Why Employee Consultation is so Important!
Consulting with your employees on all workplace related matters does not only constitute best management practice, it’s also the Law. Being an employer by default mandates that you will be functioning in a business environment that is subject to constant change. Change is a reality of business life. Accordingly, to ensure ‘fairness’ and to ensure that this ‘change’ is managed in the most effective manner, Fair Work Australia has put in place a series of consultation requirements that all employers must adhere to. If you do not consult with your employees you may find yourself on the wrong end of the law.
Whether the change under consideration relates to performance issues, behavioural matters, a redundancy or dismissal; the employer must consult with the employee in a manner that is considered by a 'reasonable person' to be fair. This is true irrespective of the technical terms under which the employment is facilitated, e.g. Modern award or employment contract etc.
As an example, a documented Fair Work Australia case made it clear just how important it is to ensure employers comply with consultation clauses in Modern Awards when implementing redundancies. In Wang and Others v Specialty Fashion Group Ltd (2011), five employees were made redundant and informed of this by their employer in June 2011. While the employer contended that the redundancies were genuine, the employees disagreed and lodged an unfair dismissal claim with Fair Work Australia (FWA).