Employsure is Australia’s largest employment relations and H&S advisors, supporting more than 30,000 SMEs across Australia and New Zealand, spanning many sectors including retail.

These are my top tips for retailers on how they can best prepare for the EOFY sales spike:

Roster in advance – A clear rostering schedule that’s been developed well in advance of busy sales period will be your best asset. You’ll be able to plan rosters that adhere to relevant retail awards (setting out meal and break times, managing overtime, and dealing with casual employees), and give enough notice for your team to request any shift changes if necessary. 

This is also a key requirement under many awards and there are rules which impact how you can roster employees, for example by limiting the number of days an employee can work consecutively.  It is important to take the time to understand the rules that apply to you and your business. 

While manual rostering can be time consuming, there is also software available, such as BrightHR, that saves time and reduces risk of errors when rostering.  

Enforce tea and meal breaks – It may seem like an obvious one, but it can make a world of difference. When employees are feeling run off their feet, make sure you’re encouraging them to look after themselves and take regular breaks. Particularly when stores extend their hours to keep up with the influx of sales, it’s easy to deprioritise break times or push them towards the end of the day.   

Accurate rostering will dictate how many and when employees take their breaks, adhering to the General Retail Industry Award. Try to stick to this schedule or as near to as you can. 

If employees are feeling tired or mentally drained, their chances of making an error or having an accident increases. Regular meal or rest breaks can help them to recharge and refuel. A pack or two of biscuits in the tearoom never goes down badly with staff during those late nights either.

Consider your casuals – Casual employees make up a significant portion of the retail industry so it’s crucial that they are adequately factored in when planning for peak sales periods. You may also want to recruit more casuals and train staff now as even new employees can help with high volumes! 

While their contracts differ slightly from permanent or contracted workers, they can still work overtime – which is often necessary during sales periods.  

The amount of overtime a casual employee can work will be dependent on which award they are covered by. Ordinarily, overtime kicks in when a casual employee has worked more than 38 hours in a week or more than a certain number of hours in a day, or outside the daily spread of hours listed in the applicable award.   

Know what constitutes overtime for your casuals, as well as permanent staff, and make sure you’re tracking overtime wages correctly. There are basic, free resources available to calculate this.  

Plan for absenteeism – It’s natural that there are days when your staff will call in sick or are unable to make their rostered shifts. Particularly when you’re preparing for a busy period of sales, this can create more unnecessary pressure on the rest of the team.  

Be prepared for this with a handful of backups to be on call if a last-minute absence occurs – again, this is a great use for your pool of casual employees. 

If this is an ongoing issue and you can identify patterns of absenteeism, it’s worth putting in place a policy to set the expectations for your team about communicating absences and what evidence they might be required to provide (like a doctor’s note or medical certificate), reducing any further unexpected and unwarranted absenteeism.  

Stephen Roebuck is associate director of advice & consultancy at Employsure.