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Services: Occupational Health & Safety :

What do I need to do to comply with the law?

Development and implementation of Occupational Health & Safety policies and procedures;

Since 1983 employers have been under what amounts to an almost absolute duty to provide workplaces which are safe and healthy for workers and other people entering the workplace. With the introduction of the Occupational Health & Safety Act 2000 (NSW) all employers must now have formal, documented risk management policies and procedures in place. All employers must also have a formal system in place for consultation with employees on OHS matters.

Failure by an employer to ensure the heath safety and welfare of its employees can lead to serious and costly consequences for the employer. These include: the human and emotional costs arising from a serious injury or fatality in the workplace, which affect both employees and management; the fact that employees will become unhappy and work less effectively when they realise that their employer's failure to look after OHS means that the employer does not value them; maximum fines over $500,000 (with fines in excess of $100,000 being imposed regularly); conviction of an offence under the OHS Act giving you a criminal record; and steep increases in Workers Compensation premiums.

We can help your business with the following areas of OHS:


Ensuring compliance with legislation and industrial instruments, including OHS legislation; [ We will review your current procedures and employment records and tell you whether you are doing the right thing and, if not, what you must do to comply.

If you are not doing the right thing you are exposed to any or all of- possible industrial disputes and action; claims to recover unpaid wages and entitlements (e.g. redundancy or unpaid leave); prosecution for breach of award or legislation; and fines.

Do you know that the maximum fines for breaches of the NSW Occupational Health & Safety Act are over $500,000 and that actual fines in excess of $100,000 are regularly imposed? Do you know that you must have formal OHS risk management and consultation arrangements in place? Did you know that if you are convicted of a breach of the OHS Act you will have a criminal record?

The consequences of non-compliance can be very costly and dealing with these problems can be very time-consuming. It is much easier and cheaper to sort out the problems in advance.


Achieving effective communication between employer/employees and employer/unions;

HR/IR problems often have their roots in poor communication or lack of communication. This is especially so where management is contemplating significant change (e.g. an organisational restructure; the introduction of new plant or work methods). Change makes most people uncomfortable and insecure, especially where they have no input into or control over what is going to happen. Change in such an important area of people's lives as their workplace is especially difficult.

Good communication can allay fears and smooth the introduction of change. It can mean the difference between change being made successfully and not working properly due to industrial disruption or employee resistance. Employers and managers are themselves often afraid of communicating because they are fear losing control of the process. But experience shows that planned, effective communication and genuinely seeking employee input positively assists change and can lead to even greater improvement and the avoidance of mistakes.

We can help you to devise properly controlled, effective and efficient communication processes to support change processes or to improve the quality of day-to-day employer-employee interaction.


Employee/subcontractor issues;

The status of certain people engaged to carry out work in a business is often a difficult area: will the law regard them as employees or as independent contractors? Such issues arise particularly in the construction, cleaning and some other service industries.

A great deal hangs on the answer- workers compensation obligations, superannuation contributions, award coverage and entitlements, method of payment, to name only some of the major issues. A failure to correctly classify these people can lead to serious and costly consequences, including claims for back payment of workers compensation premiums, superannuation, wages and allowances, entitlements to accrued leave and/or redundancy entitlements on termination. It can also lead to prosecution for breach of award.

The changes to the tax system in 2000, with the introduction of the"alienation of personal services income" provisions add a further layer of complexity, since they require that 'contractors' be taxed as PAYG employees if the income is principally earned from the labour of one person and more than 80% of that income in any financial year is derived from a single 'employer' (even if the contractors work through a company or partnership). In that situation the 'contractor' also loses the right to claim many business deductions and can claim only those available to an employee.

Many business owners and managers do not understand these issues well and enter into 'contracting' arrangements when the 'contractor' is really an employee. While this may appear to be convenient and have advantages for both parties, this is often illusory. Many businesses come to grief and are forced to pay out large amounts of money when ‘contractors' are found to be, at law, employees. In some cases, large liabilities for superannuation contributions going back up to 6 years have resulted in those businesses being forced into insolvency.

We can review your practices for engagement of contractors and advise you whether you are at risk and what to do to reduce or eliminate the risk. We can also advise you on what the options are to resolve situations where a person may prefer to remain a contractor but should be an employee.

We can also assist your business with disputes regarding a person's status as a contractor or employee and with claims for wages and entitlements in respect of contractors.

Such disputes can be very difficult to deal with and taking early action to set the engagement up correctly in the first place can avoid the problem- and the attendant costs- altogether.


Training for managers on industrial relations and human resource management issues, such as:

We can provide training for groups or individuals with high quality notes and materials for trainees to take away them and use in the workplace. We will carry out training on your premises if you have suitable facilities or we will arrange facilities.

We can also arrange the presentation of Workcover accredited courses on OHS topics by appropriately accredited trainers.