Keeping accurate HR records is a legal obligation, as well as a safety-net for you and your business when things go wrong. What state are yours in?
As small businesses evolve into larger businesses, infrastructure development tends to lag behind. Rapid growth and/or spread of your workforce creates the need to centrally manage HR records for compliance purposes and establish company-wide protocols clarifying how you manage and utilise your human resources. Many compliance functions around HR, Payroll and OH&S can suddenly be lacking in timeliness, completeness of information, accuracy and accessibility of records.
The tricky thing about HR, is that it’s value is invisible until things go wrong!
Hiring an HR Manager is usually not a priority as generally a full-time HR resource is not required, so HR tends to get neglected. The gaps only become evident when there is a problem; when records are incomplete, non-compliant or non-existent and there are no procedures in place to handle HR issues as they arise. Playing catch-up becomes very difficult and the cost can be enormous.
- Are you able to provide evidence that employees are aware of your policies and procedures?
- Can you demonstrate consistency in your approach to HR related matters across the business?
- Can you prove legislative compliance and demonstrate that procedural fairness and the principles of natural justice have been applied consistently across all of your HR practices?
- Are you fully compliant with Fair Work Australia Legislation and Individual Contract and Award conditions?
- Are you paying the correct wages and entitlements?
If the answer is “no” to any of these questions, your business is at risk! Some of the myriad of problems that can arise from poor record keeping are immigration compliance issues, payroll errors, lack of important medical information and next-of-kin contact details in emergencies, lack of documentation and records to appropriately discipline staff, to name a few. Things get more serious when there are no records or procedures to support Unfair Dismissal Claims, General Protections Claims, WorkCover Claims, Wage Claims, Department of Home Affairs or WorkCover investigations, or in fact any legal challenge.
Getting HR records up to scratch can be a big job.
There are a number of ways you can get your HR systems up to date, or up and running. The choice of solution depends on the intricacies of your particular business.
Solutions range from simply implementing key policies, procedures and training, customised to reflect your business culture and practices, to implementing a full blown HRIS software system.
HRIS systems vary as well; some provide the structure to store and manage your existing HR materials, some can integrate with your time-and-attendance system and payroll, some are populated with templates you can use to help develop your HR documentation.
Deciding which way to go is a big decision with long term ramifications. It’s complex, depending on a variety of factors, including company size, strength of existing material and records, existing software systems, the industry you are in, the number of employees you have, the location of your business, your company culture to name a few, and of course, cost. The sooner you start to get your records in order, the easier it is to cement the systems and procedures into your business.
Where to start?
At a minimum, whenever you are managing your team, it’s important to document everything, and keep accurate and complete records in a central, secure location. It’s also essential to have a robust policies and procedures in place, communicate these effectively to your team and provide adequate training on expectations and obligations in the workplace. Your managers and supervisors also need to be trained on how to appropriately manage staff and at the same time protect your business from unwanted repercussions.
At a broader level, it’s essential to develop company-wide protocols and ensure consistency in documentation, implementation and training.
If you need assistance deciding how best to get your HR matters in shape, please don’t hesitate to give the HR Gurus team a call where one of our qualified HR experts would be happy to help.
Written by resident HR Guru, Louise Betts.