Dreamworld Coronial Inquest: Key actions to reduce risk exposure in your organisation

Specialist Services

The Dreamworld Thunder River Rapids Ride incident will forever be remembered as a tragic loss of life. Through the coronial inquest, we’ve come to understand that accidents such as this one can occur when organisations don’t have the right frameworks in place. While we like to think we have our risks well managed, it doesn’t matter how many layers of control exist, incidents will occur if those layers are ineffective.  Following on from the webinar by Verus Managing Director, Cameron Clark and Honan’s , Head of Risk Consulting, here are three key actions to help you reduce organisational risk. 

 

  1. Examine Governance and assurance activities supporting Senior Management

Findings from the Dreamworld Coronial inquest demonstrate how poor governance activities can undermine organisational decision-making. Senior management have obligations under WHS law to exercise due diligence. Exercising that due diligence and making decisions that impact on organisational health and safety requires access to up-to-date knowledge of health and safety legal requirements and an understanding of the organisation’s critical risks. The recent introduction of Industrial Manslaughter laws across a number of jurisdictions in Australia will only increase the importance of effective governance and assurance going forward.

Ask yourself the following questions about your governance and assurance activities:

    • Are they well designed?
    • Are they commensurate with risk?
    • Are they independent?
    • Are they followed through?

 

  1. Identify and manage your risks

The findings from the inquest revealed a failure by the organisation to systematically manage health and safety hazards and risks across the organisation and its rides. It failed to ensure that systems and procedures designed to support the organisation were properly implemented. Consequently, there were numerous missed opportunities for Dreamworld to identify risks, implement measures to prevent reoccurrence of incidents, and ensure their employees had suitable competencies to operate rides and respond in emergencies.

Ask yourself the following questions about your risks:

    • Are systems regularly tested to ensure they are working as intended?
    • Does their design allow for proper consultation with experts?
    • Are there suitable resources (including people, training and regular auditing) available to pick up on warning signs and investigate?
    • Is risk used effectively to inform organisational decision-making?
    • Are people properly trained/qualified to undertake safety management tasks?
    • Does training for high risk tasks include suitable instruction in emergency response?

 

  1. Consider your plant and equipment maintenance

The Dreamworld incident highlights how quickly a catastrophic incident can occur when it involves plant and equipment that is poorly managed and maintained. It took just over a minute for four people to be trapped in the mechanism of the Thunder River Rapids Ride following the failure of an associated water pump. Plant and equipment, particularly complex systems, demand a comprehensive program to ensure safe design, modification, operation, repair and maintenance in accordance with strict legislative requirements.

Ask yourself the following questions about your plant and equipment:

    • Are plant and equipment designs and maintenance programs adequate?
    • Have designs and maintenance programs kept pace with industry advances, legal obligations and Australian standards?
    • Are plant systems, including emergency systems, integrated?
    • Are plant modifications informed by risk assessment?
    • Are faulty plant / breakdown procedures robust and well understood and problems fixed rather than ignored?
    • Are operator tasks commensurate with the available time and human cognitive abilities?

 

If you missed the webinar, you can view the recording here.

 

We’re with you all the way

We’re pleased to support businesses in addressing risks and building overall resilience. As always, we recommend close consultation with your Broker and WHS Specialist to ensure your risk mitigation strategies are up to date, focused on best practice and are appropriately audited.  To learn how Honan can further support your business, please reach out at any time.

 

Sharon Rutherford – Head of Risk Consulting

sharon.rutherford@honan.com.au

 

 

Image: Flowers at a memorial in front of Dreamworld, November 2016. Picture: Chris Hyde

Rethinking Employee Well-being Programs for a 2020+ World

Employee Benefits

The way we work has evolved considerably over recent years. In the face of exponential automation and digitisation, ‘the future of work’ can appear daunting, but if recent months have shown us anything, it’s the capacity for humans to adapt in response to change.

Though workplaces are potentially more disparate than ever in 2020, technology has enabled individuals, teams and organisations to connect, collaborate and achieve great things. Alongside this ‘Working From Home’ era, relationships between employer and employee have been redefined and businesses have been challenged to prioritise the health and wellness of their people like never before. Here are the key trends in employee experience we expect to see in the months and years ahead:

 

1. Employee Experience as Key Enabler of Organisational Performance

Major changes to the conditions and environments under which employees work has pushed organisations to take a truly holistic approach to their employee experience. The link between employee well-being and organisational performance has certainly never been more glaring. In a recent survey by Deloitte, 94% of respondents agreed that well-being drives organisational performance to some extent (1).  Offering robust wellness programs, by including areas such as EAP support, health screens, mental health and resilience coaching, nutrition consultation, yoga and meditation workshops, financial and property health checks, and more, is now understood as critical to the achievement of bottom line organisational goals.

 

2. Employee experience as the key to talent acquisition & retention

Prioritising the holistic health, well-being and fulfillment of its people demonstrates an organisation’s considered investment in the future of the organisation at large. Valuable people investments and support systems also assist with the attraction and retention of talent and help organisations differentiate themselves to employees in an era where organisational trust and connection is essential for productivity. The same publication by Deloitte outlines how organisations can invest in employee benefits and wellness initiatives to not only enhance productivity and organisational performance, but drive the creation of meaningful work, which in turn strengthens the relationship between the individual and the organisation.

 

3. Employee experience – an overdue shake-up?

With stress, anxiety and mental health challenges at historic heights across Australia, organisations are strength-testing their wellness strategies with an urgency previously unseen. Will their systems and processes adequately meet the changing needs of their workforces in 2020, into 2021 and beyond?

We reached out to Ed Cha from California-based ABD Insurance & Financial Services for his insights on high priorities in Employee Benefits now and into the future. Aside from a continued focus on employee mental health and access to virtual health services, Cha expects to see wellness programs embrace gamification, enabling remote employees to socialise and compete (e.g. for the highest number of steps taken or logging the number of activities in a day). Cha also anticipates more benefits programs will incorporate virtual coaching options for employee self-development.

While not without considerable effort, reshaping Employee Benefits for this ‘Working From Home’ era represents an opportunity to transform the future of work – one marked by a truly people, rather than profit, led approach. Empowering employees to tailor benefits programs to their unique physical, mental, professional and financial goals could produce more engaged and productive employees, and better corporate results.

 

We’re with you all the way

As we continue to challenge existing assumptions about the way organisations should operate and perform, it is a timely opportunity to discuss broader corporate strategies which can enhance employee engagement and drive productivity and results. We will continue to monitor the research and discussions in this space and be sure to keep you updated.

To find out how Honan can support you, your people and organisation with a future-fit approach to Employee Benefits, please don’t hesitate to reach out at any time.

 

Alexandra Slimming – Head of Global Benefits

alexandra.slimming@honan.com.au

+61  2 8297 1753

VIC Workers Compensation Renewals: What you need to know for FY20/21

Workplace Risk

As employers wrap up their Workers Compensation requirements for FY20 and plan out their FY21 commitments, our Workplace Risk team have summarised the complex key information and dates for Victoria, in this simple cheat sheet. For information about the Workers Compensation process in other states and territories, please contact us using the details below.

 

Workers Compensation Renewal Invoices 

Victorian Workers Compensation (WC) renewal premium invoices are available from July 4 2020, and revised notices will be generated by WorkSafe each weekend during July.

Based on your available claims statements and estimated wages, premium projections and industry classification comparisons have already been calculated by your Honan Workplace Risk Consultant. If you are yet to receive these, or would like further information, please contact us.

 

Premium Discounts

To be eligible for a 5% premium discount, employers must:

  • pay any outstanding premium from FY20 policy period (or previous years)
  • pay the full (annual) amount listed on their FY21 WC renewal invoice (less 5%) by no later than 31 August 2020

Premium Funding Option:  You may also like to consider a premium funding arrangement with Honan. This can provide immediate benefit as financing the full FY21 premium payment to Worksafe will maximise the discounts described above.

 

Updates to Claims for FY21

The claims experience period for 2020/21 has been determined as follows:

  1. The claims reporting period used for the employers’ experience rating has been extended to three years. This means (consistent with previous years), in the period of 1 January 2017 to 30 June 2019, claims costs including statistical case estimates will be used
  2. In the period 1 July 2019 – 31 December 2019, only weekly payments will be included (statistical case estimates will be excluded)

Worksafe Victoria is expected to release the FY21 claims experience period by April 2021.

 

Certificate of Currency
If there is no outstanding premium to pay on your account, you can obtain a Certificate of Currency either online, or on request from your Honan Workplace Risk Consultant.

 

Ensure Your WC Renewal Details Are Up to Date

Any wage updates received before 30 June will be reflected in your FY21 premium calculation. In the absence of any updates, WorkSafe will simply calculate your premium based on your remuneration estimate for FY20, indexed by 4.75%.

 

Avoiding Financial Penalties

To minimise the risk of financial penalties, any revised remuneration estimates must be disclosed to Workcover within 28 days. Our recommendation is always to contact your broker ASAP if:

  • What you expect to pay in remuneration is 20% or above your current estimate, or
  • What you have paid in remuneration to date exceeds your current FY estimate.

To update your remuneration, or understand any other elements of your policy, reach out to your Honan Workplace Risk Consultant at any time, or visit the WorkSafe’s Online Employer Services portal directly.

For the FY20 policy period, you must certify your Rateable Remuneration no later than 23 October, 2020. 

 

VIC Workers Compensation Renewals: Important FAQs & Deadlines

 

How does remuneration impact premium?

Victorian remuneration includes wages, salaries, superannuation and other benefits paid to your workers. The following table outlines how premiums are calculated based on remuneration.

 

Premium Calculation

 

Can industry classification impact premiums?

Yes. Premiums are largely influenced by the industry classification of your business. If the industry classification is incorrect on your policy, you may be paying more for your premium than necessary.

We always recommend reviewing your industry classification before your renewal date.

 

Key dates for VIC workers compensation insurance premiums in the 2020/21 premiums order:                                                                               

  • 4 July – 2020/21 premium notices sent to all employers
  • 31 August – Pay 2020/21 premium in full to receive a 5% discount
  • 1 October – Pay 2020/21 premium in full to receive a 3% discount
  • 23 October – Large employers to certify remuneration for 2019/20 year
  • 26 March 2021 – Small employers to certify remuneration for the 2019/20 year.

 

 

We’re with you all the way.

As always, we’re committed to providing you with timely updates and support. Feel free to contact our Workplace Risk experts for more information, including the Workers Compensation process in other states and territories.

 

Sharon Rutherford – Head of Workplace Risk 

sharon.rutherford@honan.com.au

 

Jules Paolino – Workplace Risk Consultant 

jules.paolino@honan.com.au

 

Grace Rod – Client Executive Workplace Risk 

grace.rod@honan.com.au

Changes to VIC Industrial Manslaughter Laws: Implications for Business

Workplace Risk

Keeping your people safe

Industrial Manslaughter legislation holds businesses liable for the death of a person (worker or other) resulting from practices of neglect in the workplace. To ensure the safety of their people, businesses must conduct adequate training and risk management processes to mitigate potential hazards and risks at all times.  

 

What do the July 1 changes mean for your business?

The amendments to Victoria’s Workplace Safety Legislation involves the addition of two new workplace manslaughter offences under the Occupational Health and Safety Act

  1. Where a person commits workplace manslaughter when engaged in conduct that is negligent in breach of applicable duties owed to another person, and where the negligent conduct has caused the death of a person.  
  2. Where a person who is an officer of an entity will commit workplace manslaughter when they engage in conduct that is negligible, in breach of an applicable duty owed by the entity to another person and where the conduct causes the death of a person.  

These changes impact anyone who has a duty under the OHS Act and is aimed at people who are obliged to maintain a safe workplace for employees. 

 

Under the Act, an employer (duty holder), is required to:

  • provide a workplace free of health and safety risks as far as reasonably practicable
  • constantly monitor health and safety implications and regularly review and update safety procedures to best mitigate risks. 

 

Who is a responsible party?

A person, body corporate and officers who owes applicable duties to ensure the health and safety of another person in the workplace can be charged with industrial manslaughter. If convicted of workplace manslaughter, a maximum of 20 years imprisonment for individuals and/or a maximum fine of $16.5 million for body corporates may be applied.  

 

Persons who can be charged under the Act include:

  • Directors and secretaries of companies
  • Partners of a partnership or joint venture
  • The trustee of a trust
  • Persons who participate in the making of decisions that affect a substantial part of the organisations business 
  • Persons who have the capacity to significantly affect the organisation’s financial standing.

Penalties will not apply to employees or volunteers.

 

How can you protect your business?

For Senior Management Teams to discharge their duties or responsibility, they must be able to answer the following:

  • Do you completely understand WHS requirements and current risk or issues?
  • Given the work you perform, what incidents are likely to occur?
  • Do you have the right safety systems and resources to prevent hazards and incidents from occurring?
  • Do you receive sufficient information on which work practices result in workplace injury and how are practices being corrected?
  • Are you comfortable you are meeting your WHS obligations?
  • Are you confident individuals across your organisation are all effectively management WHS?

 

We’re With You All The Way

As always, we’re committed to providing you with timely updates and support. Our Honan Workplace Risk experts are ready to support businesses in reviewing their risk management compliance, and readying themselves for Victorian Industrial Manslaughter Law updates. Please reach out to learn how Honan can help support and protect your business.

 

Sharon Rutherford – Head of Workplace Risk 

sharon.rutherford@honan.com.au

 

Jules Paolino – Workplace Risk Consultant 

jules.paolino@honan.com.au

 

Grace Rod – Client Executive Workplace Risk 

grace.rod@honan.com.au

 

Returning to Work: 5 Ways to Mitigate Workplace Risk

Workplace Risk

As Australia continues to control the spread of COVID-19, measures to kickstart the economy have become a parallel point in focus. While ‘easing out of #iso’ requirements and timelines differ by State and Territory, many workplaces have commenced their Covid comeback. Amid ever-changing environments, managing a safe return of the workforce presents a set of new challenges for employers. To support businesses in navigating this critical transition, we’ve assembled 5 ways to mitigate workplace risk:

 

1.  Always start with safety

While Government restrictions are slowly being lifted, this does not change an employer’s obligations to provide a safe working environment for their employee (nor the obligations of the individual). Employers and individuals must maintain strict hygiene practices (including the provision/use of appropriate Personal Protective Equipment) and follow Government directions. The employer’s duty to provide a safe working environment also extends to employees’ travel to and from work.

 

Demonstrate how you’re providing a safe working environment:

  • clearly communicate any changes to existing safety management systems to staff
  • explain how you’re implementing Government requirements to address minimum standards of cleanliness, together with any additional measures being taken to ensure safety within the workplace
  • physically display any relevant guidelines somewhere easily visible in the workplace.

 

2. Clear & timely communication 

As restrictions gradually ease, employers must keep their employees updated with clear and regular updates on the business’s planned transition back to the workplace. Purposeful communications will always cover; latest changes, what they mean for employees, and how such changes align with Government guidelines.

 

In communicating with your team:

  • outline your proposed transition plan
  • share any barriers to achieving the plan, and how the business is seeking to overcome them
  • provide clear timeframes, with specific attributions to which group/s of people will be impacted (if applicable)
  • clearly outline what practices, behaviours or policies are mandatory vs optional for your people
  • share to-the-moment updates as things change.

 

3. Manage your people risks: physical & psychological

Similar to our recommendation around the use of ‘working from home checklists’ at the start of the pandemic, employers must consider all practical risks associated with returning their workforce to the office. By this stage, most employees will have adjusted to a comfortable working from home routine and found a rhythm that works for them. Therefore, employers must tread carefully with their people’s capacity to process more change and stand ready to mitigate their potential anxieties and fears about returning to the office.

 

To identify and reduce people risks: 

  • consider a return to work checklist – preparing this will enable you to better understand the needs of your people, and ultimately support them with the right advice, tools and resources required for a smooth transition
  • communicate the benefits of re-establishing normal routines as soon as possible, and invite feedback / Q&A
  • provide ongoing occasions for Q&A and encourage open dialogue between your people. It’s crucial that staff feel supported to approach the business with their concerns
  • offer assistance with mental health challenges – check your EAP provider (such as Access EAP) is equipped to provide appropriate support. Continue to promote and encourage the use of EAP and consider in-house counselling sessions with EAP providers. If you don’t have an EAP, feel free to get in touch and we can help you find the right provider
  • continue to communicate with employees who are yet to transition back to work
  • ensure return to work plans are in place for any employees with psychological and /or pre-existing physical injuries
  • conduct a Workplace Health and Safety risk assessment of your new workplace set up to identify potential people safety risks and develop contingency plans to support these
  • update your insurance broker if there have been clear changes to your workplace operations. To learn more, check out our 30-minute webinar Insurance Implications for Altered Operating Models and the accompanying 3 Key Actions for Business summary.

 

4. Manage expectations

As staff begin to return to workplaces, it’s a good opportunity to remind employees of their roles, responsibilities and obligations. While some leniency may have been offered during COVID-19, and potentially changes to salaries too, this may not necessarily change the individual’s contractual arrangements. By providing appropriate forums for clear communication around this, employers can support individual transition plans, particularly if working from home is not continued in the long-term. As always, open, transparent, regular two-way communication between employer and employee is key.  Not everyone will be in the same position and some employees may have the right to apply for flexible working arrangements in the long term through the National Employment Standards. You can find out more information though Fair Work.

 

5. Lessons learned from lockdown 

A business’ ability to evolve during challenging times can be an unexpected silver lining. When you feel your people are settled into the ‘next norm’ and well placed to share feedback, be sure to seek their feedback on their experience in recent months, and your business’ actions through COVID-19. Asking what worked, and what could be improved, will offer valuable insights for any business looking to enhance their resilience, business operations, and people experience at large.

 

 

We’re with you all the way

We recommend all businesses familiarise themselves with the Safe Work Australia site as they plan their COVID-19 comeback. The following Reopening Safely Sample Practices report from McKinsey is also highly informative. For more on Workplace Risk, our team is only a call or email away. Please contact us to learn more about how we can help.

 

Sharon Rutherford – Head of Workplace Risk

sharon.rutherford@honan.com.au

m– 0499 799 558

 

Mental Health: Simple Strategies and a Shared Responsibility

Workplace Risk

For many of us, recent months have tested our mental health like never before. As we begin to emerge from isolation and adjust to life with fewer restrictions, there’s never been a better time to reflect on our mental wellbeing and the wellbeing of those around us.

 

Thanks to the Government’s National Mental Health Commission, together with numerous supporting bodies such as Beyond Blue, the awareness, understanding and importance of mental health across Australia is growing each day. Unfortunately, the statistics around mental health incidences are still alarming. Beyond Blue reports that when it comes to Australians:

  • 1 in 7 experience depression in their lifetime 
  • 25% experience a form of anxiety in their lifetime
  • 1 in 6 are currently experiencing depression, anxiety or both
  • 1 in 6 females will experience depression in their lifetime, and 1 in 8 men
  • 1 in 3 females will experience a form of anxiety in their lifetime, and 1 in 5 men
  • 1 in 8 are currently experiencing high or very high psychological distress.

Such statistics are a powerful reminder that in almost every office across the country, at least one person (and likely more) is suffering, or has suffered, from some form of mental health challenge. Given we spend so much of our time at work, it’s therefore critical to know what signs of compromised mental health to look out for, and how we can check in on each other.

 

Keeping our people at their best

At Honan, we’re fortunate to partner with Access EAP – a fantastic provider of independent counselling – either face to face or over the phone/email – to any of our people who seek it. Noting our people are our most important asset, doing everything we can to keep them feeling their best is paramount. For us as an employer, that means:

  • equipping our people with the ‘on demand’ support (via Access EAP) they need to navigate any situation that may be thrown their way
  • providing regular tips for optimising mental health via monthly wellness newsletters
  • through the Covid-19 WFH period, implementing a ‘buddy system’ to keep everyone connected, and attuned to each other’s challenges – big or small. Buddy catch ups have taken shape in all kinds of ways; from simple 10-minute virtual coffees to hour-long virtual lunch dates, or just a quick text exchange
  • ensuring all our people know they’re supported, and will continue to be supported, come what may.

 

Common mental health challenges in the workplace

Anxiety and depression are the most common mental health issues occurring in office environments. Taking the time to observe the behaviours and emotional states of our co-workers, and ourselves, is paramount to the detection and prevention of anxiety and depression.

So what can we look out for? Beyond Blue has outlined some key signs and symptoms of depression.

 

Simple strategies to optimise mental health

Identifying challenges or concerns is one thing, but knowing what to do about them is the powerful next step. Mindblank have  shared some great strategies for managing your own potential mental health issues and/or sharing with others in your team:

  • Talk about your emotions: if you’re not comfortable sharing your thoughts with someone you know, professionals and communities are always there to help.
  • Stay active: one of the best ways to release stress and feel-good chemicals in your brain is through exercise. 20-30 minutes per day more than two hours before sleep can improve your mental wellbeing and general health.
  • Eat nutritious foods & stay hydrated: the food you eat nourishes your entire body, brain included! Eating a healthy, balanced diet is a major contributor to good mental health. 
  • Focus on one thing at a time: bringing mindfulness into your daily routine is incredibly beneficial for your health. You can start this practice by focusing on your breathing, and being present. Mindfulness and meditation apps abound!
  • Go to bed on time: building a positive sleep routine is great for your wellbeing. Evidence suggests that the less sleep you get, the greater your chances of experiencing poor mental health.

 

Staying well – a shared responsibility 

Amongst the pressures of work and everyday life at large, maintaining good mental health practices can quickly fall by the wayside. Importantly, we must remember we not only owe it to ourselves, but each other, to prioritise our states of wellbeing. The onus of responsibility is a shared one – to shift the statistics we must remember to look out for each other, and take active ongoing steps to keep our own mental health tip-top. We all have our struggles, but together we can lessen their impact, and support each other in living happy, healthy lives. 

 

If you are feeling overwhelmed or believe you are suffering from a mental health issue, please reach out to a mental health professional. Here are some great additional resources:

Lifeline Australia

Beyond Blue

What JobKeeper Means for Your Premium: A State by State Snapshot

Workplace Risk

With the introduction of the Federal Government’s JobKeeper scheme, and subsequent updates from States and Territories, we’ve summarised what you need to know about the program, and how it may impact your insurance premiums.

 

Updates from States & Territories:

 

WorkSafe Victoria

Employers utilising JobKeeper in Victoria will be exempt from:

  • Payroll tax
  • WorkCover premiums on payments to their employees if their staff are currently stood down.

Any eligible JobKeeper payments to meet the $1,500 threshold will not impact the calculation of WorkCover premiums.

 

SIRA NSW

JobKeeper payments made to workers who are not performing any duties will be excluded from the wages used to calculate premiums. If an employee is working at a reduced capacity and is in receipt of top-up payments made through the JobKeeper subsidy, only the wages earned for hours worked will be used in the calculation of premiums.

 

WorkCover QLD

An employer may pay the JobKeeper subsidy to workers as a top-up payment or subsidy payment, but not as a payment for work done. Payments made for this purpose are not declarable wages. As such, employers should exclude any JobSeeker amounts paid to workers, as this is not a payment for work performed.

 

RTW South Australia

JobKeeper wage subsidy payments will not be considered remuneration for the calculation of premiums. Additional information concerning premium relief will be released by RTWSA at the end of FY20.

 

WorkCover WA

As the Job Keeper is a top-up or subsidy and not payment for work completed, wages declared should reflect the amount paid to workers for the period of work that has been done. Therefore, any top-up JobSeeker subsidy payments should not be declared as part of wage declarations.

 

WorkSafe Tasmania, Northern Territory & Australia Capital Territory 

TAS, NT and the ACT are awaiting advice from Treasury to determine the impact on employer premiums. No information has been released at the time of writing (13 May); however, information will be updated here once this is announced.

 

Example Scenarios:

 

WORKERS’ COMPENSATION PAYMENTS:

  • Scenario 1: If an injured worker is certified unfit for employment, they will be paid their full workers compensation entitlement.
  • Scenario 2: If an injured worker has partial working capacity and is receiving the JobKeeper subsidy as a top-up to their wages, only the wages earned for work completed would be declared for the purpose of premium calculation.

 

REMAINING WORKFORCE:

  • Scenario 1: If an employee is stood down from their employment and is receiving the JobKeeper subsidy, this payment will not be considered as rateable remuneration for the purpose of premium calculation.
  • Scenario 2: If an employee is working reduced hours and in receipt of top-up JobKeeper payments, only wages for the hours worked will be used for premium calculation.

 

 

Key Takeaways: 

  • WorkCover VIC, NSW, QLD, SA and WA will not be considering the JobKeeper subsidy as rateable remuneration, and any wages paid as part of the JobKeeper subsidy should not be declared as rateable remuneration.

 

  • Businesses who are under financial hardship may choose to adjust their initial remuneration estimate for 2019/20 now and seek a premium refund. Alternatively, businesses can await year end FY20, and use any premium return as credit towards their 2020/21 premium.

 

 

We’re with you all the way

As always, we’re committed to providing you with timely updates and support. For more information about COVID-19 related Government stimulus packages, legislative updates and business continuity, please head to the Honan News Hub or Honan LinkedIn.

For more on Workplace Risk, our team is only ever a call away. Please contact us to learn more about how we can help.

 

Sharon Rutherford – Head of Workplace Risk

sharon.rutherford@honan.com.au

m– 0499 799 558

 

Jules Paolino – Workplace Risk Consultant

jules.paolino@honan.com.au

m– 0499 799 464

 

Grace Rod – Workplace Risk Client Executive

grace.rod@honan.com.au

t– +61 3 9947 4355

 

Powering Up & Switching Off: 4 Tips for #ISO Survival

Medical & Health

Imagine this: you wake up in the morning, you shower, get dressed and promptly head out the door for work.

Now this: you wake up in the morning, you reach for your phone, open your inbox and so begins the working day …

 

With #isolife now in full swing, the former may now seem like a distant memory. Between new competing demands, new environments, and new office comrades (ahem, family), the lines between ‘work-work’, ‘home-work’, and genuine downtime have never been more blurry. At times you may even feel the lines between morning, afternoon and evening barely exist. So how on earth do we maintain productivity? 

At Honan, we have a few tricks up our sleeve. Here are our top 4 tips for powering up, and switching off through this wild and weird world of #iso.

 

1. Start with space

The first few #iso weeks were a major adjustment period for most of us, with fundamentals of mere survival occupying most of our thinking. “Do I have what I need?”, “Am I feeling ok?”, “Is my wifi working?” “Have I been hygienic enough?” 

Because we are context-based creatures, our physical space is core to our ability to function well. For this reason, we have encouraged our team to find a designated workspace within their home. While not all of us have the luxury of a discreet ‘home office’, setting a specific space on the kitchen or dining table offers a structured place to ‘set up station’. If you shift to working from the couch or bed, you’ll quickly associate those spots with work. Our Workplace Risk team recently hosted a webinar on workspace safety and working ergonomically, complete with a ‘working from home’ checklist. Give it a shot.

 

2. Write a daily routine

Working in an office means you benefit from a tacit structure or sequence to the day. In psychology, this is called an ‘initiation’ sequence – it gets the brain ready to focus. Having a simple start-up routine, such as sitting in the same spot, checking your emails, saying ‘hi’ to your team over chat, signals the beginning of your day. 

Similarly, we have kept our usual company check-ins and meetings consistent in the calendar, yet fluid in their delivery. Just as they would in the office, our team meetings and briefings are attended with rigour and respect. We are also encouraging our people to take regular breaks, ‘rise and recharge’, and even join us for a weekly virtual HIIT session.

 

3. Staying accountable and connected

It’s only human to struggle with accountability when working remotely. It can be difficult to demonstrate our output, or even convey our emotional state when not in the physical presence of others. At times, isolation can hit us in ways we don’t expect. Grief might kick us in the guts one day, and nothing but smiles the next. That’s why checking in with your colleagues is so important. Just because your workmate was great today, it may not be the case tomorrow. At Honan, we’ve implemented a Buddy Program to ensure all staff have someone to reach out to with the good, the bad or the ugly – day in, day out.

Recognition is equally important when working remotely. At Honan, we’re fortunate to have a leadership team with a well-oiled practise of congratulating, and thanking colleagues for great work. The simple act of celebrating the wins and recognising the accomplishments of your subordinates goes a long way. It can turn their day around, galvanise their faith in the business, and mobilise energies for future efforts.  

 

4. Time for tools down 

Social connection is extra welcome through times like these. We’ve been using the lightness of laughter to wrap up each week with a company-wide Zoom meeting. This ‘tools down’ ritual has quickly become a weekly highlight, and brought us closer together than ever. Whether it’s a ‘power up’ or ‘tools down’ initiative, brand rituals are a simple but powerful way to maintain motivation and connectedness amongst your people. Our Friday afternoon sessions are also our time to announce the winners of our weekly working from home contests; which have ranged from creative rounds of charades, to promoting each other’s wellness activities.  

 

We’re with you all the way

As always, we’re here to listen, advise and support you through this time. To further support you and your people through #iso, here’s a few of our recommended resources:

 

Australian Psychological Society – Tips for Coping with Coronavirus Anxiety

Gallup – How to Keep Remote Worker Wellbeing High

Gartner – 9 Tips for Managing Remote Employees

 

Employee Benefits Packages & COVID-19: Important insights for business

Employee Benefits

COVID-19 is challenging us all like never before. For leaders, balancing the interests of their people with long term business viability is a major challenge, and one bringing considerable disruption to daily operations.

Through times like the present, a robust employee benefits program truly comes into its own. Not only do employee benefits packages offer financial security to businesses and their people, but peace of mind. To this rings true, the particulars of benefits programs must be clearly communicated to all employees through COVID-19. 

 

In the following article, we step through common cornerstones of employee benefit packages (EBP), and how they’re likely to be impacted through COVID-19.

 

Private Health Insurance

Firstly – there is no specific pandemic exclusion for private health insurance in Australia. This is a major win, which should be communicated upfront to all employees with private health insurance included in their EBP. 

As usual, waiting periods may apply for employees who have taken out private health for the first time in the last 12 months – be sure to alert any program ‘newbies’ accordingly. 

Health insurance premiums in Australia are typically reviewed each year on 1 April, however major local health insurers such as BUPA, GU Health and NIB have announced that rises initially slated for 1 April 2020 rollout will now be delayed for six months. No action is required from existing policy holders on this front.

 

What about Telehealth?

The Federal Government has also announced increased capacity of Telehealth Services as a means to  connect more Australians to essential health services (doctors, nurses, midwives and allied health professionals including mental health), and in turn, greater protection for those most vulnerable in our community. This service is funded by Medicare – Australia’s Government funded public health system. 

Further information on Telehealth services can be downloaded from the Department of Health website.

 

Life and Group Income Protection Insurance 

General speaking, company-funded Life and Group Income Protection Insurance policies do not have a specific pandemic exclusion. The Financial Services Council of Australia has announced that no specific pandemic exclusion exists on life insurance policies taken out prior to 11 March 2020. Thus, any claims from pre-existing customers will be treated in accordance with their policy terms and conditions.

For new policies purchased post March 11, some underwriting implications may arise for Life and Disability Cover, especially for those employee groups who are considered high risk. 

In addition to the above, Group Income Protection policies generally have a waiting period of 30 days or more. With COVID-19 patients typically recovering within 14 days, a policy holder is therefore unlikely to have a COVID-19 related claim paid under Group Income Protection if they return to work within the standard 30 day waiting period. However, the claimant may be eligible if they are still unwell and unable to return to work once they have satisfied their relevant waiting period. We recommend contacting your insurance broker and provider to clarify the semantics of your policy through COVID-19. 

 

Superannuation

The Australian Government has confirmed that employees facing financial hardship due to loss of employment or reduced income may be able to withdraw up to $20,000 over the next two financial years without any tax implications. Employees will need to meet certain eligibility criteria as stipulated by the Australian Taxation Office, in order to qualify for such drawdowns.

 

Employee Assistance Programs (EAP)

Employees should be encouraged to utilise company sponsored EAPs to guide and support them through COVID-19 and beyond. With the vast majority of employees experiencing changes to working hours, income levels, places of work and business operations at large, stress and anxiety is high. EAP programs offer invaluable access to qualified professional counsellors for work and personal matters alike. Consultations can be carried out via phone or video calls in line with social distancing protocols during this time.

 

With you all the way

At Honan, we understand the power of holistic employee benefit schemes, and the exceptional value they can offer your organisation during this global pandemic and broader economic crisis. 

With deep expertise in employee benefits solutions, we’re well versed in collaborating with clients to navigate the ever-changing complexities of today’s workplace. Attracting and retaining top quality talent should be one of your company’s most competitive edges, and we love nothing more than supporting organisations – of all shapes, specialities and locations – to ensure this is so. 

We’d love to hear from you.

 

Shabab Maqsud – Account Manager – Employee Benefits 

shabab.maqsud@honan.com.au 

+61 427 177 653

 

Michael Atta – Head of Sales– Employee Benefits 

michael.atta@honan.com.au 

+61 427 177 653

COVID-19: Tips for Remote Working, Cyber Security and Avoiding Email Scams

Technology
By Dominic Brettell
Head of Client Service (NSW) – Corporate Insurance & Risk Solutions

When a crisis hits, it can bring out the best in humanity. This was evident during Australia’s recent bushfire crisis, where people from around the nation (and the world) came together to support communities.  Unfortunately, crises can also bring out the worst, where people see opportunities to exploit people’s anxiety, fear and panic.

The COVID-19 pandemic has countries and governments scrambling to respond. The healthcare system is being pushed and our economy is suffering. There are significant changes to how and where we work. It’s predicted many businesses will face solvency issues, which may lead to closures, especially to the most vulnerable small to medium business sector, the lifeblood of Australian communities.

A growing number of employers are implementing social distancing and/or remote working policies. Moving at short notice from a trusted office environment to working remotely can create security risks. Our experience tells us that employees are typically the weakest link in the network security chain. In these times of anxiety and uncertainty, they are even more vulnerable than usual to cyber threats. At Honan, we have already witnessed increased activity from cyber criminals looking to exploit the crisis. We have seen a rise in email scams, phishing emails, malware and social engineering fraud.In response, we’d like to share with you some guidance on enhancing your cyber security.

 

Eight ideas for improved cyber security for remote workers:

  1. Implement the latest version of your security software and anti-virus protection. Regularly check for patches as these often fix entry points for cyber criminals
  2. Ensure your WiFi connection is secure
  3. Back up regularly – if you are a target of an attack, a back up means you won’t lose everything
  4. Install encryption tools
  5. Change your password regularly
  6. If working in a shared space, ensure you lock your screen when stepping away
  7. What’s the plan? – If there is a cyber security incident what are the procedures to follow? Educate staff on these procedures
  8. Cyber Insurance – review your Cyber insurance policy or consider purchasing one.

 

We have gathered some additional resources to help you protect against cyber risks in the current climate:

  • The Australian Cyber Security Centre has provided a list of proactive strategies businesses can take in preparation for COVID-19.
  • Mailguard, a leading cloud email security provider, has produced an eBook detailing the          5 Types of Email Scams Exploiting COVID-19
  • Small Business Cyber Security Guide from The Australian Cyber Security Centre

 

 

For any further queries or concerns, please contact: 

Dominic Brettell

Head of Client Service (NSW) – Corporate Insurance & Risk Solutions.

dominic.brettell@honan.com.au

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