Scott McGrath:Welcome to the first episode of our Employsure Essentials podcast series. This is the first in a six-part series where I’ll be having a chat with some of our workplace relations and WHS experts from the Employsure team on a range of big issues hitting small businesses. My name is Scott McGrath and I’ll be your host for this series. In this episode I’ll be speaking with one of our workplace relations advisers, Kylie Jones, about what’s been keeping our team of over 100 advisers busy this July. Kylie gives us a wrap-up on the new minimum wage and penalty rate changes as well as some other tips for small businesses. Let’s get the interview under way. Hi Kylie, thanks for coming.
Kylie: Thanks for having me today, Scott.
Scott: So 1 July’s just happened, what are the big changes?
Kylie: The biggest change is the national minimum wage case decision that was effective on the 1st of July.
Scott: Okay, so there was a lot of media attention when it came out. 3.3% increase, biggest since 2011. Is that correct?
Kylie: That’s correct, yes.
Scott: And we’re talking about all sectors, all employees?
Kylie: That’s right, so every modern award, and of course anybody who’s award-free must be paid no less than the national minimum wage.
Scott: Is that where most of the calls come from on this? I mean, you guys are very busy with this sort of stuff. Are people getting it wrong?
Kylie: We are seeing an increase in calls, of course making sure that they are understanding what the new rates of pay are for their modern award, and of course anybody that’s covered by the modern award, or who is award-free.
Scott: Okay, and they’ve got to get it right, haven’t they?
Kylie: They absolutely need to get it right, so it’s effective on the first full pay period after the 1st of July.
Scott: Some people that might be listening to this podcast may not be directly involved in the payroll of their business. They’ve got to be getting the advice right, haven’t they?
Kylie: They do, so it’s important that their bookkeeper or whoever makes the pays does know what the new rates of pay are going to be.
Scott: Okay, Kylie, great. There was also another change on 1 July and it was a penalty rate reductions. Is that keeping you busy?
Kylie: It is absolutely keeping us busy, but it is only going to affect some modern awards, not all modern awards.
Scott: Are we just talking about public holiday rates?
Kylie: No, so a penalty rate could be a higher loading when you work on a Sunday or a Saturday, or even some public holidays attract different penalty rates.
Scott: Okay, enough confusion out there already. What awards are we talking about?
Kylie: It’s some big awards, general retail industry awards, hospitality industry general award, fast food industry award, the restaurant industry award, the big sort of hospitality, retail-based awards.
Scott: Yeah, ok, so we’re not even talking about all employees across these sectors, are we? Only those covered by these awards.
Kylie: That’s right, so if you work in a restaurant or a café, or a retail store, it’s going to affect you if you’re working on a Saturday or on a public holiday.
Scott: Yeah, okay, let’s 100% clear it up. Who are we not talking about?
Kylie: We’re not talking about someone who would say work as an office worker in a real estate business, or a manufacturing environment, or a hairdresser in obviously a hair salon, say on a Saturday.
Scott: There are some big points there for employers. Just because you’re in those industries doesn’t mean you’re even impacted. Hairdressers, as you said, they’re open Saturdays and Sundays but they’re not impacted. Do you think that’s where the confusion is, that this minimum wage has impacted every employee but the penalty rates haven’t?
Kylie: That’s right, so it’s really important to get the advice to make sure that you know what the rates of pay are going to be as of the 1st of July which affect every award, but only some awards will be affected in terms of the penalty rate reduction.
Scott: And it’s not even … I mean 1 July the changes did come in, but it’s going to be over the next two years, is that right?
Kylie: That’s right, so it’s a sliding scale for the next two years, and of course that means that it’s not one big reduction, it’s going to be a small reduction over the course of the next two years.
Scott: Okay, so Kylie, it’s important that people get the advice, doesn’t it?
Kylie: It’s absolutely critical that they get the advice to make sure that they know what their obligations are.
Scott: And getting it right, very important. Kylie, 1 July was a new financial year. Get the minimum wage right, make sure you understand the penalty rate reduction. Is there anything else employers should be doing?
Kylie: I guess it’s a really good time of year to make sure that your contracts are up-to-date, that your policies are in order, and of course making sure your training requirements are also up-to-date as well.
Scott: Exactly right, you’ve spent the time to get the pay right. Why not look at everything else that needs to be done for your employees?
Kylie: Right time of year.
Scott: Kylie, thanks for your time.
Kylie: Thanks for having me.
Scott: There it is, the hot topics for July. Of course, if you need further advice on anything Kylie covered or if there’s anything you need to discuss, call our advice line on 1300-651-415. We’ll be back to talk about how to manage employees through the difficult process of resignation, dismissal and termination. This is Scott McGrath from Employsure. I look forward to your company next episode.