News

CMSolutions wish you a Merry Christmas

A pinch and a punch for the first day of the month!

As we start counting down the days until Christmas we would like to take this opportunity to wish all our members a very safe and Merry Christmas.

We thank you for your continued support and we look forward to working with you in the New Year.

Our offices will be closed from 12pm Friday, 22nd December 2017 and will re-open Tuesday, 2nd January 2018.

For all urgent matters during this period please email info@cmsolutions.org.au

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01-Dec-2017
World Mental Health Day - Can you see the signs in your Workplace?

World Mental Health Day is today, Tuesday 10th October 2017, and it is the perfect opportunity for your organisation to improve its understanding of mental health problems and what to do about them.

 

The impact of mental health in the workplace affects individuals and also the organisation. The productivity levels are effective and with staff absenteeism it affects the other staff.

 

A study of 12,000 Australian employees found that one fifth of full time workers were receiving treatment for mental health problems. Other workers would utilise extended and significant periods of sick leave.

 

With mental illness it is never certain that workers will see improvement with time off from work, sometimes absenteeism may prove detrimental to their wellbeing.

 

To encourage workers to seek treatment is a positive step that your organisation can take and it also meets your WHS obligations to ensure the health and wellbeing of your employees.

 

Two key ways you can reduce the impact of mental health problems in your workplace area:-

 

  • Take steps that are positive to remove any stigma and fear of workplace discrimination that your employees may have if they have mental health problems. When these fears are removed it may encourage your employees to seek treatment for their condition.
     
  • Putting in mechanisms that allow for effective early intervention, like an Employee Assistance Program (EAP) can assist employees showing signs of mental illness to seek assistance.

 

Training your managers / supervisors to assist them in being able to detect the early signs and symptoms of a developing mental problem is a positive move, as this will give the manager / supervisor the ability to offer early support and assistance while the employee seeks professional assistance.

 

A key benefit of trained workers is that they can play a major role in educating the rest of the organisation on mental health issues.

 

A couple of points to manage mental health issues in the work place:-

 

  • Train your managers / supervisors and other staff to understand early signs of anxiety and depression.
  • Have you got an Employer Assistance Program, if not source one.
  • Do you offer flexible work practices?
  • Is your organisation a workplace that supports and respects those with mental illness and combats workplace bullying?

 

Keeping the Workplace Safe

 

It is important that your organisation does not expose workers to the risk of mental health problems.

 

Manage the issues and put in some control mechanisms to manage the following:-

 

  • Unclear work roles
  • Long working hours
  • Bullying
  • Poor communication
  • High levels of pressure

 

These can add to metal health issues.

 

Once these control mechanism are in place to assist all your staff, it should create a safe and happy workplace.

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10-Oct-2017
Late payment and 'centre hopping' - enough is enough!

Through research with our child care members, we know that being paid late (or not at all) is one of the biggest contributors to cash-flow stress in their centres.

With parents leaving fees unpaid or ‘centre hopping’ (leaving a trail of unpaid fees behind them), operators are being left with growing amounts of money outstanding. This worrying trend is not a new phenomenon in our industry and is one that does not appear to be slowing.

Unfortunately, there’s no ‘silver bullet’ when it comes to improving on-time payment. Like all of us, parents are faced with multiple living expenses, and child care fees may be considered just another bill in the pile. Unsurprisingly, feedback suggests that single parents or parents in casual employment appear most often on the outstanding account report as the cost of living adds increasing pressure on already ‘cash-strapped’ parents.

What centres can do, however, is start the relationship with the parents off on the right foot, so that payment expectations are crystal clear.

The easiest way to do this is through a solid set of terms and conditions. Much like a contract that you would sign when applying for a new credit card, your terms and conditions spell out what is expected from both parties that are entering into an agreement.

As well as ensuring parents understand their responsibilities, your ‘Ts & Cs’ provide your centre with a set of enforceable rights that are designed to reduce your centre’s exposure to risk when things don’t go according to plan.

Your enrolment forms will already have a series of agreements and consents when it comes to health matters and other roles and responsibilities. For most centres, by simply adding in some additional clauses, you’ll be better equipped to know who you are dealing with up-front. You’ll also be empowered to swiftly recover late or unpaid fees with less fuss.

With the right contract wording on your side, you’ll be able to take actions such as:

  1. Conduct pre-placement credit checking;
  2. Have the Child Care Benefit paid direct to the centre;
  3. Pass on collection costs to the parent should it become necessary to engage a collection agency, and
  4. List a default against the parent if necessary so that it shows on their credit record. The listing can be amended to “Paid” when the parent attends to the account.

Another essential in your toolkit: a properly worded reminder letter that can be swiftly issued to parents who are overdue. This is an essential step in the fee recovery process.

Sometimes, there’s no way around it, and you’ll just need to ‘make that call’ to request payment. Many businesses find this challenging, time consuming and awkward, and have limited success (even more so in the not for profit sector). On top of that, the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) has a strict set of guidelines that outline when, how often, and on what grounds you are able to contact someone who owes you money.

Our trusted and experienced debt management partner Optimum Recoveries is ready to assist CMS members with:

  1. Water-tight credit policies and legally binding terms and conditions tailored specifically to meet the needs of CMS members in the child care industry;
  2. Sample reminder letter templates; and
  3. Assistance with recovering overdue debts.

As a registered and experienced debt collection agency, Optimum Recoveries are experts in securing outstanding payments in a respectful, timely, and professional manner (as well as ensuring everything is done ‘by the book’).

To get in touch with Optimum Recoveries, members can call 1300 556 937 or email them at orqld@optimumrecoveries.com.au. Don’t forget to mention you are a CMS member to secure your discount.

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09-Oct-2017
Do you want your best performing employees to stick around?

September is honey month, so let's try and use some of that sweet and sticky honey to make your employees stick around.

 

Employee retention refers to an organisation's ability to retain employees. This differs from employee turnover which refers to how often you need to replace your employees.

 

Employee retention is important to consider, as if you retain the right employees it can have a number of benefits including:

 

  • Higher productivity;
  • Reduced costs of recruitment, selection and training;
  • Reduced risks to claims such as unfair dismissal;
  • Higher job satisfaction; and
  • Increased knowledge retention.

 

Of course when thinking about employee retention you should also consider:

 

  • Does your performance management process assist to identify high performers?
  • Do you have clear requirements for any bonus schemes?
  • What are the goals of your retention strategy and how might they impact what tools you implement?
  • What positions, knowledge, skills and abilities will you require in the future?

 

So, what you might include in your retention strategy:

 

  • Provide career direction and promotion opportunities;
  • Provide employees with recognition for their efforts;
  • Encourage employee involvement and idea sharing;
  • Provide competitive remuneration packages;
  • Ensure clear lines of communication;
  • Special events and celebrations;
  • Conduct employee satisfaction surveys; and/or
  • Provide professional development and training opportunities.

 

So get to enjoying some honey this September and think about what benefits employee retention could have for your organisation.

 

If you are in need of any assistance, please contact the CMSolutions team on 1300 007 110.

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20-Sep-2017
2017 Queensland State Wage Increase Decision

The Queensland Industrial Relations Commission has handed down its decision in relation to the State wage increase for 2017.

 

The decision allows for the following increase in State Awards for employers/employees still under the Queensland State Industrial Relations system.

 

Effective from the 1st September 2017, all award wages and monetary allowances will increase by 3.3% per week.

 

Pay rate sheets are currently being updated and will be emailed out to all P&C members early next week once finalised.

 

For further information please contact the CMSolutions team on 1300 007 110 or email info@cmsolutions.org.au

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08-Sep-2017
Notice of Strike in the Child Care Industry

It has come to our attention that national action is being organised by Employee Union United Voice, for employees in the Child Care Sector to leave work at 3.20 pm on Thursday, 7 September 2017, as part of their Big Steps campaign.

 

The Big Steps campaign includes an application by United Voice seeking a wage increase by 35%.

 

CMS can clarify that this is considered unlawful industrial action, which means that the employees will not be paid for the time that they take to strike.

 

What to do if your employees go on strike on Thursday:

 

  • Identify if your employees are striking on Thursday. We would suggest communicating with your employees to find what their intentions are.
  • If you are supporting the strike and closing your Centre, communicate with parents/carers that they will need to collect their children early.
  • If you are not closing the Centre you may choose to employ casual staff to cover any staff who are striking.
  • Communicate to all employees your expectations if strike action is to occur. For example:
    • Employees should advise if they will not be at work.
    • Employees engaging in the strike should ensure that their behaviour is professional and respectful.
    • If Employees fail to advise of their non-attendance they could face disciplinary action.
  • Finally, advise employees that they will not be paid for this absence for work. 

 

For more information please contact CMSolutions on 1300 007 110 or email info@cmsolutions.org.au.

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06-Sep-2017
Biggest mistakes that will BLOAT your chances of an Unfair Dismissal

Pizza is our favourite food here at CMSolutions and usually when we starting eating it, we want to eat until we are going to bust. So in honour of the pitfall of eating too much pizza, let's look at the common pitfalls of performance management and termination.

 

Performance management refers to the ongoing process of setting standards for performance, as well as reviewing and managing performance. Termination on the other hand is when the employment relationship has ended. We will focus on termination at the iniative of the employer today.

 

The most common mistakes that we see are:

 

  • Not inducting staff into policies and procedures?

 

When staff are not educated on the organisations policies and procedures they are often ignorant of the expectations placed upon them. This can result in underperformance due to confusion or complete breach of policy.

 

The other issue we face when staff are not educated on policies is that it can be difficult to performance manage the employee, even after serious breaches in behaviour. This has been reiterated by the Fair Work Commission or State Industrial Relations Commission on a number of occasions and is particularly important when considering social media and workplace bullying.

 

  • Avoiding the issues

 

This common error creates issues for both employee and employer. Often a Manager will not speak to an employee the first time there is a problem and thus the issue continues. Often this results in the employee feeling unjustly criticised when the issue is finally raised with them. Meanwhile the Manager is worried about bringing the issue to the employees' attention as it has been so long and therefore continues to ignore the underperformance.

 

  • No Position Description

 

A Position Description (PD) is an important tool to identify the key responsibilities of employees. A PD will provide an employer with evidence that the employee was aware of their role and will also assist in recruiting and selecting the best candidates for the position.

 

  • Not keeping accurate records

 

When an employer does not keep records of previous warnings or conversations with an employee, it becomes very difficult to prove that the employee has in fact been given a chance to improve their behaviour and thus difficult to proceed to the termination process.

 

  • Not giving the employee enough information to respond

 

When dealing with a termination, you must provide the employee with the opportunity to respond. This means that you need to be able to provide exact dates, time and what occurred so that the employee can respond. If you do not provide specific details the employee will be unable to discern what the allegation relates to thus cannot give a meaningful response.

 

  • Not allowing the employee to bring a support person

 

It is also a requirement for the employer to not unreasonably deny the employee to bring a support person. This does not mean you have to ask the employee to bring a support person, however it is best practice to do this. A support person is there as an emtional support and can be asked to leave if aggressive or disruptive.

 

  • Preparing a termination letter before a show cause meeting

 

As you are required to give your employee an opportunity to respond if you are considering termination, you must not make a decision on the outcome of termination until after the employee has been able to respond. It has been found on multiple occasions that a pre-prepared termination letter sends a clear signal that the employer did not genuinely consider the employees response.

 

  • Relying on hearsay

 

Hearsay is statements which have not been directly obtained from the person who has witnessed the behaviour. For example if Ben was to report that Stacey had told him that Chris was swearing at a client, Ben's statement would be hearsay. Hearsay is unreliable and the original source of the information should be asked to make a statement to ensure that your facts are accurate.

 

  • Discussing unrelated matters

 

Performance meetings and termination meetings can often be thrown off track because of unrelated issues that arise. It is suggested that you ask employees to address any other concerns in a different forum. You will have to of course be sure that the matters are unrelated. Probing questions are very useful to understand if the matter is or is not related.

 

  • Becoming personally involved

 

Performance management and terminations are hard. It can often feel personal when the employee responds defensively or aggressively. It is best however to try and maintain impartial during these processes. It can be useful to try and think from another person's perspective as if your matters where to process to the Commission they would not have the same background understanding as yourself.

 

If you are thinking or in the process of commencing performance reviews and you need some assistance  please contact our friendly Employment Relations Advisors on 07 3852 5177 or 1300 007 110.

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01-Sep-2017
Don't let yourself or your employees turn 'mouldy'

Do you know how to identify a 'mouldy peach', i.e. a burnt-out employee. Burnout can lead to a number of issues in the workplace, including under performance, short term or long tearm absenteeism which may lead to a workers compensation claim.

 

The Australian Workers Compensation Statistics highlight that mental disorders were found to be the most frequent type of disease claim, making up 6% of all claims. Within community and personal service workers 2,090 successful claims were recorded. Also found was that the average time lost due to a mental disorder was 13.8 days and the average compensation paid per worker was $21,000.

 

Despite the significant cost these claims can have, nobody wants to see a friend, colleague or partner suffering or losing passion for their work. So how can we identify and avoid workplace burnout.

 

Physical and emotional exhaustion

  • Chronic fatigue;
  • Insomnia;
  • Forgetfulness / impaired concentration and attention;
  • Physical symptoms such as shortness of breath, gastrointestinal pain, dizziness or fainting;
  • Increased illnesses;
  • Loss of appetite;
  • Anxiety;
  • Depression;
  • Anger.

 

Cynicism and detachment

  • Loss of enjoyment;
  • Pessimism;
  • Detachment.

 

Signs of ineffectiveness and lack of accomplishment

  • Feelings of apathy and hopelessness;
  • Increased irritability;
  • Lack of productivity and poor performance.

 

To help work-life balance you can get creative and work with your employees as to what they feel will support them. Many organisations will create wellness programs for their employees or offer Employee Assistance Programs. If you do not have the resources for anything big, you can still do lots of small things that will make a big difference, including:

 

  • Educate and encourage your employees around getting enough sleep and the benefits of exercise;
  • Ensure employees take leave;
  • Create clear job descriptions;
  • Provide opportunities for job rotation (working in a different role);
  • Educate your employees on time management, including what to do if they feel they can not cope.

 

For more information contact the CMSolutions team on 07 3852 5177 or 1300 007 110.

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29-Aug-2017
EKKA Public Holiday

Next week we have the EKKA happening in Brisbane! Our offices will be closed for the Brisbane Show Day public holiday on the 16th of August. Other regions will have their public holidays on different days, so be sure to check your calendar. If you are unsure what to pay your employees for the public holiday please contact one of our Employment Relation Advisors on 07 3852 5177 and they will assist you.

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11-Aug-2017
Introducing the two new clauses

Casual Conversion Clause and Domestic Violence Clause

 

Casual Conversion Clause and Minimum Engagement

 

What’s happening?

 

As part of the four yearly modern Award review, the Fair Work Commission (FWC) has passed a decision to introduce a clause in 85 Awards which will require that casual employees be offered full-time or part-time employment, subject to certain rules and restrictions.

 

What’s next?

 

The FWC decided that a casual conversion clause will be included in 85 modern awards, where a clause does not already exist. Modern Award anticipated to be effected will include:

 

  • Children Service’s Award 2010
  • Clerks – Private Sector Award 2010
  • Educational Services (Schools) General Staff Award 2010
  • Educational Services (Teachers) Award 2010
  • Fast Food Industry Award
  • Fitness Industry Award 2010
  • General Retail Industry Award 2010
  • Health Professionals and Support Services Award 2010
  • Miscellaneous Award 2010
  • Social, Community, Home Care and Disability Services Industry Award 2010
  • Sporting Organisations Award 2010

 

Although the details of such a clause are yet to be finalised, a proposed model casual conversion clause will allow a casual employees to request a move to permanent part-time or fulltime employment if:

 

  • They have worked at least 12 calendar months; and
  • During this time worked a specific pattern of hours on an ongoing basis; and
  • The specific pattern of hours could, without significant adjustment, continue to be performed in accordance with the full-time or part-time provisions of the relevant award.

 

The proposed clause will also require employers to provide casual employees written notification of the casual conversion provisions.

 

However, the proposed clause will allow an employer to refuse conversion on four grounds:

 

  • It would require a significant adjustment to the casual employees’ hours of work to accommodate them in full-time/part-time employment under the applicable modern award; or
  • It is known or reasonably foreseeable that the casual employee’s position will cease to exist; or
  • The employee’s hours of work will significantly change or be reduced within the next 12 months; or  
  • On other reasonable grounds, based on facts which are known or reasonably foreseeable.

 

Additionally, the Commission has decided that for those modern Awards that do not currently have any minimum engagement period, a minimum engagement period for casuals of two hours should be included.

 

So what should employers do?

 

First keep your eye on your CMS bulletins for more information when the casual conversion clause is finalised.

 

Secondly, employers who employ casual staff should revisit their workforce planning and review the current use of casual labour. This should focus on why and how employers engage with their employees. Further, if you have casual employees working regular or fairly regular hours for more than a six month period, you should consider:

 

  • How many of your existing casual employees would like permanent employment?
  • What the consequences for your business may be if even a small proportion of your casual employees had the right to convert to permanent employment?
  • Do you have ‘reasonable grounds’ to refuse a casual employee’s conversion request?

 

Family and Domestic Violence Leave Clause

 

The Fair Work Commission recently passed on a decision which states that employees should have access to unpaid family and domestic violence leave. Additionally, the Commission concluded that employees experiencing family or domestic violence should be able to access personal/carer’s leave in a wider range of circumstances for the purpose of taking family and domestic leave.

 

The entitlement to unpaid leave will serve to confirm the significance of family and domestic violence leave as a workplace right and provide protection to employees in circumstances where there is a need to access such leave. The decision has proposed employees be entitled to 10 days of unpaid leave.  

 

The Commission will now seek further submissions and evidence on their preliminary decision before finalising the unpaid leave arrangements. 

 

For more information contact the CMS team on 07 3852 5177 or 1300 007 110.

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12-Jul-2017