You may have noticed a flurry of news articles about wage issues recently, with more than a dozen large Australian companies having problems in the last year alone. There are different ways this is playing out, but the underlying theme is that many employees have been underpaid by their employers and in most cases, it appears to be unintentional. In our experience, there is immense complexity in calculating payroll for a large workforce with multiple Awards and/or Enterprise Agreements with hundreds of clauses and thousands of opportunities for misinterpretation or error.
Additionally, there are news articles about companies rushing to get time sheet information from staff who haven’t previously had to fill them in. A major driver behind this is the Fair Work Commission has issued determinations for annualised wage arrangements which impose new obligations on employers who have employees under a range of Awards, including the Local Government Industry Award. This ABC news article is a good starting point if you’re unaware of the details – it lists the awards impacted and some of the implications: “Fair work wage theft underpayment sparks bundy clock surge”
For staff covered by the Awards listed in the determination, the new obligations include:
o mandatory time-sheeting
o validation/reconciliation of wage payments, and
o new rules for individual written agreements.
These obligations come into effect now, for the first full pay period after 1st March 2020. Despite the determination being made last year, and many high-profile news articles, we’re still finding some of our clients are unaware of the determination or implications.
Organisations often have a combination of staff under Awards, EAs, or contracts. The question each organisation must answer now is “Should we be collecting timesheet information for any of our employees?”. If the answer is “I’m not sure” then there is some investigative work required by the HR team to work through the detail and nuances of the legislation. If the answer is “yes”, then there are some important implementation actions required as soon as possible.
Is your organisation ready?
As a starting point, check out this government FairWork page for details. https://www.fairwork.gov.au/about-us/news-and-media-releases/website-news/new-rules-for-annualised-wage-arrangements
Bee Squared take a multi-pronged approach, covering People, Process and System in helping organisations to be ready for change. Let us know if we can be of assistance.