Top 5 things to know when employing people

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Checklist for Employing a New Person

There are many issues to which an employer should give consideration when engaging a new employee. This article is intended to serve as a checklist of the significant issues that need to be kept at front of mind for employers before and during the engagement process. Osborn Jensen can assist at any stage of the process.

1.    Recruitment Considerations

  • One person in the employer’s organisation should have the overall responsibility of recruitment to ensure that consistent and non- discriminatory policies and procedures are followed at all times.
  • Employers should first assess the job that they require to be performed and prepare a detailed position description:
    • It may be that the position can be performed by existing employees.
    • The position may be a part time position.
    • Is the job required to perform a specified task or will the job be ongoing?
    • A job advertisement should be prepared and circulated:
      • Is the employer’s policy to advertise all new positions internally first?
      • Professional recruiters should be used where appropriate.
      • The job advertisement may be placed on the internet, the local paper or a circular for employees.
      • The advertisement must be non-discriminatory.
    • A uniform, non-discriminatory job application form should be used. Take care when asking potential employees about prior injuries or compensation claims. Only questions relevant to the inherent requirements of the position should be addressed.
    • Interviews should be performed by a panel of interviewers and the same questions should be asked of each applicant. It’s not appropriate to ask questions that are discriminatory.
    • Employees should be advised that they will be required to undertake a pre- employment medical, drug and alcohol testing or a criminal background check at the time of interview if this is a requirement of the employer.

 2.    Legislative Provisions

  • Once the employer is in a position to offer employment, they should consider the legal obligations:
    • Application of the NES
    • Applicability of an Award. Paying above Award rates does not generally mean that there is no Award applicability.
    • Determining whether employment is or will be full time, part time or casual.
    • Knowledge of leave entitlements and calculation of pay while on leave.
    • Minimum pay rates.
    • Award provisions dealing with overtime, allowances, penalties and loadings.
    • If an employee is being paid well above Award, consideration as to whether an annualised salary or individual flexibility agreement may be relevant to absorb other Award obligations.
    • Provision of the Fair Work Information statement.

 3.    Contractual Considerations

  • Employers should also consider the need for protection from a contractual perspective.
    • Inconsistencies with legislative provisions need to be properly addressed as indicated in 2 above.
    • Probation periods should be specified.
    • The contract should provide for termination on notice and without notice.
    • Is confidentiality relevant?
    • What about a restraint of trade to stop employees poaching clients for a period after their employment is terminated?
    • Intellectual property may need protecting.
    • Conflict of interest should be covered.
  • Is employment ongoing or for a fixed period?
  • Performance standards should be documented with KPI’s where appropriate in a position description which should be attached to the contract.

 4.    Policies and Procedures

  • Employers should have a consistent approach to inducting employees and ensure that policies and procedures are up to date. Employers must be in a position to prove that employees have viewed and understood all relevant policies and procedures and any updates implemented from time to time.
    • Prepare a prescribed new employee form where an employee’s personal and emergency contact details, bank account details, superannuation fund details, etc. are included.
    • Workplace health and safety policies should be up to date and relevant.
    • Anti-discrimination, harassment and bullying policies and how to lodge a grievance should be documented.
    • If employees are given mobile phones or company cars, policies as to their use should be specified.
    • General expectation of employment in regard to dress, behaviour, dealings with other employees and the public, how to make a leave application, how to answer the telephone, completing timesheets, smoking, etc should all be documented.
    • A drug and alcohol policy and procedures for drug and alcohol testing (if relevant) should be specified.
    • Ability to refer employees for medicals if it they cannot perform the inherent requirements of the position will need to be set out.

 5.    Review

  • One month before the expiration of a probation period, the employer should diarise to assess the ongoing performance of the employee in order to determine whether employment should continue beyond the probation period.
  • Performance should be reviewed, at least annually in a formal performance review system applicable to all employees (again, on a non-discriminatory basis).
  • Policies and procedures should be continually updated and communicated to employees.
  • Employment contracts should be reviewed by a professional upon amendments to the legislation or every three years, whichever occurs earlier.
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