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Employees now calling the shots, says lawyer

Employees now calling the shots, says lawyer

THERE IS an increasing trend towards an individualisation of employment arrangements, according to a Maddocks partner. This means that employers are increasingly pressured to offer various…

THERE IS an increasing trend towards an individualisation of employment arrangements, according to a Maddocks partner. This means that employers are increasingly pressured to offer various benefits in addition to remuneration, which can often lead to disappointment when it is not matched with action by employees.

Having taken on a new role as workplace relations special counsel at Maddocks, after 20 years as a partner at Mallesons Stephen Jacques, Bruce Moore last week said his experience has allowed him to observe a marked trend towards an individualisation of work arrangements, with an accompanying declining reliance on awards.

“As many employers seek to enhance the direct employer-employee relationship, many other changes in the Australian workplace have been encouraged. We are increasingly seeing part-time work as a utilisation of labour hire arrangements as commonplace,” Moore said.

Changes have occurred as employers aim to become an employer-of-choice, according to Moore. This is reflected in the provision of employee assistance programs, child care support, flexible work arrangements, and other activities and arrangements, all of which reflect the growing influence individual staff members are having on their workplaces.

Unions are gradually losing their influence in workplaces, which means workers have increased expectations of their employers, according to Moore. Pay and conditions are still key issues, but concerns also revolve around how employers provide for their staff, and how they interact with them from day to day.

“However, an increased emphasis on the individual contract of employment, such as the use of AWAs, seems to also be accompanied, quite reasonably, by an increased willingness of workers to be more conscious of and pursue their individual rights,” he said.

But there is also a flipside for employers, according to Moore, based partly on their higher expectations. Sometimes, he said, there is “disappointment and cynicism when the rhetoric is not matched by reality and action in the workplace”.

“This is one aspect of the greater utilisation by individuals of potential legal remedies when things are perceived to be or are going wrong,” Moore said.

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