I’m getting more and more fired up about the Australian Governments proposed changes to the workplace realtions laws.
There’s a huge amount of hysteria regarding unfair dismissal laws – especially amongst small business owners. The Age this morning uses business owner, Susan Cannalonga, to argue the case for exemption from unfair dismissal laws. She cites an employee who was coming to work late and leaving early. When challenged the employee fired off a letter of resignation but then changed her mind.
Instead of following through the dismissal process, Cannalonga insisted that the initial resignation stand.
In a similar veing to our recent argument, The Age quotes Monash University associate professor of business and economics as arguing:
“…unfair dismissal is the symptom, not the disease. The disease is human resource management practices in small firms.
I have seen it time and time again in businesses of all sizes but especially small business. Owners and managers refuse to confront the problem. They let the underperforming behaviour go on too long. They don’t discipline the employee and then try to remove them with an excuse. All the while their business suffers and it may well continue to suffer after the employee has left. This because they haven’t considered how their own actions may have contributed to the problem and may be contributing to other cases of underperformance. They also give very little thought to the cost of replacing the employee.
Don’t get me wrong. Small business people do it tough. It’s usually their house that’s mortgaged to the hilt to keep the business running. The owner is the last person to be paid and they keep having to find cash each fortnight for the wages bill and at the end of the year for annual entitlements. They need all the help they can get
However, encouraging them to see their problems in terms of individual underperforming employees is doing them a grave injustice. They need assistance in handling difficult or underperforming staff. Rather than relaxing the unfair dismissal laws, which we argue will end up costing small business more, the government could provide more human resource management support. Perhaps provide grants to small business to engage HR consultants. Run seminars and support groups on HR issues in small business. These are things that could make a real difference to small business.
Don’t expect to see any of these initiatives any time soon in the currrent political climate. We are too busy blaming poorly performing and greedy employees and glorifying business owners.