Modern awards have a ‘standard’ consultation provision which requires an employer to notify affected employees, and discuss changes that will have a ‘significant’ impact on those employees. Enterprise agreements must have a consultation clause. This clause must provide a requirement to consult about changes to rosters or ordinary hours of work.
Significant impact may include; change to job hours of work, the need for retraining and transfer of employees to other work locations, the restructuring of jobs, termination of employment, major change in the employers workforce.
These award provisions must be taken seriously and followed as prescribed. Consultation means that you are proposing a change, and inviting the impacted employees to make suggestions that may impact the outcome. Whilst an employer is not obligated to implement suggestions made by employees, employees are still provided with this opportunity and the employer is required to show consideration to suggestions made.
Cases of unfair dismissal have been successful for employees when it is evidenced that an employer simply dictated the outcome and did not provide and opportunity of consultation. Disregarding this very simple step can be very costly for an employer.
Prior to commencing a consultation process with employees, employers should:-
- Review and consider the consultation provisions with the relevant award or agreement;
- Ensure you provide enough time for a due consultation process to be undertaken. An employer under pressure to have an outcome prematurely is more likely to skip consultation process;
- Prepare, prepare, prepare.
Prepare the timings – Invitation timing, meeting timings, time for employees to take to consider proposals.
Plan the discussions - ensure you have all of the necessary detail to provide to the employee. Prepare any documentation –documentation that may assist with the process. This may include position descriptions of alternate roles, a documented roster for hours changes, documented agreements for all changes.
Should you be planning to implement change in your workplace, please contact our advisors on 1300 720 004 or firstname.lastname@example.org.