Post COVID HR Considerations for Small Business

Job Keeper 2.0 provisions will cease on 28 March 2021.   This includes any Job Keeper enabled stand down directions or agreements that were put in place last year.

These upcoming changes may present many challenges for employers who have been relying on the Job Keeper provisions to support their business, resulting in potential financial strain.  Many clients have already considered cost saving measures to reduce expenses while business rebuilds, and life returns to some degree of normalcy.   While change can be scary, it also presents a wonderful opportunity to really evaluate your business operations and take an honest account of what’s working and what could be done better.  Some options you may like to consider, include:

  • Re-negotiating office leases and reducing physical office space.  Now that many employees are working from home you may be able to make adjustments or consider renting out available office space to generate an additional source of income;
  • Placing a hold on discretionary bonus payments.  This only applies if the bonus does not form part of a contractual term included in an Employment Agreement;
  • Looking at restructures and in some cases, redundancies may be necessary

Whatever approach your business takes, it is imperative to start thinking about your options and commence a consultation process with employees.  Be sure to check the requirements outlined in the relevant Industrial Agreement, such as Awards or EBA’s, regarding your obligations.

If you are considering having to make a position redundant, one of the considerations we find many employers overlook is the topic of redeployment.

What is redeployment?

Redeployment is the employer’s obligation to find a person who used to hold a redundant role, another role within the business.  It’s important to consult the relevant enterprise agreement and your organisation’s internal redundancy policy to determine your obligations regarding redeployment.

A compliant redeployment is one where the employer has given due consideration to identify roles which may be suited to the skills and experience of the employee. This does not mean you must create a role to suit the employee’s circumstances, however the employer should at the very least have a conversation to determine if the employee may have additional skills outside of those utilised in their current role.

A reasonable level of training may also be required to facilitate a successful redeployment and this is also something that employers must consider.  Simply providing a list of vacancies and asking the employee to apply may not be enough to satisfy your obligations regarding redeployment.

Communication is key!  While this year is presenting a number of different challenges for clients we always recommend being as open and transparent as possible.  This assists in ensuring smooth transitions while maintaining the emotional well-being of everyone involved.  For support in managing any of these HR related processes, please reach out to a member of our team.