Police Clearances – What you need to know as an employer

A National Police Clearance is a summary of a person’s police history in Australia. It is a list of a person’s disclosable court outcomes and includes any pending charges from all jurisdictions across the country. Conducting a police clearance on a potential new employee is often a staple part of the recruitment process for many employers. The rationale being; to protect the business from any future criminal activity and to ensure a potential new employee, is trustworthy and of good character. There are, however, a number of key legislative provisions in the area of discrimination and privacy, which must be considered when undertaking police checks as part of a recruitment process.

 

Can I Request a Police Clearance?

 An employer can conduct a police clearance check on a potential applicant throughout the recruitment process. Any findings, however, should only be considered where there is a clear link to the inherent requirements of the role.

Where an employer believes that a potential employee’s criminal record may impede their ability to perform the inherent requirements of the position, they must get the person’s consent to conduct the check. It’s also important to advise potential candidates on the job advertisement and throughout the process that a police check may be conducted as part of the recruitment process.

 

Can I refuse to employ someone based on their criminal history?

An employer may be able to lawfully refuse to employ a prospective employee based on their criminal record where there is a clear link to the inherent requirements of the role. For example, a person with convictions related to assault and violence may be deemed unsuitable for a role that is responsible for the care of vulnerable people such as those with disabilities, the elderly, or children. Another example, is in the context of a person who has a criminal record related to fraud and financial crimes. In this scenario they may be deemed unsuitable for a role that requires them to deal with financial transactions or accounts within a business.

A person’s criminal history should not automatically disqualify them from potential employment, with each circumstance treated and assessed on a case-by-case basis. An example, where a person’s criminal record may have no impediment on the ability to perform the inherent requirements of the role, may be where a person has been convicted for driving offences and they are applying for a role as an accountant. In this situation, there may be no clear link between their performance of the inherent requirements of the role and their past convictions.

 

Practical Example

A 2018 inquiry conducted by the Australian Human Rights Commission (the AHRC), BE v Suncorp Group Ltd [2018] AusHRC 121, looked into the issue of discrimination in employment based on a person’s criminal record. The complainant raised a written complaint to the AHRC alleging discrimination based on a criminal record after a conditional offer of employment was revoked by Suncorp following a police check conducted on him.

The police check revealed that in 2008 he was convicted of accessing and possessing child pornography and sentenced to 12 months imprisonment. It further revealed that in 2015 he was fined for a failure to comply with reporting obligations related to these previous offences. After receiving the criminal record history, Suncorp discussed the findings with the applicant and later rescinded the offer. At no time did Suncorp cite the criminal record findings as rationale for rescinding the offer, however, the AHRC considered the merits of the matter and determined that the previous convictions were not sufficiently linked to a failure to perform the inherent requirements of the role.

The AHRC made a recommendation in this case that Suncorp pay the applicant $2,500 compensation and further recommended they revise their recruitment policies for people with criminal records and conduct further training for staff involved in recruitment decisions.

 

Key Considerations

There are several key considerations employers must keep in mind when requiring a police clearance check as part of a recruitment process, such as:

1.) Consider whether the job vacancy requires a police check and if any criminal history may impede an applicant’s ability to perform the inherent requirements of the role;

2.) If you intend to conduct a police clearance check, ensure that it’s written in the job advertisement and reinforced to applicants at time of interview that they may be subjected to a police clearance check;

3.) Ensure you get an applicant’s permission to conduct a police clearance check;

4.) Allow a candidate a right of reply and opportunity to explain any convictions that may be present on a police clearance check;

5.) Treat each scenario on a case-by-case basis; and

6.) Ensure the business has a prescriptive recruitment policy in place which is compliant with equal opportunity, discrimination and privacy legislation considerations in relation to police clearance checks on potential employees.

Want to know more? Contact CCIWA’s Employee Relations Advice Centre team on 9365 7660 or email advice@cciwa.com

 

 

 

 

 

Phase 4 and Return to Work Considerations

On June 27 2020, Western Australia (WA) will move into phase 4 of the WA Government’s Roadmap to recovery from COVID-19. WA has been fortunate in that community transmissions have, at present, been limited. This has seen further restrictions eased across the state allowing many businesses to get back to a sense of normality.

Currently phase 3 is in place which includes a number of eased restrictions to large gatherings and additional businesses permitted to reopen. Phase 4 aims to further ease those restrictions as follows:

  • All existing gathering limits and the 100/300 rule will be removed. Gathering limits will only be determined by WA’s reduced 2sqm capacity rule;
  • The 2sqm rule will include staff only at venues that hold more than 500 patrons;
  • Removal of seated service requirements at food businesses and licensed premises;
  • No requirement to maintain patron register at food businesses and licensed premises;
  • All events will be permitted except for large scale, multi-stage music festivals;
  • Unseated performances will be permitted at venues such as concert halls, live music venues, bars and pubs;
  • Gyms can operate unstaffed, but regular cleaning must be maintained; and
  • The casino gaming floor reopening under agreed temporary restrictions.

International and interstate travel is still restricted, however during Phase 3 restrictions on intrastate travel was relaxed with the exception of travel to remote Aboriginal communities. The WA Government announced, as part of the phase 4 announcement, that the removal of WA’s hard border will be considered in phase 6 after phase 5, due to be introduced on July 18 2020. No date has been provided for phase 6.

Businesses that are reopening in phase 3 and 4 will need to submit a COVID Safety Plan. Businesses that opened in phase 2 are required to update their current COVID Safety Plan accordingly.

 

What does this mean for my business?

Moving from phase 3 to phase 4, it is now time to think about what measures need to be taken before returning employees to the workplace so business can be conducted in a safe manner, in line with Government and health and safety guidelines. Planning and forethought should be a top priority as this will lay the groundwork for a smooth transition back into the workplace. Factors that should be considered include:

 

Social distancing / physical distancing

Thought should be given to the capacity of the workplace and then identifying all the situations, tasks, and processes where employees and others (clients, customers, contractors and visitors) interact closely with each other. If the business does not have the ability to have all employees back at once, considering additional measures such as having some employees remain working from home, having employees return on a rotating roster system or moving furniture to accommodate the physical distancing requirements. Capacity of certain meeting rooms, board rooms and training rooms should also be considered with clear communication of the capacity if there have been changes.

Measures should also be taken for external visitors such as requiring self-screening forms to be completed when either hosting clients at the workplace or meeting them externally.

Other measures could include:

  • Reducing staff sharing equipment such as hot desking arrangements
  • Staggering staff start and finish times and staff lunch breaks
  • Having clear 1.5 metre markers where appropriate (floor and seating areas)
  • Seating in common areas changed to accommodate the 1.5 metre rule
  • Encouraging staff to still have virtual meetings where appropriate

 

Communication

Having effective communication with your employees during the COVID-19 pandemic is essential to limit the confusion and stress that employees may experience during this unprecedented and unpredictable time. Not only is it important to keep employees informed about the latest Federal and WA Government health warnings and advice but also to communicate the many changes the business is implementing to keep employees safe. This could include:

  • Consulting with employees about changes to rosters, start and finish times and lunch breaks;
  • Notifying staff of all relevant changes before they return to work to decrease stress and anxiety. For example, any changes made to workstations to accommodate social distancing requirements;
  • Changes in polices such as flexible work arrangements, travel and leave policies;
  • Promoting and communicating to employees the need to stay home if they have any flu like symptoms or mild symptoms of COVID-19;
  • Providing employees access to the businesses COVID-19 Safety Plan for transparency;
  • Promote regular and thorough hand hygiene to all employees, contractors and customers with signs and posters;
  • Communicating health and wellbeing services such as Employee Assistance Programs on all relevant platforms (email, intranet, notice boards and verbally);
  • Conduct surveys to gage employee’s thoughts on changes and their wellbeing through this unpredictable time;
  • Communicating the additional cleaning measures taken to ease employee’s concerns about exposure to COVID-19.

 

Health and well-being

With employees returning to the workplace it is also important to consider the current cleaning procedures implemented at the workplace. Making sure the procedures are adequate can be a low-cost way to not only prevent COVID-19, but can also stop or slow the spread of colds, flu and stomach bugs. Employees will be reassured that it is safe for them to return to the workplace as well as having the added benefit of reducing the instance of lost workdays due to illness. Safe Work Australia and the Department of Mines, Industry Regulation and Safety recommends businesses, in light of COVID-19, should be cleaning surfaces daily with special attention given to frequently touched surfaces such as door handles, elevator buttons, light switches, taps, kitchen surfaces, bathroom surfaces, TV remotes and hand rails. It is also important to make sure personal hygiene standards are encouraged, especially hand hygiene which can be facilitated by signs and posters around the workplace and by having easily accessible hand sanitisers around the workplace.

 

What happens if an employee is confirmed to have COVID-19 in the workplace?

If an employee is confirmed to have or suspected of having COVID-19, you must clean all surfaces used by the employee to ensure any contamination is minimised. This should be done as soon as possible, and before any other employees have access to the affected areas.

Businesses should be mindful that in some cases, the business may need to look at suspending operations whilst this cleaning occurs, however, this will be determined by the size of the business, the number of employees, the nature of the work employees are undertaking and the size of the contamination area. Businesses should have a plan in place to manage a potential outbreak.

 

If you would like more information on this subject or any other matters, please contact the CCIWA’s Employee Relations Advice Centre on (08) 9365 7660 or email advice@cciwa.com   

LinkedIn reveals the skills employers want this year in Australia

The most useful skills Aussies need to land a job or succeed at work have been revealed. But one stands out among the rest.

A LinkedIn analysis of 10 million Australian profiles revealed it was the most-sought soft skill, followed by teamwork, persuasion, adaptability and time management.

LinkedIn Learning Solutions senior director for Asia Pacific Jason Laufer said organisations needed people who could take a new approach to tasks.

“This could be (applied to anyone from) software engineers to HR practitioners,” he said.

“How do you bring new ideas to the table to help organisations in the industry today?

“Businesses see soft skills or human skills are just as important as hard skills, in fact 50 per cent believe soft skills are more important than hard skills.”

**SCROLL DOWN FOR FULL LIST OF SOFT AND HARD SKILLS**

Jason Laufer says employers value soft skills as much as hard skills.
Jason Laufer says employers value soft skills as much as hard skills. Credit: Supplied

Futurist Anders Sorman-Nilsson believed creativity would be a priority for many years to come, saying its place at the top of the list was “absolutely spot on”.

“In an age of artificial intelligence and machine learning, we notice machines and AI are becoming very sophisticated at left brain skills – things like logic, sequence, mathematics, process, big data pattern recognition,” he said.

“It would be very futile for humans to try and outdo the machines with left brain skills so what remains is more right brain skills – the humanistic skills like creativity, innovation, entrepreneurship, interpersonal skills, even sustainability and emotional intelligence.

“They are the skills humans should be focusing on.”

Fashion retailer Culture Kings is currently advertising for a TikTok content creator – a role which would not have even existed a year ago before the video-sharing platform became a staple of Gen Z social media.

Culture Kings marketing manager Kate Atkinson said creativity was a lot more important for the role than any university degree.

It was even open to high school students.

TikTok content creator is a dream job for Gen Z jobseekers.
TikTok content creator is a dream job for Gen Z jobseekers. Credit: Supplied

“The content would need to be engaging for the platform so we want someone familiar with TikTok and with experience creating their own content,” she said.

“If that’s someone who has experience in marketing and media, perfect, but if they don’t have that background but feel they are able to do this, that’s fine, too.

“A youthful perspective is in line with our demographics so they need to make sure they are in the know, know what’s up and have their finger on the pulse of what’s trending.

“If we find someone that can also take on other responsibilities in the team, it could be a full-time (role) but if they are school-aged, it could be a part-time thing after school and on weekends.”

Ms Atkinson said creativity was an important skill to bring to a workplace as “that’s how we add value”.

“Robots can take over roles in the future but that creativity element is something they can’t do,” she said.

“What can we do to make things better and think outside of the box? What’s a creative solution? As we are becoming more efficient with technology, creativity is the best way to add that value.”

Futurist Anders Sorman-Nilsson says creativity is likely to top the list well into the future.
Futurist Anders Sorman-Nilsson says creativity is likely to top the list well into the future. Credit: Supplied

But soft skills are not the only skills in demand this year in Australia.

The LinkedIn report also identified the 10 hard skills most sought by employers, with blockchain topping the list despite not even ranking last year.

It was followed by analytic reasoning, cloud computing, artificial intelligence, translation, scientific computing, investor relations, customer service systems, UX (user experience) design and competitive strategies.

To encourage Australians to upskill in the skills employers seek, LinkedIn Learning has made a selection of its related online short courses available for free until the end of January.

They range from “Banish Your Inner Critic to Unleash Creativity” through to “Parallel and

Concurrent Programming with Python 1”.

 

Source:  Melanie Burgess  News Corp Australia Network