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Well, the new year is upon us and Australians (most of us anyway!) are slowly returning to our  workplaces and gearing up for another year of business.

Sadly, and despite all the warm wishes of ‘prosperous’ new years that were offered throughout  December, there will be plenty of employers investigated and prosecuted by the employment  authorities during the next 12 months. 

There’ll also be plenty more who will face claims of bullying, unfair dismissal, adverse action, and  discrimination before the year is out.

The Better HR consulting team assisted countless employers in 2014, and none of them  imagined they’d be in the firing line when they returned to work last January.

So here are my 3 hot HR tips to help you avoid expensive claims and prosecution in 2015:

Tip 1: Know Your Modern Award

Most employees in Australia are ‘covered’ by one of the 122 Modern Awards that create legally-enforceable minimum terms and conditions of employment across a wide range of industries and  occupations. These Awards apply as a matter of law – not choice – and compliance with their (often  hopelessly) complex requirements is not optional.

It’s therefore incredibly important that you know which Awards apply to your employees, and that  you ensure full compliance with all your associated legal obligations. 

Remember too that multiple Awards may apply to your business, so don’t stop your search as soon  as you find one Award that you think might apply.

Tip 2: Keep Accurate Employment Records

The Fair Work Act 2009 imposes a range of record-keeping obligations on employers, including strict  rules relating to time and wages records and the issuing of payslips. Small mistakes or omissions can  prove costly because Inspectors are able to issue on-the-spot infringement notices of up to $510 per  breach.

If you’re not sure of your obligations, seek advice sooner rather than later. And don’t assume that  just because you’re using a particular program for calculating wages that everything is ok. Many of  these programs don’t take into account the unique complexities and requirements of Australia’s  employment laws, Modern Awards, and National Employment Standards (NES). It’s much better to  be safe than sorry.

Tip 3: Know When and How to Dismiss

Too many employers are still working under the assumption that ‘three written warnings’ are  required before they can fire someone, or that an employee can be dismissed without notice during  their probationary period. It’s important you separate fact from fiction, and ensure all your HR  processes for managing and dismissing employees are compliant with the current laws.

While I could write much more about the NES, WHS, and many other areas of HR risk and  compliance, just following the above three tips will go a long way towards protecting you and your  business in 2015.

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