(Industrial) Action in Industrial Relations

So back in March (March 2016 that is), Queensland got a new Industrial Relations Act. It’s been a while since the last one (1999 to be precise) so there have been lots and lots of changes. Now the problem is the GRDS Industrial Relations section was based on the old act… The good news is that with the disposal authorisation numbers in the GRDS, we can make changes as and when we need to. Yay!

So we got stuck in to find out what the differences were between the two Acts and what that meant for the good old GRDS. Hardly surprising but some of the retention periods have gone up. You can check out the change history table for details of what’s changed, but reading our blog will be way more fun.

Chapter Eight of the new IR Act has the largest number of changes that impact on the GRDS. The purpose of this chapter is to establish general protections of workplace rights, things like freedom of association or freedom from workplace discrimination (just to name a few).

The game changer in the new legislation is that there is a reverse onus of proof requirement. What does that mean? The explanatory notes says in a dispute brought by an employee, or a potential employee, “the respondent to an action under this part is required to establish (on the balance of probabilities) that the action was carried out for a reason or intent that did not contravene the relevant provisions of this part.” Ok, so now for the short version – in the event of a dispute, the employer will have to prove the decision was justifiable and of course you’ll need the records to do this.

These disputes or applications have to be made within specific timeframes. Applications about dismissals must be made within 21 days, unless there are exceptional circumstances. Other applications (i.e. not related to dismissal) must be made within 6 years. 6 years? Ah ok … changes needed to the GRDS.

Changes to the GRDS

A lot of the record classes in the current GRDS for these types of records had a retention period of less than 6 years which suddenly didn’t fit with the 6 year time frame for applications.

So, we’ve updated the retention periods to fit, but we didn’t need to change the scope of any of the classes. That is, they still apply to the same types of records making re-sentencing a whole lot easier.

Here’s a handy table showing the record classes that we’ve updated.

Record class Superseded disposal authorisation Superseded disposal trigger Current disposal authorisation Current disposal trigger
Liaison 1027 5 years after business action completed 2075 7 years after business action completed
No agreement (condition/award negotiations) 1129 5 years after negotiations cease 2076 7 years after negotiations cease
Position/role creation and evaluation 1243 5 years after business action completed 2077 7 years after business action completed
Recruitment and selection 1257 3 years after recruitment finalised 2078 7 years after recruitment finalised
Training provision 1261 5 years after business action completed 2079 7 years after business action completed

Most of these increased from 5 years to 7 years, which makes sense. We’ve gone with 7 years instead of 6 so you don’t have to worry about the whole financial year/calendar year difference.

1257 was the odd one out – the original retention period was 3 years and is now 7. What happened there? Well, like all the others, the increase in retention period has come about because of the change in the legislation. 7 years makes sure records are kept for long enough so people can make one of those applications we mentioned above.

Although the legislation is relatively new in Qld, the federal Fair Work jurisdiction has similar adverse action protections and yes actions have been brought years down the track, after the recruitment and selection process has been finalised.

It might be worth pointing out to your relevant HR areas that these records will now need to be kept and managed for longer than previously.  If you are still managing these records in paper formats, it might be a great chance to start managing these records digitally, preventing any paper mountains from forming.

We checked other record classes in the GRDS that may apply or be relevant to these applications, and decided that existing retention periods are sufficient.

What about the GRDS Lite?

Now those of you using the GRDS Lite will be wondering what’s changed there. Because the GRDS Lite is a rolled up version of the full GRDS and the shortest retention period for this function was 7 years anyway, we haven’t had to change any retention periods or record classes.

If by any chance you have been contemplating using the GRDS lite, this could prove to be an excellent opportunity to get your feet wet.

The GRDS Lite record classes can be mixed with classes from the full GRDS however you like. This means that instead of updating the superseded record classes in the GRDS, you can replace them with comparable classes in the GRDS lite.

The advantage here is that you only need 3 record classes rather than 5. You can find out more about using the GRDS Lite on our website.

Check out our document mapping the GRDS to the GRDS lite to find out what GRDS Lite classes to use.

But we’re about to destroy records…

One last thing – if you’re already in the middle of a destruction process involving these record classes, get in contact with us before you keep going. We can help you find a solution so you don’t have to start all over again.

If you want to know more about the changes to the IR Act and what it means for your agency, talk to your legal team, read the Act (probably not all 730 pages though), and check out the explanatory notes.

That’s all folks!

Remember, you can contact us at any time via email, telephone, blog, Twitter, Facebook, Instagram or Flickr.

Featured image: University procession/demonstration – Brisbane, May 1957, Digital image ID 16581

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