Employing new people
An employee’s experience of an organisation in their initial few months of employment can substantially impact on their performance, behaviour and tenure.
When employing a new staff member, there are a number of key considerations to take into account to ensure the employee is appropriately initiated into the business.
The steps outlined below will assist employers to minimize the risk of breaching legalisation as well as encourage productivity and maximise service length.
Before making an offer of employment, employers need to check the applicable workplace legislation and any binding award or agreement to ensure the terms and conditions being offered are compliant. Ideally this process should be undertaken prior to advertising the position.
Once a contract has been drafted, it is advisable to prepare an employment pack which includes important information and forms such as:
- Contract of employment/copy of applicable agreement
- Standard super choice form
- Tax file declaration
- Form for completion of bank details
- Emergency contacts
- Company benefits
- Employee Assistance program
- Company policies/ procedures
- Any other important information
Certain documents must be given to the employee within specified time-frames. For example, the Superannuation Guarantee (Administration) Act 1992 requires that eligible employees be provided the standard super choice form within 28 days of their commencing employment with the employer.
Employers also need to comply with requirements prescribed by any applicable award with respect to commencing new employees. For example, most modern awards require the employer to advise the employee of their award coverage, classification level, primary location of work where travel allowances apply and, in the case of part time employees, an agreed set rostered pattern.
It is advisable to provide duplicate copies of the contract of employment – one for signing and return to the company, the other for the employee’s own records.
For further information on this matter, CCI have produced an additional information sheet regarding paperwork considerations for national system employers.
It is advisable to contact the new employee a few days prior to their employment commencement to ensure they are briefed on matters such as:
- Public transport and parking arrangements
- Appropriate attire
- Lunch facilities
- Who to contact if they are running late or can’t find the work location
- Documents required
- Who to ask for on arrival
Employers can also make preparations for the new starter by setting up/preparing their work station, ensuring they have all the tools/stationery/equipment needed and that they have login access to computers and the building. If possible, a buddy or mentor should be organised to provide support and assistance to the new employee during their first few weeks. In addition, the supervisor or manager should allow some time on the first day to meet with the employee and undertake introductions.
On the first day of employment, the employee should participate in an induction process to ensure he/she receives all relevant information. The induction can either be held on a one-on-one basis with the employee and their supervisor and/or HR. It may also be appropriate to provide an in depth corporate induction that sees the employee introduced to key stakeholders in the organisation such as the CEO, CFO, directors, senior management and the executive team.
The induction process is an important element in ensuring the new employee understands company policies and procedures, his/her tasks and responsibilities as well as company values.
Some key elements that should be included in the induction are (this list is not exhaustive):
- A tour of the building
- Collection/ issue of any relevant paperwork
- An overview of company and values, vision and
- Safety induction
- Training in company policies and procedures
- Issue of a current job description
- Details of employee benefits
- Provision of relevant contact details
- Any other information, including training and support offered
- Who to direct questions to
- Primary work location
- A meet and greet
The employee should be shown around the workplace and advised where all relevant facilities are located, such as the toilet, kitchen and lunch room etc. As part of the employer’s duty of care, employees must be advised where the appropriate evacuation route is located, what the evacuation procedures are and where the assembly area is, in the event of an emergency.
The induction should also contain an overview of the company; including the company purpose, value, culture, vision, key projects being undertaken by the company (both current and future), as well as any other relevant information.
Basic safety training should include education on safety policies and procedures, including the company’s drug and alcohol policy, evacuation procedure or steps to take in the case of equipment failure. Education should also include identification of the designated first aid officer, location of the first aid kit and sick bay and a clear understanding of any personal protective equipment that must be worn. All policies and procedures must be clearly explained and any consequences of breaching a policy emphasised.
Copies should be given to the employee. Alternatively, the employer may advise where they are located. If policies are not properly explained to employees, employers may face challenges when defending future unfair dismissal claims. To ensure employers have proof the employee was trained on a policy, new starters could be asked to sign a document acknowledging they have read and understood the policies. Reminders and regular training throughout the course of employment should also be provided.
The employee should receive an overview of the tasks and responsibilities of the role and the performance expectations. Giving this overview will increase the employee’s understanding of the role and support future performance management, if necessary. If the employer has a written job description this should be issued to the employee.
If the employer has any particular company benefits, such as additional superannuation contributions, flexible working arrangements or Employee Assistance Programs, the induction may include some information to cover this. Employers who offer additional benefits should try to promote and highlight these benefits as often as they can. Creating a leaflet or brochure which can be handed out to all new starters in the induction pack may be useful.
The employee should be issued with relevant contact details, such as HR, payroll and their immediate supervisor or manager if the need arises to call in sick etc. The employee should also be shown where to find important information, whether this is on a notice board, intranet or other information management system. Any additional information such as learning and development opportunities may also be included.
After offering an opportunity to ask questions, the employee should be shown to their workstation and introduced to team members and any other relevant key contacts within the business. A team activity, such as a lunch, may break the ice and bring the new employee closer to the team.
A well planned and executed induction will ensure the employee has all the basic information required to work successfully.
First three months
It is important to monitor the new employee’s performance during the first few months to ensure that performance expectations are met and that any training or support required is offered. The new employee’s manager should schedule regular one-on-one meetings to review performance and to identify any skill gaps. This will also allow the employee the opportunity to ask questions and to clarify any confusion or conflicting information.
It is also advisable to conduct a mid-probation review, where
the manager or supervisor conducts a longer meeting with
the employee to discuss progress so far. Once the employee reaches the end of the probationary period, it should be clear
both to the employee and to the manager whether expectations are met or not.
If it is unlikely that the employee will perform to a satisfactory level by the end of the probation period, it is highly recommended that managers and supervisors conduct appropriate counselling and disciplinary meetings before terminating the employee.
Terminating an employee during probationary period
For national system employers, most employees have access to unfair dismissal when they have served the minimum employment period. This period is generally 6 months, however for a small business employer who employs fewer than 15 employees, the period is 12 months.
There are a number of exemptions including, but not limited to, true casuals, employees engaged for a specified time or task, award/ agreement-free employees with annual earnings in excess of $145,400 (the prescribed high income threshold) etc. All state system employees have access to unfair dismissal except where they earn in excess of the prescribed annual salary of $162,990 (current at 1 July 2018 and indexed annually).
The WA Industrial Relations Commission does, however, take into consideration whether an employee is still within their probationary period at the time of termination.
In addition to unfair dismissal, there are a number of other claim types employees may pursue. Both state system and national system employees may lodge discrimination claims under either state or federal equal employment opportunity legislation. The Fair Work Act 2009 prescribes additional protection in the form of general protections for national system employees.
General protections claims can also be made by prospective employees during the recruitment process. General protections prohibits employers from taking adverse action against an employee, prospective employee, contractor or prospective contractor on discriminatory grounds, because of a workplace right, or because of their industrial activities. A workplace right includes an entitlement to a benefit under a workplace instrument, holding a particular role or responsibility or initiating/ being involved in a process or proceedings under a workplace instrument or law.
A role or responsibility might include being a union delegate, a safety representative, a bargaining representative etc. Initiating/ being involved in a process or proceeding might include making a complaint about underpayment of wages, lodging a bullying or harassment claim or acting as a bargaining representative in agreement negotiations.
Should the employee bring a claim for discrimination or general protections against their employer, the onus of proof lies with the employer to demonstrate that the reason for the termination was lawful. The implications are that, if an employee was terminated and a performance management process wasn’t followed, it may be difficult for the employer to provide evidence for the reason of the dismissal.
Employers may also consider introducing an entry interview process. The entry interview should be conducted by someone external to the department where the employee normally works i.e. a human resources practitioner.
Entry interviews can be used to identify general employee engagement levels and any issues. Promptly acting on issues identified may prevent future resignations and increase retention rates.
Confidentiality may be offered if the employee is unwilling to share the information, but employers should be aware of their duty of care should the employee raise matters of discrimination, harassment or bullying. In instances where serious allegations are raised, employers should not commit to keeping the information provided in the entry interview confidential as they may need to act upon the information provided.
The entry interview should cover areas such as:
- Job satisfaction
- Level of support and on-the-job training
- Satisfaction with team environment and management
- Workload and work/life balance
- Any other issues or concerns
For more information contact CCIWA’s Employee Relations Advice Centre on (08) 9365 7660 or email@example.com.