As a business owner, if you choose to underpay your employees, not properly record and account for their entitlements, not respect and fulfil your obligations to them under the National Employment Standards, or tolerate an environment that is either unsafe or disrespectful of community standards with regards to issues like bullying, harassment and equal opportunity, you will be penalised.
This punishment is not necessarily about getting ‘found out’ by a union or an association representing employees, or about the government regulator chasing you for something you’ve failed to do.
You will be penalised because your business will suffer.
It can suffer in a number of ways:
- Poor staff retention rates
- High absenteeism rates
- Lower than expected performance against role requirements
- Poor culture and poor morale negatively impacting business performance
- Poor productivity impacting the business’s ability to deliver on promises to customers in a productive and efficient way
- Wasted time and money taken up with employment disputes also contributing to lack of productivity
- Reduced business value when it comes time to sellwhen it comes time to sell – an astute purchaser doing due diligence will use non-compliance in these areas as a means of putting downward pressure on the value of the business or requiring indemnities to cover your failings and claims that may result.
The implications of not respecting and complying with employment and IR obligations can be much further reaching and debilitating for a business than simply paying for a lawyer to clean up the mess.
Meeting obligations has multiple benefits
One of the core components of a successful workplace is to ensure your people operate within a positive workplace environment.
People behaviours in the business that ultimately demonstrate its culture need to be aligned to the objectives of the business and respectful of the individuals contributing to those objectives.
Doing the right thing by your team with regards to your IR obligations is critical to showing that respect and creating a cornerstone for a solid workplace culture.
In our experience, if you as a manager or owner are at the stage of getting a lawyer involved in an IR-related dispute or incident, you’ve missed the opportunity to avert that risk through good business and people management practices.
Get it right, focus positively on your commitments and obligations, and the benefits will flow: your legal bills will be well reduced and your productivity heightened.
If you would like advice or support regarding an industrial relations-related issue in your business, or a people or team performance matter, contact the JPAbusiness team on 02 6360 0360 for a confidential, obligation-free discussion.
James Price has over 30 years' experience in providing strategic, commercial and financial advice to Australian and international business clients. James' blogs provide business advice for aspiring and current small to mid-sized business owners, operators and managers.