NSW gym owner keeps staff as others get the sack
Small business owners are afraid to hire staff amid COVID-19 uncertainty, confusing industry awards and unfair dismissal rules that many view are stacked against them.
Despite the Federal Government headlining job creation in last week's Budget, it's estimated three quarters of the nation's 2.3 million small business owners won't be hiring any time soon.
Council of Small Business Organisations Australia CEO Peter Strong said "it's too risky at the moment to employ someone".
"They are afraid of getting it wrong - it's so complicated and they see a lot of big businesses getting it wrong," he said.
COSBOA has called for a simple small business award, and Mr Strong said many business owners were worried about being taken to court for unfair dismissal.
One employer told News Corp Australia "it's stacked against you" when even new employees on probation could claim for unfair dismissal, while a sole trader said she had ignored opportunities to expand in recent years because "that meant employing staff".
The CEO of outsourced human resources provider HR Central, Damien Gooden, said it cost a worker about $75 to make an unfair dismissal claim through the Fair Work Commission, while employers who fought back could face thousands of dollars in legal fees.
"Even if you're right there's a huge cost - businesses just roll over and do a deal," he said.
COVID-19 was causing havoc with business hiring decisions, Mr Gooden said.
"Holding onto existing employees is enough of a risk at the moment, rather than bringing new ones on," he said.
"There's a lot of uncertainty around."
Small Business Australia executive director Bill Lang said it could be years before some businesses considered hiring.
"A majority of small businesses are very small and are not going to take the risk," he said.
Mr Lang said no business owner wanted to be stuck in legal battles.
"Many small business owners will pay out the person to make them go away, the lawyer gets their money then looks around for other people, and the business owner thinks 'how can I avoid employees?'," he said.
'I'M LOOKING TO HIRE'
One Gym Padstow owner Christian Miranda is bucking the trend in the fitness industry, with plans to bring on new staff and open new sites.
Although he had been forced to shut down during the height of the pandemic, business was now improving and Mr Miranda, 35, was hoping to expand.
"I haven't bought into the fear that COVID seems to have imposed on most business owners, rather seeing it as an opportunity," he said.
"A lot of my friends in Sydney and Melbourne were basically getting rid of all of their staff.
"They went into damage control, but I kept my staff on and committed to paying them full time.
"Ensuring that people have jobs they can commit to is good for them and it's good for the business."
The Padstow gym currently employs two full-time coaches and two permanent part-time coaches, as well as three casuals.
"I am looking to put on another full-time female coach and, as the business grows and expands, we are looking to open up new sites in the future and continue to employ," the Revesby Heights resident said.
He said industrial relations rules and guidelines certainly favoured employees over employers, but the key was to hire the right employees in the first place.
"We are the ones taking a risk and making a commitment to people … but that is part and parcel of when you employ people," he said.
"It comes down to employing the right people and making sure you properly train and invest your time and energy into people who are a fit for the business."
Today at 8pm AEDT, News Corp will air its Jobs 360 panel discussion online here.
On Tuesday we will highlight some of the solutions our experts are advocating to head off the crisis and point to almost 100,000 jobs region by region to help those looking for a job get back to work.
Originally published as NSW gym owner keeps staff as others get the sack