HR & Industrial Relations Hotline
– Exclusive Benefit, Free to Members
Over the past decade, Employer Assist (by Industry Legal Group Pty Ltd) has helped thousands of AAAA members manage their risks, responsibilities and obligations in the highly important and litigious area of HR and employment law.
High-level advice in response to initial enquiries via the AAAA Employer Assist hotline is free to members as a part of their AAAA membership. Members receive discounted rates for advice and services provided by the Employer Assist team if additional assistance is required following the free initial enquiry (i.e. employment contracts etc.).
The Employer Assist team advise that the best approach when a problem arises is to contact them as soon as possible for assistance with navigating the issue. The team encourages members to proactively contact them about HR or employment matters so that they can assist members to maintain compliance and mitigate risks.
The top 3 queries received by the Employer Assist team are:
- Employee performance and conduct issues,
- Terminations, and
- Award/Fair Work compliance requirements including wages advice.
“In most instances, we’re able to provide advice on how best to manage a particular issue straight away when you contact us. A 15-minute phone call upfront can save you considerable cost and stress in the long run.” Emma Dalley, Principal, ILG
What AAAA Members Have to Say About Employer Assist
“From time to time I have reached out to the team at Employer Assist for help with complex Workplace Relations issues or award interpretation. I have always found the advice I have received to be reliable, practical and delivered in a professional and timely manner. The team are very experienced within the automotive industry and have in depth knowledge of the award and conditions under which we operate.”
Michelle Westlake, National HR Manger – Bapcor Retail
“Over the past several years we have utilised Employer Assist for a variety of HR and Employment Law activities including policy review, formal employee relations communications and interpretation of awards when required. The services of Employer Assist are also greatly valued by our franchise store network. Personally, I find Emma Dalley, Principal Lawyer extremely professional, knowledgeable, reliable and efficient. I hold Emma in high regard within my own professional network.”
Nina Mitchelson, Senior Executive People & Development – Pedders Suspension & Brakes
Case Studies and Examples
The below case studies and examples relate to HR enquiries made to the Employer Assist hotline:
The Employer Assist team are regularly contacted for classification and pay rate advice under the Vehicle Repair Services and Retail Award (VRS&R Award) and the Clerks Private Sector Award. Failing to pay employees the correct rates in accordance with the relevant Award can result in underpayment claims and penalties.
A retail employee had contacted the Fair Work Ombudsman (FWO) alleging they had been underpaid during their employment (8 years). The employee claimed an underpayment of over $15K allegedly due to incorrect classification under the VRS&R Award and failure to pay overtime. Following the free initial telephone consultation, the team were engaged to liaise directly with the FWO and demonstrate that no such underpayment occurred, and while it took some time, the underpayment claim was withdrawn and no payments or penalties were incurred by the member.
Before terminating an employee, contact the Employer Assist team to talk through all of the issues and determine whether there are grounds to terminate. The team can prepare letters and coach the member through how best to manage the risks associated with the decision to terminate.
A member suspected an employee of stealing and while they had CCTV footage it was not definitive. The Employer Assist team assisted the member to follow a procedurally fair termination process by discussing additional evidence requirements and preparing a show cause letter for the member to put the allegation to the employee for a response. Ultimately, the employee was terminated on the grounds of serious misconduct and agreed to repay the amounts stolen (in lieu of a police complaint). No notice or pro-rata long service leave was payable to the employee in the circumstances. Because the termination process was managed appropriately, the member avoided/reduced the risk of a potential successful unfair dismissal claim.
Enquiries on how to best performance manage an employee who is not performing to the required standard or terminate an employee on performance grounds are common.
A small workshop (less than 15 employees) had an employee who had worked for them for less than a year and had become increasingly problematic (poor attendance, attitude and skill level). The Employer Assist team advised the member that they could terminate the employee within the qualifying period under the Act provided it was not for a prohibited reason. The team coached the member on how to ensure the process ran smoothly including advice on how to have the conversation, entitlements due (e.g. notice and annual leave) and the option to pay the employee in lieu to leave straight away.
Had the employee been employed for longer than the qualifying period then the team would have advised on how to manage issues under a procedurally fair performance management process.
Unfair dismissal applications to the Fair Work Commission (FWC) are common, especially given the cost for the employee can be minimal if they self-represent or engage a “no-win, no-fee” representative. The application cost is nominal and gets refunded if the employee is unsuccessful.
The Employer Assist team regularly represent members in the FWC as a robust termination process is not always a bar to these applications. The team can provide phone advice on how to best respond to an application and an overview of the process. Alternatively, the member can engage the team to prepare, file and serve the necessary documents (i.e. response) and represent them in the FWC, alleviating much pressure and stress on the member.