Regular readers of this blog will know how passionate I am about helping employers – especially SME employers – with their Fair Work and general HR-related obligations. 

I relentlessly encourage employers to obtain expert advice to ensure compliance with Australia's hopelessly complex employment laws. Heavy penalties, sleepless nights and plenty of stress can be avoided by getting – and following – sound HR advice provided by qualified experts. 

Sadly, far too many employers are still being led up the garden path by innaccurate, misleading, incomplete or otherwise just plan bad advice provided by so-called experts. And it's a problem that seems to be getting worse. 

In just the past few months, I've personally assisted numerous clients who relied on very bad HR advice, often provided at a very high price. Examples include:

  • The small business employer in Newcastle who was told by their adviser, in writing, that it was perfectly OK to cash-out long service leave under the NSW Long Service Leave Act. It's not.
  • The Adelaide-based employer who was advised it was lawful to cash-out all of their employee's accrued annual leave as long as the agreement was put in writing. Wrong. 
  • The Townsville-based employer who engaged a solicitor to defend him against an 'unfair dismissal' claim, and who later discovered the solicitor hadn't filed the correct paperwork, had missed the conciliation conference, and had failed to realise the employee in question was never actually protected from unfair dismissal in the first place!

Most frustrating of all is when employers tell us our advice is different from the advice they've received from other so-called experts or even from the relevant government agency, the Fair Work Ombudsman (FWO). These employers are (quite understandably) concerned that our advice is wrong.

Whenever this happens, I encourage the employer to create an account on the FWO's website. Once they've then logged in and tried to access reliable information they'll discover – to their justifiable amazement – that the official government agency responsible for explaining the laws to employers adds the following sentence to the end of each page:

"What do you think? Do you agree, or have a different view? How does this work in your industry? Tell us in the comments below.

Yes, you read that right, the government is so unsure about its own advice they ask readers what they think! Hopeless.

The only thing worse than not getting any advice at all is relying on advice that's either unreliable or just plain wrong.