REDUNDANCIES, UNIONS AND EBAS

EXPERT ASSISTANCE TO MANAGE EMPLOYEE REDUNDANCIES, TRADE UNION DISPUTES OR TO NEGOTIATE YOUR EBA

These days, the only constant is change. And change management in the workplace throws up a range of workplace relations challenges.

RESTRUCTURES AND REDUNDANCIES

Restructures and redundancies can be extremely challenging for businesses and managers alike (not to mention the staff being made redundant!).

Such processes are, unfortunately, a necessary part of doing business sometimes. By knowing the redundancy entitlements for employees (along with careful planning and the right communications), restructures and redundancies can be managed in a stress-free manner.

WHAT IS A RESTRUCTURE PROCESS?

A restructure examines and reviews the employer’s operations and needs. It asks whether the employer has the right amount of staff allocated to the right areas and, if not, why not.

It is common for an employer to consider restructuring to achieve economic efficiencies. In these situations, an employer will consider whether it has more staff than it needs (or can afford), and whether one or more roles (and their associated costs) can be ‘stripped out’ or reorganised.

A common outcome of this process is to for an employer to find out that it can’t sustain the number of positions it currently has for a number of operational and financial reasons.

TRAPS TO AVOID

It is not uncommon for a redundant employee to ascribe a hidden motive to the redundancy (i.e. the employee claiming the ‘real reason’ they were made redundant was because of a ‘protected attribute’ (e.g. because they were old, or gay, or a woman, or Asian etc.). To reduce the risk of this occurring, employers should:

Make sure the redundancy relates to the job / position, and not the individual attributes, performance, attitude or conduct of the person doing that job;

Consult with the employee performing the role before confirming the decision to make that role redundant;

Share information about the process and the number of employees affected to show its not ‘all about them’. That is, an employer will blunt an allegation an employee has been targeted for redundancy owing to them sharing details about being pregnant if the employer can show to the employee concerned that her entire sales team has been made redundant following a decision to offshore the sales function of the company.

Clearly establish (and document) the actual and financial reasons for the restructure leading to the redundancies.

HOW WE HELP

Restructures leading to multiple staff redundancies are a complex and difficult workplace relations exercise. There are many traps for employers who do not follow a procedurally fair process or consult sufficiently. There are no set rules in developing a redundancy strategy that minimises the associated legal risks but we can help make your redundancy process as smooth as far as possible, minimising legal risks as we go.

Workplace Wizards guides employers through restructure and redundancy processes. We advise on the risks and complexities involved plus applicable notice periods and severance payments for employees.

Our strategic assistance helps businesses ensure every step of the restructure is considered and informed. We also manage interactions with employees and unions, and draft the associated consultation and implementation documents.

USE OUR SPECIALIST HELP TO NEGOTIATE YOUR NEXT ENTERPRISE AGREEMENT

Want to seize control of your employment arrangements? Unfamiliar with concepts such as good faith bargaining, compulsory arbitration and the “Better Off Overall” test? With new significant civil penalties contained in the Fair Work Act 2009 (Cth), it pays not to risk ‘going it alone’ with in enterprise bargaining.

Enterprise bargaining is the negotiation process between management, employees and their bargaining representatives (say, a trade union official) with the goal of striking terms for an enterprise agreement (EBA).

An EBA is a document registered with the federal employment tribunal setting out the terms and conditions of employment between a group of employees and their employer.

WHAT DOES THE PROCESS INVOLVE

The Fair Work Act 2009 (Cth) establishes a set of clear rules and obligations about how the bargaining process should occur, including rules about bargaining (including the conduct of those negotiating the deal), the EBA content which must (and must not) be included, and how an agreement is made and approved.

Under the Fair Work Act 2009 (Cth) we calculate 14 arduous hoops employers must jump through from initiating enterprise agreement bargaining for the proposed agreement through to it applying on site, which can be cumbersome. The average agreement negotiation process is about 8 – 10 meetings from ‘cradle to grave’, and (assuming one week to 10 days between meetings) this process taking around 2-3 months.

Planning for success means doing the work ‘up front’ so that an employer’s management team are prepared for an efficient, productive and focused EBA negotiation. Some structured and organised planning will save managers countless hours and tens of thousands of dollars during the negotiation itself.

HOW WE HELP

We help clients negotiate enterprise agreements (EBAs) that provide increased flexibility, efficiency and cost-effectiveness, whilst also incentivising staff to boost productivity..

We partner with employers throughout the entire EBA negotiation process and offer complete ‘cradle to grave’ assistance to guide employers through each step of the negotiation (including drafting and implementation). We also help employers renegotiate existing EBAs.

Our advisors have enterprise bargaining experience across a wide range of industries including construction (large scale and major projects), manufacturing and warehousing, retail, education, health, and social and community services. Whether you need someone ‘in the room’ to assist with difficult union negotiations or provide advice and support, Workplace Wizards can help.