Topic : Human Resources

Notes for Human resources

Below are the syllabus dot points of Human Resources. Click on the dot point to expand relvant information. These notes were written by;Hope Tzannes Click here to donate her

Strategic role of human resources

  • Management of relationships between employers/employees to achieve strategic goals
  • Includes recruitment, equal opportunity, training, development, separation
  • Innovation, design, quality, customer service, technology, and expertise in knowledge – all contribute to competitive edge
  • Staff costs are usually 60% of total operational costs
  • An effective workforce adds value to the business

Interdependance with other business functions

  • Operations > most employment in operations. HR contributes to planning, staff needs, acquiring employees
  • Marketing > involved in product design & development. HR train for their departments
  • Finance > Help HR achieve objectives, finance main source of performance measureable data


  • Outsourcing > involves the use of third-party specialists. It aims to take advantage of the specialist skills provided by the specialist and to achieve a reduction in labour costs
  • Advantages of Outsourcing
    • Allows small businesses access expertise
    • Allows review of internal processes
    • Business able to concentrate on core function
    • Can reduce costs
  • Disadvantages of Outsourcing
    • Cost savings not always achieved
    • Problems with external factors
    • Loss of Control


Human Resource Functions

  • Outsourcing may be used to review business practices and implement strategies to transform the business using independent consultants with no previous internal information

Using Contractors


  • Allows businesses to outsource functions such as payroll (legal expertise needed); or access contractors for leadership development (fresh perspectives gained)
  • Enables smaller businesses to access expertise (commercial and compliance) and “best practice” models, thus helping them compete with larger market players
  • Risks involved in subcontracting – loss of direct customer contact
  • g. small companies using tax agents/external accountants to prepare annual reports


  • Globalisation enables greater access to markets with cheaper labour costs with good skills sets
  • Process outsourcing: call centers, customer complaints etc.
  • Project outsourcing: involves intellectual property e.g. IT



  • Employers make sure there is enough staff to achieve the organisation’s goals. They implement strategies aimed to increase the profitability of the business
  • Goals: Efficient operation, successful competitor
  • Responsibilities: Legal responsibilities, those outlined in contract


  • Employees make sure to complete tasks, which are assigned by the employer in a lawful manner
  • Full time, part time, casual basis, temporary

Employer Associations

  • Employer associations lobby governments to develop policies to enhance the interests of the employer-employee relationship..
  • Purpose: Represent interest of employers in areas such as
    • Negotiation (employees and unions)
    • Develop policies


  • Their role is to protect and promote the interests of employees within the workplace. They assist with disputes and act as a bargaining agent in wage negotiations.
  • Represent group of employees on issues such as:
    • Safety & Health
    • Pay & Conditions
    • Industrial Conflicts
  • Peak union body: Australian Council of Trade Unions (ACTU)

Government Organisations

  • They establish the legal framework by the employers, employees and trade unions coexist and operate within the employment relationship. It has a number of key roles as legislator, employer, responsibility in the economic management of the country and administrator of government policies on industrial relations.

Federal Court of Australia

  • The court acts as an avenue for appeals regarding decision made by the Fair Work Commission. It can apply penalties to parties who breach legally binding decisions.

Fair Work Commission

  • The commission encourages the prevention and settlement of industrial disputes between employers and employees through conciliation and arbitration. It determines minimum wages through national wage case hearings and handle unfair dismissal claims.

Australian Human Rights Commission

  • The Commissionhas statutory powers to investigate and resolve complaints about alleged breaches of human rights against the Commonwealth and its agencies, including complaints regarding immigration detention. The Commission attempts to resolve complaints through a process known as conciliation.


  • Role of society is in terms of the values that people expect of employees and employers in the workplace.

Legal – the current framework

  • Laws made by parliaments and common law decisions form legal framework. They;
    • Provide protection for employees/employers
    • Provide guidelines to deal with disputes
    • Help create efficient and fair workplace
  • Moved from Centralised (collectivist approach) to Decentralised (negotiation between employee and employers) systems

Current Legal Framework

  • Designed to promote national economical prosperity and social inclusion for all Australians
  • Fair Work Act Provide laws that
    • Fair to working Australia
    • Flexible for Business
    • Take into account international labor obligations
  • Act and Regulations designed to
    • Ensure safety net that is fair
    • Ensure workplace agreements
    • Help employees balance work
    • Achieve productivity
  • Minimum Employment terms
    • Minimum weekly hours
    • Parental leave
    • Annual leave
    • Compassionate leave
    • Long Service leave


The Employment Contract

  • Employee Contract a legally binding, formal agreement between employer and employee
  • A written contract gives protection to both parties rather than a verbal contract
  • Usually employment contracts will be of two forms: contracts of indefinite duration and contracts of a fixed term
  • Contracts of Indefinite Duration allows employee to remain employed by the business until either the employee or the employer gives notice that they wish to terminate the employment
  • Contracts of a Fixed Term defines a date or upon completion of a specific task up to where the employees period of work exists


Common Law (Rights and Obligations of Employers and Employees)

  • Common law is developed by courts and tribunals, where judges make decisions based on the facts of a case, guided by precedent (decisions made in the past)
  • The body of common law is developed from decisions made by judges
  • Under common law, both parties (employers and employees) have basic obligations in any employment relationship, regardless of whether it is in a formal or informal contract
  • Employer Obligations:
    • Providing Work
    • Payment of income and expenses
    • Meeting requirements of industrial relations legislation
    • Duty of care > safety, providing necessary equipment
  • Employer Rights:
    • Employees work with care and responsibility
    • Employees will carry out their work according to their agreement/award
    • Notification of employee’s intention to take leave entitlements
    • Receiving formal advice of a workers intention to leave the business in accord 
with the award/agreement
  • Employee Obligations:
    • Correctly carry out duties
    • Ensure they maintain confidentiality
    • Take care and act safely in workplace
    • Follow written and verbal procedures and policies
    • Be honest, fair and work with integrity
    • Obey lawful commands
  • Employee Rights:
    • Paid for their work
    • Receiving at least the minimum award
    • Having all pay recorded by the employer
    • Receiving appropriate allowances

Minimum Employment Standards

  1. Maximum Weekly Hours of Work 38 hours per week, plus reasonable additional 
  2. Requests for Flexible Working Arrangements > parents of children under 
18 can request a change in working arrangements to assist with the child’s care
  3. Parental Leave and Related Entitlements > up to 12 months unpaid leave for every employee
  4. Annual Leave > up to 4 weeks paid leave per year
  5. Personal/Carers Leave and Compassionate Leave > 10 days paid carers leave, 2 days unpaid carers leave, 2 days compassionate leave
  6. Community Service Leave > Unpaid leave for voluntary emergency activities and up to 10 days paid for Jury Service
  7. Long Service Leave
  8. Public Holidays > Paid day off on a public holiday
  9. Notice of Termination and Redundancy Pay > up to 4 weeks notice of termination
  10. Provision of a Fair Work Information Statement >

Minimum Wage Rates

  • The minimum wage in Australia is an employee’s base rate of pay for the number of hours that they have worked and is determined by a modern award, enterprise agreement or the national minimum wage
  • The minimum wage is reviewed by a specialist Minimum Wage Panel of the Fair Work Commission each year and will take effect from the first pay period after 1 July of that year


  • An Award is a determination that explains the legally enforceable minimum terms and conditions that apply to a business or industry
  • Awards are used to reduce the confusion surrounding proper minimum employment entitlements
  • Currently 122 modern awards apply, except for some managers or higher income earners that are not covered by a modern award
  • Modern Awards Include:
  • Base pay rates
  • Type of employment
  • Allowances
  • Leave and leave loading
  • Hours of work
  • Superannuation entitlement
Redundancy conditions

  • Individual Flexibility Arrangements (IFA) > allows employer and employee to come to an agreement that varies the modern award or enterprise agreement to address their individual circumstances
  • IFA Can Only Address;
  • Overtime rates
  • Penalty Rates
  • Allowances
  • Leave Loading

Enterprise Agreements

  • Enterprise agreements are collective agreements made at a workplace level between an employer and a group of employees about terms and conditions of employment
  • They have broader terms/conditions than a modern award, and are an alternative
  • 3 Types of Enterprise Agreements;
    • Single-enterprise agreements > made between a single employer and a group of employee
    • Multi-enterprise agreements > made between two or more employers and groups of their employees. This may occur if they share common funding, operate collaboratively and have a common regulatory system, such as a group of hospitals.
    • Greenfields agreements > single-enterprise and multi-enterprise agreements relating to a genuine new enterprise of the employer that are made before any employees to be covered by the agreement are employed. Greenfields agreements are made with one or more relevant union
  • Enterprise Agreements;
    • Has been made with the genuine agreement of those involved
    • Passes a ‘better off overall test’ (BOOT) compared to the modern award
    • Does not include any unlawful terms or designated outworker terms
    • Covers a representative group of employees
    • Covers matters that may be included in an enterprise agreement
    • Has a specified nominal expiry date
    • Includes a dispute settlement procedure, including an option for disputes to be brought before an independent person, such as the Fair Work Commission, for arbitration if the parties agree to it
    • Includes a flexibility clause and a consultation clause, allowing for variations 
if required
    • Provides opportunities for employees to be represented by a bargaining representative and to bargain in good faith during the negotiation of an agreement

Other Employment Contracts



Work Health and Safety Compensation

  • Issued by the Commonwealth Government but governed by states and territories
  • Employers Must:
    • Provide staff with a safe working environment
    • Minimise Risks for both employees and common society
    • Take out workers’ compensation insurance
    • WH&S committees must be established if there is more than 20 employees
  • Employees must comply to these conditions
  • Unions also play an active role in WHS in ensuring these rules are being followed

Workers’ Compensation

  • Workers’ compensation provides a range of benefits to an employee related to their work. It is also provided to families of injured employees when the injury/disease was caused by, or related to, their work
  • State legislation covers employees for workers’ compensation, unless they are commonwealth government employees
  • Employers Must:
    • Take out a policy with a licensed insurer
    • Keep time and wages records, register of injuries and complete accident and internal investigation forms
    • Notify insurers of injuries within 48 hours
    • Provide financial compensation by those suffering the workplace injuries
    • Support them and aim for them to return to work ASAP
  • Compensation is based on;
    • Loss of wages for time off work
    • Medical and rehabilitation expenses, and costs of associated travel
    • Permanent impairment or loss of use of a part of the body
    • Pain and suffering if the damage is assessed as being over 10k
  • Worker’s payments will cease after 2.5 years, unless there is a total incapacity for work, which would then cease after 5 years

Common Law Redress

  • Common law redress can be sought where the employer or another employee has been negligent or breached their duty, leading to serious injury or death


  • Discrimination occurs when a policy or a practice disadvantages a person or a group because of a personal characteristic that is irrelevant to the performance of the work.
  • Has been enacted to protect employees from direct and indirect discrimination
  • To prevent discrimination, Employers need to;
    • Comply with legislation
    • Audit all policies and practises to ensure they don’t discriminate
  • Employers need to be Familiar with the following Legislations;
    • Human Rights and Equal Opportunities Commission Act 1986 (Commonwealth)
    • Affirmative Action (Equal Employement Opportunity for Women) Act 1986 (Commonwealth)
    • Sex Discrimination Act 1984 (Commonwealth)
    • Anti-Discrimination Act 1977 (NSW)
  • Effective Strategies;
    • Commiting to a workplace free of discrimination
    • Writing and Communicating Policies
    • Effective Training
    • Appointing a grievance officer & specifying grievance procedures involving discrimination
    • Regularly evaluating effectiveness and policies

Equal Employment Opportunity

  • Equal employment opportunity (EEO) refers to equitable policies and practices in recruitment, selection, training and promotion
  • EEO ensures that the best person for the job is chosen, the business gains the person with skills and abilities most appropriate to its needs, and a more positive work environment is promoted
  • The Workplace Gender Equality Agency (WGEA) has been created to reflect this new focus and achieves this by:
    • Advising and assisting employers with the promotion of gender equality in the workplace
    • Reviewing compliance with the legislation
    • Providing research findings and educational programs to improve gender equality outcomes
    • Establishing a workplace profile and analysing the issues in the specific workplace
    • Reporting on the actions taken by the employer to address priority issues
    • Describing the action plans for the following period and evaluating the strategies used
  • Aim of gender equality in the workplace is to achieve equal outcomes for both women and men. In order to achieve this, workplaces:
    • Must provide equal pay and conditions for work of equal or similar value
    • Should remove anything that prevents the full participation of women in the workforce
    • Must facilitate access to all jobs and industries, including leadership roles for both genders
    • Must eliminate discrimination on the basis of gender, particularly in relation to personal responsibilities including family and caring for both women and men.
  • Gender equality encourages stronger applicants, entices more highly educated applicants, reduces costs associated with staff turnover, and encourages varied perspectives and view which results in stronger business performance, both internally and nationally


The Economic Cycle

  • The demand for labour is determined by the demand for goods and services within the economy
  • If labour shortages develop during periods of economic growth, employers compete for employees by offering higher wages
  • During downturns, as indicated in a trough or as it starts to occur in the recession phase of the business cycle, the demand for goods and service falls, forcing businesses to reduce the size of their workforce and limit their capacity to provide wage increases

Structural Change

  • Structural change refers to a change in the nature and pattern of production of goods and services within an economy. This includes a significant growth in the level of services in an economy compared to other sectors
  • Employment is growing in property, business, retailing, trades, tourism, educational services, hospitality, and community and personal services
  • As each sector grows, recruitment, selection & remuneration become important industrial issues
  • With an ageing population, flexible staffing arrangements, retention and mentoring increase in importance
  • Effective training is also critical to business success in customer service-based industries


  • Globalisation of business has increase the level of international competition
  • Domestic and transnational corporation are increasingly prepared to relocate production units in other cities, states or countries where dispute levels, labour and regulatory costs are lower
  • Enterprise bargaining has allowed many employers to trade-off restrictive/inefficient work practices for wage increases in industrial agreements
  • Multicultural workforces with differing approaches to power, authority and the role of groups/individuals, is increasing with the globalisation of business


  • Technological change is the major source of improvements in productivity, communication and competition between businesses
  • It is causing the nature of production and services to change, and new jobs to be created, while others are made redundant
  • Electronic communications options allow firms to operate ‘anywhere, anytime’ and to harness staff through telecommuting, providing the opportunity to businesses to access employees at home
  • Use of new communications technology increases the need for ongoing training programs and new protocols to ensure that work–life balance is maintained


Changing Work Patterns

  • Over the last two decades there has been a dramatic growth in part-time and casual work, largely due to growth in the finance, retail, hospitality and community service industries
  • Work patterns are changing and is refered to as ‘labour fragmentation’
  • There has been a drift away from traditional full-time employment
  • Workers may be interested in undertaking additional education and training and/or want to ease themselves into retirement and are also keen to take advantage of such arrangements

Career Flexibility and Job Mobility

  • Career flexibility and job mobility have increased
  • Workers are taking more control over their own careers
  • Most mobile employees are aged 20–24, Australian-born, or of English-speaking background, and found in retail or hospitality industries
  • Many leave full-time positions after developing specialist skills and experience to become independent contractors or consultants
  • Fields like education, design, writing and IT provide the most flexibility in the workplace and many workers in these occupations, seek part-time, casual, flexible work day and work-from-home options

Increased Participation Rates for Women

  • Since 1980, the participation rate of females aged 25–54 has increased, reflecting changing social expectations, increased education levels, improved access to child care and more flexible work arrangements

Ageing of the Workforce

  • Flexible working arrangements, including job share, part-time and contracting, will be critical in utilising this ageing workforce, particularly women, who are concentrated in health, education, and society and culture
  • Businesses and government need to respond by upskilling the population and creating incentives to encourage staff to postpone retirement
  • Removing discrimination in the recruitment of older workers, providing opportunities to update skills, and offering targeted health and safety programs will also be essential

Early Retirement

  • Early retirement from full-time work is popular
  • The average age of retirement from full-time work has increased to an average age of 53 years (
  • Participation in part-time work is higher, suggesting older employees are using a gradual withdrawal approach to retirement
  • A growing number of people are returning to work in a part-time capacity following retirement for financial reasons or to relieve boredom


Living Standards

  • Australia’s high living standards include occupational health and safety, regular wage increases, performance bonuses, fringe benefits, leave and superannuation benefits, which they remain keen to preserve
  • Companies who seek to undercut conditions through excessive outsourcing and casualisation of the workforce, or by shifting operations offshore to reduce costs and increase profits, will be challenged by unions keen to avoid erosion of our living standards
  • Casualised workers suffer from higher levels of stress due to difficulty in purchasing assets, including homes, and managing finances and debt with unstable or uncertain income.

Ethics and corporate social responsibility

  • A wide range of human resource issues arise in the workplace and, if they are not handled in an ethical, legal or socially responsible manner, they can lead to poor morale, low productivity, heavy costs and industrial disputes
  • A socially responsible, ethical employer recognises that:
    • A pleasant working environment and good working conditions are valuable in motivating and retaining staff
    • Performance and motivation are maximised when staff feel secure, confident in 
their work, recognised, safe, equally valued and rewarded for their efforts
    • An effective workplace benefits from good working relationships and teamwork
    • The business depends on community support, as a source of staff and as a source of business (that is, customers) and resources
    • Management should be committed to an ethical workplace culture
    • Customers eventually find out which businesses are acting responsibly and which are not
  • An ethical framework must be developed for the workplace. This framework may include a code of conduct and a code of ethics. Key principles may include ensuring equity in workplace processes, legal compliance and commitment to customers

Working Conditions

  • An ethical employer can be expected to achieve safe and fair working conditions that improve the welfare of employees.
  • This is achieved through:
    • Compliance with social justice and industrial legislation
    • Providing a safe and healthy working environment, safe working practices and equipment, appropriate supervision and training in safety and health
    • Creating challenging, interesting & meaningful work to stimulate intrinsic rewards for staff
    • Improving communication, and fostering teamwork and empowerment of staff
    • Providing study leave and training opportunities to reduce skills obsolescence 
and improve access to management positions
    • Offering equitable and open rewards and benefits subject to clear criteria
    • Offering flexible working hours & conditions that promote a balance between work & life
    • A strategic plan supported by management that incorporates specific ethical responsibilities
    • Implementing change through collaboration with staff
    • Establishing a code of practice for customers, employees and suppliers
    • Evaluating and benchmarking its performance to ensure it is operating at best practise
  • Working conditions have become a focus in the last two decades as businesses increasingly respond to global competition and sought to develop practices that improve efficiency and save on labour costs
  • Ethical businesses have responded by demonstrating corporate social responsibility through such strategies as regularly undertaking audits of their factories abroad, and by working with agencies to support ethical practices in their local and offshore operations


  • Acquiring the right staff is a critical process in managing human resource management processes
  • Acquisition involves analyzing;
    • The Internal Environment > business’s goals, culture, current business performance, technology, structure, size, rates of turnover and promotion, budget, productivity
    • The External Environment > economic conditions, competition, technology, legal, political and social factors
  • Once the business’s needs are determined, options may be considered, including managing for a shortage or surplus of staff

Recruitment, Selection and Placement

  • Recruitment is the process of locating and attracting the right quantity and quality of staff to apply for employment vacancies or anticipated vacancies at the right cost
  • Employee selection involves gathering information about each applicant and using that information to choose the most appropriate applicant
  • Effective recruitment and employee selection involves;
    • Evaluating and hiring qualified job applicants
    • A fair, non-discriminatory and legally compliant selection policy and process
    • Providing applicants with a realistic job description and responsibilities
    • Using strategies that will prove use for later selection and placement decisions
    • Using strategies that are aligned with other human resource strategies and the business’s needs


  • Effective development programs ensure that experienced and talented staff are retained
  • Employees who feel competent in performing their jobs and are recognised for their achievements are more motivated and satisfied at work and achieve higher levels of performance.
  • In early stages, employees may focus on gaining qualifications.
  • Younger employees focus on experiencing a variety of roles to determine interests and talents
  • Senior Positions may be interested in the development of specialist or managerial competencies
  • Talented staff may need to be fast-tracked
  • Employees over 40, the focus may be on upgrading knowledge, mentoring or training, and managing work–life balance and retirement transition issues
  • Development focuses on enhancing the skills of the employee through:
    • Further professional learning
    • Mentoring or coaching
    • Performance appraisal and management to allow them to take advantage
    • Opportunities to develop a career with the business


  • An induction program is designed to introduce new employees to the job, co-workers, the business and its culture
  • Most employees who leave a business depart in the first three months, thus the need for support is greatest when an employee starts a new job
  • A well prepared induction program;
    • Gives employees a positive attitude to the job and the business
    • Builds a new employee’s confidence in the job
    • Stresses the major safety policies and procedures, and explains their application
    • Helps establish good working relationships with co-workers and supervisors


  • The aim of training is to seek a long-term change in employee’s skills, knowledge, attitudes and behaviors in order to improve work performance in the business
  • It is essential to overcome business weaknesses and build on strengths, so that the business may succeed, which is implemented through the employee’s abilities
  • A focus on good skills and knowledge helps a business adapt to change and stay ahead of competition

Organisational Development

  • Businesses with flatter structures benefit from employees’ ability to develop shared ideas and solutions to problems. It can improve efficiency, effectiveness and response to customer needs.
  • Flatter structures may have improved employee autonomy and efficiency; however, they have also reduced promotional opportunities.
  • Strategies need to be implemented to help motivate and retain talented staff
  • Strategies include;
    • Job Enlargement à increasing the breath of tasks in a job
    • Job Rotation à moving staff from one field to another over a period of time
    • Job Enrichment à increasing employees responsibilities
    • Job Sharing à where two people share the same job
    • Self-Managing Teams à Teams where roles and decisions are determined by their members
    • Mentoring and Coaching à where a leader provides advice and support to another person developing skills in the area

Mentoring and Coaching

  • Mentoring and coaching are used to motivate and develop staff with leadership potential
  • Mentoring is a role, which suits experienced staff keen to transfer knowledge and skills through succession planning
  • Those being mentored select their mentors and are free to accept or reject the advice offered
  • Coaching is focused on improving skills and performance, and on helping individuals manage specific work roles more effectively

Performance Appraisal

  • Performance appraisal is a systematic process of analysing and evaluating employee performance for strengths, weaknesses and opportunities for development. It is also used to assess an employee’s suitability for promotion and their potential value to the business’s success
  • Performance Appraisal Involves:
    • To provide feedback from management to employees regarding work performance
    • To act as a measurement against which promotion and pay rises can be determined
    • To help the business monitor its employee selection
    • To identify employees’ training and development needs
  • If employees continually perform below expectations, the business’s recruitment and selection process may need to be changed, or extra training and development may be required
  • Employees are more likely to value a performance appraisal if they are given a chance to discuss their performance and to challenge their evaluation. When employees believe the process is constructive and fair, and will help them improve their future performance, it will be perceived as a more useful experience


  • Maintenance of staff involves looking after staff wellbeing, safety and health, managing communications effectively, and complying with industrial agreements and legal responsibilities
  • Staff wellbeing is maximised through encouraging staff to participate in decision making, and giving employees some control over their work lives

Communication and Workplace Culture

  • Effective workplace relationships depend heavily on the strength of a business’s communications systems
  • Common methods of communication include regular team meetings between managers, or supervisors, and employees; staff bulletins and newsletters; staff seminars; social functions; suggestion boxes and staff surveys; and email and intranet
  • Email is often criticised for being a source of misunderstandings and tension
  • Expectations that staff will attend to email at home is a common source of workplace conflict
  • Larger and creative firms are redesigning the layout of their offices to create spaces for people to meet together in one or two central locations for breaks and meetings
  • Communications with employees should always be constructive, even when there are problems with employees

Employee Participation

  • Firms encourage employee participation to improve communication, empower employees and develop their commitment to improving quality and efficiency
  • Employees are being trained to make decisions ‘on the spot’, either to solve problems or provide incentives to retain customers, as customers demand quicker and more efficient service
  • The value and effectiveness of employee participation depends on the training, knowledge and skills of the employees involved
  • Effective participation is fostered through regular team meetings/briefings to discuss customer feedback, company trends and issues — builds a sense of shared purpose and company identity


  • Benefits can be monetary or non-monetary in value, and the extent of benefits available will reflect the resources of the business and the nature of its activities
  • All employers are required to pay superannuation for all employees aged between 18 and 70, who earn a minimum of $450 per month
  • Benefits include flexible working arrangements, paid training opportunities, travel allowances, health insurance, subsidised gym membership, housing and company car

Flexible and Family Friendly Work Arrangements

  • Flexible working conditions allow businesses to work more efficiently, or allow employees to balance work and family responsibilities more effectively
  • Some employer–employee agreements allow opportunities for home-based work, which gives employees more flexibility during working hours
  • Family friendly programs are effective in retaining staff in the longer term as
  • they recognise the interdependence of work and family life, and reduce problems involved in managing family responsibilities

Legal Compliance and Corporate Social Responsibility

  • All employers are required by law to ensure that human resource procedures and policies comply with existing legislation, including anti-discrimination and sex discrimination legislation, occupational health and safety, taxation, social justice legislation, and industrial relations legislation and agreements
  • A workplace where staff treat each other in a respectful, professional, fair and considerate manner is essential for employee wellbeing and retention of productive staff


  • Separation, where an employee leaves a business, may be voluntary or involuntary
  • Voluntary separation may take the form of resignation, relocation, voluntary redundancy or retirement.
  • Involuntary separation may take the form of contract expiry, retrenchment or dismissal.
  • Situations where redundancy occurs include closure of the workplace site, completion of the project on which the employee worked, lack of contracts or orders for work, a downturn in demand from customers or a need to reduce staff due to financial difficulties in the business
  • When an employee’s employment is terminated, the employer must provide a written statement confirming the termination and date of determination.
  • Most awards and agreements have common provisions relating to termination, change and redundancy that cover matters including the procedures for retrenchment, amount of notice to be given or pay in lieu of notice and severance pay.


  • Staff may be dismissed for a number of reasons.
  • Summary dismissal is an instant form of dismissal that applies to employees involved in gross or serious misconduct, such as theft
  • The Fair Work Commission will determine whether the reasons were sound and well founded, and whether the employer had made reasonable efforts to investigate the allegations and allowed the employee the right to respond to the allegations
  • Dismissal can also be based on poor performance or redundancy due to organisational restructuring, a downturn in business or technological change making a job redundant
  • Businesses have reduced costs and improve productivity through reducing staff numbers, flattening management structures and making greater use of technology

Unfair Dismissal

  • Unfair dismissal occurs where
an employee is dismissed by their employer and they believe the action is harsh, unreasonable or unjust
  • ‘An unfair dismissal occurs where an employee makes an unfair dismissal remedy application and Fair Work Commission finds that: the employee was dismissed, andthe dismissal was harsh, unjust or unreasonable, and the dismissal was not a case of genuine redundancy.’
  • Claims may be resolved through informal conferences, telephone conferences (the most common method) or by a formal hearing
  • Many businesses have preferred to avoid the risk by hiring casuals and contractors
  • Other businesses have tightened their employment contracts and included job descriptions, probation periods and measurable targets to allow for dismissal of staff if required

Leadership style

  • Leadership style refers to ways that managers communicate with their employees to inspire and motivate them to work together to achieve the business’s goals
  • Autocratic Leadership à Managers who make decisions quickly and in many cases without input from staff
  • Democratic Leadership à consultative approach between managers and workers that encourages them to be more engaged in the decision-making process
  • Workers respond better to higher levels of expertise and having gained other workers’ respect, and are far more likely to achieve business goals

The most effective leadership styles in Australia are more egalitarian and empowering and less directive than in other countries.

Job design > general or specific tasks

  • Job Design is the number, king and variety of tasks that a worker is expected to carry out in the course of performing their job
  • Recently, job design has been expanded to incorporate a general approach with a greater variety of tasks to be performed by workers. This is referred to as job enlargement, the horizontal expansion of the job by adding similar level responsibilities.
  • The provision of a wider variety of tasks improves worker engagement, satisfaction and ultimately productivity
  • Employees are more motivated and likely to share ideas if they have autonomy, have clear task identity, are well trained and feel competent, and receive valuable feedback
  • Employees are more motivated when they can plan, schedule and determine how to do a job
  • Core Elements of a Well Designed Job;
    • Task
    • Challenge
    • Variety of Tasks
    • Discretion and autonomy
    • Flexibility
    • Resources
    • Opportunity for achievement and learning
    • Social Interaction


  • Recruitment is the process of locating and attracting the right quantity and quality of staff to apply for employment vacancies or anticipated vacancies at the right cost
  • Effective recruitment and selection allows the most appropriate applicant to be selected
  • The sources and methods used will depend on the recruitment goals and policies of the business
  • Businesses use a mix of internal/external recruitment, & require a mix of general/specific skills
  • Poor Selection Process Can Lead to;
    • High training costs
    • Job dissatisfaction
    • Poor performance
    • High absenteeism rate


Internal or External


  • Internal recruitment sources include employees, former applicants, former employees, and they may be invited to apply through staff records, promotion lists, word of mouth and email
  • Employee referrals are popular, when accompanied by an employee bonus, and useful for bringing in staff with the right ‘cultural fit’


  • External recruitment may be done through methods such as newspaper advertisements, online advertisements and referrals through recruitment agencies, company websites, trade unions, trade shows, management networks, professional associations, schools, radio and television.

The fastest growing external recruitment methods today are via social networking sites

General or Specific Skills

General Skills

  • General skills include flexibility and versatility, social confidence, positive attitude, motivation, and the ability to work as a team and/or independently.
  • Many businesses focus on staff with general skills, attitudes and behaviours that are a good fit for their business. The job can then be specified through training to better suit the business’s needs
  • They’re important as many jobs require independent work and to undertake different tasks

Specific Skills

  • Specific Skills are highly specialised qualifications and are required in some job sectors
  • Many businesses are recruiting overseas or using outsourcing and overseas recruitment to overcome skill gaps in their businesses, particularly through skilled migration programs
  • Industry sources have been critical of Australian firms for not investing in training their staff for developing workforce needs and changing organisational structures

Training and development > current or future skills

  • Training > aims to develop skills, knowledge and attitudes that lead to superior work performance
  • Training is critical as businesses report significant labour market problems, including a shortage of skilled labour and a mismatch between what skills are needed and what is available
  • Development > focused on enhancing the skills of the employee in line with the changing and future needs of the business
  • Development encourages employees to take advantage of opportunities to develop a career with the business. In this, the business benefits as they retain the employee’s experience and knowledge of the business
  • When choosing the nature of training and development, businesses need to use a systematic approach to evaluate the needs of the business, the supply of these skills, the demand for these skills and the changing nature of work and the general pattern of employment
  • Businesses need to consider these options;
    • Invest in further in-house training and development
    • Recruit staff for specific skills
    • Retain experts who retire on part-time basis
    • Retain women through flexible work structures
    • Share staff with other firms
    • Outsource functions to specialist firms or agencies
    • Sponsor overseas migrants for areas of major shortages
    • Build networks or alliances with other firms with specialist skills/skills needed in future

Performance management

  • Performance management addresses both individual and business performance. Successful individual performance will often translate into the business’s strategic objectives being met
  • Job design, recruiting the best staff, training and development and rewards are all features of performance management
  • Performance appraisal and management systems can be designed to meet two purposes for a business: developmental and administrative.


  • The Performance Management (Developmental) model is focused on using data to develop the individual skills and abilities of employees, so they improve their effectiveness in their roles, overcome weaknesses and are prepared for promotion
  • This is best achieved through constant feedback and shared discussion


  • The Performance Management (Administrative) model provides information, often following an annual appraisal, which can be used by management for planning in HR functions such as training, development, rewards, pay levels, benefits and performance improvement.
  • This focuses on ensuring that individual and business goals are aligned and strategic


Monetary and Non-Monetary

  • Monetary à reward reflected in pay or having financial value
  • g. Insurance, Superannuation, medical and health care, bonuses, commissions, overtime
  • Non-Monetary à reward that do not have financial value
  • g. challenge, performance feedback, career security, safe and healthy environment
  • Remuneration à both a financial and non-financial benefits that employees receive in return for their work efforts

Individual or Group

  • Increasing use of group based structures have increased the need for cooperation and made it difficult to distinguish performance of individuals within teams
  • Gain-sharing plans and group incentive schemes are often used to support a team-based culture.
  • A gain-sharing plan involves the benefits of improvements and success, such as productivity improvements, cost savings and sales and pro t increases, being reflected in rewards for teams, such as shares, cash bonuses or annual bonuses
  • Key issues to consider in designing a reward and benefits system for individual employees are:
    • This is often referred to as performance pay which is remuneration based on distributing rewards according to individual employee performance. In doing so it increases individual accountability and promotes employee development. Performance pay is often related to executive remuneration but is often not pursued by businesses.
    • Performance Related — incentive plans for performance above standards or criteria, bonuses, piece rates, commissions, production-related incentives.
    • Job Related — role and level of responsibility, scope of supervision, base pay, interpersonal skills, knowledge and skills, experience, value to the company
    • Other Individual Considerations — group incentives, the employee’s values (e.g. job flexibility vs career planning), specific job conditions (e.g. requiring employees to live overseas) and their individual bargaining power.
  • Reward systems that are not clear or fair, or where employees believe there has been bias, can lead to internal politics and conflict, loss of trust and motivation, and higher levels of labour turnover



  • Building production facilities in other countries and making use of foreign labour for technical expertise and cost savings
  • Have to balance the opportunity to reduce costs by accessing cheap labour against the cost of training labour with the skills required by the business
  • The rapid growth of global outsourcing illustrates the potential for firms to develop creative strategies that access lower labour cost, while complying with regulations and pay scales in overseas countries.


  • The ability of labour to learn new skills will be affected by the country’s education system
  • Some governments are investing a significant amount of money into education to create a highly skilled but still cheaper workforce to attract foreign direct investment


  • Many firms under pressure from global competition turn to offshore contractors in India and the Philippines to reduce costs. Others used outsourcing as a first step toward operating in a new market overseas, to get more acquainted with market needs before expanding with a greater physical presence in the market.

Workplace disputes

  • Disputes are conflicts, disagreements or dissatisfaction between individuals and/ or groups.
  • Conflict between stakeholders is inevitable in workplaces, as they often have conflicting interests
  • Workplace conflict can lead to problems such as higher levels of absenteeism, low productivity, legal claims and high staff turnover, which may be even more costly in the long run
  • Industrial dispute > disagreement over an issue or group of issues between an employer and its employees, which results in employees ceasing work
  • Strikes > situations in which workers withdraw their labour in protest. They aim to attract publicity and support for the employees’ case. Strike action is more common in the public sector
  • Lockouts > occur when employers refuse admission to the workers. Lockouts have been used in long disputes in manufacturing to promote concession bargaining, to push employees to sign individual agreements, and in response to strike action.
  • According to the ABS, Disputes are often about;
  • Remuneration (wages, allowance, superannuation)
  • Employment conditions (working hours, leave, benefits)
  • Job Security Issues
  • Health and Safety
  • Managerial Policy
  • Union Issues
  • Political or Social Protests




  • Negotiation > method of resolving disputes when discussions between the parties result in a compromise and a formal or informal agreement
  • This process can benefit the parties involved by increasing their knowledge of company policy, business’s objectives, workers’ concerns and issues involved in implementing change.


  • Mediation > confidential discussion of issues in a non-threatening environment, in the presence of a neutral, objective third party.
  • Mediation allows the parties to become empowered by resolving their own disputes, and it reduces the risk of disputes escalating and leading to expensive legal costs or industrial action

Grievance Procedures

  • Grievance procedures >formal procedures, generally written into an award or agreement, that state agreed processes to resolve disputes in the workplace.
  • They are useful in reducing the risk of an issue rapidly becoming a serious dispute
  • Effective grievance procedures require a full description of the complaint to be made by the employee(s) with the complaint
  • It is a useful strategy for resolving issues before they escalate

Involvement of Courts and Tribunals

  • Conciliation and Arbitration
    • Conciliation is a process where a third party is involved in helping two other parties reach an agreement. The member may require all parties to continue negotiations or develop other strategies to resolve the dispute and then report back for another conference.
    • Arbitration is a process where a third party hears both sides of a dispute and makes a legally binding decision to resolve the dispute.
  • Common Law Action
    • Common law action is open to any party involved in or affected by industrial action.
    • An employer may ask a state/territory court or the Federal Court for an injunction or stop order to prevent unlawful interference with the employer’s trade or business
    • Such action is costly and generally considered a ‘last resort’


  • Indicators > performance measures that are used to evaluate organizational/individual effectiveness
  • Benchmarking > process in which indicators are used to compare business performance between internal sections of a business or between businesses
  • Human Resource Audits > diagnostic tool used to evaluate HR policies and practices in order to identify problems and develop solutions in an attempt to rectify problems.


Corporate Culture

  • Most businesses that are successful in the long term maintain a balance between concern for success and regard for their employees
  • Corporate Culture > refers to the values, ideas, expectations and beliefs shared by the members of the business
  • People are a business’s most valuable resource or asset, therefore, making it important to develop an effective corporate culture and positive working relationships
  • Indicators of a Poor Corporate Culture:
  • High staff turnover
  • Poor customer service
  • High levels of absenteeism
  • Accidents
  • Disputes and internal conflict.

  • How to Build a Great Workplace Culture;
  • High quality personal relationships
  • Creative perks, especially health and training
  • Flexible and family friendly practises
  • High levels of training and mentoring
  • Culture of trust
  • Involvement in decision making
  • Fun atmosphere
  • Pay more than basic rates

Benchmarking Key Variables

  • Effectively performing benchmarking may involve coordination with line management, the human resource manager and even external specialist consultants
  • The purpose is to compare a business’s performance in specific areas against other similar businesses or divisions, or against ‘best practice’ businesses
  • Informal Benchmarking > includes strategies such as networking through informal discussions with colleagues in other businesses, undertaking visits to other businesses, researching best practice online and attending conferences
  • Performance Benchmarking > comparing performance levels of an activity with other businesses
  • Best Practise Benchmarking > comparing performance levels with those of another best practice business in specific areas using a structured process to gain skills and knowledge, and to modify organisational processes
  • Balanced Scorecard Benchmarking > measuring whether the activities of a business are meeting its objectives established in the strategic plan.
  • The approach used for benchmarking needs to be chosen for its suitability to the business’s needs and resources as it can be a very costly and time-consuming process.

Human Resource Audits > performed in a number of ways

  • Performance of one division or the business itself against another is benchmarked and compared
  • An outside consultant conducts research to analyse problems and suggest solutions.
  • A legal compliance analysis to determine areas of variance
from laws and policies
  • Management by objectives to determine areas of poor performance against targets established

Quantitative Measures > key variables

  • Variances in labour budgets
  • Time lost/costs of injuries and sickness
  • Performance appraisals completed compared with targets
  • Percentage of goal achieved
  • Levels of Labour turnover


Qualitative Evaluation

  • High absenteeism and labour turnover indicate boredom, poor relationships and lack of training
  • Analysis of industrial disputes provide useful feedback about workplace issues
  • Feedback from performance appraisals indicates success areas
  • Feedback from supervisors, employees indicates worker satisfaction

Changes in Staff Turnover

  • Staff turnover refers to the separation of employees from an employee, through dismissal or retrenchment. It is often shown as a percentage of total staff numbers
  • It is important for businesses to benchmark their turnover against that of other businesses in the industry; and to determine the type of staff leaving and their reasons
  • There is likely to be ‘pull’ factors outside the business or ‘push’ factors inside the business that makes staff decide their reasons to leave or stay
  • In assessing the significance of turnover, it is important for businesses to benchmark their turnover against that of other businesses in the industry; and to determine the type of staff leaving and their reasons
  • Push Factors à new opportunities, promotion, toxic workplace


  • Absenteeism > a worker who neglects to turn up for work when they were scheduled to do so
  • High levels of absenteeism and/or lateness may indicate that workers are dissatisfied or that there is conflict within the workplace
  • Poorly designed jobs and a lack of a strong employer–employee relationship contribute to workers being absent.
  • Firms need to have much higher staffing levels to cope with high absentee levels
  • Business revenue is lost as work is disrupted and can lead to lower productivity and higher labour costs.


  • Around 5.3 per cent of Australia’s 12 million employees experience a work-related injury or illness each year.
  • Employees most likely to experience an injury at work are young males engaged in physical work, followed by tradespeople, labourers and transport workers. Women in the hospitality and health related services experience high rates of injury
  • The most common types of workplace fatalities are associated with road crashes, particularly for tradesmen and transport workers; while injuries are associated with lifting, pushing and pulling objects, or being hit by an object
  • Occupational health and safety indicators are benchmarked internationally using a number of indicators, including:
    • Lost Time Injury Frequency Rates (LTIFRs). A lost-time injury is an event that results in a fatality, permanent disability or time of one day/shift or more lost from work. The LTIFR is the number of lost-time injuries per million hours worked, calculated as

  • Safe Work Australia rates based on accepted workers’ compensation claims that involved the loss of one or more working weeks (termed serious claims). Claims for shorter periods are not counted in this rate
  • Best practice businesses:
    • Have regular safety audits and comprehensive safety programs, and use data to
    • Build a culture of safety. They communicate effectively about health and safety 
using visible policy statements, safety signs and reminders.
    • Provide careful induction and regular ongoing training for staff to ensure they 
are aware of safety rules and prepared for emergencies
    • Consult employees and health and safety personnel on the implications of 
changes in the workplace

Levels of Disputation

Levels of Industrial Disputation

  • Although strikes and lockouts are officially recorded indicators of industrial disputes, a range of other forms are used in the workplace
  • Oher indicators;
    • Work Bans à a refusal to work overtime, handle a product, piece of equipment, process, or even a refusal to work with particular individuals
    • Work-to-Rule à occurs when employees refuse to perform any duties additional to the work they normally are required to perform
    • Go Slow à employees work at a slower rate than normal
    • Sabotage à employees taking action to harm or destroy the image of a firm, for example by contaminating food or disrupting production
  • Employers should be concerned if a number of formal grievances are reported, as they are an indicator of poor quality relationships in the workplace and can be very damaging if they attract media attention or move through the legal system
  • Disputes are more common in large businesses where relationships and communication between employees and management tend to be more impersonal, and the scope for mistrust and misunderstanding is greater

Worker Satisfaction

  • Employee satisfaction is a key factor in employee commitment, job performance and staff turnover
  • Employee satisfaction surveys are useful in helping employers measure and understand how their staff feel about their work, their management and the culture of an organisation
  • Surveys can be used to improve management style and processes, benefits and rewards systems, the physical working environment, employee relationships, and other employee needs
  • Although pay is an important factor in choosing a job, it is not that significant in employee satisfaction, unless there are significant pay differentials in the workplace.
  • Employee satisfaction is improved by matching the purpose of the business with the skills and cultural fit of the employee
  • Employees value a family- friendly culture, adequate breaks during the day, effective resourcing to do their job, rewards for effort and performance, opportunities for sabbaticals or ‘leave’ options, and workplace wellbeing strategies such as the gym