Small Business Help a Phone Call Away

The fast-paced world of small business can be confusing and, at times, catch out even the best operators, according to the Fair Work Ombudsman.

Bakery and patisserie owners are among employers who regularly call the agency’s Small Business Helpline. Around 300,000 calls have been made to the priority service since it launched in December 2013.

Calls from a diverse range of business operators are being answered by the Small Business Helpline team, which is fielding an equally wide range of requests for assistance. The number one reason small businesses call is to ask about wages, followed by conditions, termination of employment, leave and entitlements.

The Small Business Helpline has provided employers with advice on workforce participation, particularly through removing barriers such as age discrimination, and protecting vulnerable employees, including visa-holders and young workers.

The scope of information and assistance provided has also extended to guidance on employees accessing leave entitlements, travel allowances and taking on casual employees with flexible working arrangements.

A key role of the Fair Work Ombudsman is to promote productive and co-operative workplaces, and the agency is extending a helping hand to employers, crafting a suite of tools and resources to strongly support small business in particular.

“We work closely with employers to help them get the basics right in the first place so problems don’t arise in future,” Fair Work Ombudsman Natalie James said.

“Where an issue does arise, we will work with the parties to assist them to resolve the matter, and then put processes in place to ensure the same mistakes are not made again.

If employers have misunderstood their obligations, Natalise said the Fair Work Ombudsman starts with information and advice, and encourages self-resolution.

“A conversation in the workplace between the employer and the employee can resolve many problems and ensure ongoing goodwill,” she said.

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