Thursday, 29 September 2016

Domestic Violence and Work

According to the Australian Human Rights Comission:

  • In Australia, approximately one woman is killed by her current or former partner every week, often after a history of domestic and family violence.
  • 34% of women have experienced physical violence since the age of 15.
  • 17% of women have experienced violence from a current or former partner since the age of 15 (compared to 5.3% of men).
  • 30% of respondents to a 2011 survey on domestic and family violence and the workplace reported they had experienced violence, and 5% of those respondents had experienced violence in the last 12 months.

If you are experiencing domestic violence, or know someone at work that is, should you tell your Manager? 

This is an entirely personal decision. There may be some support mechanisms available to you in the workplace, and this may assist you with that decision.

Flexible Working Arrangements
There is a provision in the Fair Work Act for someone who is experiencing, or providing care or support to someone who is experiencing, domestic violence to request flexible working arrangements. My previous post regarding requesting flexible working arrangements may assist.

Domestic Violence Leave
Some pubic service departments introduced a special type of leave relating to domestic violence, and some larger Organisations followed suit, so it is always helpful to check your Company policies and procedures, and your Award or Enterprise Agreement to see if there is a provision for this.

Employee Assistance Programs
Most medium-large organisations provide EAP and this is a great option for free counselling sessions and other resources

Security concerns / Domestic Violence Intervention Orders
If you have a concern about your safety at work, or a restraining order that includes your workplace, then I would encourage you to speak to your Manager or HR Manager to try and determine what extra security measures could be enacted in your workplace. (small things like locking doors that are usually left open during the day, or alerting security guards to be extra vigilant could be suggested)

When you work with your partner
Recently there was an Unfair Dismissal case (Leyla Moghimi v Eliana Construction and Developing Group Pty Ltd [2015] FWC 4864) where the victim of domestic violence was dismissed, but her ex-partner retained. She won that unfair dismissal case and was awarded compensation. The clear message from this case was that the onus was on the employer to work with her regarding the Intervention Order. Therefore I would recommend seeking external advice if you, or someone you know, is in a similar situation.

The future of domestic violence in the workplace
Despite the frightening statistics, Australia doesn't have much legislated within employment law to assist those in domestic violence situations. There are a few organisations such as the Australian Human Rights Comission that are actively advocating for more to be done, but in the meantime, at least as a minimum, there is some assistance available in terms of flexible working arrangement requests and unfair dismissal protection.

More workplace tips

Whether you are an employee or run your own business, we'd love for you to join us at Savvy Business Women, our Facebook group dedicated to information, collaboration and support.

Thursday, 22 September 2016

When you have issues with your boss

I think I have been fairly lucky that, for the most part, I have had a boss who I've been able to respect and communicate openly with. But what happens when you just don't think your boss is that great? What is all this talk about "managing up"?

Firstly, let's look some issues I hear most commonly from people complaining about their Manager.
Psst... I am not talking here about workplace bullying. If  there are any instances of bullying behaviour,  then you need to immediately take action by following your Company's procedure and/or talking with your Health & Safety representative.

managing up

1. Lack of communication

This is one of the most common complaints by employees regarding their Manager. Interestingly, this is often received by the Manager with exasperation as they don't understand how they could communicate more. Really, that is the key here, as for most employees it is not about the frequency but the value of what is being communicated.
So if you are feeling "out of the loop", then make some notes about specific instances and talk to your boss (yes, this is "Managing Up") and let them know why it would have been important for you to know about xyz. I know this can be a hard thing to do the first time, so bring it up in a way that works with your bosses communication style. I would also bring it up in a way that you have a problem, and you have a solution, but you need your bosses help to get to that solution. 

For example:
"I wanted to just chat to you for a minute about this project I have {project name}.... I found out on Monday that{this happened/this changed} and because I didn't know that before I had to {spend this time/effort} and it was really frustrating. Do you know how I would be able to get on those {email distribution/meeting lists} in future?"

2. "My boss has no idea what I do"

My view on this, is that it isn't necessarily a bad thing. If your boss knew the complete ins and outs of your job you may find yourself with a micro-manager. So the key here is to make sure your boss knows the parts of your job that are important. What does that mean? Well, your boss is your advocate to the manager levels above you, so if you are working on something that will impact on another area of the organisation, you need to make sure your boss understands what you are doing, why, and what you need your boss to do to advocate that for you to the other senior Managers.
If your boss is completely uninterested and doesn't advocate on your behalf, then this may be a motivation and/or competence issue on their part. That is when this can form part of your own thinking about if you can work in an environment with a very "hands-off" boss or whether it is time to look elsewhere.

3. "My boss micro-manages me"

This is the opposite of number 2 and is one of the most difficult situations to be in. I think the best option is to call it out. 

For example:
"I noticed that on my document you inserted a new paragraph and I'd like to understand the reasons behind that. I was trying to convey xyz, did you think it was not effective?"

This may not always work, but sometimes people don't realise they are taking over. I knew of a Manager that corrected every single document in red pen and it drove her team crazy, but she had done it her entire career and refused to change and would take any feedback as a kind of funny joke. Unfortunately if someone stubbornly refuses to change, there isn't any way to get around this, you just either have to let it go and try not to be annoyed by it, or wait until one of you moves on.

3. "Our Manager hates working here and I do too"

I can't tell you how much this makes me cringe. Part of a good leader's role is to protect the team from some of the crappy stuff that happens at work, and not to burden their staff with their own issues.
My advice is to rise above. Make a list of why you are working there and, yes, it is cliché, but focus on those positives. Keeping a good attitude and staying positive will not only make other people see you as one of the "good ones" (always helpful when going for a transfer or promotion!), but will actually help you to feel better. 

Photo credit: kodomut via / CC BY

Final word on managing up

You may have noticed that what all of these instances have in common is that the onus is on you to be pro-active and make your own work days better. 

It is absolutely true that people don't often leave a job, they leave their Manager, but if you are actually happy with your role and can make a few changes here and there to effectively "manage up", you may find yourself in an enjoyable role long term rather than reluctantly dragging your self to work each day.

More workplace tips

Whether you are an employee or run your own business, we'd love for you to join us at Savvy Business Women, our Facebook group dedicated to information, collaboration and support.

Thursday, 15 September 2016

"Your role is redundant". What does that mean?

Recently I've had a few questions about redundancy. What it means, what the payments are, and what happens if you see your old job advertised after you have been made redundant.

What to do when told redundant

What is redundancy?

There are two definitions we can review. One is from the Fair Work Act (FWA), and the other from the Australian Taxation Office (ATO).
When the FWA definition is met, the employee has no right to an unfair dismissal claim. According to Fair Work, a redundancy has occurred when:
  • the employer doesn't need the employee's job to be done by anyone, or, the employer becomes bankrupt or insolvent, AND
  • the employer has consulted with the employees as required by the Award or Enterprise Agreement, AND
  • the employer is unable to redeploy the employee into another role
The ATO definition is important because if their definition is not met, you may not be entitled to the tax concessions received for redundancy payments. The ATO considers it a genuine redundancy when the job you were doing has been abolished.

What happens if I don't think my role is redundant?

The first thing to consider is the above Fair Work definition. If the employer has not met that criteria, you can make an unfair dismissal claim, but you only have 21 days to do this. Check out the Fair Work website here for more information.

My employer has redeployed me into a new role, but I just want a redundancy payment!

It is true that not everyone is happy to be given an alternative role in the Company, but the Fair Work definition of a redundancy does put an onus on the organisation to find you acceptable alternative employment. 
There have been cases where Fair Work has deemed that the employee is not entitled to redundancy pay where they have refused an alternative role, so make sure you obtain some advice before rejecting any offer of redeployment. 

How do I work out my redundancy payment?

No matter what your contract or enterprise agreement states, as a MINIMUM you must receive the redundancy pay given in the National Employment Standards (NES), if you meet the criteria. You can find the table related to redundancy pay and the criteria that needs to be met (e.g. not be a casual employee, have a minimum of 12 months service, be employed in a business with more than 15 employees etc.) on the FairWork website here
It is also important to note that if you had no redundancy pay provision in your Contract of Employment or Enterprise Agreement prior to 1 January 2010 (when the NES came into effect), then your "years of service" for the purposes of redundancy pay does NOT count prior to that date. So, even if you were employed in 2004, but had no redundancy pay provision in your contract/EA, then the most you would receive today is 11 weeks (for at least 6 years, but less than seven years service).
Additionally, redundancy pay is based on your normal hours as at the date of redundancy. So if you are working part time, even if you worked full time for many years before, the payment is based on your part time rate.

What if I started as a casual, and then became a permanent employee?

Recently a full bench decision at the Fair Work Commission enabled workers who started as casuals, before their positions become permanent, to have their full length of service recognised in the calculation of their final pay out. The Sydney Morning Herald article regarding this case can be found here. As this is a fairly recent case, many employers could be unaware of this decision, so if you find yourself in this situation and your employer is not recognising your initial casual service, you should seek advice.

Do I get paid pro rata long service leave?

Long Service Leave remains as State based legislation and is not part of the Fair Work system. To check your eligibility, you should go to the Industrial Relations Board in your State. For example, NSW Industrial Relations has a calculator available here.

Photo credit: neetalparekh via / CC BY

What if I see my job advertised after I've been made redundant?

As per the definitions above, your job should have been abolished. It does happen that things change, be it Company management, structures, economic conditions etc, and over time your old job title may re-appear in the company, or perhaps a different job title but with much the same duties. There is no "rule" about how long a role needs to be abolished for in order for it to be considered redundant, even though many people may use 6 or 12 months as a general time frame.
If you see your job advertised and it was within 21 days you can make an unfair dismissal claim (provided you meet the service and income threshold requirements) by claiming your role was not made redundant, and therefore you were dismissed in an unfair, unjust or harsh manner.
If more than 21 days have passed, you have very limited options and this is why it is so important to seek advice immediately if you dismissed for any reason where you feel it was not justified.

Assuming the Company was good, and you enjoyed the job, you could always apply for the newly advertised role. Just be aware of any "pay back" provisions for your redundancy pay that the Company may have (this is particularly the case in the Public Service ) where you have received a redundancy payment and are then rehired.


Information provided here is general in nature and based on the Fair Work System. Not all workers in Australia are covered by the Fair Work Act, for example, State Government employees. If you are unsure, you can check the Fair Work website here.

More workplace tips
Whether you are an employee or run your own business, we'd love for you to join us at Savvy Business Women, our Facebook group dedicated to information, collaboration and support.

Thursday, 8 September 2016

Why you are being paid less because you are a woman

Today, September 8, is Equal Pay Day

Why today? Well, this is the day that as a woman you have now earned the same as the average man in Australia did for FY15-16. That's right, it takes women about 14 months to earn the average male yearly income.

Here are some more concerning stats:
- the current gender pay gap, according to  to Workplace Gender Equality Agency (WGEA) is currently 16.6 per cent and has been between 15 and 19 per cent for the past two decades. 
Gender pay gap in ASX 200 organisations is 28.7%
- Average superannuation balance for women at retirement is 52.8% less than for men
- Proportion of CEOs who are female is 15.4%
Gender Pay Gap

Why is there a gender pay gap?

According to WGEA the reason for the pay gap existing is:

- women and men are concentrated in different kinds of jobs leading to industry and occupational segregation
I translate this as we just don't value traditional "women's" jobs which is the "caring" roles such as teaching, child care, nursing and social work. They continue to attract lower wages, which is a phenomenon we do not see in male dominated occupations and industries.

- earnings differences between male and female-dominated industries and occupations
It should be noted that while the starting wage for a man in a female-dominated industry is $82,000 per year, the starting wage for women in female-dominated industries is about $67,000.

- under representation of women in senior positions

- the distribution of unpaid caring responsibilities

- discrimination and bias.

Why should we care about  the gender pay gap?

Apart from the obvious fairness and equity argument, there is an economic one.
The female participation in the workplace is 65.2% compared to the male rate of 79.2%. If women were paid equally, and we know from the above that part of the answer to this is around caring responsibilities, then we can increase the participation rate in Australia which means more workers, and therefore more taxes being paid, while less benefits ("Government handouts") are paid from those taxes. 
And can I remind you of that stat above that women have less than half the Superannuation of their male counterparts at retirement? What a huge burden for the tax payers to bear as women will be forced to rely on Government pensions and other social programs as they age.

You may have seen this article where John Howard says that caring responsibilities are what limit the "capacity" of women in the workplace. And he is quite right of course, as women strive to find a balance between our home and work lives. And that is PRECISELY why our politicians and policy makers need to be actively working on ways to encourage and promote female participation in the workplace. It makes me unspeakably sad that a former politician has made these comments. This is someone that was in a position to help change this and make a difference! 

What can you do in your workplace?

Find out about what Diversity programs are in your workplace. Participate in these programs, forums and educate yourself on this issue and then make any changes you can, such as:
- influencing policy and decision makers 
- mentoring and coaching
- contributing to policy decisions in your workplace around salaries (this includes remuneration reviews and recruitment offers)

If there are no Diversity programs, then ask why not? Maybe you can be the Diversity champion at your workplace and make a meaningful difference.

The more that we as employees, employers and Australian citizens become informed about these issues and work towards solutions, the more notice the Government Policy makers will take. Let's hope that there is some real change over the next two decades.

More workplace tips

Whether you are an employee or run your own business, we'd love for you to join us at Savvy Business Women, our Facebook group dedicated to information, collaboration and support for Business Women.

Thursday, 1 September 2016

Is your employer profiling you?

A study was just released  showing that employers are profiling current and potential employees by using information they have posted on social media. According to the study, an astonishing 55% even have a "profiling policy" in place to support the practice. According to The Conversation there are also candidates who claim they were asked to give their social media passwords to their prospective employer!

From an employers perspective, this is skating some legal lines as they can open themselves up to claims of discrimination and breaches of the Privacy Act. But assuming the study is true, and this is still occurring, what can you do as an employee?

We already know that there is discrimination in recruitment, and not always intentionally. According to Weekend Sunrise on August 28, research suggests that given the same CV, but one with a male name and one with a female name, the male will be interviewed ; and it is the same where three resumes are provided but only one has an aglo-celtic name, that one will be chosen over the other two.

Now, let's consider a situation where you have posted on Facebook something that an unscrupulous employer decides would have an impact on your work life. Let's say that you are pregnant, or looking after an elderly parent. You may not receive a job offer and you suspect that the Company looked at your Facebook posts and used that as a decision making factor. But, how can you prove it? I would say in the vast majority of cases, you can't. So, prevention is always better than cure.

1. Never comment on your Company, Manager, colleagues, or actually anything about your workplace, on social media

You may wonder why this needs to be said, but there are plenty of cases that have been held where an employee has been disciplined or terminated for doing just that. Saying "I hate Mondays" is entirely different to "My boss is a --insert swear word here--" and the latter is what can get you in some hot water. Even if your privacy settings are locked down, you never know which friend of yours may actually be friends with (or related to!) your boss or feel obligated to report you due to their own role in the organisation.

2. Set up Google Alerts

It is best to know what people will find when they Google your name, so set up a google alert. This is super easy and especially handy if you have an uncommon name. If your name is Jack Smith, then set up an alert for your name and profession (think about what a prospective employer would Google so, "Jack Smith IT Manager", for example, may be your Google alert)

3. Think about your public social media presence as a brand

Whatever social media you have, check what information is "public". 
If you have a private Instagram account, then don't accept followers you don't know. 
With Facebook, ALL profile pictures are public, and remain that way long after you've put up a new profile picture, so it may be prudent to go back and edit the settings of some of those past photos.
And don't forget LinkedIn. This is the go to site for employers to check candidates (after all it is set up as an online resume), so please make sure your data is up to date and your profile photo is appropriate. You may have had a lot of fun at that glamour photography shoot, but for a corporate role, it probably isn't the best photo to use.

What can I do if I believe I have been discriminated against?

It depends on the situation, but generally speaking you should first put your allegations to the Company. If this is not resolved in an appropriate way, you can either seek assistance from Fair Work (search General Protections - Adverse Action) or the Anti-Discrimination Board in your State or Territory

More workplace tips

Whether you are an employee or run your own business, we'd love for you to join us at Savvy Business Women, our Facebook group dedicated to information, collaboration and support for Business Women.
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