Special introductory offer - North Queensland.
download the flyer here.

Congratulations to Michael and Clint

The Action Learning Project undertaken by Senior Constable Michael Maguire and Sergeant Clint Ryan during their participation in the Practical People Management Program (PPM) was inspired.  Clint and Michael are based in Charleville.  With the strong support of their local senior officers, they took a pressing workplace problem, the increased workload which resulted from bored youths who were creating mischief and setting themselves on a path of confrontation with the local community and the law, and creatively looked at solutions.  In so doing they secured the engagement of the local community, other service providers and the youths. 

It has now been recognised as an outstanding initiative on a number of fronts. 

Skirmishing the Youth has been named as a finalist in both the 2010 IPPA Public Sector Excellence Awards and the 2010 Premiers Excellence in Public Service Delivery.  Read about Clint and Michael fantastic initiative at

Dealing with Staff on Long Term Sick Leave

A recent decision by Fair Work Australia reaffirmed that employers are not powerless to act in situations where a staff member takes long term sick leave.  John Stanton, Partner, Australian Business Lawyers compiled an excellent summary of the recent decision. 
Click here to read the full story. 


Workplace Flexibility Important for Workers

A recent study of the attitudes of Australian employees by the Diversity Council of Australia (DCA),Working for the Future: A National Survey of Employees,  found that almost one in five employees (18 percent) have considered quitting their job in the last six months due to lack of flexibility. 

The Report also found that flexibility is the top employment driver for working parents, and that Generation Y workers (14 per cent) were significantly more likely to consider resigning due to lack of flexibility than other age groups (7 per cent).

Another key finding of the Study is that managers with children are consistently rated as better managers and have more satisfied staff than managers without children, challenging the view that workers with families are somehow restricted.

More information about the study can be found at the Diversity Council of Australia website


Workplace Culture Key to Happy Staff

The company that was named best place to work in the 2008 BRW Best Place to Work Survey, NetApp, say they don't focus specifically on programs to reduce stress but rather on the overall culture of their company.  Peter O’Connor, NetApp vice president for Australia, New Zealand and South East Asia, said: “We focus more on trust and empowerment, flexibility and work hours, putting people in the roles they enjoy and providing training and guidance to make them as successful as they can be.”

He notes that people join organisations but they leave managers, so it’s essential that the right people enter management.   Of around 20 NetApp managers, O’Connor says 15 have been promoted from within his organisation.  He sees this as positive because such managers have direct experience with the company and can grant empathy for their direct reports.   He ensures that those managers are regularly updated with training on employee engagement and retaining staff.

More about the culture of NetApp can be gleaned from an article in Human Resources Magazine at


Dealing with Absences: seeking information is lawful and reasonable
By John Stanton, Partner, Australian Business Lawyers

A recent unfair dismissal decision [Employee v SMS Management and Technology Limited [2010] FWA 2297] illustrates the obligation of employees to follow lawful and reasonable directions of the employer even when the employee is absent due to illness.  The decision also shows that it is an employer’s interests to take proactive but cautions steps in dealing with long term absences.

What happened and why?

The industrial relations arbitrator, Fair Work Australia, rejected an unfair dismissal claim brought by the former employee against his former employer, SMS Management and Technology Limited.  Fair Work Australia heard that the employee commenced a lengthy absence on 22 June and within three weeks had used up all of his accrued paid sick leave.  After the paid sick leave entitlement had been exhausted, SMS requested information from the employee about the nature of his condition, the expected period of his absence and any limitations which might apply if he were to return to work. 

In Fair Work Australia’s opinion, the requests were reasonable and understandable particularly in the context of occupational health and safety.

When the employee failed to respond to these reasonable requests, SMS put him on clear notice that failure to comply could give rise to disciplinary action including termination of his employment.  Despite this warning, the employee did not comply and so he was dismissed. 

There are two principal reasons which explain SMS’s success in defending the claim.  First, it had a valid reason to dismiss.  The request to provide the information represented a lawful and reasonable direction and the employee failed to comply with that direction after being given several opportunities to do so.  Second, the employee was put on clear notice about the consequences of his continued failure to satisfy the direction.  Fair Work Australia was also satisfied that SMS would have dealt with medical information in a sensitive and confidential manner and so there was no justification for the employee’s concerns that he would be stigmatised if he provided the information. 

Useful tips for your business

1. If sick leave is claimed – whether paid or unpaid – ensure that evidentiary requirements (e.g. medical certificates) are met.

2. Ensure managers and supervisors are aware of these requirements so that they can act promptly to correct non-compliance.

3. If an absence is potentially lengthy, make reasonable requests for information in order to understand the nature of an employee’s condition, the expected period of absence and any limitations which might apply to the work on the employee’s return.

4. Request information in writing and give reasonable periods to respond.  Do not ignore an unresponsive employee.  Remind the employee of the lawful and reasonable nature of the direction and the consequences of non-compliance.

By John Stanton, Partner, Australian Business Lawyers

28 May 2010