Many employees are still uncertain about how changes to the industrial relations regime will affect them, more than four months after the Fair Work Act came into effect on January 1 2010.
While businesses have been busy transitioning to the new Fair Work system, they are forgetting to communicate these changes to staff, leaving many nervous and confused, especially as some of the changes can result in lower wages for employees in certain industry sectors, according to The Human Resources Centre.
"The Fair Work Ombudsman has been quite specific about the information businesses should be providing to employees and while companies are making the transition to the new system on an administrative level, the rollout hasn’t, in all circumstances, been filtered through to their staff," says Katherine Graham, CEO of The Human Resources Centre.
"We've noticed a number of organisations that have failed to provide the correct communication to their employees around the changes, which can leave staff confused and a little nervous."
Graham says while the new and simpler award system has resulted in higher rates of pay for a wide range of workers, there is a small segment of award changes that can lead to lower pay rates, making correct communication even more important in reassuring staff.
"Employers are still coming to terms with what the Fair Work Act means for them and their workforce, and while most are holding true to the higher rates of pay, this can pose problems for new employees being engaged under lesser wages to perform the same roles as those on relatively higher rates," she adds.
Many organisations, however, have been positive about complying; embracing these industrial relations changes as a way of demonstrating how much they value their employees and that they will "do the right thing by them".
"Businesses will also enjoy savings in staff training and education, once the hurdle of implementation is jumped," Graham explains. "The consolidation of business processes and the consistency of a single modern award system, rather than different state-based systems under the old legislation, make for more streamlined and cheaper business operations."