Business Services

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Important notes

Rights and responsibilities of employers and employees

Common law entitlements and obligations
Applicable industry-specific legislation
Industrial award or enterprise agreement entitlements and obligations
Entitlements and obligations under a contract of employment /
letter of commencement of employment / letter of employment offer

Detailed definitions of key terminology

Affirmative Action
Anti-discrimination
Australian Workplace Agreements Awards
Employment contracts
Enterprise agreements
Equal Employment Opportunity
Harassment
Rights and responsibilities of employees
Rights and responsibilities of employers
Unions
Workplace bullying

Career planning

References

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Rights and responsibilities of employers and employees

When applying for a job in the business services field, it is important to understand the following information.

All employees have rights and responsibilities drawn from four sources

  1. Common law entitlements and obligations

    Common law entitlements and obligations are fairly basic common sense. The employee must attend for work at the agreed times and obey reasonable instructions from the employer. He/she must perform the work in a diligent, competent and timely manner and in return can expect to be paid for the work performed. The employee must show loyalty to the employer (eg Not give away the employer’s trade secrets or steal from the business) and the employer must accept responsibility (vicarious liability) for honest mistakes and accidental breakages by the employee (except in the case of the employee’s gross and wilful misconduct such as drunkenness, fighting at work etc).

  2. Applicable industry-specific legislation

    Employees and employers must both comply with any Federal or State legislation applicable to their industry and must co-operate with each other to ensure compliance by all parties. (eg Professional drivers are subject to the Motor Traffic Act)

  3. Industrial Award or Enterprise Agreement entitlements and obligations

    Industrial awards and enterprise agreements cover most jobs in Australia and set most of the conditions of work, the wages, leave entitlements, rest breaks etc. They are binding on all parties – employers, employees, trade unions and employer/industry associations. Full copies of NSW awards must be available at all workplaces to which they apply. A federal award may cover businesses with operations in more than one state or who have employees who are members of a Federal union.

  4. Entitlements and obligations under a contract of employment / letter of commencement of employment / letter of employment offer

    Some employers ask their employees to enter into a written contract of employment. It should be read very carefully as once signed and agreed to, it can be very difficult to change without the employee leaving the job. A letter from the employer to the employee confirming their appointment or making a job offer can also set out the conditions of employment, nominating the award classification, hours of duty, rates of pay, whether it’s expected the employee wear a uniform etc. If the employee accepts the job offer outlined in the letter, the employer has the right to expect the employee will comply with requirements.
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Detailed definitions of key terminology

Affirmative Action

Affirmative Action is taking positive steps to achieve equal employment for groups who have been disadvantaged in the past. Women, migrants and the disabled have been discriminated against the most.

Anti-discrimination

Anti-discrimination laws make it illegal to discriminate against someone on the grounds of a person’s sex, race, marital status, pregnancy, physical impairment, intellectual impairment, sexual orientation, religious or political beliefs. Discrimination in the workplace means that people are not given the same opportunities for gaining a job, a promotion or training and development on the grounds stated above.

Australian Workplace Agreements

An AWA is an individual agreement between an employer and an employee that overrides an existing award. They can provide better conditions than an award but anyone covered by one cannot be any worse off than they would be if covered by an award.

Awards

An award is a legal document which sets out the rights, entitlements and obligations of employers and employees, including rates of pay, hours of work, penalty rates, casual and part-time work and grievance procedures. A Federal Award covers all workers in an industry Australia-wide, whereas a State Award covers all workers in an industry in only that state.

Employment contracts

An employment contract is an agreement about the employee’s conditions of employment. It can be either verbal or in writing. It is a good idea to have it in writing so that it can be referred to if there is a dispute. It must include such details as pay rates and entitlements like sick leave and annual leave. It is a good idea to get advice before the employee signs it so that he/she fully understands the terms.

Enterprise Agreements

An enterprise agreement is a legal document setting out the same conditions as an award, but it covers the workers in one organisation only. Again, there are state and federal enterprise agreements.

Equal Employment Opportunity

EEO means more emphasis is placed on finding the best person for the job, considering everybody’s skills and abilities equally, with no discrimination in employment policies and practices, particularly in areas of recruitment, training, career progression and workplace restructuring. There are two parts to EEO – anti-discrimination and affirmative action.

Harassment

Harassment should not be confused with discrimination. Harassment is any form of behaviour that is not wanted and not asked for that humiliates, offends or intimidates someone. It usually is sexually or racially based. Behaviour considered harassment includes displaying or circulating material that is racist, sexist, sexually explicit, homophobic etc; verbal abuse or comments; offensive jokes, gestures or conduct; ignoring, isolating or segregating a person or group of people because of their sex, homosexuality, race etc.

Rights and responsibilities

It is important that you can differentiate between rights and responsibilities, particularly between those of employees as against those of employers. Rights are the entitlements you can expect to be given or the way you can expect to be treated. Responsibilities are tasks that you must complete or actions that are expected of you, that is, your obligations.

Rights and responsibilities of employees

Rights of employees include, to

Responsibilities of employees include, to

Rights and responsibilities of employers

Rights of employers include, to

Responsibilities of employers include, to

Unions

A union is an organisation set up by employees to assist them in the workplace, in order to increase their bargaining power. Anyone can join a union, except for military personnel. Unions can help with advice on work issues; health and safety issues; protection from harassment and discrimination; pay and entitlements; career structures; equal opportunity and equal pay; making sure that rights are protected; advice and assistance in workplace bargaining. Any worker in the business services industry in NSW can join The Australian Services Union – NSW Clerical and Administrative Branch.

Workplace bullying

Unions have had a big campaign to stop workplace bullying. Someone engaging in workplace bullying intimidates, degrades or humiliates other employees sometimes in the presence of co-workers and clients. It can include verbal abuse and behaviour, which is intended to punish; constant unreasonable criticism; put-downs and sarcasm; poorly managed conflicts of opinion or personality clashes. Inappropriate comments about appearance are common as are isolation at work, overloading with work or underutilisation of skills, exclusion from meetings, denial of promotion and even assault. Workplace bullying leads to stress-related health problems, high incidence of sick leave, resignation, low self-esteem, low morale and poor performance.

Refer to Key terms and concepts for additional terminology relating to working in a business environment.

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Career planning

Business services are essential to every Australian business. This industry employs over 1.6 million people across Australia and is traditionally open to school leavers. The business services workforce is the second largest cross-industry occupational group in Australia, so many students undertaking this course will gain employment in this field.

When considering future career options, students should consider

Specific skills that are of benefit in the business services sector include

When applying for a job, applicants need to write a letter of application and a Resume (often called a Curriculum Vitae or CV for short).

A letter of application should outline

A Resume should include

A website that has useful career information is Seek.com.au. Go to this website to find up-to-date career resources.

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Useful references

NSW Department of Industrial Relations
Employment Information (external website)
Young People At Work (external website)
NSW Awards (external website)

Federal Awards

http://www.fairwork.gov.au/ (external website)

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Additional resources

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