommodate the needs of the business for that moment in time. This can be a very costly and stressful way to grow your business. Now is the perfect time to set up an organisational structure to accommodate your future growth. Ideally you want to build a structure of your organisation to ensure you govern the workflow of your company making it easier to add new positions and provide flexibility and ready means for growth. TIP Create an organisational structure where team members are the “doers” and the leaders are the “enablers”. The leader of a team does not necessarily need to be the expert in the product or service the team members are delivering. Too often I see a high performing “doer” promoted to a leader, only to struggle in the leadership role. A team leader or manager should be an expert in leadership where they can effectively resource against demand and budget, they have strong commercial acumen to be able to understand the bigger picture, they can mentor and develop people, they have an ability to empower people to take ownership and responsibility and do not micromanage staff, they are very effective communicators and not afraid to deal with issues and challenges as they occur. Have HR policies that protect your business Often HR policies and procedures are either out of date or absent in the workplace making it difficult to consistently embrace any action or decision when an employee event or issue arises. Having well written, up-to-date policies creates an environment of assure uniformity of action throughout the business. They provide managers a guideline by which they can effectively manage employees. They also provide tools to communicate the standards and responsibilities of your employee’s and what they can come to expect of your business. Over the last few years there have been many changes across the Industrial Relations landscape, and these changes should be reflected in your HR policies and procedures to ensure compliance is adhered to. Updating Employment Contracts Every single employee in your business requires an employment contract and if they are not carefully drafted, you run the risk of ambiguity and failure to meet legal requirements. If any issues do arise, an ambiguous contract could prove very costly down the track. Recently, the Fair Work Commission handed down a decision for annualised wages as part of its four-yearly review of modern awards The decision requires employers to comply with certain new modern award annualised wage clauses from 1 March 2020. This means employers must ensure that an appropriate set-off clause is included in the employment contracts for those employees, which covers and specifies all award entitlements for the employees for all hours worked. Now might be a good time to review and re-issue new employment contracts that detail new legislative changes. How can we assist Essential HR in partnership with Employment Innovations are leading providers of employment services designed to increase productivity and ensure compliance. Its services and solutions include all the tools that every Australian small to medium-sized employer needs – including workplace advice, legal services, outsourcing payroll, payroll software, human resource management & HR software. We can assist you to build a better business ready to thrive post COVID 19. Contact me directly at