Are you too exposed?

by Dan Nipperess, General Manager and Laura Bos, Communication & Government Relations Manager, Clubs Queensland

Risk exposure is a big topic in governance circles – understanding and managing risk has long been identified as the main thing that keeps many company directors and committees up at night. After all, to understand potential risks – financial, legal, compliance, reputation and security etc, in a world that is moving very quickly and becoming more litigious by the day, is not easy for those of us who are not specialists in these areas. 

“I didn’t know” is not an adequate response in the eyes of the law.

Unmanaged risk can lead to expensive legal costs and can be a potential area of personal exposure for board directors and committee members.

Clubs Queensland’s Workplace Relations and Compliance team work with clubs to manage these areas of risk every day. Last year, the team delivered around 5,000 pieces of advice to clubs on varying topics from governance issues right through to pay rates and employment contracts. And this number is growing year on year.

This year, Clubs Queensland restructured the Workplace Relations and Compliance Service (WRC Service) to provide members with a more comprehensive and flexible service to meet the needs of our sector and the modern, complex business and regulatory environment in which we operate. 

Club Insight spoke to Clubs Queensland’s General Manager and head of our Workplace Relations Team, Dan Nipperess, about the new service and how it helps clubs to manage their risk, and most importantly, the costs associated with workplace relations management and compliance.

Q: Dan, tell us a little bit about how this new service structure came about?

A: We have been watching the number and nature of issues clubs present us with over the last few years and there is no doubt that the issues and the legislative and compliance environment in which clubs operate is getting more complex and changing regularly. And this complexity leads to more cost.

Clubs Queensland wanted to be able to ensure our clubs are encouraged to manage their exposure to risk with access to the right information, right advice, and importantly, ensure that they can afford to do that. Plus, we wanted our members to have the added surety of capped costs should an issue arise that requires a higher level of expertise and time, or worse, representation. 

It’s like an insurance policy for a range of risk areas.

Q: So what is the new Workplace Relations & Compliance Service?

A: Clubs Queensland now offers three levels of service, WRC Basics, WRC Essentials and WRC Comprehensive. 

By opting into WRC Comprehensive, clubs will have peace of mind knowing they have uncapped assistance to navigate whatever industrial relations and compliance issues that arise. These services limit the significant costs that your Club would incur if it had to engage external specialists to represent it in an employment claim, including unfair dismissals, general protections, sexual harassment, bullying, discrimination and underpayment claims. 

Q: What does it usually cost for this type of service – if you weren’t a subscriber to the Clubs Queensland WR&C service?

A: It would cost a Club, on average, around $350.00 per hour to engage an employment solicitor or HR consultant to assist the Club with industrial relations matters.  

Q: That’s expensive!

A: Yep, it sure is and it is Clubs Queensland’s goal to ensure that our clubs are covered for as much of the cost as possible, plus get expert, specialist advice.

Below are examples of some recent work that the Workplace Relations and Compliance team have completed which clearly highlights the thousands of dollars that Clubs can save by opting for WRC Comprehensive.

Example 1

The WRC team recently assisted a member Club by completing six better off overall tests (BOOT), preparing six letters of offers and providing ancillary advice for each letter of offer. The total time spent for this assistance took approximately 6 hours. If the Club had engaged an employment solicitor or HR consultant to complete this work, it is likely this would have cost the Club a minimum of $2,100.00.

Example 2

A member Club sought assistance from the WRC team as they had received an unfair dismissal claim from a former employee who had been dismissed for misconduct. 

The unfair dismissal claim did not settle at the Fair Work Commission conciliation and the WRC team took instructions to represent the Club at the Fair Work Commission arbitration. The WRC team spent approximately 25 hours preparing for arbitration which included attendance at the Club to take instructions from the Management Committee, meetings with relevant witnesses, preparation of witness statements and an outline of submissions, negotiating with the employee’s representative and preparation of a settlement agreement. 

If the Club had engaged an employment solicitor or HR consultant to complete this work, it is likely this would have cost the Club a minimum of $8,750.00.

Example 3

The WRC team recently assisted a member Club by completing an investigation into a significant number of allegations of sexual harassment and bullying, against an employee at the Club. 

The investigation took approximately 143.75 hours to complete which involved interviewing relevant witnesses, preparing witness statements, analysing evidence and preparing an investigation report to the Management Committee. If the Club had engaged an employment solicitor or HR consultant to complete this work, it is likely this would have cost the Club a minimum of $50,312.50.

The above are a few examples of the services that are included in WRC Comprehensive which can save your Club thousands of dollars in HR and/or legal fees.  Clubs are strongly encouraged to take out the new WRC Comprehensive service.

If Clubs have any questions about the changes to the WRC Service, they are encouraged to contact a member of the Workplace Relations and Compliance team on p: 07 3252 0770 or Dan Nipperess direct 
on 0424 573 490.