Posts Tagged “employ older workers”

18th September 2017 at 16:20

Offering apprenticeships to older learners is ‘robbing kids of their future’, says Charlie Mullins, of Pimlico Plumbers
As someone who has campaigned for apprenticeships for my whole working life, I can’t get over our minister of state for apprenticeships and skills, Anne Milton, telling the House of Commons that they should be available to everybody “whatever their background and age”.
It has always been my view that apprenticeships are there to give our youngsters greater opportunities in life, but encouraging over-60s to take on apprenticeships is quite clearly robbing kids of their future.
I’m all for the older worker and I love having a mix of ages in the workplace. We can always learn from experience, but ultimately you can’t teach an old dog new tricks.

Encouraging over-60s to start the same course as teenagers is a step backwards. It is both impractical and insulting. If we start handing these precious opportunities out to over-60s, the meaning of “apprenticeship” will change entirely. Practically speaking, in my industry how are these senior trade apprentices going to learn all the tricks of the trade when they aren’t able to lug around heavy materials or stand all day on a site?
Those of us who have completed an apprenticeship with a lot of hard graft will know that they’re nothing like we see on TV. We’ve got to stop confusing the term “apprenticeship”. It’s yet another case of common sense being thrown out of the window.

I can honestly say that I will never take on an apprentice who isn’t young, ripe and ready. We need to save these opportunities for the kids of tomorrow, not waste them on the fogies.
I’ve said from day one that apprenticeships are the way we can reduce crime levels and help to solve the skills gap. Apprenticeships are for youngsters and as soon as we start giving them to older people, they won’t want to do it. Fact. It is our duty to preserve apprenticeships as being a trendy route through life.
‘Don’t waste apprenticeships on the fogies’
We have around 300 apprenticeship applications every month at Pimlico Plumbers, and we’ve got many who make a massive difference to the business. We’ve come a long way since apprenticeships were a second-rate option, and with university applications down this year I was starting to think we were making real progress. We can’t let this set us back and put youngsters off.
Don’t get me wrong, I started my career as an apprentice, and I owe my success to the fact that I was able to learn a trade in this way. I am a big believer in retraining and supporting older workers, but we’ve got to call it a “senior training scheme”, not an apprenticeship.

I’m not saying that older workers are past their sell-by date – far from it. They can bring real credibility to a business and are respected by both colleagues and customers, due to their experience. We’ve had many brilliant older workers in separate roles at Pimlico Plumbers over the years, including van washer Buster Martin, and my current PA Mario, who’s in his seventies. It should be a standard thing in businesses to have young, enthusiastic apprentices who are learning both traditional and new ways of working and older, equally enthusiastic workers who are happy to share their experience and have their ears bent by younger colleagues.
I’m a proud supporter of protecting apprenticeships and getting youngsters motivated to learn and work. In fact, I believe the term “apprentice” is so vitally important to young people today that it should be trademarked, and only used in the proper way. We can’t let it be thrown around and run the risk of putting youngsters off what is a genuine, financially rewarding career option.

I’ve reached out to Anne Milton for a meeting and I’m pleased to say we’ll be looking to get a date in the diary soon. She’s got a lot on her plate, with being committed to reaching 3 million new apprenticeship starts in England by 2020 – but these need to be, what I call, “true apprentices” taking on these apprenticeships. Anne does some great work with encouraging women on the tools too, but I really think I can offer her some insight on apprenticeships, seeing as it is at the core of my business.
Yes, let’s champion retraining older workers and train them on senior training schemes, but we can’t run the risk of putting teenagers off apprenticeships because we’ve let the over-60s join their course.

Charlie Mullins is managing director and founder of Pimlico Plumbers

If you have an elderly parent, there is a worrying new fraud that you must warn them of, after a number of older Aussies were robbed of their life savings by a particularly complex phone-and-bank scam.

The unusually detailed fraud runs like this: a person telephones, claiming to be from an expensive jewellery store, and warns the victim that their credit card is being used to purchase a particularly pricey item.

The ‘jewellery salesperson’ informs tells the victim that they’re concerned their card is being used fraudulently and warns them to call their bank and the police, and even helpfully offers to transfer them to the police so they can report the crime.

However, the phone transfer is to a fake police officer, who then advises the victim that staff within their own Australian bank are involved in the fraud and that they must not alert them that the gig’s up. Instead, the ‘police officer’ advises the victim to transfer the money they have in their Australian bank account to a UK account via the international bank transfer system, in order to ‘protect’ it from the scammers.

The victim is warned to carry out the transfer without mentioning its purpose to bank staff, whether they do so by telephone or in a branch.

But the UK bank accounts are actually controlled by the scammers, who then make off with the money. Once money leaves Australia, it is difficult to retrieve, even if it is paid into a legitimate UK bank account.

The fraudsters are known to be targeting Australians over the age of 75. And although their ploy may sound implausible, Starts at 60 has been told that a number of older people have sent a significant sum overseas in just the past few days.

 

Source: Startsatsixty.com.au

UPDATE: Liberal frontbenchers Simon Birmingham and Christopher Pyne have backed the process that delivered politicians a minimum $4000 pay rise from next week, with Senator Birmingham insisting their salaries were kept “well and truly in check”.

Australian politicians have been handed a two per cent pay rise from next Saturday on top of their current $199,040 base salary.

On top of that, they will get a tax cut as the 2 per cent budget repair levy is also due to be removed on July 1.

In justifying the decision the tribunal said it had received submissions calling for salaries more in line with the private sector.

“Over the past year there has been a notable increase in submissions to the Tribunal seeking higher remuneration for offices and individual office holders based at least in part on private sector remuneration,” the statement said.

Mr Pyne said politicians have nothing to do with determining salaries and they’re not in it for the money.

“We do it because it is a wonderful way of helping the society in which we live,” he told the Nine Network

Senator Birmingham said the pay rise came after the minimum wage was bumped up.

“It is an independent process and it was a two per cent pay rise this year, after a pay-freeze that the independent process determined last year. And of course just recently, the minimum pay rise for minimum wage was handed down at 3.3 per cent,” he told Channel Seven.

While he acknowledged parliamentarians were well remunerated Senator Birmingham said they were not there for the money.

“I think you can see the processes working to keep politicians’ salaries well and truly in check, there was a freeze, there’s a lower than the minimum wage as people would think it should be,” Senator Birmingham said.

PM gets payrise

Federal politicians, judges and top public servants will enjoy pay rises of up to $12,000 a year from next week, pushing backbench MPs’ base pay above $200,000 for the first time.

At a time of record low wage growth and rising government debt, the Remuneration Tribunal awarded a 2 per cent pay rise to all senior public office holders yesterday, following another 2 per cent pay rise in January last year.

The latest rise was necessary “to attract and retain” people of “calibre”, the tribunal said, pointing out that minimum wage workers would receive a 3.3 per cent pay rise ($22.20 a week) from next month and public sector wages had increased 2.4 per cent over the year to March.

The boost means backbenchers’ pay, excluding allowances, will rise by just under $4000 to $203,020.

The Prime Minister will get a $10,350 pay rise to $527,854; the High Court chief justice’s base pay will rise $11,461 to $584,511.

“There has been a notable ­increase in submissions to the tribunal seeking higher remun­eration for offices and individual office holders based at least in part on private sector remuneration,” the tribunal said.

It suggested the era of “economic restraint” that saw pay rise deferrals in 2014 and 2015 was over.

 

Falling private sector wage growth, which earlier this week prompted Reserve Bank governor Philip Lowe to invite workers to ask for a rise, rose 1.9 per cent over the year to March.

The Human Rights Commission president’s pay will rise to $423,650.

Some MPs questioned the pay rise last night. Liberal Democrats senator David Leyonhjelm said: “I think we are already very well paid and don’t need a pay increase at the moment. Given the state of the budget in particular, it’s ill-timed.”

Greens leader Richard Di ­Natale said “people have had a gutful”. “At a time when income inequality is out of control and wages are going nowhere, politicians get a pay rise,” he said.

Cabinet ministers, currently paid a base salary of $343,344, will get nearly $7000 extra and will now be paid $350,210 a year.

Heads of the 18 government ­departments in Canberra, who earn up to $861,700 a year, will enjoy pay rises of between $9500 and $12,063, the latter going to the secretary of the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet.

The tribunal said public office holders were making financial sacrifices. “Office holders serve for the public good (and) many of these office holders do not expect or require that monetary compensation be set at private sector levels,” the tribunal said.

The pay increase will occur as the government’s 2 per cent budget repair levy on top-rate taxpayers end.

“This represents an increase of 1.6 per cent per annum over the 18 months since the last general increase” effective from January 2016, the statement said, noting increases were not granted in 2014 and 2015.

MPs also receive a non-taxable $276 allowance for every night of the 18 weeks a year they are in Canberra.

“This decision is a slap in the face for the thousands of commonwealth public sector workers whose wages have been frozen for well over three years as they’ve been stuck fighting for their basic workplace rights and conditions,” said Community and Public Sector Union national secretary Nadine Flood.

The 170,000 federal public servants have not had a general pay rise since the Coalition was elected in 2013 and have been locked in a battle over renewal of enterprise agreements.

Staff at the Defence Department on Wednesday became the second major department to agree to an enterprise deal which will bring a 6 per cent increase over the next 18 months.

Staff at the Australian Taxation Office and at the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet are voting on the pay deal today.

“This decision will certainly give frontline public sector workers the impression that there’s one set of rules for them and quite another for those at the top,’’ Ms Flood said.

Public Service Commissioner John Lloyd said Ms Flood’s comments were “misleading”.

“The main reason for the delay in employees receiving a pay increase is the CPSU’s persistent campaign opposing salary increases that have been on offer for 3 years for most of the employees. The increases offered have been for an average 2% a year over a 3 year term,” he told The Australian.

“The generous pay and conditions of public servants are not under threat.”

Source: The Australian

 

Shayne Neumann
Shayne Neumann Inga Williams

BLAIR MP Shayne Neumann has encouraged Ipswich employers to give people over 50 a chance to get back into the workforce.

“There’s no question that over 50s face challenges when trying to get back into work,” he said.

“Family pressures and age discrimination can all make it tough for those trying to hold down a job, particularly if they’re re-entering the workforce after a while out.

With an ageing population, it’s never been more important to ensure older Australians are able to get into the workforce..

Whether it’s volunteering, doing a course at TAFE or enrolling at university, keeping your skills and experiences up to date is always helpful when it comes to looking for a job.”

The MP encouraged Ipswich business owners to employ people over 50.

“Having over 50s engaged in the workforce is not only good for employers; it’s good for Ipswich as a whole,” he said.

“They can contribute unparalleled skills, bring a life time of experiences, and help mentor and train younger workers.

“They make our workforces smarter, more productive, and more experienced.”

Source:  Queensland Times

One in two hiring managers have witnessed age discrimination in their organisations’ recruitment processes, according to research released today.

The Robert Walters whitepaper, based on a survey of more than 930 hiring managers and 1,500 professionals in Australia and New Zealand, shows many professionals also reported experiencing age discrimination during their careers.

Some 74 per cent of Baby Boomers said they had been discriminated against in a job interview because of their age, followed by 36 per cent of Gen X workers and 34 per cent of Gen Y workers, the research found.

And on top of the 50 per cent of hiring managers who had seen age discrimination in their organisation’s recruitment, 58 per cent said they had seen colleagues overlooked for career progression because of their age.

Gen Y claim to be the most hard done by in this area, with 84 per cent claiming they were discriminated against, followed by 54 per cent of Baby Boomers and 33 per cent of Gen X.

The whitepaper blames unconscious bias, saying an example of this is the disconnect between the different age groups’ stated work preferences, and how hiring managers view them.

Source: Generation gaps? Mythbusting assumptions about age in the workforce

Ageism ‘too salient to ignore’

Another study, conducted by University of South Australia academics, found nearly a third of people had experienced some form of age-related discrimination while employed or looking for work in the past 12 months, according to researcher Justine Irving.

Irving told HR Daily that while studying retirement intentions, the researchers found significant evidence of ageism, which was “so salient that we thought, ‘we can’t ignore this'”.

In their resulting survey of 2,100 people aged 45 years and over, the researchers found many believed they had been on the receiving end of negative assumptions regarding their skills, learning abilities or cognition.

“There was a perception of older workers that because they were a certain age they would struggle to pick up new work systems, particularly technological-based systems,” Irving says.

There was also an assumption they would take longer to learn new things, and work more slowly, she says.

Negative generalisations about employees’ work capacity as they get older is “quite systemic”, she adds, noting ageism isn’t specific to the workforce. “It actually crosses all different levels of society, so I think that in the workplace, you just see it because it’s something that affects people’s ability to maintain and retain work.

“I believe it is slowly changing, but I think it’s just one of those things that will take time.”

The researchers also found participants experienced limited opportunities for training and promotion, Irving says.

“There was an assumption that ‘they’re a bit older, they’re likely to retire in the near future, it’s not something they would be interested in’.”

Participants reported that when they were asked to act in management or supervisor roles, they were often not considered for the position permanently – “they were always looked at as temporary or stop gaps, rather than actually being considered as somebody appropriate for that role into the future”.

Another finding was that when people decided to change careers or move state, for example, and had long work histories, higher education levels, and extensive experience and qualifications, they would suddenly “hit a wall” in their careers.

“So they would put their applications in, everything would go along swimmingly, until they got to the interview stage, and they said that they would see the [recruiters’] faces change once they saw them, and they put that down to their age,” Irving says.

“A lot of recruiters would tell them, ‘oh you weren’t considered, I’m sorry, because you’re overqualified or too experienced’, but how these people interpreted that – because they heard it so often – was ‘this just means you’re too old’.”

To ensure age discrimination doesn’t occur in the workplace, HR professionals must first identify whether employees have conscious, or unconscious, age-related assumptions, Irving says.

“Some people don’t think they have ageist attitudes, but if they looked at the way they judged a particular applicant or looked at their own policies, or their recruitment break up, perhaps they might see there are patterns emerging,” she says.

Educating and training managers to “rebut age-related negative assumptions and generalisations”, and having policies that encourage diversity and inclusion in the workforce, can also help, she adds.

Robert Walters recommends employers help managers and employees identify unconscious bias and factor this into their decision-making.

Source:  hrdaily

Employers have been encouraged to consider older job candidates, after an 89-year-old man in the UK who claimed he was “dying from boredom” successfully found a job.

The Guardian reports Joe Bartley, an elderly resident of Devon, England, posted a job advert in the local newspaper last month seeking 20 hours of work a week.

“Senior citizen 89 seeks employment in Paignton area. 20hrs+ per week. Still able to clean, light gardening, DIY and anything. I have references. Old soldier, airborne forces. Save me from dying of boredom!” Bartley wrote.

Read more: One in four older Australians experience age discrimination at work: Study

Just two days after The Guardian’s article, Bartley received two offers of part-time work and has accepted a hospitality role with a local family-run café.

The café’s owner Sarah Martin told the Guardian, “no matter what your age or your background, you deserve a chance”.

“A lot of people who come here don’t just come for coffee, they come for a chat, so Joe is perfect,” Martin told The Guardian.

“How often do you get an 89-year-old person approaching you and saying he wants to work? Usually, we have to go out and find people, and when we get them, sometimes they don’t even want to work.”

Bartley also received a job offer from a bakery in a nearby town, but reportedly turned it down, as he could not easily travel to the business.

Psychologist Eve Ash believes businesses everywhere should consider hiring older workers, saying many of them a “defying expectations”.

“We typically don’t associate working with older people, we typically associate them with sitting around and taking it easy,” Ash says.

“We need to see fewer age judgements. There’s a perception once you hit 70, it’s time on from then on.”

“A whole new workforce”

Ash believes a whole new workforce exists in people over the age of 70, with older workers having “a different type of determination and stamina”. Ash’s own father still works as a land surveyor at the age of 92, with no plans to retire until he hits 100.

Some concessions do need to be made when considering older workers, Ash says, as “40 hour, nine to five jobs” are generally not suitable.

“At any age over 70 there are certain things need to be tested, like driving skills. Older workers are also more suited to shorter weeks and irregular working hours,” Ash says.

“There’s a wide range of things older people could be doing, like customer service or minding things.”

“We need to remove these concepts of age [limiting] employability potential.”

Ash says more evidence is needed to see exactly what sort of jobs are suitable for older workers, but firmly believes they are more likely to “have the time and the care to do things”.

“We might discover they have amazing positive mood characteristics, and in the workplace, this is extremely important,” she says.

It was not reported how many hours Bartley would be working at the café, but on Sundays, he will catch a lift with his boss to work, while catching the bus the rest of the time.

“We think about these things all the time. We are never going to be rich, but we like to give something back, so when we saw the advert there was no question – the minute we saw it we knew we’d give him a job,” Martin told The Guardian.

Source: Startupsmart

competitionBy Alex Fradera

Places of work have become fairer thanks to their embrace of meritocracy: the idea that the best person for the job is the right person for the job. Formal assessment processes, for example, help ensure that interviews are granted on merit, rather than allocating them based on which resumes remind the hiring manager of a younger version of themselves. One consequence of meritocracy is the replacement of seniority-based promotion – you get a better position when “it’s your time” – with one based on ability, a development that means younger people with the appropriate skills can leapfrog older colleagues and end up managing them. Unfortunately, according to new research in the Journal of Organizational Behavior, this can have nasty repercussions.

Florian Kunze and Jochen Menges surveyed employees at 61 German companies, based primarily in the service industry, but also finance, manufacturing, and trade. Nearly 8000 participants described their age difference in relation to their managers, and a subset reported their experience of various negative emotions over the last six months. Managers tended to be older than those they managed, but on average a quarter of relationships did involve younger managers. Crucially, in companies where the size of the age gap was larger between younger managers and older subordinates, employees tended to report more negative emotions, such as anger or fear, experienced over the last six months.

Why would this be? Consider how the older subordinates might feel. We tend to measure our life progress by using our peers as a benchmark, particularly those in our age cohort, who may provoke a flush of envy if they rise far past us. But more brutal yet is when those who should be behind us pull ahead, rubbing our faces in our own inability to keep pace. And when such a person is managing you, it’s hard to avoid this.

More broadly, being under the supervision of someone younger than us is a simple status incongruence, like being lectured on your dress sense by your precocious 8-year-old nephew. This is an engine for resentment-based negative emotions. Such emotions, Kunze and Menges suggest, can then reverberate through the wider organisation, especially – and as established by diversity research – because employees will typically pay more attention to what happens to colleagues who tend to stand out, or in this case, to relationships that deviate from the norm.

Kunze and Menges also asked the leadership of each company to report their recent financial performance, as well as measures of productivity and efficiency. After controlling for company size and efficiency, they found that companies experiencing more negative emotions showed worse performance on all counts. More youthful managers of older subordinates, therefore, contribute to worse company performance through the negative emotions their existence encourages, presumably through sapping morale and enthusiasm for collective effort in the face of so much frustration.

The data revealed a buffer against this harmful outcome, but it’s a bitter pill to ask anyone to swallow: when employees reported that suppressing their emotions was the norm in their organisation, age differentials didn’t lead to more negative emotions in the wider organisation. The researchers reasoned that when emotions are unexpressed, there is no signal to the rest of the workforce that something is up, so they can go about their days in blissful ignorance. But this isn’t to solve the problem, but to distil it into a smaller but more concentrated form, as long-term emotion suppression can lead to depression, damaged health, and impaired cognitive performance, a cruel fate to which to consign these older workers.

But companies shouldn’t “revert to the old workplace with traditional age structures”, say Kunze and Menges, because their research says nothing about the overall benefits of merit-based promotion. However, they do believe the negative repercussions that they’ve revealed should be addressed. One suggestion is to help older subordinates make sense of their feelings and explore whether they can come to terms with them rather than simply suppress them. Another suggestion, which I warmly advocate, is to address the root causes, changing the culture around “career time tables” and addressing issues of hierarchy and voice, so that old-timers, whether managers or not, can share their accrued wisdom and fully participate in the organisations to which they have given for so long.

 

 

72 per cent Aussie grandparents couldn’t imagine life without the internet.

Australian grandparents are now swapping their ‘knitting’ for ‘internetting’, with the explosion of smart devices and increased access to fast broadband taking over all aspects of their lives.

According to a new research report commissioned by nbn, the majority of tech-savvy grandparents, or ‘GranTechies’, now couldn’t imagine their life without the internet.

In fact, more than 90 per cent now admit to jumping online every day.

The key findings of the nbn™ GranTechies Report reveal that Aussie grandparents are now using access to fast broadband for tasks including staying in touch with family and friends via email and Skype, online shopping and downloading or streaming video content.

The report also found that grandparents believe themselves to be as tech-savvy as their children and grandchildren, with 59 per cent saying that they are just as internet-smart as their younger counterparts.

Perhaps more importantly, the nbn™ GranTechies Report discovered that using the internet makes Australian seniors feel more educated and purposeful, as well as feeling more connected and less lonely.

This demographic believe it’s important that they upskill and stay up-to-date with tech trends, with more than half saying that they are eager to learn more through online tutorials and with the help of family and friends.

When it comes to online communication, it is Millennial men who are leading the charge when it comes to staying in touch with the older generation via social media.

Forty four per cent in this demographic say they connect with their grandparents using outlets such as Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

According to Nan Bosler, President of the Australian Seniors Computer Clubs Association, “Gone are the days where we thought of grandparents as tech dinosaurs – this research shows senior Australians are well and truly riding the tech wave”.

Based on Sydney’s Northern Beaches, Nan helps other seniors to learn to use the internet, welcoming anyone over the age of 55 but working mainly with people in their late 70s and right up to their 90s.

“The most popular activity is keeping in touch with family and friends,” explains Nan.

“However, seniors also use the internet like everybody else… for shopping, researching family history, taking online courses and buying airline tickets. I even have lots of students who are addicted to YouTube!”

Nan herself has been using computers for many years, initially making the most of technology to upload and publish local history books.

“When the internet arrived it was a new vehicle to upload information about local and Australian history. It was too good to miss because it brings the whole world to your fingertips,” she explains.

Disagreeing with the idea that seniors find it hard to learn new things, Nan explains, “When you’re trying something new you’re going to be hesitant and worried about making a fool of yourself.

Seniors need to learn from their peers and at their own pace but once we gain confidence we are off and running.”

Nan also uses the internet to stay mentally active, having enrolled in an online university course. “You don’t have to travel; you can just enrol and get started”.

While seniors do have to be aware of the dangers of using the internet, Nan would like to see more of her age group using it confidently.

“It’s fabulous for keeping up with the grandkids. Although some of them need to remember to mind their p’s and q’s once Grandma is on social media!” she says.

Nan has been pleased to see that with widespread access to fast broadband via the nbn™ network, the ‘GranTechie’ demographic has been able to move beyond using the internet to simply keep in touch with family and friends and has progressed to becoming a community of more advanced online users that is able to show the younger folk a thing or two.

If your grandparents are eagre to get into the tech game, but aren’t sure how, here are some tips of helping them get started.

 

 

 


A legal action initiated by the Fair Work Ombudsman has resulted in a penalty of $126,540 against a businessman “centrally involved” in a Brisbane cleaning company, the highest ever penalty secured by the FWO against an individual.

In a release, the FWO outlines the penalty against businessman Bijal Girish Sheth, who was involved with Queensland based cleaning company Brisclean Pty Ltd. The penalty was decided in the Federal Circuit Court as a result of action by the FWO.

The case considered whether Sheth was deliberately breaching sham-contracting laws by misclassifying four migrant employees as independent contractors, who were then underpaid. On top of the near-$130,000 penalty, he has been ordered to back-pay the workers $59,878.

Read more: Two businessmen fined over $130,000 in staff wage deductions as four-year long Fair Work case comes to an end

The business paid the workers as little as $17 dollars an hour and did not pay them at all for some work. The court ordered that if Sheth does not comply with the back-pay order, that part of the imposed penalty will be paid to the workers instead, according to the Fair Work Ombudsman’s release on the case.

Another worker was also misclassified, but due to a lack of records, the amount they were underpaid could not be determined. The affected workers are two Indian visa holders and another three immigrants who are now permanent residents.

As the company was placed into administration last year, the FWO could not pursue penalties against the company. Instead it used the Fair Work Act’s accessorial liability provisions to seek a penalty against Sheth.

Principal lawyer at McDonald Murholme Andrew Jewell told SmartCompany that “section 550 of the Fair Work Act deems that a person ‘involved in’ a breach of the Fair Work Act is taken to have personally breached the Fair Work Act”.

“Accordingly, that person is required to pay compensation and is liable for payment of a penalty.”

This is not the first time Brisclean was warned by the Ombudsman, with the FWO cautioning Sheth about sham-contracting previously. Fifteen other allegations of underpayment were made against the company, according to Fair Work.

Jewell believes the history of complaints would have contributed to the severity of the penalty in a case like this.

“The penalty is so high because of the history of complaints and the seriousness of the conduct,” Jewell says.

“Courts are generally relatively lenient towards accidental breaches or first offences, however deliberate breaches and a continued disregard for the law will result in significant penalties.”

A warning to “rogue operators”

Fair Work Ombudsman Natalie James said in the release that the scale of the penalty should serve as a warning to rogue operators across the nation.

“Even if you liquidate your company, it’s no guarantee of avoiding the consequences of non-compliance with the Fair Work Act,” James said.

“Any rogue business operator who thinks they can short-change workers and get away with it by shutting their company down should think again. We will seek to hold you to account at every available opportunity and you should be aware that we treat exploitation of vulnerable, migrant workers particularly seriously.”

Jewell says it is “common practice” for directors to be named personally, both in cases where the “financial viability of the business in is doubt or where an applicant seeks an additional penalty”.

“This prevents the directors from using a corporation to avoid liability,” he says.

The FWO said in a statement it believes Sheth to be operating the business under a new entity and will be referring the case to the Australian Securities and Investments Commission.

According to ASIC’s published insolvency notices, four separate applications for winding up orders have been submitted against Brisclean.

James has advised the cleaning industry will “continue to be a priority” for the Fair Work Ombudsman, stating, “Business models that involve exploitation of vulnerable workers are not acceptable and will not be tolerated”.

Jewell believes the nature of the industry attracts workers who do not have comprehensive knowledge of their rights.

“It would appear that the cleaning industry attracts workers without knowledge of their employment rights, such as migrant workers or students,” he says.

Jewell advises businesses wanting to ensure they are paying workers correctly to consult a lawyer or the FWO for guidance.

SmartCompany attempted to contact Brisclean, but was unable to reach the company, and was also unable to contact Sheth.

Monday, 01 August 2016

Employers should make flexibility the “default position” for how work is performed to increase the workforce participation of older workers and people with disability, Age and Disability Discrimination Commissioner Susan Ryan says.

Ryan, whose term as Commissioner ends on Wednesday, told a Diversity Council Australia event last week that age and disability discrimination is a “growing problem”, but that turning negative attitudes into positive ones “is not beyond us”.

The Australian Human Rights Commission’s inquiry into the issue found that at April 2015 some 27 per cent of people aged over 50 had recently experienced workplace discrimination; and in the previous 12 months, nearly one in 12 Australians with disability reported experiencing discrimination or unfair treatment.

It also found employers were struggling to find information and support, Ryan said, adding that she was disappointed with employers’ lack of awareness of support services such as JobAccess and the Employee Assistance Fund, which provide organisations with advice and reimbursements for the costs of work-related modifications that help employees with disability.

“Discrimination is costly – it contributes to higher absenteeism, lower productivity, higher staff turnover, and increased recruitment costs, as well as lost business opportunities as a result of abandoning experienced, skilled and corporate knowledge,” she said.

“On the other hand, we also know that organisations that are inclusive and diverse report tangible benefits in terms of productivity, performance and innovation.”

One way to build inclusion and diversity is flexible work, Ryan said, noting that during the inquiry, “virtually every submission and consultation” identified workplace flexibility as an “important element to raise workforce participation”.

“Businesses should seek to normalise flexible work by making flexibility the default position in terms of work location, work hours and job design as far as the role allows,” she said.

In March 2016, NSW Premier Mike Baird announced that all public service jobs would be flexible by 2019 on the basis of “if not, why not”, she said by way of example.

Several other best practice examples are included in a guide released at last week’s event. These include Catholic Homes, which allows for flexibility in shift work; and Commonwealth Bank, which has a number of tools to help managers and employees make flexible arrangements work.

PwC report supports flexibility recommendation
Adding to the evidence that flexible work is good for business, PricewaterhouseCoopers last week released
its Golden Age Index – a weighted average of seven indicators that reflect the labour market impact of workers aged over 55 in 34 OECD countries.

The Index shows Australia has improved in the rankings since 2003, moving from 20th place to 16th in 2014. It performs poorly when compared to other Asia-Pacific countries, however, ranking last in the region, and below the US and Canada.

If Australia increased the participation rate of people aged over 55 to match that of Sweden, it could increase its GDP by about 4.7 per cent ($69 billion at 2014 values), according to the Index.

PwC says employers should adopt flexible working policies, such as ‘phased retirement’ or expanded training programs, to support older workers.

“They should also take steps to achieve age diversity, for example through opening up apprenticeship schemes to older workers so that they can capitalise on their experience,” it says.

AccorHotels, for example – which both the PwC report and the AHRC guide refer to as exemplifying best practice – supports older workers by providing them with a work experience and placement program.

The five-day training program involves work health and safety, complaints and feedback, and basic front office services training, and includes two days of on-the-job work experience in their selected department, as well as interviews with the talent and culture team to prepare them for job placement.

Willing to Work – Good practice examples: A resource for employers, AHRC, July 2016

Golden Age Index, PwC, July 2016