If you’re like most small business owners and managers, you probably wear many hats and are responsible for many areas of your business. You’re the CEO, bean counter, marketing whiz, sales guru, lead developer, and more.

So you’ve typically got your hands full developing growth strategies, optimising the cash flow, managing customer relationships, product and service innovation, not to mention the human side of running your business. At any one time, you may be trying to effectively on board new hires into your business, figure out the best way to develop a stellar employee, while you performance manage another.

Of course, when things get really busy, you tend to concentrate on the things you like to do rather than prioritise the things that need to be done.

So while you’re masterminding your latest marketing campaign, you certainly wouldn’t be the first business owner to put HR compliance in the too hard basket. But it still needs to be done. And the problem is, the longer you leave it, the more painful it is, especially when you get it wrong.

Here are 7 common HR mistakes you need to fix right now.

1. National Employment Standards (NES) & Awards

With Australia’s complex employment laws, modern awards and agreements, underpayment of wages is alarmingly widespread with apprentices and trainees particularly vulnerable to being underpaid at work. But make no mistake, underpaying employees (even inadvertently) attracts big fines and back pay claims.

Visit our Knowledge Base for resources on the Fair Work Act and NES.

2. Employment contracts

You can find yourself in all sorts of trouble if you don’t record an employee’s terms and conditions when you hire them. Employment contracts written in plain English help you minimise costly and time consuming disputes by providing certainty about the legal rights and obligations of both you and your staff.

Employment Innovations has a free contract library which you can access here.

3. Independent contractors

For employers, hiring contractors is not just about the lower overheads, it’s the ability to adapt quickly to changing demands. However, while contractors run their own business and provide services to your business, you can’t classify a worker as a contractor simply because they have an ABN and they offer specialist skills.  Furthermore, having a worker sign an agreement that states they are not an employee does not necessarily make them so.

Complete our free legal checklist to see if someone is an independent contractor or employee

4. Workplace safety

It doesn’t matter what your business does, or how low risk it is, as a business owner you have legal responsibilities to provide a safe place of work for your employees, contractors, volunteers, visitors, customers or the public. Though it may cost to implement safe practices and install safety equipment, the effect of not taking action can be costlier still.

5. Workplace policies

It’s one thing to create sound workplace policies, and quite another to actually enforce them. But your policies are only effective if they are uniformly enforced and properly communicated to your employees. Plus, you need to regularly audit your workplace policies to ensure they are up to date with relevant laws and other internal policies and procedures.

Contact EI Legal for assistance with tailored workplace policies for your business.

6. Performance management

While you may have a valid reason to dismiss an underperforming member of your staff, if you don’t follow due process, you’ll end facing and potentially losing an unfair dismissal claim. Procedural fairness is absolutely critical to how Fair Work Australia decides an unfair dismissal cases. If you fail to show you have applied procedural fairness before you dismiss an employee, it will usually result in a finding that the dismissal was unfair.

Read our guide on how to manage unsatisfactory performance and behaviour

7. HR automation

If you’re still relying on an individual in your business to process your payroll and manage HR tasks, it’s only a matter of time until you come unstuck. HR automation can help you save time and money by streamlining business processes, and making your business more efficient, which in turn helps to improve profitability. And without an HR system in place, how can you be sure you’ll put your hands on the right HR records and documentation when you really need them?

Fix it now

HR compliance isn’t just for companies with a large workforce, no matter the size of your business focusing on these 7 steps will create a more productive workplace and allow you to get on top of your HR tasks and processes before things go awry.

Here at Employment Innovations, we have been helping Australian businesses for over 25 years navigate the complexities of HR and the changing legislative environment. Contact us today for a free consultation with one of our HR consultants.

About the author

Justine Pepper has over 25 years HR and Industrial Relations experience and is the Adelaide HR Partner delivering consulting service to local clients. Along with providing consulting services on all areas of HR she is a big believer in innovation and can help advice on technology you can introduce to your business to improve the way you deliver products and services. Contact Justine today for a consultation.