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Now and Then

2009       we conducted a benchmark survey to gauge the matters of “most concern” to businesses in anticipation of the start of the National Employment Standards (NES)

2014       our survey reflected on the impact of the NES as well as employer concerns and perceptions of subsequent IR changes both made and proposed


Review of the NES … Perceptions NOT Reality

2009 – Perceptions:

  • employers surveyed expressed the most concern about the NES provisions relating to ‘flexible work arrangements’ and ‘parental leave’
  • this was despite the majority of respondents indicating they already had flexible work policies in place which employees efficiently utilised
  • respondents pointed to challenges such as lack of technology, impact on productivity and workplace culture and implementing new and innovative ways of utilising their employees and resources to accommodate flexible working arrangements

2014 – Reality:

  • time has shown that the NES has not had a significant impact on the business operations
  • most organisations have maintained existing flexible work arrangements and have not found they impacted negatively on productivity or workplace culture
  • although a request for flexible work arrangements can be refused on “reasonable business grounds”, employers appear to be working with employees to implement suitable solutions rather than refusing requests


Key 2014 survey results:

  • 59% – the NES has not had a significant impact on their organisation
  • 34% – flexible working arrangements remain the same post the NES
  • 86% – do not perceive there has been a decrease in productivity
  • 63% – do not perceive there has been any negative impact on workplace culture
  • 72% – have not experienced issues with employees working offsite


Workplace bullying laws … big impact yet to come?

  • new bullying laws commenced on 1 January 2014 allowing employees to make an application to the Fair Work Commission for orders to “stop the bullying”
  • most survey respondents have not received a bullying complaint since the introduction of the new workplace laws, but some had received between 1-5 complaints of workplace bullying
  • the most common forms of bullying complained of were belittling or degrading behaviour, verbal abuse and inappropriate comments or teasing
  • an overwhelming majority of respondents were confident their policies and procedures could demonstrate appropriate handling of bullying complaints although some organisations still do not have a complaints policy or procedure in place
  • there is a strong perception that the new workplace laws will not help to reduce the prevalence of workplace bullying


Key 2014 survey results:

  • 42% – had not received a bullying complaint since the introduction of the new workplace laws
  • 47% – were not concerned by an employee’s ability to seek a bullying order
  • 85% – believed their policies and procedures would meet the rigours of the Fair Work Commission
  • 61% – do not think the new workplace laws will help reduce the prevalence of workplace bullying


Perceptions of proposed laws … parental leave remains of great concern

  • the Federal Government has proposed various changes to the Fair Work Act
  • the heavily debated 26 week paid parental leave scheme is what the majority of respondents believe will impact most on the current industrial relations landscape although for now, it appears the scheme has been shelved by the Government


Key 2014 survey results:

  • 66% – thought the proposed parental leave scheme would have the most impact
  • 26% – thought removing the new union rights of entry rules would have the most impact


More Information

If you have concerns about how the NES will affect your workplace, it is best to seek proper employment law advice. A workplace lawyer or employment relations expert can provide practical employment law advice that ensures your procedures are consistent with the current workplace law.

Please call the leading employment lawyers in Parramatta, the Matthews Folbigg Workplace Solutions team on 9635-7966 to speak with one of our employment lawyers about your employment law issues.