Bellingen Business Builders

Posted on 06. Mar, 2012 by andrew in News, events

This year the Bellingen Chamber of Commerce is running a program called ‘Bellingen Business Builders’. It is a business support group to encourage sharing among business operators of their experience, knowledge and insight. There will be a learning component and group discussion on topics nominated by the group as issues for Bellingen businesses. See attached flyer and come and join us and contribute your knowledge and experience to the group.

Download Flyer

Survivor – Bellingen Business

Posted on 26. Nov, 2011 by andrew in News, Uncategorized, events

At the upcoming Bellingen Chamber of Commerce summer business breakfast on 2nd December at the Old Butter Factory we will be exploring sustainable business and what it may mean for you and your business in 2012.

BCoC Summer Breakfast Flyer_ 11

Sustainable Business

Posted on 26. Nov, 2011 by andrew in News, Uncategorized, events

Sustainable business means different things to different people. A common question I ask is ‘How much of your profit walks out the door each day in your garbage bin?”. Practical recycling has been a passion of mine for much of my life. My ‘other’ life is that of a vermiculturalist running ‘Promised Land Worm Products’. We have just launched a new web site for worms on the web at Go and check it out. What is waste and what is resource in your business? Moving just a few items from one group to the other will go straight to your bottom line, and reduce your carbon footprint at the same time. Ask us about practical recycling options available to your business.

Just 1 Job Program

Posted on 04. Jul, 2011 by andrew in News, Uncategorized, events, research

BCoC & Nortec to Boost Bello Jobs

With HumanHand

Bellingen Chamber of Commerce (BCoC) applied to Nortec’s Community Grants Initiative for a grant to run our ‘Just 1 Job’ program. NORTEC Employment and Training is a not-for-profit organisation that provides employment and training solutions for local employers and jobseekers, while contributing to the community in socio and economic capacity building initiatives. We were successful with our application and thank Nortec for the opportunity to begin the program in July.

BCoC secretary and program coordinator, Andrew Sommerville said the Bellingen Chamber of Commerce understands that Bellingen’s local economy is flat at the moment, just like many other areas. But we also recognise that we can’t sit around waiting for something to happen to make it better. There is no magic wand to fix economic conditions. The only fix is planning and strategy linked to action. We have to plan for the recovery, not hope for it. No one is going to do it for us, so if we want change we have to initiate it ourselves. If we work together as a business community we can make a big difference. We want to sustain the existing jobs in the town and look at innovative ways to create new sustainable jobs for the future.

As a HR and Business Coach with HumanHand HR Help, I work with many local businesses. There are 3 characteristics I see in successful businesses:

  • The business owner/manager are passionate about their business and its future. They speak positively about business, staff and the future.
  • They have highly engaged and committed staff. They are inspired by the owner/managers positive outlook and passion and want to work for the business. They want to be successful in their jobs and contribute to the success of the business.
  • Their planning is linked to action. The business has plans in place. They have goals and targets and these are communicated to all staff. All staff, the team, work towards achieving the goals.

I want to see all Bellingen’s businesses exhibit these characteristics, and grow and be successful.

The ‘Just 1 Job’ program will consist of a series of 5 workshops run monthly for 15 participating businesses. It will culminate in a jobs expo held in early December in conjunction with Nortec Employment and Training, to showcase these employers to job seekers. The aim will be to work on the 3 characteristics noted above of successful businesses. We want to ‘flick the switch’ to stop talking about the negatives and start talking positively and passionately about our future. We want to improve our people management to get staff engaged and inspired. We want to plan for the recovery and get the whole team working towards it.

Working with the employer and employees, the program is a catalyst for open discussion in the workplace about how changes, improvements and adjustments can be made to create better workplaces, improve employee engagement and productivity and create a culture of shared responsibility.  It aims to innovate, sustain and create jobs in the Bellingen community by working with local employers to strengthen their businesses, plan for recovery and generate new opportunities.

The ‘Just 1 Job’ program has been adapted from a book (What can I do – Create, Sustain & Innovate Jobs written by Louise Broekman of the HR Coach Group of Companies 2009) and a workshop program developed as a one on one coaching tool. It was a response to the GFC, but is just as relevant in our current economic situation. I have adapted it as a series of group workshops. The idea is to develop partnerships and networks (BCoC, employers, employees, Bellingen Shire Council and Employment and training companies) and all work together to make a difference.

For more information about the Just 1 Job Program, or to be a participant, contact BCoC Secretary Andrew Sommerville on 0447 647 828 or email or go to

Paid Parental Leave

Posted on 04. Jul, 2011 by andrew in News, Uncategorized, events, research

From 1 July, employers also become responsible for the administration of Paid Parental Leave entitlements (PPL) for eligible employees.

If an employee makes an application to the Family Assistence Office (FAO) for PPL, and the employee is eligible, the procedure is:

• The FAO will contact the employer to request information to enable payments to be processed.

• The FAO will make payments to employer which must be paid to the employee as if the payments were salary or wages.

To make things a little easier, employers can pre register with the Family Assistence Office online to speed up the process.

Unfair Dismissal: Remuneration Threshold Increases to $118,100

Posted on 04. Jul, 2011 by andrew in News, Uncategorized, events, research

From 1 July 2011 the high income threshold will increase from $113,800 to $118,100. This is particularly relevant to:

• unfair dismissal eligibility; and

• the application of Modern Awards.

Unfair Dismissal Eligibility

Under the Fair Work Act 2009 only “eligible” employees can bring an unfair dismissal claim with Fair Work Australia. One test for eligibility is whether the employee earns over the high income threshold.

The increase to the high income threshold means that employees who earn over $118,100 (and are not covered by a modern award or enterprise agreement) cannot bring an unfair dismissal claim.

Application of Modern Awards

An employer can exclude the application of Modern Awards in relation to employees who earn over the high income threshold. To exclude the application of Modern Awards, employers must provide high income employees with a guarantee of annual earnings. This guarantee takes the form of an undertaking and can be included in an employee’s contract or set out in a separate agreement.

Calculation of an Employee’s Earnings

To determine whether an employee is earning over $118,100 an employer should calculate their wages, amounts paid on behalf of the employee or at the employee’s discretion (such as salary sacrifice arrangements) and the agreed value of non-monetary benefits.

However, an employee’s “earnings” do not include payments for which a value is not ascertainable in advance (such as variable performance bonuses), reimbursements or employer contributions to superannuation.

Further information

If you require any further information email

2011 Minimum Wage Decision – What it Means for You

Posted on 07. Jun, 2011 by andrew in events, research

Fair Work Australia’s minimum wage panel released its 2011 Annual Minimum Wage Decision on Friday, 3 June 2011. Under the Fair Work Act 2009, the Minimum Wage Panel of Fair Work Australia must conduct an annual wage review in each financial year.

The decision handed down by the Panel on Friday increases the national minimum wage to $589.30 per week or $15.51 per hour. This constitutes an increase of $19.40 per week or 51 cents per hour being the equivalent of a 3.4% minimum wage increase. The decision takes effect from the first pay period commencing on or after 1 July 2011

The 2011 Minimum Wage Decision applies to all employees covered by the national workplace relations system in effect, increasing pay rates for minimum wage and modern award employees, all transitional Australian Pay and Classification Scale employees, State reference transitional award and Division 2B State enterprise award employees. The decision will not apply to:

• employers who are sole traders and partnerships in Western Australia;

• corporations in Western Australia whose main activities are not trading or financial;

• state government public sector employers and employees (except in Victoria); and

• some local government employers and employees.

If an employee is paid above the relevant modern award base rate of pay, provided an employee’s over award payment still results in them being paid at least the base rate of pay, the employer will be considered to have met their obligation with respect to the minimum wage increase.

Employers have a legal responsibility to ensure that all of their employees are paid at least what they would receive under a modern award, registered agreement or national minimum wage order. We recommend a review of your payroll obligations to ensure you are meeting your responsibilities in readiness for 1 July 2011.

Should you require any assistance in reviewing your payroll obligations or would like to discuss this decision further please contact HumanHand HR Help on 0447 647 828 or

Article by Jo-Anne Chong

Brodie Panlock’s Law – Jail Workplace Bullies

Posted on 05. Apr, 2011 by andrew in events, research

BULLIES will face up to 10 years’ jail under changes to stalking laws to be introduced in Australia this week.

The changes were prompted by the death of teenage waittress Brodie Panlock, who killed herself after being bullied by her workmates.

“Brodie’s Law”, which is likely to be passed in Victoria this week, adds workplace and cyber bullying to the state’s Crimes Act.

Have you got appropriate policies and procedures in place in your business??
From – Read more:

Unfair Dismissal

Posted on 04. Apr, 2011 by andrew in events, research

HR Coach Employee Services – Unfair Dismissal- A Guide for Employers

The recent decision by a full bench at Fair Work Australia in Dianna Smith T/A Escape Hair Design v Sally-Anne Fitzgerald [2011] FWAFB 1422 (15 March 2011) upholding an unfair dismissal finding is a timely reminder for employers to ensure they observe the correct procedures when considering terminating an employee, and that they have clear guidelines in place for the use of social media where employees comment on their place of work.

The case dealt with an appeal against a decision in which the employer was found to have unfairly dismissed an employee for, inter alia, posting comments on facebook about her employer.

The employee had not received her holiday pay in cash and her bonus had been smaller than expected. She posted the following on her facebook page: “Xmas ‘bonus’ along side a job warning, followed by no holiday pay!!! Whoooooo! The Hairdressing Industry rocks man!!! AWSOME!!!”

In her original findings (which were accepted by the full bench) the Commissioner commented that:
“Postings on Facebook and the general use of social networking sites by individuals to display their displeasure with their employer or a co-worker are becoming more common.” She then went on to say that “It is well accepted that behaviour outside working hours may have an impact on employment ‘to the extent that it can be said to breach an express term of [an employee’s] contract of employment’”.

In this case as the employee did not name the salon where she worked the Commissioner found that there would be no adverse effect. However the lesson for employers is that such postings could be in breach of an employee’s conditions of employment where there is a clear definition of what is acceptable in the context of social media, and what the consequences are when those conditions are breached. Clearly then the solution for employers is to ensure their suite of policies and procedures includes a social media policy which deals directly with such matters as:

• The nature of conduct that the employer seeks to protect itself against
• Who should such a policy apply to for example, the entire business or levels within the business
• The nature of control over social media use for example, a total ban, limited use, total accessibility
• Authority limits or restrictions for use for example, is permission required, content pre-approval, who is responsible for such approvals
• What can or cannot be discussed on social media forums
• What logos, icons, ideas can or cannot be published on social media forums
• What disclaimers or other information must be included when participating in a social media forum
• The nature of behaviour that is acceptable or unacceptable
• When it is and isn’t acceptable to use or participate in a social media forum
• Reporting any breach
• Consequences of breach

In relation to unfair dismissal, section 385 of The Fair Work Act provides that a person has been unfairly dismissed if:

• The person has been dismissed; and
• The dismissal was harsh, unjust or unreasonable; and
• The dismissal was not consistent with the Small Business Fair Dismissal Code; and
• The dismissal was not a case of genuine redundancy.
• The following guidelines aim to assist employers in ensuring they do not dismiss an employee unfairly and incorporate the comments from the full bench in the above case.

Employers – What to Do

• Have a clear policy about the use of social media by employees and ensure employees are aware of the consequences of posting comments on social media sites that may concern the employer.
• Provide a warning letter outlining in detail the employee’s unacceptable behaviour and what they can do to correct it. Eg “It is unacceptable to consistently arrive late to work. You are required to be at work no later than 8.30am from Monday to Friday”.
• Give the employee an opportunity to correct their behaviour- it is good practice to set a review date 3-4 weeks after the warning letter has been sent.
• Ensure that the employee is notified of the specific behaviour(s) that may lead to their termination so that they have an opportunity to respond- advising the employee of the reason for termination at the time they are terminated is not sufficient.
• Note an exception to the requirement to give a warning where there is serious misconduct by the employee- this would include theft, fraud, violence and serious breach of OH&S procedures.
• If there are circumstances particular to an employee that would indicate the employee is under emotional stress or strain (eg death of friend or family member) then it is prudent for the employer to ensure a support person is present when warning or advising the employee in relation to their termination.

For further details about social media policies, unfair dismissal or any other workplace issue please contact: HumanHand HR Help 0447 647 828.

This is an extract from the HR Coach Newsletter March 2011.

HR Seminar Series – Coffs Harbour

Posted on 08. Jun, 2010 by andrew in events

The next FREE seminar in Coffs Harbour :-

Are you concerned about the new IR laws?

Not sure if your business complies?

What is ‘Fair Work Act 2009′, ‘National Employment Standards’, “Modern Awards’

Come along and find out how the new IR landscape will affect your business.

Coffs Harbour 6th July 2010 3.30pm to 5.30pm.

FWA Seminar Invitation & IR Checklist