Australian Newsagency Blog

A blog on issues affecting Australia's newsagents, media and small business generally.

No, all employers are not the same

Mark Fletcher
July 22nd, 2019 · 1 Comment

The reports of underpayment of wages at 7-Eleven, George Calombaris’ restaurants, Michael Hill Jewellers and more have put a spotlight on the treatment of employees. While this is reasonable, it has come with plenty of commentary that limps all employers into one basket of demons.

No, all employers are notthe same. Just as all employees are notthe same.

It frustrates me when I see unions on social media raging against employers, without qualification.  As an employer, I feel they are including me in their targeted attack, yet I know I have not misbehaved.

Employer groups are the same, targeting unions / employees in generalised attacks.

Neither approach is helpful.

Unions should stop lionising employers and employer groups should stop lionising workers.

There are laws and awards in Australia affording protection for employees. Our obligations as employers is to meet the obligations in law and the awards. Yes, it is complex and a challenging moving feast. However, it is what it is. Thanks to 7-Eleven, there is even more focus on this.

What 7-Eleven, George Calombaris’ restaurants, Michael Hill Jewellers and others have done is wrong. Their behaviour is not my behaviour, nor the behaviour of thousands of small business retail owners.

The unions need to recognise this, to qualify their comments and to work with the businesses that do good and meet their obligations at law. Unions and employer groups need to retreat from the class warfare of worker versus boss and boss versus worker.

Employer groups should call out this misbehaviour. They should speak up for the law. Silence is unhelpful.

No one wins from this nonsense.

There is another side to these issues too, relating to the connections between businesses in a channel or group.

The challenge for small business retailers in a specific channel or retailers trading under a banner group is that misbehaviour by one can put others in the channel or group under the spotlight, causing many hours to be lost to targeted audits. This is why people owning businesses in a defined channel or group have an obligation to others in the same situation.

There is no grey area here. The award is easily accessible. Understanding your obligations as an employer is straightforward. You can’t pass the buck. Do the work, understand your obligations and ensure that your decisions do not add risk to others in your business community.


Category: Ethics · Newsagency management · Social responsibility

1 response so far ↓

  • 1 Jason // Jul 26, 2019 at 3:31 PM

    I think your definition of lionising is back to front.

    Unions don’t give public attention and approval to employers, and employer groups sure don’t spend any time doing the same to employees…


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