The dynamic nature of the business environment and the increasing global competition has prompted business owners as well as other stakeholders to pay more attention to the area of employment relations. This can be attributed to the increased level of awareness regarding the relationship between employment relations and productivity . Management teams in most organizations have taken a keen interest in employment relations now more than ever before.
Today, human resource practitioners and departments in organizations have rapidly transformed into most vibrant people and departments due to their increasingly important roles. This paper analyses the role played by the management in regard to the formation and structure of employment relations in the context of the retail industry in Australia. Employment relations (ER) refer to the different systems and techniques utilized in managing people. Employment relations are a broad and all encompassing term that also covers human resource management and industrial relations (Guite, T. 1999).
Human resource management revolves the directing and controlling of the work force in a particular organization to forge unity so that there can be harmonious relationship between the management and workers for maximum productivity (Nilson, C. 2003. ). Industrial relation has to do with the resolution with work related disputes between the employees and their organizations and the management (Guite, T. 1999). There have been significant reforms in Australia in the last decade in regard to industrial disputation. This has seen the reduction of inconsistencies in the area of dispute and conflict management.
ER as a professional field includes the laid down rules and regulations, attitudes, cultures, policies and behavior surrounding the employment relationship (Cranny, C et al, 1992). It involves the participation of key players such as employees with their formal and informal organizations, employers with their associations and the government and its relevant institutions in regard to their employment concerns. Employment relationship refers to the contract between two parties one being the employee and the other the employer.
The employee is the person in servitude to the other under contractual terms, which may be written or oral (Walter, J. 2006). In this relationship the employer has an upper hand in the decision-making and conceptually is the one who gives the direction, which is to be followed. Concept This leadership role is key to any organization and may be held by an individual (in cases of small and micro businesses) or a management team in cases of medium or large organizations. The management has the role of controlling and directing people towards achieving corporate objective.
Team work is involved where one person is not able to produce what is actually needed in the company. Potential human resources, financial resources and natural resources are all deployed and manipulated through the management (Mullins, L. 2005. ). Management as a function in the organization involves the act of getting things done through people in the most efficient way on a regular basis. The management is also charged with the responsibility of initializing plans and action that ought to be taken by the organization in order to reach the corporate objective.
The management therefore is involved in the planning, organizing, motivating, controlling, coordinating the resources in an organization in order to achieve the maximum possible productivity levels. There are different arms under which the management falls including human resource management, operations management, production management, strategic management, financial management and information technology management (Walter, J. 2006). In this section, we are interested in the human resource management where it is noted that the role of this arm of management has been changing and becoming increasingly important in organizations today.
The human resource department in any organization has the role of understanding and developing the human capital as well as engaged in dissemination of good organizational culture among the workforce (Cranny, C et al, 1992). The key role of management in employment relations is defined as communication. Various aspects of employees’ relationship with the management are handled according to the laid down rules, policies, and practices of the organization.
In the modern workplace the employees are encouraged to air their views and grievances through this important arm of the management. This has the impact of reducing organizational conflicts and thus saving organizations both money and time that would otherwise have been used in the follow-ups of litigation cases. Other specific areas of interest between management and employees include payments of wages, bonuses and salaries, workplace conflict resolution, work timetable, health and safety, productivity targets and general grievances that employees may have .
It cannot therefore be said that the management plays a passive role in employment relations rather in this day and age; the management plays an all important role that has the effect of unifying all the resources of the organization especially the human resource in order to maximize productivity. The management ensures that all the employees are working together in harmony towards the cooperate goal. In addition to this, the management has to engage in dialogue with the relevant government institutions in order to ensure that all regulations pertaining to employment relations are adhered to.
It can therefore be said that the management has a most central role in holding together the different stake holders in employment relations. That task requires different skills and knowledge of management and leadership methods. Retail industry in Australia The retail industry in Australia is by far the biggest employer employing about 12% of the working population. The retail markets consist of sellers of goods directly to consumers and other final users. This industry is also characterized by the highest number of untrained workers.
The working conditions are most varied and working hours are not regulated but are determined by the individual retailers. Important changes to the retail work relations systems have been introduced in the work relations act of 1996 (Pocock, Barbara & Masterman-Smith, Helen. 2005). One of the responsibilities for determining all matters touching on the employer/employee relationship is on the hands of these two key stakeholders at the work place. According to the new rules, and agreements employers and employees are encouraged to resolve their matters without relying on external mediators.
However, the key areas such as minimum wages and working conditions standards have been established by the Australian fair pay commission as well as the parliamentary decree(Catanzariti, J. & Baragwanath, M. 1997 ). There has been a major reform in employee relations in the retail industry in Australia. There have been conscious measures to regulate the work place environment in this industry with different variations sort in recognition to the changes made to the shop trading hours act of 1997. Some of these variations include the expansion and scope of working hours, the minimum wage upgrades (Creighton, B. & Stewart, A. 994).
There has also been a need for direction on the number of hours that employees should be given for leave. Additionally, when working at odd hours different pay terms have been negotiated. This includes working on Sundays and working at night. In order to ensure that employees are not overworked, it has been suggested that there be introduced a system of working shifts. The federal government in Australia is mandated by the constitution to make laws that regulate matters concerning conciliation and dispute resolution in order to prevent industrial dispute that would extent beyond anyone state (Teicher, J. Lambert, R. & O’Rourke, A. 2006. ).
Workers in the retail industry in Australia have enjoyed higher standards of living due to significant legislative reforms regarding the work place relation. These reforms have also served to increase productivity due to the lower rates of industrial disputation. However, more reforms are needed to increase the flexibility and options for both employees and employers. These interventions measures by the government are aimed at spurring economic growth as well improve global competitiveness.
The retail industry is a good place to begin owing that it is the major employer in Australia. Today, there has been less dependence on awards by industrial tribunals that were used to negotiate and determine the environment as well as compensation and benefits for employees within the traditional work place relations systems. The management, has been empowered further by these new reforms since all matters and disputes that regard work place relations are first to be dealt with between the employees and employers before any further form of remedial action can be taken.
The work place relations act of 1996 has ensured that the alias award system by industrial tribunals has a minimum role of determining minimum wages instead of its initial role of determination and prescription of employees’ wages, and conditions allowed by their employers. Decentralized agreement mean that negotiations are done between employers and employees or between employers and employees organizations (unions) and thirdly, between the management and government institutions. Employees have the option of requesting for a bargaining agent.
The retail workers are also vulnerable to different forms of injustices. The comprehensive reforms in work place relations follow the introduction of work choices legislation in 2005 (Catanzariti, J. & Baragwanath, M. 1997). Some of the changes touch on work place health and safety application, new dismissal provision, and new transmission of laid down regulations, buying and selling of businesses, union restriction and the scrapping of no disadvantage test among other changes (Creighton, B. & Stewart, A. 1994).
All these reforms have the effect of giving more responsibility to the management in this matter of employment relations than ever before. Employer obligations are made known to all in the varied business situations. The reforms have also resulted in employees enjoying more freedom and job securities because employers are required to take great care when effecting a dismissal since employees can now claim compensation against unlawful dismissal or discrimination. These laws are applied widely to even small businesses with less than hundred employees.
These small businesses are mostly consisting of retail businesses. The importance of management in employment relation cannot be over emphasized. This is highlighted by the fact that the management as a key stake holder is charged with the responsibility of coordinating all the relations between labor unions and labor laws. This is done with the sole aim of improving the quality of produce as well as achievement of organizational goals. It has to be noted here that the management is responsible to the business owners and stakeholders if there is a slackening in productivity or if profitability decreases.
Therefore, the management is under pressure to ensure that there is a conducive working environment as well as quality working life for its employees in order to make it possible for success to be achieved. In the retail industry, the management of these businesses is subjected to the obligation of comprehending the laid down guidelines regarding employment relations. Conclusion. It is evident from these discussions that the management is at the centre of all matters relating to employment relations.
The management roles as key stakeholder in organizational structure ensures that the management has not only understand the broader concepts of employers obligations to the employees but also forge a working relationship with the labor unions while ensuring that all the legal regulations are adhered to. Since the last decade several reforms in the area of employment relations have been undertaken and they have served to empower the management and to increase its responsibilities towards its employees and towards ensuring that laws are followed to the letter.
These increased responsibilities have helped to streamline the work place environment especially in the retail industry which had been earlier characterized by inconsistencies and to great extent injustices towards employees. The management is now required to be extra vigilant to ensure that employment relations systems in a particular organization are such that they serve to improve productivity and to ensure that the company utilizes all their human resources for the achievement of corporate objective.