Opposite’s World – No Double Dipping

Many children play a game called “Opposite’s world” where you do or say the opposite to what you mean or intend. Turn left means turn right. “I don’t like you” means you do. Hugely funny of course. As we found out in our recent First Aid training, sadly this has now infiltrated the adult world, where it’s not so humorous. Good intentions backfire with possibly tragic consequences.

First Aid can literally be the difference between life and death. Putting aside the fact that employers are required to ensure a sufficient portion of our workforce is required to know first aid and pay for regular retraining as a part of our OH&S obligations (when such a requirement doesn’t apply anywhere else in our society), we have always encouraged and ensured as many of our employees as possible obtain a first aid certificate. Widespread first aid knowledge saves lives and reduces lasting effects of injury, and we’d be more than happy to have contributed to any employee helping a family member or indeed a perfect stranger needing help.

The sad reality though is that now more and more companies have implemented policies that achieve the exact opposite of what First Aid should be about. Companies now have policies stopping employees from performing CPR or rendering assistance if out in public. And frankly, I can understand their reasoning.

The cause? Social media and the potential for recordings of staff members being misinterpreted into “fake news”. One example given was of an aged care worker in uniform giving CPR to an elderly stranger outside the workplace. A picture tells a thousand words, and then stories pop up about a medical incident at the employee’s workplace, when it was simply a good Samaritan action worthy of praise.

Another example was of an unsupervised boy who nearly drowned in the surf and was pulled from the water unresponsive onto the beach. A man was leaning over the boy surrounded by a group of people, when the father see’s the boy on the ground and rushes over and starts hitting the person who was busy saving his sons life. Hopefully just confusion and/or misunderstanding, but still a reason to hesitate in giving help.

Statistics now show that only 14% of people would help someone in distress. Males are very unlikely to help females because of the increasing risk of hard to defend sexual assault claims. I am not aware of any updated statistics to reflect Covid and other communicable diseases, but it would be highly likely that this statistic will drop even further, which makes you wonder what kind of society we are becoming.

So what’s the solution? A good starting point would be to change the laws around social media and reporting more generally. There are some moves to make the social media platforms accountable for the content, but it needs to also come back to holding those making posts responsible for what they say and display. We’ve all seen videos where there are more people standing around filming an event than there are people contributing. Organisations need to comply with consent rules before publishing – why not apply the same to individuals? Or at least make it illegal to make misleading representations (like the aged care example above) and start cracking down on frivolous claims.

No Double Dipping

In a move welcomed by the 2.6 million casual employees and most businesses in Australia, the High Court has overturned the Federal Court decision that would have given casual employees who receive a 25% casual loading access to claim back dated leave entitlements. It would have sent many employers broke. It would have also killed much of the country’s future employment should employers not be able to source temporary or casual labour.

Regular readers will recall our August 2020 newsletter explaining this in some detail (View Article Here). Widely referred to as “double dipping” (because the loading is already compensation for not getting leave), this is welcome clarity for all employers. In short, if you are paying the casual loading, you can employ people as a “casual” so long as this is clear in the employment contract. A casual is someone who has no firm advance commitment from an employer about the duration of their employment, or the days or hours the employee would work, and gave no reciprocal commitment to the employer.

Note that the right to convert to permanent employment has not changed, that is, employers need to give casual employees the opportunity to convert to permanent every 12 months at a minimum. One fifth of employees elect to convert to permanent after a year, meaning that 80% or over 2 million people prefer casual employment arrangements.

The Unions and Federal opposition have vowed to work to overturn the scheme at the next election.

Casual employment gives a lot of people flexibility to take on work and is a common starting point for especially young people to get into the work force. It gives an ability for the employee to juggle work around other commitments (such as study, sports etc). It gives older people an opportunity to travel or ease into retirement whilst still contributing with their skills and knowledge and helping them save for retirement. It also helps employers manage peaks and troughs or seasonality in terms of work loads, including bringing on board new employees to help grow a business where it might not otherwise be viable. This freedom of contract should give some confidence back to trying casual employment arrangements yet again.

As always, onwards and upwards!

Fred Carlsson

General Manager

You may also be interested in