Consultation with employees is required when certain changes are proposed in the workplace. An obligation to consult can arise under an award or enterprise agreement and/or Work Health and Safety (WHS) legislation. Consultation is also usually required where redundancies are being considered.
When undertaking consultation with employees, the following steps should be followed:
- Invite affected staff to a meeting via email or short note. Include the date, time, and place of the meeting and a brief description of the proposed change. Include everyone the change will affect. Employees should be advised of their right to industrial representation, and in some circumstances, the relevant union must also be advised of the proposed changes being discussed.
- Hold the meeting. Include those off-site via an online tool or telephone. All affected employees should be given a reasonable opportunity to participate and provide feedback during the consultation process.
- Explain the changes and the reason they are important.
- Share all available information (although not all commercially confidential or sensitive material must be provided).
- Affected employees should be provided with information in writing as to the proposed changes, and how it may affect them, as well as any measures being taken to mitigate the impact of the changes on them.
- During the consultation process, encourage staff to ask questions and to air their concerns and ideas. Document what is said and asked.
- Allow a reasonable time for staff to provide feedback and to be able to attend any consultation meetings. What is reasonable will depend on the employees’ circumstances. For example, if employees work on a week on/week off roster, you must ensure that they are able to attend the meetings during their rostered week at work.
- Consider the feedback provided by staff before making a final decision. Importantly, lack of employee agreement to the changes does not necessarily require that the proposed changes are not put in place. However, consideration of employees’ views before making that final decision is important.
- Advise staff of the proposed start date for the changes. Explain what is going to be different and what you expect from employees once the changes are implemented.
To determine if or when consultation is required, be sure to check your industrial agreements and obtain further advice from the MTA.
If you have any questions about the information above, or how it relates to your business specifically, please contact the MTA WR team on 8291 2000, or at email@example.com.