Wednesday, 23 February 2011 13:02

Sifting through employment awards

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During the past month, I have received many calls regarding employment – the majority seeking clarification from people on whether they are employing or being employed correctly.

It is not hard to see why there is so much confusion about employment in the dairy industry.  We have different rules for different states and for different operating structures. We work variable hours – often seven days a week. We also have several levels of award. And – to top it all off – dairy operators are often time poor when it comes to keeping up with their business administration.

So where do we start to get things right?

My first suggestion is to ensure - as employers and employees - we are familiar with ‘The People in Dairy’ website and its ‘People Advisors’ at . This site is targeted at helping with the answers to people questions and managing our people resource to develop long-term success in our businesses.

Let’s start with some of the basics, even though this will only scratch the surface.

Employers need to ensure their employees are recording the hours worked in an accurate and regular fashion.  This will provides the detail needed to ensure employees are being paid correctly for their efforts.

As a basic snapshot, employees are paid at normal rates for their first 152 hours worked over four weeks, then paid at overtime rates for any hours worked over 152 during a four week period. They are paid double time for overtime worked on a Sunday, while any public holidays are paid at double time or by way of a day in lieu.

To manage this correctly, employees’ wages and rates of pay need to be calculated and reviewed on a monthly basis – even if they are paid weekly or fortnightly. Of course there are some exceptions which relate to ‘Managers’, but the discipline of recording hours should still be applied.

Employers and employees should also be familiar with the Federal Pastoral Award 2010 and how this relates to the dairy industry.  This sets the platform on how we engage employees correctly.  The Federal Pastoral Award can be found by following the links to Awards on the ‘Fair Work Australia’ website  - or you can find a link to it on my website.

Both employers and employees should also be au fait with the correct classification of permanent, part time and casual employees and the respective requirements of each. Permanent is classified as 38 hours or greater per week and part-time is less than 38 hours. Meanwhile, casual is classified as on an as-needed basis and has different loadings compared with a part time or permanent work.

As we start the new calendar year, make a decision to become an employer of choice by learning more about this part of your business.  There are a number of resources out there to help those willing to put the effort in.

As I was told recently by a large employer: “People aren’t the problem they are the solution!”

Gavin McClay is a dairy based business consultant based in Victoria. He can be contacted on 0425 825 288, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or through his website:

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