Facing Change in your Workplace

Proactively Dealing with Change

You must welcome change as the rule, but not as your ruler” (Denis Waitley)

Change is constant and at many times during our working lives, we will need to change the way we do, think and act.  There’s nothing wrong with that – and we should accept it and move on.

What happens though if the change is significant?  That is, what if the change involves not only a change of duties, but perhaps a change of role, remuneration or hours of work?

In every Award across Australia, there are provisions relating to how ‘significant’ change ought to be managed.  Our Awards say that the cornerstone of introducing change in the workplace is consultation.

And this makes sense.  Sitting down with someone, explaining what the issues are and why the change is important would, in most cases, go a long way to removing the anxiety associated with change.

But is that enough?  Asking for input from employees makes sense also.  An employee is at the ‘coal face’.  Employees know what needs to be done, how to do it and might have a solution that is better than the one being introduced by the employer.

The law is no exception and a recent article I read highlighted the potential effects of change.  The article stated that recently in the US, a law firm introduced a robot to undertake certain work and that robot replaced 50 employees in one part of its business.

Whatever happens, the law imposes an obligation on an employer to ‘consult’ with employees if they want to introduce changes related to matters such as:

  • the composition, operation or size of the employer’s workforce or in the skills required;
  • the elimination or diminution of job opportunities, promotion opportunities or job tenure;
  • the alteration of hours of work;
  • the need for retraining or transfer of employees to other work or locations;
  • and the restructuring of jobs.

Managing change is going to become an even more important skill that both employers and employees will increasingly need to understand and manage.

If you are facing an issue at work, get in touch with our Melbourne unfair dismissal lawyers.