The Sobering Facts and Facing Them as an Employer


Few things bring your business to a halt more effectively than an employee under the influence.

If you’re a numbers person, you’ll be interested in the figures released in 2016 by the Australian Institute for Health and Welfare. Alcohol, cannabis, amphetamines and heroin continued to be the most common drugs of concern over the past decade, with one in two-hundred Australians seeking treatment for alcohol and drug use in 2014–15.

Some of those people work. It’s possible they work for you, or might do so at some point. This is clearly an issue that has a very direct impact upon our workplace culture.

Alcohol and drugs cost Australian businesses an estimated $6 billion per year in lost productivity, with 2.5 million working days lost every year.

The cost to co-workers is just as significant. One in ten say they have experienced the negative effects of a co-worker’s misuse of alcohol. That might include a reduced capacity to do their job safely, causing an accident or near miss.

All employers have a legal obligation to address alcohol and drug related issues in the workplace. Practicable steps must be taken to ensure the health and safety of all staff, as well as contractors or clients.

Safe Work Australia is the go-to authority on workplace standards. They help ensure we have all the tools we need to keep our employees safe. Their guide, Alcohol and Other Drugs in the Workplace, sets out your responsibilities as an employer, and your obligations with regard to the misuse of alcohol and other drugs.

Safe Work Australia advises employers to develop a Workplace Alcohol and Drugs Policy in consultation with employees. That policy must include initiatives that deal with:

  • Managing health and safety risks
  • Approaching a worker who may be under the influence
  • Reporting alcohol and drug use
  • Delivering information, education and training
  • Offering counselling and support, perhaps in employee assistance programs
  • Conducting disciplinary procedures

Not all of these initiatives are appropriate for every workplace, since the nature and severity of alcohol and drug related hazards varies.

However, having a policy in place provides an employer with the correct pro-active measures to manage a crisis swiftly and safely. This not only helps avoid any costly and stressful outcomes - it could save lives too.

There are many resources for employers looking to implement best practice. Safe Work Australia and the Australian Drug Foundation are excellent places to start.

If you have any doubts, contact a professional who can support you through this process. Look for a consultant with the right expertise, a thorough knowledge of best practice and the Australian legislation governing it.

Don’t run the risk of doing nothing. The law counts on you to be compliant, and so do your staff.

Continue reading
1527 Hits

Body Art at Work - Drawing a Fine Line

Body Art in the Workplace

In the past, body art was generally only seen on the outskirts of town. Now it’s in every high street and walking down the mall. And those are only the visible examples! Who knows what any of us are sporting underneath our crisp business wear. 

Tattoos, piercings, brandings and dermal implants have come to be considered acceptable in society, even normal - within a generation. And if you’re thinking about introducing restrictions on them for the personnel in your business, it can be a legal minefield - so tread carefully. 

One in seven Australians have a tattoo, according to a study conducted by the National Health and Medical Research Council. The study surveyed 8,656 Australians between the ages of 16 to 64 years. The results showed that Australian men are more likely to have a tattoo than Australian women. However, women in their 20s are more likely to have tattoos than men in the same age group.

Go figure.

It’s of course likely that many of those surveyed have a place of work, and highly likely that someone just like them may work for you, or do so at some point.  As a business owner, it’s critical that the decisions you make within your business are lawful, about body art and everything else. And that means bearing in mind that what you might think is acceptable, may not necessarily be aligned with the law.


Specifically, ‘physical appearance’ is not regulated under the Fair Work Act. However, discrimination, equal opportunity and workplace health and safety are most certainly forefront considerations when it comes to the implementation of rules and employment practices - and it’s here in which body art and physical appearance can be brought to the table for discussion. 

For example, the Australian Human Rights Commission may consider an employer who refuses employment to an Aboriginal applicant because they have a tattoo which is connected to their ethnic origins, to be potentially guilty of racial discrimination.  

And the Fair Work Commission might determine that strict ‘no body art’ rules imposed upon front-of-house staff at sporting clubs could be considered unfair, when we consider the prevalence of professional athletes we see on television who themselves wear body art. In the sporting realm, it could be considered the norm. 

Judgements between governing bodies can be a grey area in this matter. Thus, making body art taboo in your workplace should probably come with a warning.  Before implementing a ban, take advice. The perspectives are as many and varied as the designs your employees or potential employees might be wearing - and implementing rules is not as simple as following your own personal preferences. 


Approaching the matter with overall guidelines can offer a lighter touch which doesn’t cause offence. A general ‘personal appearance’ policy helps to impose limits or provide the guidelines which you expect employees to respect. This way, it’s about upholding a professional image, which everyone agrees is best for the business. Implicit in this must be the understanding that a person’s body art does not affect their ability to perform certain duties.

This policy can address things such as (a) where the safety of an employee could be compromised, (b) where it may negatively impacts others, or (c) when there might be a breach of any legal responsibilities of the organisation. 

It’s best to ensure that your policy is underpinned by workplace legislation - specifically discrimination, equal opportunity and workplace health and safety laws.  Getting this wrong could be a costly mistake - so ask for help if you’re not sure.  

Lastly, it’s best to be consistent.  It’s one thing to have a policy, but without fair implementation a claim arising from a dispute could easily be applied - resulting in unpleasant, costly and unexpected implications.

The statistics say that people of all ages and genders are getting inked, pierced, branded, or implanted.  Be an employer who ensures that your rules are sensible and reviewed regularly, so you don’t lose the best talent in the market and you avoid any nasty claims due to oversights.

The writing’s on the wall, and the bodies - we should all be paying attention. 

What do you think? Do you feel that tattoos have a place in the workplace? Let us know your thoughts in the comment section below. 


Continue reading
1204 Hits

Keeping Your Annual Leave Entitlements Airborne


Iconic, low-cost Irish airline Ryanair had a fiasco on their hands just recently. The mismanagement of their pilots’ annual leave left them with a shortage of pilots - not enough to cover their scheduled Autumn flights. This led to a massive cost blow-out, reported to be in excess of seventeen million pounds - not to mention an embarrassing blemish on their brand image.

Always Getting Better’? It didn’t look that way, to the pilots, or customers.

Ryanair’s cancellation of hundreds of flights after it admitted ‘messing up’ the planning of its pilots’ leave, makes you wonder. How many more of us who are running businesses could easily fall into the same pit of mismanagement, leading to who knows what consequences?



The management and occasional confusion of annual leave can be a simmering mess that quickly reaches boiling point if not enough time is spent on planning. And for those of us in small business, it’s even more crucial to pay attention. The smaller your team, the bigger the impact.

And yet, studies released by Roy Morgan Research show that Australia’s full-time workforce has accrued a total 123,510,000 days of annual leave. That averages out at just under 21 days’ leave for each full-time worker. The research indicates that certain industries have a higher level of annual leave accrued than others, with those employed in wholesaling accruing an average of 25 days each.



Allowing employees to accrue excessive annual leave in such a way has its cost. So does the approach of not taking care to spread annual leave over the course of the entire year.

Big leave balances are expensive. Why? Because untaken leave is a recorded liability. That’s a big problem. But let’s also keep in mind the purpose of leave in the first place – to prevent burnout! Leave is there to have a positive impact to the mental and physical health of your employees. And that’s a win for you – because it yields greater productivity and a more engaged workforce when they return. Bonus!



Maintaining best practice for annual leave is certainly clever business practice. Here to help you get it right is a quick Do and Don’t Guide on how to get your annual leave planning right first time.


  • encourage your employees to submit dates for annual leave as far in advance as possible.
  • review employees’ leave accrual regularly and discourage accruals greater than 6 weeks.
  • send reminders to employees on outstanding accruals - anything approaching 4 weeks should be planned for and discussed.
  • speak to employees who have not taken any annual leave nor requested dates for leave - as a matter of urgency.
  • ensure that your employees’ annual leave is planned for in such a way that the business has adequate cover at all times – and keepyour planes in the air. 
  • be proactive in the management of annual leave - this is not a topic to leave at the bottom of your to-do list.


  • leave annual leave allocations to chance.
  • take the view that it’s up to your employees to decide whether or not they choose to take leave.
  • wait until the year end before reviewing annual leave accruals.
  • give in to requests for payment in lieu of annual leave.
  • make employees feel guilty about taking annual leave.

Managing annual leave certainly has its challenges but so do the scenarios that develop if you allow things to get out of hand, or plan badly. With transparency, good communication, forward planning and a culture that values leave taking, things can run a whole lot more smoothly - and with luck there are flights available to your employees’ chosen holiday destinations.


Continue reading
1099 Hits

When the Chips are Down, Is Your Workplace Safe?


Workplace injuries. Two words that send shivers down any business owner’s spine. When the cause is also an emergency incident for which you’re unprepared, then be afraid. Be very afraid.

Your employees count on you to have their safety front of mind. So when there’s an injury, whether apparently trivial or evidently more serious, the onus is on you as employer to take responsibility.


It worked for the scouts and it’s perfectly apt for your workplace too. In February 2016, Safe Work Australia released a Code of Practice on first aid in the workplace. This Code was approved under section 274 of the Work Health and Safety Act (the WHS Act). It’s a big piece of legislation that is relevant to any business with a duty of care.

This Legislation makes it clear that your duty of care as an employer in relation to first aid goes beyond band aids in the lunchroom or an incident log at reception. In order for business owners to meet workplace health and safety requirements, a set of guidelines and an active approach to constantly improving the safety of your work environment is best practice. It’s black and white.


The statistics say that less than one in three Australian employees (31%) currently feel confident to perform first aid in an emergency. Reasons range from ‘a lack of training’ through to feeling ‘personally responsible’ if something were to go wrong.

Well-trained First Aiders are one of the important measures you can take to meet compliance. More importantly, they’re there to save lives.

They’re the ones everyone looks to when injures occur and when your workplace is in the throes of an emergency.

It goes without saying that they should be properly trained in all procedures likely to be necessary, and familiar with all the related workplace policies that govern what happens during an incident.

Types of First Aid Training might include:

  • Basic and Advanced First Aid – common emergencies, CPR, casualty management, incident management, high-risk workplaces
  • Occupational First Aid – as above, with a focus on first-aid facility management;

First Aid in Remote Situations – first aid administration in hard to reach locations, including aerial evacuation.

In Australia, depending on your workplace and its level of risk, there should be at least one First Aider for every 25 employees in high-risk environments. Low-risk workplaces should have one per 50 employees. Think about your own numbers - how compliant is your workplace?


An essential part of workplace safety is the tools required – your First Aid Kit. It’s essential to do some research and select the right kit for your workplace.

Here are some emergencies that a compliant First Aid kit can treat:

  • Broken bones
  • Burns
  • Electric shock
  • Minor eye injuries
  • Cuts, scratches, punctures, splinters, grazes
  • Muscular ailments and sprains

Do some research, take compliance advice – then make sure you’ve got the right kit in place, and that your First Aiders know what’s in it.


Negligence in this area can lead to serious sanctions. And if you’re lax on compliance, then your employees are always in some danger. So it should be no surprise to learn that infringement notices and conduct investigations are a common consequence, if you fail to follow the rules.

In Australia, there are three types of notices that a business might receive from an inspector:

  • Improvement Notice – If a company fails to fix the listed problems, penalties can be up to $50,000 for individuals and $250,000 for corporations;
  • Prohibition – All work operations must cease until improvements have been completed. Non-compliance means fines of up to $100,000 for individuals and $500,000 for corporations;
  • Non-Disturbance notices – A preservation period of 7 days is issued. Potential penalties are the same as those listed for the Improvement Notice above.


Employers are responsible for the health and safety of their employees. Keep your team updated and informed. Provide them with all the resources they need to minimise workplace risks and injuries. It’s the least you can do - and it’s also the law.

First aid compliance is important to your business. Ensuring that you meet the requirements for making your workplace safer for all your employees is your number one priority. And if ever in doubt, outsource. Find the right service provider of first aid resources that can support your business on its journey to compliance.


Continue reading
1250 Hits

The Magic Number – Not to Be Dismissed


There’s a magic number which most owners of an Australian business would definitely know. Fifteen. 

This is the golden number below which their employee head count should always be, to benefit from the more generous clauses set out in the ‘Small Business Fair Dismissal Code’.



It’s simple.  Small businesses with less than fifteen employees have different rules for dismissing employees. The Code protects small businesses from unfair dismissal claims – as long as that employer has followed the fair and reasonable steps set out the legislated guidelines.  

In the code, there is a checklist.  This takes the employer through a step by step guide, in assessing and recording reasons for terminating an employee.  It supports the employer in understanding their procedural obligations and how to best be compliant.  In so doing, it protects both their business and their credibility. 



Small business employees cannot make a claim for unfair dismissal in the first 12 months following their engagement. If an employee is dismissed after this period, and the employer has followed the Code, then dismissal is deemed to be fair. 



Keep your head-count under fifteen!  Here is how the Australian Small Business Fair Dismissal Code defines small business: 

A small business is defined as any business with fewer than 15 employees.


To figure out whether a business is a small business, count all employees employed at the time of the dismissal including:

  • the employee and any other employees being dismissed at that time
  • regular and systematic casual employees employed by the business at the time of the dismissal (not all casual employees)
  • employees of associated entities, including those based overseas.

The size of the business is counted the earliest of:

  • when the employee is told their employment has been terminated, or
  • when the employee is given their notice of termination.



Be smart. Follow the code, and document all the circumstances on the journey to dismissing an employee.  The Fair Work Commission loves to see hard evidence and procedural fairness when faced with a claim. Do your best to follow the protocol and always seek specialist support if you’re unsure. It will stand you in good stead. 

Here at #HR, we often see the consequences - and the costs - of poor judgement and all-too-common oversights. All could easily be avoided.   We know that dismissing an employee is never easy. So stick to the magic number – and protect yourself. 


Continue reading
1297 Hits


No way do you want us bothering you
with FREE resources, updates and
other cool things from time to time.

Or do you...?


Refund Policy

Since #HR - is offering non-tangible irrevocable goods we do not issue refunds once the order is accomplished and the product is sent. As a customer you are responsible for understanding this upon purchasing any item at our site.

However, we realise that exceptional circumstance can take place with regard to the character of the product we supply.

Therefore, we DO honor requests for the refund on the following reasons:

Our Technical Support Team is always eager to assist you and deliver highly professional support in a timely manner. Thank you for purchasing our products.

Contact Us

Email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Please give it 12-24 hours for our Support Team to get back to you on the problem.

Requests for a refund are accepted to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. within the period of 2 days after the order is placed. You should accompany this request with detailed and grounded reasons why you apply for a refund. Please make sure your request does not contradict our Terms and Conditions.
A refund is issued to you upon receipt of a Waiver of Copyright signed by you.