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Employee Relations

Employee relations advice and assistance often requires a combination of industrial relations, workplace relations and human resource management skills, knowledge and experience. All of HBA Consulting’s highly experienced team have decades of hands on experience across all three components of Employee Relations, meaning that they understand the issues from a manger/supervisor’s perspective, and can use this to explore the issues and identify a solution that maximises the likelihood of a good outcome and minimises any inherent risks.

Typical requests for advice and assistance with Employee Relations matters include:

Critical to this acceptance are a number of essential elements, including:

  • Workplace complaint and grievance investigation and management
  • Workplace conflict resolution – including workplace mediation
  • Developing and implementing meaningful performance agreements
  • Managing underperformance
  • Designing, implementing, analysing and acting on the outcomes from Staff Surveys
  • Designing, implementing and evaluating a better practice HR Business Partner function
  • Coaching managers and supervisors to better manage people.
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Performance Management

The management of the performance of employees is an important part of the role and responsibilities of every line manager and supervisor. The ability to establish, communicate, review and provide constructive and honest feedback to employees about how they are performing against requirements, where performance is meeting or exceeding expectations and where it can be improved is a fundamental management function that is critical to sustaining and improving organisational performance over time. It’s also critical to building good morale within employees.

However, performance management (as distinct from managing underperformance) is often hard to implement effectively across an organisation.

For more than twenty years, HBA Consulting has been providing advice and assistance to organisations in relation to the establishment, implementation and review of performance management systems from a range of perspectives, including:

  • How to define and reference performance management in industrial arrangements such as Enterprise Agreements and employment documentation;
  • How to train manager and supervisors to establish, implement, review and assess performance of the people that work for them;
  • Develop/review existing performance management policies and procedures to ensure alignment with changing industrial arrangements (e.g. new EA) as well as improving the guidance information available consistent with better practice HR management.

Managing underperformance

Managing underperformance is often seen as part of the performance management process. From our experience, this misconception tends to cloud the general performance management process with an unnecessary and inappropriate link to underperformance.

Managing underperformance is a process that operates separately from the broader performance management process. For the vast majority of employees, the underperformance process will not factor into their annual appraisal and feedback processes. Keeping a clear line of sight between the two processes means that the performance management process can operate without any connotations that it’s is an intrinsic part of the underperformance management arrangements in an organisation. This is important for both the manager/supervisor and the employees to understand.

Managing underperformance successfully requires the manager/supervisor and the employee to have clarity about roles, responsibilities, processes and potential implications. There is a need for them to have:

  • a clear understanding of the organisational HR policies and procedures that apply,
  • clarity about the organisational industrial framework in which underperformance is addressed,
  • the broader industrial relations environment in which underperformance, sanctions and termination are located.

The highly experienced HBA consulting team have had decades of ‘hands on’ experience in both managing underperformance issues themselves as line HR managers, as well as advising clients on the best way to approach what is often a very difficult process for both the manager/supervisor and the employee.

Managing Workplace Grievances

There are times when even the very best run organisations can find themselves with an unhappy or aggrieved employee. When this happens, it is sometimes difficult to know the best way to address the matter, when the logical resolution points such as the line manager/supervisor or the Human Resources team may have been involved in either:

  • the issues that are of concern to the employee, or
  • early efforts to resolve the matter that have been unsuccessful.

In these sorts of situations, HBA Consulting can provide an independent, highly experienced HR/IR consultant who can:

  • review all of the relevant industrial and HR frameworks, policies and procedures and establish a compliant and professionally constructed workplace grievance review process;
  • review the grievance or complaint provided and initiate a review/investigation process;
  • communicate with all parties and undertake the review/investigation process;
  • finalise a report and provide the delegate/manager with findings and recommendations.

Managing Workplace Disputation

As is the case with workplace grievances, there are times when even the very best run organisations can find themselves with an unhappy or aggrieved employee who initiates a dispute in accordance with the applicable industrial arrangements or employment contract.

Should this type of situation arise, time is usually of the essence as the matters are referred to external bodies such as the Fair Work Commission. In order to be able to assist organisations who may not be familiar with the processes involved or who may not have the internal capability available to respond quickly and appropriately, HBA Consulting can provide specialist HR and IR advice to assist in these types of situations.

When a dispute is notified to the employer, HBA Consulting can assist in the following ways:

  • confirming the nature of the dispute and the relevant linkage to the industrial and employment framework,
  • confirming the employers obligations in terms of response – including timing, format and content,
  • analysis of the dispute and an assessment of the options, risks and potential outcomes associated with it,
  • advice and assistance in preparing for and participating in the dispute process from the employer perspective.

We have an experienced industrial lawyer as part of the HBA Consulting team, who works in partnership with our team of HR and IR consultants to lead, guide and support employers through these processes.

Enterprise Bargaining

Preparation for, and management of, an Agreement making process is a time consuming and high profile Human Resource Management challenge for all organisations.

Given this context, Human Resource Management teams are also required to continue to deliver ’business as usual’ outputs for their clients. As a result, a range of organisations approach HBA Consulting seeking specialist assistance to temporarily supplement their current capabilities and enable them to complete their next round of bargaining while continuing to service the needs of their organisations. HBA Consulting has, over the past twenty years, provided advice and assistance in a range of ways for more than 330 Enterprise Agreements across the public, private and not for profit sectors.

HBA Consulting work with organisations and their Executive and HR teams to establish a robust and fit for purpose enterprise bargaining process that addresses each of the eight key steps of the process as summarised below. We can do as little or as much of the work at each stage as the organisation and its internal capability and workload requires – meaning that resourcing and costs can be tailored to meet each employers needs and budget.

  • Key Agreement Making Stages
  • Review the current CIG EA
  • Establish and confirm the CIG Bargaining position
  • Training the bargaining team
  • Establish the base line draft Agreement for negotiation
  • Issuing of Notice of Employee Representational Rights
  • Undertake Negotiations
  • Completion of staff consideration and voting procedural steps in accordance with Fair Work Act and Federal public sector bargaining requirements
  • Agreement lodgement and approval processes

Training for Enterprise Bargaining Representatives

Based on our experience of working with clients who have provided and not provided training to bargaining representatives prior to commencing bargaining itself, there are significant benefits in providing training to those who nominate (including union representatives).

Aside from the benefit of getting together the group who will be directly involved in the bargaining process prior to it beginning, to enable them to learn a bit about each other prior to launching into bargaining proper, it helps to establish a clear and shared understanding of:

  • what the roles and responsibilities of the bargaining group are,
  • the relationship of the components of the industrial landscape are and how they relate to each other in a bargaining process,
  • what is good faith bargaining under the Act,
  • what the obligations of bargaining representatives are in terms of meeting the good faith bargaining requirements,
  • what happens when bargaining is completed.

Our practical, hands on, plain English training programs are tailored to the needs of each client, and run from 2 hours to a full day, dependent upon the outcomes sought from the program by the client.

Workplace Relations

HBA Consulting has provided workplace relations advice to clients, including across more than 330 Enterprise Agreements and related workplace relations matters, since its establishment in 1995. Clients come back to the HBA Consulting team for assistance because we are responsive to their needs and provide practical, experienced and professional advice and assistance that meets their needs.

Within the workplace relations practice area, we support our clients in the following ways:

  • Enterprise Agreements (public and private sectors)
  • Employment Contracts and Letters of Offer
  • Development and review of HR policies, procedures and guidelines
  • Advice and assistance with industrial relations matters
  • Advice and assistance in relation to claims of unfair dismissal, discrimination, harassment, bullying and adverse action
  • Interpretation and application of the Fair Work Act 2009, Modern Awards and National Employment Standards (NES) to employment arrangements
  • Development and negotiation of enterprise agreements, including strategy development, review of existing Agreements against the relevant legislation and future business needs, bargaining advice and assistance, voting, completion of lodgement processes for the Fair Work Commission.
  • Workforce restructuring strategies, including analysis and advice in relation to industrial obligations and risks.

All of our highly-experienced consultants have worked as HR and IR practitioners in senior roles in the private and public sectors prior to joining HBA Consulting. This means that they understand the how the advice and assistance that they give can be implemented in the workplace, and what the employer needs to consider in order to realise the best possible outcome while managing down any associated risks.

Industrial Relations

HBA Consulting has provided practical industrial relations advice to clients across more than 330 Enterprise Agreements and many more specific requests for targeted assistance since commencing operations in 1995. Clients come back to the HBA Consulting team for industrial relations advice and assistance because we are responsive to their needs and provide practical, experienced and professional solutions that meets their needs.

We support our clients with their industrial relations needs across the following key areas:

  • Enterprise Agreements (public and private sectors)
  • Employment Contracts and Letters of Offer
  • Development and review of HR policies, procedures and guidelines to ensure compliance with industrial requirements
  • Advice and assistance with industrial relations disputation
  • Workplace mediations
  • Advice and assistance in relation to claims of unfair dismissal, discrimination, harassment, bullying and adverse action
  • Interpretation and application of the Fair Work Act 2009, Modern Awards and National Employment Standards (NES) to employment arrangements
  • Development and negotiation of enterprise agreements, including strategy development, review of existing Agreements against the relevant legislation and future business needs, bargaining advice and assistance, voting, completion of lodgement processes for the Fair Work Commission.
  • Workforce restructuring strategies, including analysis and advice in relation to industrial obligations and risks.
  • Terminations, redundancies, workplace disciplinary sanctions.

All of our highly-experienced consultants have worked as HR and IR practitioners in senior roles in the private and public sectors prior to joining HBA Consulting. This means that they understand the how the advice and assistance that they give can be implemented in the workplace, and what the employer needs to consider in order to realise the best possible outcome while managing down any associated risks.

Workplace Redundancy Management

No business wants to make their staff redundant. But sometimes, even with the best business model and workforce planning efforts, unforeseen, unexpected changes can occur in the business environment that mean that the workforce that was once needed and could be afforded, now is no longer needed in its current form and can’t be afforded based on revised revenue/budget forecasts.

Some careful analysis of what is changing, what is driving it and where the impacts are being felt before launching into any redundancy program is key.

Things to look at and consider include:

  • What is driving the change? Is it a long term or short-term issue?
  • Can contingency plans be put into place to build time into the decision-making process while more information is obtained about longevity and impacts (e.g. stopping/slowing recruitment, reducing overtime/work hours, etc)?
  • Are all parts of the business equally impacted? If not, where are the impacts and where are the ‘business as usual’ elements?

    Once the problem and scope is clear, consider possible options and risks to managing the required changes to organisational shape and size. These include:

  • Recruitment freeze
  • Natural attrition rates
  • Contracted and casual worker profiles
  • Working patterns

If the answer is that these considerations will only help to partly resolve or slow the pace of required further reductions in staff, then a redundancy program is likely to be needed.

Often organisations experiencing a requirement to reduce staff numbers resort to a ‘hands up’ voluntary redundancy process. They take this route to reduce perceived potential conflict with staff as jobs are reduced, speed up the process as those who receive a redundancy are those who have expressed an interest in a redundancy and they achieve savings and reduced staffing targets at the ‘bottom line’ quickly.

From our experience, the reality of this approach is that it almost always results in fixing one problem (i.e. delivering reduced across the board staff numbers and costs with minimal staff and Union angst) but often results in a range of longer term, difficult to manage problems such as:

  • Loss of key personnel – good performers with strong and marketable skills often take redundancy to realise the financial benefits knowing that they can find employment easily elsewhere;
  • Retention of average/lower performing staff – those staff that are not confident in their abilities to find new work if made redundant stay and don’t take up voluntary offers
  • Loss of capability in areas where it’s needed – a fixation on staff numbers and financial savings via voluntary processes often mean that capability gaps quickly emerge in key areas.
  • Loss of corporate knowledge – long term staff often have extensive corporate knowledge that they take with them when they leave – often this isn’t thought about until too late.
  • Though redundancy is a legitimate way to reduce staff numbers, making an employee or a group of employees redundant is never easy for an employer. Follow the tips mentioned above to make sure the process is fair on both your business and the redundant employee(s).

    HBA Consulting has advised private and public-sector organisations on redundancy management processes and programs through the provision of practical, professional and experienced HR and IR advice and assistance. At difficult times like redundancy, its helpful to have assistance that supplements existing capability in an area that isn’t often available internally to an organisation.

ACT Industrial Relations and Employment Obligations (IRE) Certificate

Before contractors (including project managers, head contractors, sub-contractors and trade contractors) will be permitted to tender for building work or be engaged to perform building work on any ACT Government site, they will be required to hold a current Industrial Relations and Employment Certificate (IRE Certificate). Contractors must maintain a current IRE Certificate while they are engaged on an ACT Government site.

How do I apply for an IRE certificate?  

Details on how to apply for an IRE Certificate are outlined in the Information Sheet for Contractors at Click here

Why do I need an IRE Certificate?

The ACT Government has introduced a range of initiatives to ensure industrial relations and employment compliance best practice is part of the culture of the construction industry in the ACT. The initiatives are a part of the ACT Government's Compliance with Industrial Relations and Employment Obligations Strategy.

How Can HBA Consulting Assist?

HBA Consulting is an accredited IRE Auditor. We have highly competitive rates for the audit work and turn applications around within a few days of receipt.

For more information contact Gary Champion Principal HBA Consulting

gary.champion@hbaconsulting.com.au or 02 62474490

Canberra

29 Somerville,
St SPENCE ACT 2615
PH : 02 6247 4490

Sydney

Level 32, 101 Miller St,
North Sydney NSW
PH: 02 8019 7164

Melbourne

Level 2 Riverside Quay,
1 Southbank Boulevard,
Southbank VIC,
PH: 03 9982 4544

Brisbane

Level 19, 10 Eagle Street,
Brisbane QLD
PH: 07 3303 0807