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The Forum > Article Comments > A costly solution for small business > Comments

A costly solution for small business : Comments

By Irfan Yusuf, published 15/11/2007

Removing unfair dismissal laws may encourage employees to seek other legal remedies.

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Irfan, having attacked you often about the topic of many of your items I must, in fairness, congratulate you in writing this item.

Could I enquire if that question from the recent graduate was yourself?

On message.

You are spot on about the problem of unfair dismissal. My own work experience included many years as a HR manager and one of our main roles was to monitor 12 month probationary periods (Public services, both Fed and State) prior to confirming an employee as permanent.

That 12 months allowed honest supervisors to document issues, counselling, assistance, training, response and the things that process is supposed to include. And to dismiss unsuitable staff. That could occur early in an extreme case or at the end if the employee acknowledged and tried to improve but still didn't make it.

It was not always honest and many supervisors initially used to just write "Satisfactory" and then complain after their employment was confirmed as permanent. Too late, they were then permanet staff.

So much of our time was actually spent trying to elicit honest and detailed summaries of the employee's record, attitudes and so on. Still didn't get 100% result of course as people often preferred to lie rather than confront the problem in the hope the employee would get promoted and thus solve their problem without conflict. We found many ways to get around this reluctance though. Simple things like a chat at the pub often revealed the truth.

I see that counselling/monitoring issue as being the real nub of the unfair dismissal problem. Employers don't know how to counsel, how to assist and where there is a tight labour market they know they can just dispose of a person and get another with no consequences under NoWorkChoices. The costs in legal cases of course can be devastating to small businesses but that comes back to the business owner's ability as a manager to treat his staff as human beings and not tools.

Are you able to write another, or more items, giving more info about other options you refer to?
Posted by pegasus, Thursday, 15 November 2007 9:14:33 AM
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Ye gods the Public Service is not the Real world,if an employer cant tell that a worker is a dud after a day they should not be in business at all,to much hand wringing over this unfair dismissal.
The Labour policy give the employer a year to see how the employee goes,I sometimes wonder how I got through my life working in the Building game, I was sacked quite a few times,never needed a shoulder to cry on over it,you just grin and get on with it.
Wonder who,s going to council the Liberal Pollies after the 24th
Posted by j5o6hn, Thursday, 15 November 2007 11:56:17 AM
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yes, j5, one of the few consolations of life in an oligarchy is watching the losers explain how "the cattle got it wrong, the ungrateful pigs!"
Posted by DEMOS, Thursday, 15 November 2007 3:20:09 PM
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You fail to understand mate. You can easily dispose of an employee after a day in the Public Service. The problem is as I have pointed out. Supervisors are not honest and fail to do their job as managers. That applies to private enterprise as well.

Your response about the Public Service reflects an opinion that was relevant until the early 70's. A myth.

I'd also suggest you are confusing the continuing short funding of all Public Services by politicians with that outdated vision. An example. The staff at hospitals today cannot handle the workload as much as they try.

By the by all those Budgets that Howard claims as his own are all prepared by public servants but not one of them gets any credit. Howard claims he wrote them all with Pete. BS. And yes, Howard too is a public servant. Just one who gets elected. If Howard says we have the best economy ever then that credit largely belongs to public servants, not him. Same same at State level.

The counselling I refer to is critical to any legal case and that is why so many small businesses were hit with unfair dismissal actions. They too don't understand an employer's role. As you clearly don't.

You clearly don't understand the 12 month provision at all. It is not a right to a job for 12 months as you seem to suggest. It is a period during which employees can be dismissed but based on work performance or lack of.

At any time during that 12 months an employee can be dismissed fairly under Labor's proposal. It depends on whether the employer has treated the employee fairly.

It's that simple. Fair or not fair. It's about process and this is where employers constantly expose themselves to legal action from the lawyer sharks Irfan refers to.

I guess I can't blame you too much for the lack of knowledge as both politicians and media continue to present the vision you have as fact.
Posted by pegasus, Thursday, 15 November 2007 3:49:36 PM
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J5o6hn is right that it doesn't take 12 months to ascertain if a person can do the job. The building trade has standardised the work so that you always build joists the same way and always connect to electricity or the sewer the same way. The blowtorch of Taylorism was applied to our production lines so that a manager could tell in a morning whether someone was a hard worker or a bludger.

However Pegasus alluded to the fact that many office jobs have not be standardised and you can't expect the worker to be working at full pace in half a day, especially if there is background knowledge to be absorbed.

I reckon it takes 6 weeks to get up to max productivity in a mainframe programming role by the time you have been told the libraries where are programs are stored, as well as learnt the intricacies of the business environment before you can effectively deploy your programming skills.

Sadly the problem with the 12 month probation is that work relationships sour over time. So workers who are fired after 12 months on the job are probably capable workers who annoyed the boss. The worker can't afford to leave because how do they pay their rent, save for their old age. Low paid workers can't get mortgages unless they have a permanent as opposed to fixed term contract position.

The current superannuation regulations are very complicated and a large employer has to have a paymaster who knows how to calculate the pay, set aside the correct tax, garnisheered wages and superannuation amounts. Small employers don't have the skills to do this properly and there is limited supervision to ensure they apply all the laws correctly.

Employees have always preferred working for large employers for prestige, better training and professional opportunities, and now there is yet another reason to find employment with a large employer.
Posted by billie, Thursday, 15 November 2007 3:50:34 PM
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The two organisations I tried first were the Regional Partnerships and the Cape York Development Association, given their policies I thought honestly, they would want to build "micro-capacity" through sustainable development at ground levels,

Wrong! Most of the bosses are so up themselves they can't see their own navels. I have been insulted by this camp that many times it is profound.

Basic Community Engagement is just not on their agenda.

At ground levels there is an absolute (organisational) cultural deadlock.

Administration Reform is essential through regional goverment. There are so many "good workers" locked inbetween the chain of command that they appear to have numbed out. "Politc's as Usual" lives. (Lost is a Powerless 2nd level workforce)

1) I believe Canberra has become so distracted with the wars in Iraq (etc) it is why it has lost the real scent in its own back yard.

2) This burden to residents have meant Local Councils have done the same thing... at a local level.

3) I is why I designed the ID BOOM APPROACH and tried to get cooperation with the Chamber of Commerce. It is also why I wrote the CRIME PREVENTION (BLUE PRINT) as a basic development plan... given court cases and proper mediation is just to hard to activate from Cape York.

Our court would be empty if there was some justice in key representive areas.

We need to go beyond work choices.

Small Business Enterprise has real potential even for mini NGOs if the P/P inter-relationships become more credible.

My view is that we have some cleaning up to do between ourselves as a nation first.

They election does us good to see. The learning for those who are watching is already done us as a nation immense good.
Posted by miacat, Friday, 16 November 2007 2:35:08 AM
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