In the business world, your employees are essential assets that'll be the difference between whether you grow, flourish, or fail. The Australian government knows this and has gone to great lengths to ensure that the nation's employees are well-equipped for their jobs, making training a legal obligation for employers when it comes to their employees.
In this article, we'll cover the legal requirements for training employees and how this training needs to take place.
Australian Employment Law
Before we dive into the training laws that employers are obligated to adhere to, let's first set our foundation with a basic understanding of Australian employment law. Australia's employment law is quite comprehensive and protects employers' and employees' rights in the workplace. Several prominent sections of the employment law framework regulate how employers deal with their employees and their obligations. These laws fall under the Fair Work Act 2009, National Employment Standards, Work and Safety Standards, State and Federal Anti-discrimination laws and the Privacy Act 1988.
Within these laws and documents, you'll find the laws about what employers must do to train their employees. For example, the Fair Work Act is responsible for setting the minimum wage employers need to pay, resolving disputes and monitoring the relationships between employers and their employees.
The Work and Safety Act 2011 ensures that employees' health, safety, and welfare are protected while they are at work. From providing duties for management regarding control and risks, reports and consulting for workers, and fines and penalties, the Work and Safety Act is essential regarding an employer's obligations to their workforce.
The State and Federal Anti-Discrimination laws also fall under the Fair Work Act. They are there to protect employees from discrimination and harassment. So, you may be wondering why we are covering these laws and regulations when discussing the legal requirements for training employees. Well, every part of these laws has one thing or another to do with how you train workers and the training they are required to have.
Legal Training Requirements for Employees in Australia
Ever heard the saying, "You don't know what you don't know?" Well, it applies here. For businesses to succeed, they need employees who catch the vision and give 110%. Unfortunately, you can't just expect your employees to wake up one day and know exactly how everything needs to be done in your business. They need training; as the owner or manager, this falls to you, and the Australian Government thinks so, too. That's why they've put into place four things employers must train their employees in. That includes:
Work Health and Safety Training
Industry Specific Training
Develop construction training programs
Aid in your Employee's development through mentoring and coaching.
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Develop Construct Training Programs
Every business dynamic is different, which is understandable because you deal with unique individuals within different industries. So, while one training program might work for a business, it might not necessarily work for yours.
To implement the training program that suits your business best, consider what training needs your employees may need. Consider how they work together, and do a SWOT analysis on them as individuals and a team. You can even hire an HR consultant to help you if you feel overwhelmed by having to do this. Here's a five-step plan to get you started on the right track.
Step 1: Always start with the end in mind. Your employee training should be a part of your business plan, so if it isn't, you should go back and revise your plan to fit it in.
Step 2: Count the cost. These days, many people believe that you can't get anything for nothing. While this has some truth, it's not entirely true for training employees. When it comes to training, you need to budget how it will cost. This includes budgeting for:
Training material costs
Travel and accommodation costs
Loss from a drop in productivity due to training
However, if you play your cards right, you can design detailed and constructive training programs for little or no cost with a little bit of effort. These days, business information and training are widely available at affordable prices or free.
Step 3: Go to the source. Your staff are the ones who need training so going to them would be a wise choice. Discuss what they think their training needs are. Not only will it give you more to go on, but it'll also improve your relationship with them.
You can approach this from one or two angles. Firstly, you could chat with your employees on one and ask them what they think they need to develop more on. You can even ask them to comment on what they feel the company can do better. This will make them feel like their opinion is valued and essential to the company.
Then, you can also approach your staff in a meeting and allow them to discuss improvement needs among the group, and hey, if that doesn't work too well, you at least know that teamwork is something you can work on.
Step 4: Put the plan together. Once you've collected all the info you need, it's then time to create your training plan. Considering the development needs you have noticed, use appropriate activities to help your employees engage with each other and develop the skills they need. This could be activities like:
Group training workshops
Team building exercises
learning on the job
Step 5: Get your employees ready for training. Communicate what will be happening with your employees well in advance regarding the training and make it exciting so that they're prepared and ready to take what you throw at them head-on.
Work Health and Safety training.
Workplace safety training is so necessary! Out of the training we've mentioned, it's probably one of the most critical training tasks you as the employer need to do with your staff. The WHS laws say that the employer must provide workplace health and safety training for their staff, and rightfully so.
Every worker is entitled to safe working environments. WHS laws help ensure that employers provide safe environments for the staff. This generally means that employers have to offer some of the following training:
Training with personal protective gear
First aid training
Emergency or fire training
Personal safety training for handling money, hazardous chemicals, working alone or if there's a security breach
Development programs that include mentoring, coaching or shadowing
We've already covered preparing training programs, but mentoring, coaching and shadowing fall into a slightly different bracket. All three of these training types allow your employees to learn from someone else in the same industry who is more experienced than them. This is an excellent way of inducting new employees and helping them catch the DNA and workflow of your business faster. Here's a closer look at how each development program works:
Mentoring is based on the relationship between a more experienced individual as the mentor and the one learning as the mentee. With this development program, mentors don't simply instruct the mentee on what to do; they form a relationship and guide them on the best practices in the industry and help cultivate their growth at a steady pace.
Coaching entails someone with experience in the same industry providing training methods to improve your Employee's work-related performance. It can come from an internal or external source and help your staff improve in several ways. For one, it can help them set realistic goals and meet them daily.
Shadowing is often used as a method of helping those who are leaving school choose what career they want to go into. But it works just as well in the workplace. Shadowing involves an employee observing another employee with experience in the industry for a certain amount of time. While this doesn't necessarily mean they'll be given guidance, it does give them an excellent opportunity to see how others conduct business in the same industry.
Every job is different, requiring employees to have specialised training. For example, engineers who run industrial machinery need unique training to do it safely and correctly. It is up to the employer to ensure their employees have received the training they need to do the specific tasks required. Another good example is for those who work with liquor or gaming. There are specific training requirements for managing and selling liquor and those who manage casinos.
To wrap it up, businesses won't keep up with the demands placed on them without employees. That makes employees essential assets in the business world. In Australia, employers must adhere to the Australian Employment Laws surrounding the training they are obligated to provide for their employees. With sufficient training, employee performance and retention should improve.