Human Resource Management (HRM) is a management approach that enhances your organisation’s performance by optimising your employee’s opportunities to be effective and productive.
HRM activities include: planning, recruitment and selection, training, performance appraisal and remuneration.
You should also be aware of your obligations for Workplace Health and Safety and other risk management and insurance considerations.
Recruitment of Staff
If your organisation employs staff it will be important that you have sound selection procedures in place. The following broad principles provide a guide to staff recruitment processes:
- Job applicants should be assessed on merit, ability, skills and experience
- English language ability should be assessed fairly against the requirements of the job – remember, ability to speak a language other than English can be an advantage
- The required experience and qualifications should be directly related to the tasks and duties of a position
- The organisation should strive continuously to be an Equal Opportunity Employer
- Non-discriminatory language should be used in reference to all positions – this involves avoiding reference to characteristics such as ethnicity, gender and age (unless a characteristic is essential to doing the job properly)
The following section describes the steps you should go through in selecting and employing staff.
Clarify The Need For The Position
If your organisation has been operating for some time and a position becomes vacant it may be a good time to review the purpose of the position. Consider the following questions:
- Has the need for the service changed in any way?
- Has the organisation changed in any way or are there plans for change?
- Has the role of the worker changed over time?
- Is the job description accurate and realistic?
It is often valuable to include workers and management in this review process and, if possible, to include the worker who is leaving. It may also be appropriate to involve some of the consumers of your services in this process.
Develop A Position Description
After clarifying the role of the position, you should develop a clear and concise position description to provide to applicants.
Position descriptions need to describe the broad duties expected of an employee and describe the criteria for meeting the requirements of the position. Do not include selection criteria which would exclude applicants on the basis of characteristics such as sex, ethnicity, cultural identity or disability, unless there are legitimate and lawful grounds. As a guide, each position description should contain the following information:
- Position title, location, range and grade or level of pay
- An overview of the main purpose of the job, possibly including a description of the function of the organisation
- The lines of reporting relationships and supervision within the organisation, e.g. the position description might state that monthly reports will be required, or that the worker will be required to attend interagency meetings
- A list of selection criteria describing the skills and experience considered necessary to perform the job
- A list of the position’s responsibilities and duties
- Contact details for further information
- The address where the application is to be forwarded
The best way to attract a wide range of applicants for a job is to advertise where job-seekers may be looking. This could include the internet, newspapers, notice boards, Centrelink, colleges and professional journals.
There are two approaches to advertising. If you are sure about the type of skills and abilities you expect from the worker, and you are confident that there is a large enough pool of people who will apply for the position, then it makes sense to have an advertisement which is quite specific, and which encourages only those people who clearly meet the criteria to apply. This cuts down on the work involved for your organisation in processing applications and limits the number of unsuccessful candidates.
However, if you are not sure about what type of person you want to fill the position, or if you doubt that there will be many people to choose between, then it can be of value to write the advertisement in very general terms. This will increase the pool of people available for you to choose from.
All advertisements should include:
- Contact numbers for further information and/or job description
- The job title
- The name of your organisation and a brief description of the services it offers
- A description of the position
- The qualities essential and desirable in the applicant
- The required hours of work: full time, part time or casual
- The closing date
- An address for written applications
Don’t forget that ‘word of mouth’ is often effective, but selection of the successful applicant should always be based on merit. A selection process based purely on recommendations from ‘a friend on the committee’ or ‘old school mates’ are not a fair way of selecting people and may reflect adversely on the organization.
After receiving all the applications, a list needs to be developed of those applicants who will be interviewed. This list of people to be interviewed is often called a shortlist. It is important to decide who will be involved in this short listing process. The management committee, sub-committees and external representatives such as representatives from a funding body, clients and staff could be involved as they all have to work with the new person and have different understandings of the job requirements.
Shortlisting helps eliminate bias in a structured way. One approach to shortlisting is set out below:
- Rate each of the selection criteria on a scale of 1-5, based on how important each of these is to the overall job, e.g. if you have five different selection criteria, you may rate one as essential (rating 5); three as almost essential (rating 4); and the other as comparatively least important (rating 2).
- Award a score on how well the application meets each of the selection criteria – if an application is good on a rating 2 point, but poor on a more important rating 5 point, that application would be rejected; while an application that is strong on a rating 5 point and poor on a rating 2 may be retained.
- Numerically rate all applications by multiplying the rating value (1-5) by a score of (1-10), based on the quality of response to the criterion, e.g. if selection criterion A was rated as level 3 importance and the applicant provided a very good response which you rated as a score of 9, the overall score would be 9 x 3 = 27 (and so on for each criterion).
- Copy the applications and provide them to all the people involved in shortlisting – give people time to read the applications properly, preferably working independently rather than as a group.
- Combine the scores of each of the members of the selection panel and ask the top four or so applicants to come for a personal interview.
There could be several reasons for large differences between the scores which members of the selection panel have given for an applicant’s selection criteria. It may be that one panel member has misinterpreted what he or she has read, or that different panel members place different levels of significance on the information in the application. It is important to discuss an application in more detail; numerical ratings should act as a guide only. The final decision on who to interview needs to be made on a full appreciation of the application.
There should be enough people on the interview panel to make an appropriate and fair selection. However, if the panel is too large, this may be intimidating for applicants.
The interview panel will ideally include:
- Representatives from management and staff
- A mix of sexes, ages or cultural backgrounds, if appropriate
In some cases you may consider involving a person from outside your organisation on the interview panel. Interviewing requires panel members to have a knowledge of your organisation’s role and an understanding of the duties of the job. To assist them with this, provide each interviewer with a copy of the job description, a copy of each application and details of employment conditions such as wages and hours. The panel should develop questions which relate to the job description and the qualities you are seeking.
Plan the interviews to allow approximately 30-40 minutes for each interview with a break of 10-15 minutes between each applicant. Decide who will meet the applicants and introduce the panel, and who will ask what questions.
A similar format to that described previously for the shortlisting process may be used to score the performance of candidates at the completion of interviews.
To be fair in your interviews, plan the process well and apply a standard format to each individual applicant. Points worth considering in conducting interviews include:
- Ensuring that the space you intend to use is quiet, private, well lit and well ventilated.
- Checking the seating arrangements to ensure everyone can see each other and is comfortable – sometimes a desk intimidates people and it may be preferable to use a coffee table with comfortable chairs.
- A panel member welcoming each applicant, introducing the panel members and making a short standard statement about the intended format of the interview.
- Being sensitive to the applicants’ needs – have a glass of water available, take time to speak clearly and allow applicants time to answer your questions fully.
- Asking your prepared questions in the same way for each applicant allows you to judge the responses more fairly. If English is not the first language of the applicant, be careful to explain questions when necessary. Similarly be prepared to use other types of communication for people with auditory disabilities.
- Ask open ended questions – those that start with “what”, “how”, or “why”, usually allow applicants the best chance to tell you about themselves and their experiences.
- Allow the applicant to ask questions.
It is important that your behaviour as an interviewer is fair and non-discriminatory. Use language which is non-sexist. Avoid comments or questions which are not relevant to the duties described in the job description and be wary of assumptions or stereotypes commonly held about particular groups. In addition don’t assume that a lack of facilities, such as proper access, means that you can’t employ people with disabilities. There may be short-term creative solutions to such issues, while longer term renovation options are considered. These matters should be considered in appropriate circumstances.
Failure to conduct any part of your employment process in a fair, equitable and non-discriminatory way may leave your organisation open to appeals, grievances or discrimination claims.
The final selection decision is based on a consideration of all available information about each interviewee in terms of the selection criteria. This information includes the written notes and scores of the panel, the application of each candidate and contact with referees.
Sometimes a second interview is necessary to finalise the selection decision. Once a decision has been reached, but before contacting the unsuccessful applicants, check that the successful applicant is still interested in your position, is content with the salary and other employment conditions and can give you a firm starting date. When the position has been verbally accepted, a letter of appointment or offer should be written to the successful applicant. This letter should include details of the position, starting date, wages, conditions, and a contract if appropriate. The successful applicant should be asked to sign the original and a duplicate and return the original to the organisation.
It is good practice to write to all unsuccessful applicants, thanking them for their application.
Most employers are now National System Employers and fall within the operation of the Fair Work Act 2009 (Cth) (Act). The Act requires you to provide all new employees with a Fair Work Information Statement either before, or soon after, they start employment.
The statement contains information about:
- the National Employment Standards;
- the effect on an employee’s NES entitlements when there is a transfer of business;
- modern awards;
- agreement making under the Fair Work Act 2009;
- individual flexibility arrangements;
- the right to freedom of association;
- termination of employment;
- right of entry; and
- the role of the Fair Work Ombudsman and Fair Work Australia.
This statement can be accessed via the Fair Work Ombudsman. Penalties may apply if you fail to provide this statement.
New workers often need time and assistance to adapt to their new position. They need to understand policies, management structure, how decisions are made, the background and history of the organisation, how funding works, and so on. It is a good idea to prepare a package of this information, and any other useful documents, to give to the new worker.
Make sure you show the newcomer how things are done, including the simple things that may be taken for granted, such as how the answering machine works and where coffee mugs are kept. Someone should be available to answer questions – it can be a good idea to assign a `buddy’ to the new worker for this purpose.
If more than one employee is starting, organise a special program of training. This could also be attended by new members of the management committee or volunteers, particularly if the training deals with the history, funding and policies of the organisation.
Terms of Employment
An organisation which employs staff has legal obligations towards its employees. Management committees of community-based organisations are responsible for providing their organisation’s employees with clear terms and conditions of employment. The organisation has to demonstrate that it is acting in accordance with Federal and Queensland legislation. It is not possible to list every aspect of these legal obligations, but the following points may assist recognising some of these legal accountability requirements.
The Act brought about significant changes to the minimum entitlements and conditions of employment and how these conditions are regulated.
National Employment Standards
The National Employment Stanadards (NES) outline ten minimum workplace entitlements and conditions. The NES applies to all employees covered by the national workplace relations system (however, only certain NES entitlements apply to casual employees) regardless of any applicable modern award, agreement or contract of employment that may apply. The NES includes:
- A maximum standard working week of 38 hours for full-time employees, plus ‘reasonable’ additional hours.
- A right to request flexible working arrangements to care for a child under school age, or a child (under 18) with a disability.
- Parental and adoption leave of 12 months (unpaid), with a right to request an additional 12 months.
- Four weeks paid annual leave each year (pro rata for part time employees).
- Ten days paid personal/carer’s leave each year (pro rata for part time employees), two days paid compassionate leave for each permissible occasion, and two days unpaid carer’s leave for each permissible occasion.
- Community service leave for jury service or activities dealing with certain emergencies or natural disasters. This leave is unpaid except for jury service.
- Long service leave.
- Public holidays and the entitlement to be paid for ordinary hours on those days.
- Notice of termination and redundancy pay.
- The right for new employees to receive the Fair Work Information Statement.
The NES applies to all National system employees and can not be reduced or eroded by an enterprise agreement, modern award or contract of employment. When entering into an employment relationship, an employer cannot provide an employee with an agreement where the entitlements are less than the NES. The NES is considered a guaranteed minimum standard for an employee.
Your employees may also be covered by a modern award in addition to the NES. A modern award covers an industry or occupation and provides additional minimum terms and conditions of employment that you as the employer must comply with.
Modern awards contain terms regulating minimum wages, penalty rates, types of employment relationships, flexible working arrangements, ordinary hours of work, rest breaks, employment classifications, allowances, leave and leave loading and superannuation requirements. A modern award may also include requirements for workplace consultation, representation, dispute settlements and any relevant industry specific redundancy entitlements.
A modern award will not apply to an employee at a time when the employee is considered a high income employee. A high income employee is an employee with a guarantee of annual earnings that is greater than the prescribed high income threshold. As of 1 July 2011, the high income threshold was at $118,100 per annum. This amount is indexed annually.
The NES continues to apply to all high income employees.
Amounts that may be included in determining an employee’s guaranteed annual earnings include:
- employee’s wages;
- amounts that are dealt with at the direction of the employee (for example salary sacrifice); and
- agreed money value for non-monetary benefits (for example car parking, motor vehicle, mobile phones).
Amounts that are excluded from an employee’s guaranteed annual earnings are:
- payments the value of which can not be determined in advance (for example, commissions and bonuses)
- compulsory employer superannuation contributions;
Entering into an Agreement
In addition to the contract of employment, there are two different agreements which an employer may negotiate with their employees to regulate wages and conditions. They are Individual Flexibility Agreements (IFAs) and Enterprise Agreements.
Section 144 of the Act allows an employer to enter into an IFA with an employee to vary the effect of certain terms and conditions of a modern award to better meet the individual needs of both the employer and individual employee.
Each modern award will stipulate the terms and conditions of that modern award that an employer and an employee are entitled to vary. Generally, these terms and conditions will include those concerning:
- arrangements for when work is performed (ie. working hours);
- overtime rates;
- penalty rates;
- allowances; and
- leave loading.
To be valid an IFA must pass the “better off overall test” (BOOT). To pass the BOOT, an IFA must place an employee in a position that is better off overall than the position the employee would have been in under their relevant modern award conditions. The BOOT assessment is not limited to determining whether or not the employee is better off financially. Other non-financial factors such as an employee’s personal circumstances, workplace flexibility and additional time off may also be considered.
Either party may request the other enter into or negotiate an IFA. However, in order for an IFA to be valid, both parties must genuinely agree to its terms. An employer cannot ask a prospective employee to agree to an IFA as a term or condition of their employment.
In order to be valid an IFA must:
- be in writing and name the parties to the agreement;
- be executed by both parties (if the employee is under 18 years of age, the IFA must also be signed by the employee’s parent or guardian);
- state the specific terms of the applicable modern award that the parties have agreed to vary;
- detail how the terms are varied;
- state the date the IFA will commence to operate; and
- detail how the agreement results in the employee being “better off overall”.
An IFA may be terminated by agreement, the creation of a new Enterprise Agreement or by either party giving the required notice provided for under the relevant modern award. For the majority of modern awards, this period is 28 days.
In order to be valid and enforceable an IFA must meet all requirements set out above. If an IFA does not meet the above requirements, it will not only be unenforceable but you may also be required to back pay employees for unpaid entitlements and face significant penalties should you be prosecuted.
Fair Work Australia does not formally approve or review an IFA.
As an alternative, an employee or employer may choose to negotiate an Enterprise Agreement. An Enterprise Agreement is an agreement made by an employer with a group of employees, or by more than one employer with groups of employees. An Enterprise Agreement may also be made by one or more employers and one or more unions where the agreement is for a genuine new enterprise.
There are three types of Enterprise Agreements:
- ‘Single-Enterprise Agreements’ made between a single employer, or one or more employers co-operating in a single interest (for example, parties to a joint venture), and their employees;
- ‘Multi-Enterprise Agreements’ made between two or more employers, that are not single interest employers, and their employees; and
- ‘Greenfields agreements’ one or more employers and one or more unions where the agreement is for a genuine new enterprise where no employees have yet been engaged. A Greenfield Agreement may be either a Single-Enterprise Agreement or a Multi-Enterprise Agreement. A Greenfields Agreements can only be made with a union.
An Enterprise Agreement may include terms about one or more of the following matters:
- matters pertaining to the relationship between the employer and employee (this can include wages, dispute resolution, flexibility arrangements etc);
- matters pertaining to the relationship between the employer or employee and the employee organisations that will be covered by the agreement;
- deductions authorised to made from wages; and
- how the agreement will operate.
Parties engaged in the negotiation of an Enterprise Agreement must do so in good faith. In order to negotiate in good faith a bargaining representative must:
- recognise and bargain with the other bargaining representatives for the agreement.
- attend and participate in meeting at reasonable times;
- disclose relevant information (other than confidential or commercially sensitive information) in a timely manner;
- respond to proposals made by other bargain gin representatives in a timely manner; and
- give genuine consideration to the proposals made by other bargaining representatives, and give reasons for their response to those proposals.
Once a draft agreement has been formulated, an employer may submit the draft agreement to their employees for voting.
In order to conduct a valid vote an employer must:
- nominate a voting day, which must be at least 21 days after the employees were notified of their right to appoint a bargaining representative;
- at least seven days prior to the nominated voting day, provide each employee with a copy of, or ready access to, the draft agreement;
- at least seven days prior to the nominated voting day, notify the employees of the time, place and method by which the vote will take place; and
- explain the terms and conditions of the proposed agreement to the employees.
The agreement will be considered to be passed if a majority of the employees of the employer, or each employer, who cast a valid vote endorse the agreement.
Once an agreement is approved by the employees, the bargaining representatives for the agreement must lodge it with Fair Work Australia for approval. This lodgement must occur within 14 days of the agreement being passed by the employees.
Fair Work Australia will review the agreement to ensure it is fair, only includes permitted matters (as identified above), passes the BOOT and provides for consultation, dispute resolution and flexibility. The agreement will take effect seven days after its approval by Fair Work Australia or at a later date specified in the agreement.
You should seek legal advice on the terms and conditions of your proposed agreement before submitting it to for vote to ensure you have met your legal obligations.
Whether or not employment is covered by the NES, a modern award, or an enterprise agreement, written employment contracts are still good employment practice. Verbal agreements and letters of appointment are usually not comprehensive enough. It is recommended that prior to attempting to develop your own contracts, you should become familiar with the legal issues involved, and consider carefully the importance of offering stable, secure employment to each of your employees.
Employment contracts set out the expectations, rights and obligations of both the employer and employee, and must comply with the requirements of all State and Federal legislation as well as the terms of any relevant modern award or enterprise agreement that applies. Contracts may cover many of the same provisions as a modern award as well as including references to say, work use of private vehicles and telephones.
Employment contracts are negotiated between the employer and each worker at the time employment is offered. Each worker should be given the opportunity to negotiate for changes to the contract. Unless otherwise specified in a contract, hours of work, wages and conditions can be renegotiated at any time, and a new contract prepared.
Employment contracts may be enforced in a Court.
Every employee has the right to be a member of any Federal or State union which holds registration in relation to their area of employment. Under the Act an employer cannot, amongst other things, refuse employment, dismiss an employee or engage in any adverse action against an employee on the grounds that the employee is, or is not, a member of a union.
Wages, working hours and sick leave
Employees are entitled to be paid for the work performed by them in accordance with the NES, applicable award, enterprise agreement, Act or contract of employment, whichever applies. You should seek advice about which instrument or legislation applies in any given circumstance.
Where an employer is required by the NES, a modern award, or a enterprise agreement to pay an amount to an employee or to pay an amount to a superannuation fund on behalf of an employee, the Act allows employees to sue the employer for the amount of the payment within 6 years after the employer was required to make the payment to the employee or fund. Action to recover unpaid wages may be taken in the Federal Court, the Federal Magistrates’ Court, a Magistrates’ Court or any State Court that is prescribed by the regulations. It is also an offence to breach a term of the NES, an award or Enterprise Agreement – penalties can be imposed and orders the Court can make orders that an employer pay the underpayment.
Under the NES , the maximum number of ordinary hours an employee may work in a week is 38 plus “reasonable additional hours”. The NES sets out criteria to be taken into account in determining whether additional hours are reasonable.
Otherwise, the number of hours which an employee must work is specified in whichever modern award or enterprise agreement is applicable to their position.
For employees not covered by an applicable modern award or enterprise agreement, the employment contract should specify the number of hours as provided by the NES.
Under the NES, employees are entitled to a minimum of 10 days paid personal/carer’s leave each year. Employees are also entitled to an additional two (2) days unpaid carer’s leave if their paid personal leave has been exhausted.
A Modern award or enterprise agreement may also specify an employee’s entitlement to sick pay and carer’s leave. However it cannot reduce or erode an employee’s entitlement under the NES.
For employees not covered by an applicable modern award or workplace agreement, the employment contract should refer to the minimum entitlements to personal/carer’s leave as provided by the NES.
Under the NES, employees are entitled to four weeks paid annual leave each year. Shift workers (as defined under the Act or appropriate modern award or enterprise agreement) are entitled to five weeks paid annual leave each year. Annual leave under the NES accrues on a pro rata basis. Employees may also be entitled to leave loading.
Employees who cease employment before taking their accrued annual leave are entitled to be paid an amount equivalent to their accrued but untaken annual leave.
Modern awards and enterprise agreements may also provide entitlements to annual leave and dictate how and when it may be taken. However, modern awards and enterprise agreements cannot reduce or erode an employees entitlements under the NES.
For employees not covered by a modern award or enterprise agreement, the employment contract should refer to the minimum entitlements to annual leave as provided by the NES. The employment contract should also specify whether or not the employee is entitled to leave loading.
Under the NES and the Act, employees are entitled to observance of public holidays in accordance with Queensland laws and are entitled to a day off, except in certain circumstances. In particular, an employer may request that an employee works on a public holiday provided that the request is reasonable. However, under the NES and the Act employees are not entitled to a higher rate of payment for working on a public holiday. An employee will only be entitled to a higher rate of payment for work undertaken on a public holiday if an applicable award, enterprise agreement or contract of employment provides for this.
Most modern awards provide that if an employee works on a public holiday they are entitled to be paid a penalty or loading calculated upon their ordinary rate of pay. Where an award, enterprise agreement or contract of employment provides that an employee is entitled to a penalty or loading for working on a public holiday, the term must be complied with.
The NES also states that an employee may refuse an employer’s request to work on a public holiday provided that the refusal is reasonable.
Superannuation and long service leave
Federal superannuation legislation requires that employers pay superannuation for all employees. The rate payable may vary from organisation to organisation and from employee to employee. Employees are entitled to choose their preferred superannuation fund except where certain modern awards, enterprise agreements or contracts of employment provide otherwise.
The Queensland Industrial Relations Act 1999 guarantees a minimum long service leave entitlement to all employees. The minimum is 8.6667 weeks for the first 10 years continuous service. Employees are entitled to a proportionate payment for long service leave if employment is terminated (generally for reasons other than the employee’s conduct, capacity or performance) after 7 years continuous service with the one employer. In most cases, the entitlement to long service leave under the Queensland Industrial Relations Act 1999 has not been affected by the Act.
Parental leave (including maternity leave, paternity leave and adoption leave)
The NES and the Act provide for minimum entitlements to parental leave. Full-time, part-time and long-term casual employees can take 12 months unpaid parental leave to be the primary carer of a new born or newly adopted child. Both parents are entitled to take unpaid parental leave, provided that they are both national system employees. There is also a right to request an extension to parental leave of up to a further 12 months. This request may only be refused by the employer if they have reasonable business grounds for doing so.
To be entitled to take parental leave an employee must have completed 12 months of continuous service with the employer, or in the case of a long-term casual employee have been employed with the employer on a regular and systematic basis for a sequence of periods during a period of at least 12 months.
An employee who has completed parental leave is entitled to return to the same position he or she held prior to the leave.
Modern awards, enterprise agreements and contracts of employment (and policies) may also make provision for parental leave (paid and/or unpaid). However, modern awards, enterprise agreements and contracts of employment cannot reduce or erode an employees entitlements under the NES.
Paid Parental Leave
On 1 January 2011, Australian Government implemented a paid parental leave scheme which is offered to working parents in addition to any employer-funded paid parental leave entitlements.
The scheme is set out in the Paid Parental Leave Act 2010 (Cth) and provides government-funded parental leave pay at the National Minimum Wage for a maximum period of 18 weeks, and can be received before, after, or at the same time as existing entitlements such as annual leave, long service leave, and employer-funded paid parental leave. This Government scheme is administrated by the Family Assistance Office. If an employee returns to work before exhausting their 18 week entitlement, the remainder may be transferred to the other parent provided that the other parent is the primary care-giver at that time.
The Act provides that casual employees are entitled to a casual loading added to their base hourly rate. The casual loading is set by Fair Work Australia for award and agreement free employees in their annual minimum wage orders whilst the loading applicable to award and agreement employees are set out in the respective instruments.
Casual employees may have their employment terminated without notice.
To maintain a strong, motivated workforce, it is important to formulate a staff development policy. Some aspects that would be worth including are listed below:
- A high priority should be the regular supervision of every member of staff by a senior worker, coordinator or an outside consultant. Supervision assists staff in maintaining the boundaries between their work and personal lives and provides a useful means of gaining other perspectives on the issues and challenges they face.
- Training workshops, conferences and seminars are also a useful means of maintaining the skills of workers, providing new ideas and enabling workers to acquire a fresh perspective. Formal studies in areas related to an employee’s work are also useful in developing skills. If staff wish to undertake part-time studies the management committee should regard these requests with sensitivity and flexibility, as such studies may be valuable to the future effectiveness of your organisation.
- Performance appraisals provide workers with the opportunity to check that they are meeting the requirements of their position. If the management committee is not skilled in performance appraisal, it should use its networks to seek out support.
Regular worker assessments provide an opportunity for workers to assess their work in terms of their organisation’s overall plan. They also allow managers to monitor the progress of employees, identify any problems, and make any required changes. As a result of this process, a worker’s job description may need to be rewritten, a change made to their current work tasks, or an adjustment made to their salary (although legal advice should be sought before revising an employee’s salary downwards as this may amount to dismissal of the employee). Results of these appraisals and assessments should be reported to the management committee.
Accountability between the Management Committee and Employees
Some of the things to consider in relation to accountability between employees and management committees are:
- Accepting responsibility for negotiating acceptable work conditions, including job descriptions, employment contracts, good worker selection processes, grievance procedures and methods of dealing with complaints and disputes.
- Committees developing clear written policies, sound staff management practices and being supportive and accessible to staff. Staff should be prepared to contribute to this process both initially and then in an ongoing developmental way to ensure that good practices continue.
Employees are accountable to the organisation to perform the job they were employed to do. They stay accountable by participating in performance assessments and regular whole-of-service evaluations.
Privacy and ethics
Your organisation may have obligations under the Federal Privacy Act 1988 to comply with the National Privacy Principles. You should seek legal advice to determine if your organisation and the management committee have these obligations.
Even if your organisation is required to generally comply with the National Privacy Principles, it will not have to comply with the National Privacy Principles in relation to employees where it engages in acts or practices that are directly related to a current or former employment relationship with an employee and an “employee record” held by the organisation relating to the employee. Employee records are records of personal information that relate to the employment of an employee. Examples of employee records include health information about the employee and personal information about, for example, the terms and conditions of employment, the employee’s conduct or performance, the employee’s leave entitlements and the employee’s personal contact details.
Even if your organisation is not required to comply with the National Privacy Principles, it may be good practice to comply with them in any event and to consider the privacy of your employees when dealing with employee records.
Associations have many obligations that they are expected to meet by people within and outside the organisation. Some obligations are legal requirements such as providing information to the Office of Fair Trading, the Australian Taxation Office or funding bodies. Other obligations are based on the organisation’s values and can be used as a guide for putting these values into practice.
What is a code of ethics?
Some organisations develop written guidelines or a code of ethics so that everyone has a clear understanding of what is expected, including people outside the organisation. If this code is developed by the management committee and staff, it is more likely to be relevant and useful.
Whilst people will not always have the same values, it is important that everyone can agree on a code of ethics that describes how the organisation will be managed and how services will be provided. A code of ethics provides a general understanding of the ethical or moral responsibilities that the management committee and staff are expected to meet while they are working for the organisation.
Under a code of ethics, paid staff, volunteers and management committee members might be expected to respect other staff, behave honestly and work for the benefit of the organisation and its clients. The code of ethics might also include expectations about the way that staff provide services to clients and how members of the management committee make decisions for the organisation.
What is a code of conduct?
Whilst the code of ethics will provide everyone with an understanding of the general guidelines, it may also be beneficial to develop a code of conduct or policies that describe how people are expected to behave. An example could be that staff and management committee members do not let their personal and financial interests interfere with their responsibilities to the organisation. If someone could act in their own interest rather than those of the organisation, it is as a conflict of interest.
The code of conduct or policies may stipulate that management committee members and/or staff should be open about any possible conflict of interest. Developing procedures to follow for each policy is also a good idea. For example, if the management committee or group that is responsible for making decisions about the issue decides that there is a real conflict of interest, the person might not be able to be involved in the discussion or decision-making.
By developing codes of ethics and conduct, it is clear to everyone within the organisation what is expected and will help to avoid conflict. It will also be clear to your clients, funding bodies and others external to the organisation that you are operating fairly and honestly.