Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Courses/training options with compliments of the Federal Government

If you are looking to expand your skill base or refresh your existing skills, there has never been a better time. The Government is currently running a program called the Productivity Places Program. It is for job seekers and employees. A range of courses have been subsidised in an effort to upskill the workforce. This program is not means tested so find out what is available.

Resources you need to know about:

- About the Productivity Places Program:

- Browse Registered Training Organisations and the courses they offer:

Government assistance and employment law changes for working parents

Changes to employment law and child care rebates over the past couple of years have provided parents with more incentive to re-enter the workforce. With an ageing population and women now making up for half of the workforce, these changes are long overdue.

There are 4 key changes - both current and pending – that will positively impact working parents. Make it your business to know the following:

Right to request flexibility
parents with children under 5 years of age or disable children under 18 years of age now have the right to request flexibility, Ask your employer about this new employment law and refer to for more information. Or else, view the Fair Work Information Statement that employers must give all new employees from 1 January 2010 onwards:

Right to request up to 24 months of parental leave
Parents now have the right to request a further 12 months of unpaid parental leave beyond the normal 12 months. For more information, refer to the National Employment Standards (part of the Fair Work Act) found at Or else, view the Fair Work Information Statement that employers must give all new employees from 1 January 2010 onwards:

Government paid parental leave to be introduced Jan 2011
The Government will soon be introducing paid parental leave. Eligible employees will be entitled to 18 weeks of pay at minimum wage. This is means tested. To find out more about it, visit the following web page:

50% child care rebate
The Child Care Rebate is not income tested.If you are using approved child care for work, training or study-related reasons the Government will provide you with 50 percent of your out-of-pocket child care costs, up to $7778 (indexed) per child per year. For more information, go ot or view the following fact sheet on the child care rebate:

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Returning to work and the challenges of childcare

It's quite simple really..... when a child starts going to childcare, he/she will most probably catch everything going around the centre. The upside is that in the process, they are building up their immune system.

This is not always comforting to know when you have work deadlines, limited sick days and unlimited guilt because you should be with your child but your pile of work is building up as well.

How can you take control of this situation?

Firstly, it won't last forever. After a few months, the runny nose ceases and the ear infections go.

Approach this challenge in a practical manner. Consider the following tips:
- Talk to your manager. Pre-warn him/her that there will be a few more sick days taken over the next couple of months and talk about how you can organise your workload.
- Talk to your manager about easing yourself back into work. For example, you may work 2 days per week for 1-2 months. Then increasing your days to 3 days for 1-2 months then moving to 4 days.
- Save holiday leave for days you may not to take off.
- Utilise your sick days.
- Create the option to work from home when your child is sick.
- Share the load with your partner. Get your partner to pre-warn his/her workplace that childcare is about to start.

Use common sense to find solutions to your challenges. You now have the right to request flexibility if your child is under 5 years of age so ask.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Start asking questions

I had an interesting discussion with a woman the other day about negotiating flexibility. She, like many others, was ready to throw in the towel because her manager was not willing to consider her proposal.

I wanted her to fight for a better work arrangement with her existing employer - it can happen if there is a game plan to work with. To get her moving, I decided to use her children. I asked her if she typically encouraged her children to give in at the first sign of trouble. Her answer was no and it got her moving in the right direction.

One thing we seem to stop doing after having kids is asking. How long since you have asked for the following things:
- a salary review
- a performance review
- a career path
- training and education
- flexible work arrangements
- a more senior position

Change the story today. Approach things differently. Back yourself and see how you go. My guess is that you will see some action.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Negotiating flexibility - don't give in

I spoke recently with a woman on the phone who called asking for advice on finding a new job. She is currently employed but is having difficulty in securing a better flexible work arrangement with her existing employer (A Government body who should know better) as her children are all at school now. There was no request to reduce hours - it was simply to change her arrangement from 3 full days to working her hours over 4-5 days. The manager said that it would not work for the team so her request would probably be denied.

I have persuaded her to push on and try to secure the flexible arrangements she is looking for. I talked her through the following game plan:

- Review the flexible work policy
- Follow our guide on how to negotiate flexibility which includes writing a business case on how the new flexible arrangement could work. See the followiong web page for more info:
- Question your manager on their views in a non-confrontational way. If your manager says 'it just won't work', ask them why they hold this view and ask them for a detailed explanation on how they arrived at their decision. Make sure you take a pen and paper so you can record the conversation.
- If you are disatsifed with your meeting, request a meeting with a representative from human resources.
- Stick to the facts, ensure you have your business case written, and show no emotion.

Lessons for employees
- Don't give in and don't be bullied.
- Always ask questions, don't accept statements from your manager that are not considered opinions.
- Don't become emotional.
- There is a shortage of skilled workers and we have an ageing population. Retention is becoming imperative so use this to your advantage.

Lessons for managers:
- Show structure and thought in your decision making. If you don't know how to assess flexible work arrangements, ask HR for advice.
- Treat everyone on a case by case basis.
- Show empathy and be willing to trial flexible work arrangements. You never know when you will need one.