Making Employment just a bit less risky
Anyone who has been an employer over the past couple of decades has seen the risks associated with employing people spiral upwards.
Whilst we are wholeheartedly in favour of all of the laws that protect the rights of employees in our industry – and fierce defenders of the penalty rates payable for out-of-hours work – we’ve seen a culture of rorting the system continue to develop over the past 10 years or so. We’ve been on the receiving end of a number of people who make a practice out of taking employers to the Fair Work Commission, as have many of our clients.
Although we’re proud to say that no complaint about us has ever been upheld, the significant costs of traveling interstate to attend a hearing (or making a commercial decision to pay someone out just so we don’t waste 1-2 years watching them fail in threatened court proceedings) makes it clear that the system can be abused, no matter how important the rights it has been designed to protect.
In the wake of 2020’s Coronavirus challenges, we’ve seen another factor inject itself into the mix – people claiming skills they don’t have, being unable to perform at anywhere near the promised level – and then threatening action when their employment is terminated. Again, it’s not that they will succeed, but once they lodge a complaint, the costs and stress associated with responding to groundless claims can be quite significant. Because so many good people have left the industry (at least for now), employers desperate to be able to keep their businesses trading can end up with non-performing employees who can’t do the job and then lodge complaints!
And lest we forget, there is also a significant risk factor for would-be employees in this very topsy-turvy post-Coronavirus world.. Employers whose financial status is highly ambiguous, whose premises may well be virtually un-maintained – and whose suppliers may be awaiting payments and holding back new orders. None of these factors will ever be evident at interview – or for a while after starting. But if you’ve left a job only to find yourself out of one because your new employer isn’t viable, that’s a pretty bad place to be.
So, what to do?…
With all of this in mind, in 2021 we have launched what we call a “Try Before You Buy” program. We’ve traditionally steered away from fulltime placements, focusing on casual/temporary workers and agreeing to ‘releasing’ one of our employees to an employer once in a while (for a fee proportionate to the time our employee has been working with them), if both parties want to continue working together. But this year we’ve decided to play to our strengths – and do what we can to assist both our clients and employees in our industry.
In essence, we’re now taking bookings from clients who are looking to employ someone in a fulltime role – but would like to be able to get to know them without becoming their employer, prior to formalising an offer of ongoing work. We engage the person we believe is suitable for the role as a casual employee, but they start on the basis of knowing what the role on offer is – and that they will be offered it if things work well between our client and them. This might mean a month or anything up to three months working through this ‘trial period’, but there are benefits on both sides.
The person we recruit will be paid properly throughout the trial period. If things don’t work out because either they or our client don’t wish to proceed to an ongoing direct relationship, then we can continue to offer them casual work – and possibly find another role for them to trial in. From our client’s perspective, they get to see many work cycles from the person they are interested in – and also how the chemistry works with them and their team once the ‘honeymoon period’ is over.
Time alone will tell whether this ends up being a good solution to help our industry get back on its feet – but at the very least we’re doing what we can to change things up for everyone’s benefit. Watch this space!