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All about diversity and inclusion in the workplace

Diversity and Inclusion is a growing concept that many businesses – from SMEs to MNCs – all around the world are grappling to understand and implement into their workplace. But what exactly does D&I entail and why is it becoming so important for businesses and employees?

Social inequality has long been a complex global problem and to this day, stakeholders from individuals to governments and businesses are working towards resolving the unfair distribution of opportunities due to individual differences. In the business world, this means accepting, hiring and including employees of all ethnicities, cultures, sexualities and with physical or mental disabilities.

Harmonious workplace culture has always been an integral aspect to business success and D&I is evolving into a necessary addition to all internal workplace procedures. In Australia, D&I mostly consists of diverse cultural recognition and free expression of sexuality, through employee programs and services. While difficult to implement and even harder to enforce, D&I has become vital to businesses and employees because of a couple of reasons:

Currently, D&I is still a relatively new concept to businesses and it has been difficult for businesses to implement D&I strategies effectively considering there are not many earlier examples to follow. However, it is never too late to learn more about D&I and consider implementing the idea into your workplace culture.

Posted on 28 February '20, under General news. No Comments.

Tips for incorporating career mentoring into your business

A career mentorship program involves partnerships between employees to develop professional skills and gain industry knowledge. Due to their requirement for a collaborative effort, career mentoring programs are often seen as powerful development tools for cultivating both leaders and employees within a business.

Whether you are a small business owner or a multinational corporate leader, the implementation of a mentorship program will always be profitable for businesses as not only does it create a harmonious workplace culture, it also helps to attract and retain employees.

As straight-forward as career mentoring sounds, there are a few key tips to keep in mind when building a mentorship program for your business:

Make sure your mentoring program is clearly defined:
To create a successful mentoring program, both mentors and mentees should have a concise understanding of their roles and what they would like to gain from the mentorship. By succinctly outlining the purpose of the mentoring program, mentors and mentees are more likely to keep organised and communicate respectfully with the guarantee of mutual rewards.

There should also be short-term and long-term goals established for all parties involved, including the business. These goals could be the narrowing of particular skill gaps or creating a more open workplace culture. By having these goals set in stone, both mentors and mentees and have a clear direction to work towards.

Personalise the match-making process:
Often times, businesses will match a mentor and mentee together depending on their skill-set and position within the company. While on paper, this may appear to be an efficient process, but the lack of chemistry between a mentor and mentee may prove to be devastating for the workplace environment.

As a result, be sure to involve both mentors and mentees in the match-making process and take into account personality traits. You could do this by asking employees to take a personality test to ensure compatibility in career goals, personal interests and preferred communication methods.

Be involved as a third-party:
Lastly, it is the responsibility of the business to check-in on the progress of mentorship programs in order to understand how mentors and mentees can grow together and what improvements can be made to the program. Remember to always refer back to the long-term goals established and consider the feedback provided by mentors and mentees from the program.

Posted on 28 February '20, under General news. No Comments.

Employer jury duty responsibilities

When an employee gets summoned for jury duty, it can put added stress on the workplace with other staff having to take on extra work. As an employer, you’ll likely want to avoid the inconvenience of releasing an employee for jury duty, however, this may prove to be difficult.

Employers must comply with the legal responsibilities outlined when dealing with an employee who has been summoned for jury duty. Employers who don’t adhere to these responsibilities can face penalties of up to $50,000.

Can you refuse to release an employee for jury duty?
As an employer, you are required to release any employee for jury duty if they have been summoned. It is an offence to act prejudicial to an employee if they have been summoned for jury duty, including threatening their employment or wages.

If your business will face significant hardship with an employee at jury service, then you may be able to request for the employee to be excused. This will require an explanation of the impact jury service will have on your business. A request must be communicated before empanelment (when the jurors have been selected), and making a request does not guarantee that your employee will be excused.

What are the employee’s rights?
When your employee is away on jury duty, this cannot be counted as any other leave other than jury duty leave. An employee’s annual leave and sick leave will be unaffected.

Employers also cannot dismiss their employees for attending jury duty. Most Australian states restrict employers from terminating an employee or detrimentally changing or threatening employment terms because an employee is on jury duty. NSW, for example, considers this a criminal offence where a company can be penalised up to $22,000 and an individual employer can be penalised $5,500 or face 12 months of imprisonment.

Employers also cannot ask an employee to work on a day they are serving as a juror in court or ask them to work additional hours to make up for the time they missed whilst on jury duty.

When an employee is serving jury duty, employers generally must pay permanent employees their usual wages for the first 10 days of service, or pay what is often referred to as ‘make-up pay’. This is the difference between the jury service payment and the employee’s base rate for the ordinary hours they would have worked.

Posted on 28 February '20, under General news. No Comments.

Becoming socially conscious of where you super invest

Whether you are a newcomer to the workforce or have been working full time for 30 years, you must have come across the concept of superannuation. Chances are, you’ve already been steadily building your retirement funds in one of the 500 Australian superannuation funds but are still unfamiliar with how exactly your super is being managed and where your super fund is investing your money in.

With the beginning of a new decade and social issues on the rise, it is time to take a more conscious stance on what you are doing with your super and what causes you are supporting through the employment of your money through your super fund.

A recent investigation into Australian super funds by the Australian Centre for Corporate Responsibility (ACCR), released in February 2020, found that 50 of the largest super funds in Australia are proxy voting against local climate-change initiatives. These organisations are instead approaching climate change from a global perspective, whilst ignoring more pressing domestic challenges to reduce carbon emissions..

The lack of support from Australian super funds for localised climate action is growing problematic, as Australia fails to address its appalling record on carbon emissions and is falling behind new-age global goals to fight against environmental degradation and climate change.

In contrast, some of Australia’s most environmentally and socially conscious super funds lack the reputation to attract long-term users. To look for more environmentally friendly Australian super funds, the Responsible Investment Association Australasia (RIAA) grades supers based on their ethical contributions and makes this information available to the public.

Instead of mindlessly joining Australian super funds that are neglecting growingly problematic domestic climate change issues, Australians need to become more conscious of our indirect actions and super investments. Rather than investing in an unethical super fund, looking into self-managed super funds may be another good option. We need to learn to take matters into our own hands and become more socially conscious of where exactly our money goes.

Posted on 28 February '20, under General news. No Comments.

What’s tax-deductible for home businesses?

Running your business from home can have great benefits, such as being able to spend more time with your family, not having to travel, and deciding your work hours. To make the most out of your home business experience, it is important to be aware of what tax deductions you can claim.

If your home is also your principal place of business and you have a designated room space for business activities, then you are considered to be running your business from home. However, if you only do some business activities from home, then you may be considered to be working from home and the following tax implications don’t apply to you.

You can claim deductions for your home business on expenses that you need to undertake work that produces income. Tax-deductible costs include:

Posted on 28 February '20, under General news. No Comments.

When do you have to pay tax on shares?

Investing in shares is a popular method of growing your wealth, however, there are tax obligations you need to be aware of to get an accurate sense of how much you’ll need to put aside for your investments.

When you own shares, you need to declare all your dividend income on your tax return. It is possible to claim tax deductions for certain expenses you pay to receive income from your shares. The deductions you are eligible for will depend on if you are carrying on a business of share trading or if you are an individual share investor, but they can include:

Individual share investors cannot claim a deduction for the cost of acquiring shares, such as costs for brokerage and stamp duty, however, they can claim deductions on the prepayment of expenses related to the shares such as internet fees or seminars.

Buying and selling shares can involve capital gains tax (CGT), depending on whether you make a capital gain or a capital loss on your shares. Your capital gains or loss is the difference between the price you paid for the shares and the price you sell them for. If you end up selling your shares for more than you paid for them, then you make a capital gain which may be taxed.

How much CGT you need to pay varies depending on:

Posted on 21 February '20, under General news. No Comments.

Improving your social media content

Social media marketing is a powerful way to promote your business and establish a connection with your target market. Your content should closely relate to what you’re trying to sell or provide.

A key to great content is that it must be consistent and regularly updated. This is important because it will keep the business relevant in people’s news feeds.

Content does not have to be completely original work. It can be a combination of new content developed by the business, and content sourced from other platforms. Sharing other relevant social media posts through Retweeting or Reposting content can also be a great way to demonstrate your engagement with the community. However, do not forget to link back to the source that the content was taken from.

Another good idea is to ask questions or share a quote or tip. This will entice the audience to respond, share and join in the conversation.

Good content should be interesting, informative and engaging. It is a good idea to steer clear of technical jargon as the majority of people may not be able to understand. Remember who the target audience is and use language that will appeal to them.

While short text is the easiest content to produce, utilising visual elements such as images and videos can be an effective way of capturing an audience’s attention and are also able to deliver more information. It is also an opportunity to create links across social media sites that allow customers to click through to the website, or share videos and pictures onto their own news feeds.

Posted on 21 February '20, under General news. No Comments.

Are you responsible for unfair dismissal of employees?

If you are a small business employer wishing to dismiss employees, you must do so according to the Small Businesses Fair Dismissal Code, as a breach of the code could result in legal action taken against you. If your business has less than 15 employees, it counts as a small business.

Employees can apply for unfair dismissal if they believe they have been unreasonably dismissed from their job. These cases could include when:

Employees working for small businesses can only apply for unfair dismissal when they have been employed for at least 12 months. If the business had a change of ownership during their employment, then their time with the first employer may still count as service with the second employer when calculating the minimum employment period.

When dismissing an employee, there are three main valid dismissal reasons:

Employers must also adhere to employee entitlements upon dismissal, meaning they must pay:

An employer can make objections to the unfair dismissal claim by submitting an Employer response to unfair dismissal application, or an Objection to application for unfair dismissal remedy.

Posted on 21 February '20, under General news. No Comments.

You can now opt-out of super guarantee as a high income earner

If you’ve unintentionally been going over your superannuation concessional contributions cap in past years, you may not have to worry about it from now on. As of 1 January 2020, eligible individuals with multiple jobs can apply to opt-out of receiving super guarantee (SG) from some of their employers.

You may be eligible to apply if you:

Employees who are eligible can apply for the super guarantee shortfall exemption certificate when they complete the Super guarantee opt-out for high income earners with multiple employers form (NAT 75067).

When you opt-out of SG contributions, you must still receive SGC from at least one employer. If other employers agree to use the SG exemption, then they may provide an alternative remuneration package instead, as to not be disadvantaged. However, the exemption certificate:

Posted on 21 February '20, under General news. No Comments.

Training a new employee

Hiring a new employee can interrupt the daily workplace routine while they need a little extra attention and help and learn how things work. Here are some ways you can make the training period more successful…

Onboard before the start date
It is likely that new employees will feel more comfortable and perform better if they are prepared for their first day on the job. New employees often worry about things like what they should wear or where they should go and are reluctant to already be asking trivial questions. To ease them into the workplace, you can send an email prior to their start date that outlines:

Offer mentors
Enlisting the help of senior employees to help train and mentor new employees can be a great way to efficiently train them. This can also help senior members of the team continue to feel valued and can promote friendly relations and coworker connections.

Provide regular feedback
Constructive feedback can go a long way for new employees as you can correct any mistakes before they turn into habits. When giving feedback, you can avoid demotivating the new employee by providing both positive and negative feedback and focusing on their behaviour and not them.

Train for culture as well as practice
Ensuring that the new employee has the right practical information is obviously important, however, if your company has a certain culture it wants to uphold, you can also train them for this. For example, if your business focuses on being an eco-friendly office, demonstrate how that is done and what eco-friendly procedures are taken in the workday.

Posted on 13 February '20, under General news. No Comments.

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