We’ve recently been sharing the responses to some of the most common questions we get asked by our clients. We’ve put them together in an easy to manage collection, in case you’ve missed them so far! These responses are, of course all general advice, so if you’ve got a similar situation you need help with, give our team a call!

Jury Duty

Q. My employee has just received a letter requiring them to attend jury duty. We’re too busy for them to take the time off and they don’t want to do it. How do we ask for an exemption?

A. If your employee does not want to do jury duty, and you’re too busy to afford for them to have the time off, you can write a letter requesting an exemption. In the letter, you’ll need to set out the reasons for the request; which we find are often accepted.

Under the Influence

Q. I own a cafe and suspect an employee may be occasionally coming to work under the influence of drugs. I don’t have any evidence though. How do I manage this?

A. You can start to address the issue on a broader level with all staff, by distributing your drug and alcohol policy that was hopefully included in each employee’s induction handbook, prefacing it with information about a recent focus on drug use in the industry.

The policy should make expectations clear, providing for the capacity to implement drug testing and sets out the consequences for a positive drug test result.

Even if you decide to never implement drug testing, just highlighting this in itself can discourage employees from coming to work under the influence. If it doesn’t follow the next steps in your drug and alcohol policy, ensuring that you follow all the steps in the agreed policy along the way.

If you don’t have a written drug and alcohol policy that all employees have received and signed off on, then that’s where you’ll need to start.

 

Delaying Lunch Breaks

Q. My employees all want to wait to have lunch when the ‘smoko’ truck arrives. I don’t mind, but their award says they should get a penalty if they work more than 5 hours before lunch, which they do, because of the time the truck arrives. What can we do, as I can’t afford the penalty rate, just so they can have lunch later?

A. Yes, a completely reasonable thing to do, but you don’t want to be underpaying the terms of the award. To manage this, awards do have some flexibility provisions. You can provide the individual employees the option to sign an ordinary hours agreement (or flexibility agreement) which would state that if the employee chose to wait to have their lunch at a later time, this would be at the ordinary hours rate.

 

Providing Meals for Staff

Q. I run a restaurant and I’ve been providing a meal and coffee to my employees who work more than 6 hours, for some time. Now people working shorter shifts want in on the free food too! Help?!

A. That’s a nice gesture! You aren’t required to provide meals for your staff, but obviously it’s a popular perk! If you don’t want to offer it to people working less than 6 hours, I suggest you implement a documented employee meals policy, to clarify and set expectations for the whole team.


Social Media Comments

Q. I’ve become aware of an employee making disparaging remarks about my business on social media. What can I do?

A. Hopefully you’ve got a documented social media policy in place that the employee has signed, and addresses this issue. If not, implementing a social media policy is a great place to start.

You should schedule a meeting with this employee to discuss the matter, allowing them to bring a support person if they chose to do so, and referring back to any relevant clauses in the employee’s contract and the social media policy.It would be a matter of putting the allegation(s) and any supporting evidence to the employee and providing the employee with the opportunity to respond.

Depending on the outcome of the conversation it could be grounds for disciplinary action. It could be grounds for a formal warning, but is almost certainly NOT grounds for an instant dismissal.

If you’re still getting into the swing of things this year, some inspiration from our summer reading guide might be more up your alley! If  you’ve got your own questions you’d like to ask our HR team, get in touch for a no-obligation consultation.