With less than 6 weeks until Christmas, it is well and truly time for employers to have conversations with workers about intentions around the upcoming holiday period. Planning for this will differ amongst businesses, as some industries experience a peak whilst others see a lull or shutdown. Regardless, it always encompasses an onslaught of HR as rosters, wage adjustments, recruitment, onboarding and all associated communications and paperwork are required.
By now you SHOULD have an idea of what your business and workers will be doing over this period, having communicated to workers your intentions and adjustments that will impact them.
Closing Shop for the Christmas Period
If your business intends to close over Christmas, adequate notice needs to be given to all workers. Notification and the requirements surrounding such will differ dependent upon Award, Agreement and Industry. For example, in the ‘Clerks – Private Sector Award 2020’ (clause 32.5), employers are required to give workers 28 days’ notice of an intended closing down. Most awards and agreements will allow workers to take annual leave within this period, if available.
Preparing for the Peak
Consider Blackout Periods
It is possible for employers to implement a ‘Blackout Period’ which prevents workers from taking leave within specified dates. To do so, an employer needs to justify the need via ‘reasonable business grounds’, such as high productivity within a set period that prompts an increase in staffing.
Blackout Periods need to be introduced within your Company ‘leave policy’ and communicated to workers. The amount of notice required will differ amongst industries and within Awards (you need to check this), however it is usually required that it be communicated to workers within 30 days of the intended period. This needs to include the commencement and end date of this period, accompanied by a reason for this requirement at the specified time.
If you wish to see this initiated on an ongoing basis, the Assurance HR specialists can assist you in preparing a policy and educating your workers appropriately. Call us on 1800 577 515 to discuss further.
Anticipate Wage Adjustments
As the ‘Closing Loopholes Bill’ introduces increased penalties for incorrect compensation of workers, it is becoming considerably important for employers to not only pay workers correctly, but to undertake efforts that regularly review and ensure compliance. The Christmas season involves multiple public holidays for workers, with the holidays often resulting in overtime. It is your job to ensure that workers are paid correctly for their efforts within this time.
Increase your Casual Pool
Be prepared and accommodate for the expected leave of workers over this peak period. Analyse the data from previous years and combine this with the leave requests for this one and utilise this data to guide your recruitment choices. It is advised that this is not left to the last minute, as hiring the right candidates takes time and having them adequately trained is critical in maintaining your product and service quality.
If you find yourself in a time sensitive recruitment situation, we recommend hiring a third-party specialist such as the AHR team. This will save you time and money as you are relieved of tasks such as, job advertising, candidate interviewing and selection, and pre-employment onboarding.
The AHR team can equip you with the advice, tools, templates, and checklists required to see you navigate and manage HR issues efficiently and compliantly this Christmas season. We can do it with you, working together to develop systems that will see you handle any concerns that you may be facing. For example, time sensitive recruitment and onboarding, leave and roster management, leave policy adjustments and more. OR, we can do it for you, stepping in as your HR Department, customising a framework specific to your needs, implementing strategies to conduct payroll audits, to recruit and increase your casual worker pool, and/or to manage the communication and organising of leave and rosters.
If any of this resonates with you, call us on 1800 577 515 for a free consultation. We can discuss with you your specific HR needs and determine a way for you to best manage these this Christmas, allowing you to focus upon your product, service, and the holidays!