HR managers say Fair Work Act makes their jobs ‘more difficult’: survey

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HR managers say Fair Work Act makes their jobs ‘more difficult’: survey

One-Half of HR managers in a recent major survey say the Fair Work Act 2009 has made their jobs more difficult, and one in four is finding it more difficult to make jobs redundant.

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One-Half of HR managers in a recent major survey say the Fair Work Act 2009 has made their jobs more difficult, and one in four is finding it more difficult to make jobs redundant.
 
The survey found that almost one-third of HR managers find it harder to settle disputes in FWA and one-quarter report an increased level of industrial disputes.
 
As well, the third parties, such as FWA, unions and legal advisers are now having significant roles in bargaining and dispute resolution.
 
Costly provisions
 
Employers also find the new transfer of business provisions frustrating, saying they are ‘anti-employment’ and ‘costly’.
 
The survey was conducted by the Australian Human Resources Institute (AHRI) with a total of 993 top HR practitioners responding.
 
The respondents were asked what effect FWA had had on their organisation and its workforce, their role as HR professionals, and employment contracts.
 
While most were having problems with ‘bedding in’ the new Act, most thought some of the problems would significantly lessen in a year’s time.
 
Key findings
 
Key findings in the survey were:
  • While two-thirds (66%) of respondents report devoting more time in the present to industrial relations issues under the Fair Work Act, approximately one-third (37.1%) expect that to be the case in one year’s time.
  • While more than two-thirds (67.7%) of respondents report devoting more time formulating employment contracts under theFair Work Act, less than one-third (29.6%) expect that to be the case in one year’s time.
  • While more than half (57.3%) of respondents report the Fair Work Act has made their job more difficult, nearly one-third (31%) report no change.
  • While three-quarters (74.1%) of respondents report an increased need for legal advice under the Fair Work Act, less than half (40.1%) expect that to be the case in one year’s time.
  • While a little more than one-half of respondents (53.1%) report that it costs more to deal with industrial relations issues, approximately one-third (37.2%) expect that to be the case in one year’s time.
  • Nearly one-third (30.5%) of respondents report overall remuneration has increased as a result of the Fair Work Act, while only 1.9% of respondents report a decrease. Two-thirds (65.9%) report no change.
  • One-quarter (24.7%) of respondents report increased penalty rates for overtime, while only 2.4% report a decrease.
  • Seven out of ten (71.4%) report no change.
  • More than one-half (53.9%) of respondents report no change on how workplace disputes are managed, and about the same proportion (55.3%) expect that to be the case in one year’s time. Around one-quarter (29.5%) say it’s more difficult to manage disputes, with around the same proportion (25%) expecting it to remain that way in one year’s time.
  • More than three-quarters of respondents report ‘no change’ resulting from the impact of the Fair Work Act to average hours worked (80.1%), employment numbers (82.4%), flexibility to determine employment numbers (75.9%), absenteeism (80%), level of annual leave loading (80.6%), level of overtime (77.5%), number of leave days allowed per annum (92.9%), number of dismissals (87.5%), number of parental leave days allowed (77.5%), number of personal carers’ days allowed (76.2%), number of sick days allowed (89.2%), and productivity (78.2%).
  • On the impact of the new unfair dismissal threshold on unfair dismissal claims, 71.6% report ‘no change’, as do 82.8% on providing employment, and 64.7% on making jobs redundant. More than one-quarter (25.9%) report it is now harder to make jobs redundant.
  • More than eight out of ten respondents (83.3%) report organisational adoption of ‘flexible working arrangements’. The ‘flexible working arrangements’ most in use were reported as working from home, flexible start and finish times, and part-time work.
  • Many respondents note that the ‘transfer of business’ provision frustrates restructuring solutions and makes mergers and acquisitions more complex; representative comments describe the provision as ‘anti-employment’ and ‘costly’.
  • Nearly one in three respondents (30%) report it is more difficult to deal with disputes under the Fair Work Act and 23% report an increased level of industrial disputes under the Fair Work Act.
  • External parties (eg FWA, unions, legal advisers) are now having significant roles in bargaining and dispute resolution, which is adding time and costs, uncertainty and often inconsistency of outcomes, depending, for example, on which FWA official makes a determination.
  • The introduction of National Employment Standards seems to have had a significant impact on structuring employment contracts through recent inclusion of workplace flexibility arrangements, parental leave and community service leave provisions.

 

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