I can see what successive governments and unions have been attempting to do with the evolving workplace IR laws. They’re designed for an aspirational nirvana workplace where everyone loves work, deals fairly in all situations and glistens with uber-productivity, all the time.

Sadly, that just isn’t reality. Human beings are emotional, have complex needs and desires, aren’t all blessed with super EQ let alone IQ, and some are just plain old mercurial fibbers. And that goes for managers and employees.

The tragedy is that the constant wave of ‘latest’ IR laws result in practices counter to their intent.

Yesterday, a super six page conference program landed on my desk. Its focus: New IR Laws for HR Managers – Managing Your Workplace for Compliance with the Latest IR Laws. The contents, set to pit ‘them’ vs ‘us’, send shivers down your spine. It’s the most defensive line up of subjects imaginable. Look at these topics:

  • The Perfect Disciplinary Process
  • Achieving Zero Tolerance in Workplace Bullying
  • Adverse Action Claims – How recent case decisions change the dynamics
  • Sham Contracting Arrangements – Fair Work protections and penalties
  • Employment Contracts 2014 Update – Implied term of mutual trust and confidence; Breach of company policies

It looks to me as if we’re at war in our workplaces? The bosses are the enemy and the workers a threat. What’s happened here?

A dinner conversation late last year confirmed it for me. A true gentleman and longstanding employer of some 40 people had to whittle those employee numbers down to 20 during the GFC. His business is now down to 14 staff and he has promised himself he’ll never employ more than 15 people because the headaches that come with HR management and compliance with IR are more than he cares to go to sleep with.

Everyone is now protecting their butts. Is that good for workplaces? For growing businesses? For government? For the economy? For Australia?

But it’s beyond me about how we might now shift our thinking, language and the systemic conventions now in place.

What’s your Point of View?