Are you looking to change employment conditions?

Are you looking to change employment conditions?

The Federal Court recently confirmed that a reduction in an employee’s terms and conditions of employment without consent can give rise to a redundancy entitlement, even where the employee continues working for their employer.

According to Luis Izzo from Australian Business Lawyers “The decision should act as a warning to employers looking to unilaterally reduce conditions in response to changing business demands”.

The case 

In Broadlex  Services Pty Ltd v United Workers’ Union [2020] FCA 867, the employer, Broadlex, decided to reduce the working hours of its full-time employee, Ms Vrtkovski, by 40%. The reduction from 38 hours per week to 20 hours per week was documented in a consent form which Broadlex asked its employee to sign.

The employee refused to sign the form, but continued working for Broadlex after the reduction in hours.

Years later, the United Workers Union filed a claim alleging that the employee’s material reduction in conditions triggered a redundancy payment.

Broadlex denied the claim, arguing that the employee’s continued employment meant that no redundancy could have arisen as her employment was never terminated.

The decision

In a surprising decision, Justice Katzman found that a redundancy was triggered because the reduction in hours had the effect of terminating the employee’s employment.

Justice Katzmann found that:

  1. The unilateral reduction of the employee’s working hours constituted a “repudiation” of the contract (that is, a fundamental breach going to the root of the contract).
  2. The employee’s refusal to sign a consent form constituted an acceptance of the repudiation by the employee – thereby bringing the pre-existing employment contract to an end.
  3.  When the contract came to an end, the employment relationship also came to an end – thereby triggering the redundancy entitlement under the Fair Work Act.
  4. The employee’s continued work for the employer on a part-time basis constituted the creation of a new and different employment relationship. It was not a continuation of the existing relationship the employee had with Broadlex.
Impacts for employers

Whilst the facts considered in Broadlex were somewhat severe (a 40% reduction in hours), the principles have application to the reduction of other significant contractual conditions. The decision could be applied to the reduction of other material contractual conditions such as:

  • access to a motor vehicle
  • incentive payments
  • duties
  • an employee’s status or seniority
  • remuneration or
  • work location.

Particularly as employers respond to financial distress caused by COVID-19, it is important that consent is obtained for contractual variations. Alternatively, employers need to ensure any variations to the employment are permitted by the relevant employment contract (or possibly industrial instrument).

Care especially needs to be taken where reductions are being made to large numbers of employees, in order to avoid a compounding of exposure and the possibility of class actions.

Where to get help

Hardware Australia membership includes access to our workplace advice line, our expert team can assist you with your contractual arrangements permit and whether any liabilities might arise, members can call 1300 391 426 to seek advice. Not a member, Join Now and start accessing a range of services.

Membership includes access to professional employment contracts, policies and proceedures to implement in their business. A full list of available documents can be found on the Member’s Portal.


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Government Funding Available for Training

Employees are your biggest asset! A good employee that is engaged and has a vested outcome in the business, is key to the growth and success of a business.

Training plays an important role in our business by further strengthening those skills that an employee needs to improve.

Why Train your staff?

How does training strengthen our business and why is it important? In an article written by LearnUpon they suggest several ways that training affects an employee and businesses.

Improves employee performance

Learning new skills increases an employee’s confidence and creates a sense of empowerment. It also gives employees a clear understanding of their role and responsibilities.

Increases engagement

Engaged employees have an increased level of productivity. By sharing ideas and communicating with your team your staff are well informed with what is going on in the business. They care about the outcome and share in the successes.

Improves employee retention and growth

Training boots a feeling of an employee’s value. Showing them that you are committed to providing them with the resources they need to improve their skills. In doing so you are also training future leaders. The next time you are in need of a new team leader, supervisor, or manager you don’t have to look too far, saving you both time and money.

Addresses internal weaknesses

A trainee had the advantage of learning from their peers and managers and vice versa, taking their learning back into the business. A trainee can identify weaknesses and help their peers improve their skills.

Delivers Happier customers

A better trained employee makes more productive and engaged team members, that services your customers better.

What courses are available?

Hardware Australia is investing in the future of our industry and together with TABMA Training developed an industry specific program designed to meet the needs of hardware. The Certificate III in Retail Hardware has three elective specialty areas, Hardware, Timber & Nursery.  

The program incorporates a range of flexible delivery methods (face to face, Zoom and elearning) that allow students to progress more rapidly if they choose to with the support and teaching accompanying. Online delivery also means that training doesn’t need to stop in the pandemic!

This varied approach is also designed to allow the program to be delivered into remote locations and stores utilising technology to enhance the learning experience and is available for your existing staff and their current skills and knowledge can be recognised and rewarded via recognition of Prior Learning.

TABMA Training also offers several qualifications including Leadership & Management and Warehousing. More information on these courses is available via our training page.

Government Funding Available 

We have been lucky to secure government funding in South Australia, New South Wales, Queensland and Western Australia to help with the cost to your business/employees. Detail on subsidies can be found below.

South Australia

We have been successful in securing 18 subsided places for existing and new working to complete a Certificate III in Retail hardware (SIR30216) and 2 places for a Certificate III in Warehouse Operations (TLI31616). Depending on their chosen specialty the course fees are as little as $750per student (for eligible students).

Karen Pitman from TABMA will be in contact over the next few weeks to discuss options available for your business.

New South Wales

Smart and Skilled is a reform of the NSW vocational education and training system. It’s helping people get the skills they need to find a job and advance their careers. Smart and Skilled provides eligible students with an entitlement to government-subsidised training up to and including Advanced Diploma Level Qualifications.

New South Wales offers fee free training for eligible trainees, to navigate eligibility contact us.


The Department of Employment, Small Business, and Training (DESBT) has a number of training strategies designed to subsidise students in qualifications ranging from Certificate I to Certificate IV levels. These include:

  • Certificate 3 Guarantee – This Course is subsidised under the 2018-2019 Queensland VET Investment Plan administered by the Department of Employment, Small Business, and Training (DESBT).
  • Higher Level Skills.
  • Skilling Queenslander For Work (SQW).
  • User Choice

For further information and eligibility for funding contact us.

Western Australia

The courses are not funded but the state Government Employer Incentive Scheme mean you can receive up to $8,500 in wage subsidies.

For further information contact us.


Exclusive Member Fuel Offer

Exclusive Member Fuel Offer

“BP is a proud partner of Hardware Australia, as a member you have access to our exclusive fuel offer with BP.

BP Plus Fuel Cards offer significant benefits for your business that can save you time and money.

BP can now offer your business more value through their partnerships with market leading brands including:

  • Qantas Business Rewards members earn Qantas Points when you use your BP Plus Fuel Card.#
  • Integrate your BP Plus account with Xero and all of your fuel expenses and tax invoices will be automatically processed directly into your Xero account. Helping you save time, by simplifying your tax requirements and reducing business admin.*
  • 0%  card  service  fees  when  you  pay  your  BP  Plus  account  with  American Express, as well as up to 55 days to pay for purchases with American Express and up to 51 days further with BP Plus.^

To find out more or apply for a BP Plus Card, please click here. 

  • Please ensure you use the code ‘HARDWAREAU’ to receive the discount

If you have any questions on the offer, please contact

Terms and Conditions

* Xero: Xero integration is limited to eligible BP Plus account holders with an active Xero account. Ts&Cs apply. See for more details.

^ AMEX: Limited to BP Plus members who purchase < 3m litres of fuel over the last 12 months. Fee waiver only available for purchases of up to $4m p.a. Ts&Cs apply, see for more details.

# QBR: BP Plus member must also be Qantas Business Rewards member. Ts&Cs apply. See for more details.

^ Fuel Discount offer limited to AFMA members who apply, are approved for, and hold a current BP Plus account. Offer limited to one BP Plus account per business, excludes Autogas and AdBlue, and is subject to the

Global Hardware Market Updates

Each month we will bring you news from global hardware groups. This month we have news from New Zealand, EDRA/GHIN, France, Germany and Italy to name a few.

EDRA/GHIN Launches ‘rediscovering your home’ manifesto

EDRA/GHIN has launched a manifesto entitled ‘Rediscovering Your Home in a Pandemic.’ The Manifesto highlights the importance of the home for everyone and the key role the home improvement industry plays in supporting people in creating, improving and, most of all, enjoying their homes. EDRA/GHIN General Secretary John Herbert said, “The role of the home has been redefined by the lockdown; one came to realise just how important our homes are.” He went on to say, “Our DIY retailers are dedicated to supporting people in their home improvement endeavours.” The full Manifesto can be read here.

New Zealand: Bunnings shut down sever stores 

The Australian home improvement chain Bunnings is to close seven stores in New Zealand, according to various media sources in the country. It is reported that a warehouse, two trade centres and four smaller stores will close at the end of June with the loss of 145 jobs. The closures have been prompted by the tough trading conditions due to the Covid-19 pandemic. Three smaller Bunnings outlets had already closed in December 2019.

UK: Homebase tests new format

The British home improvement retailer has opened two stores under the new Decorate by Homebase brand in Sutton in the South of London and in Cheadle in the greater Manchester area. These smaller format high-street stores are located in former Bathstore shops and provide, according to the retailer, everything customers need under one roof for decorating projects – from the initial planning stages, to the final finishing touches. Damian McGloughlin, CEO of Homebase, said: “We’re always thinking about new store experiences for our customers, to deliver on our vision to make Homebase the go-to place for the inspiration, expertise and products customers need to take their projects from start to finish. We’re extremely excited about this concept. This launch was initially in our plans for March, though we chose to delay opening to ensure we could open our doors safely for customers and our team. We are launching Decorate by Homebase on a trial basis at this stage, but we see potential to roll this out across more high streets in future.”

US Half consider home improvement projects

Having now been sequestered at home for several weeks, about half of U.S. consumers (49%) say they’ve considered starting a home improvement project, according to research conducted by J.D. Power on 2-3 April of this year. Of those, 61% say they plan to do the project themselves. The top projects on the wish list include painting (15%), lawn and landscape projects (14%) and starting a garden (12%).

Retail sales show a record increase in May 

U.S. retail sales in May rose by 17.7% from April. The increase is the highest on record and double analysts’ expectations. It reverses April’s decline, which was revised to 14.7%. Gains were seen across categories. Nevertheless, sales remained 6.1% below their May 2019 level.

Italy: Cangianiello Group launch regional chain Bricoware

In Italy, a small new DIY chain has been launched under the Bricoware brand. Behind this is the Cangianiello Group, which started out as an online retailer but now has three bricks-and-mortar stores and was hitherto a member of the Bricofer cooperative. The news was reported by the Italian industry service “10 minutes DIY and Garden”. The three existing stores close to Naples are being rebadged and are expected to reopen on 20 June. They have retail areas of 5,500sqm, 1,200sqm and 1,600sqm.

Chile: Concosud achieves small q1 sales rise

The Chilean trade company Cencosud increased its sales in the field of home improvement in the first quarter by 0.6% compared to the same period last year. It has reported the sales volume to be CLP 286.668 bn (EUR 320m). In local currencies, sales would have grown by 13.9%. This discrepancy is primarily due to inflation in Argentina where Cencosud made sales of CLP 118.596 bn (EUR 132m). In Argentinian pesos, that was 30.0% more than in the same quarter of the previous year, however, when converted to Chilean pesos, results in a minus of 2.3%. On the Chilean home market, Cencosud made sales with its home improvement division of CLP 149.532 bn (EUR 167m) and thus an increase of 2.4%. In Colombia, sales grew by 6.2% to CLP 18.540 bn (EUR 21m), however dropped by 1.9% after adjusting for currency effects. Cencosud’s DIY sales channels are Easy and Blaisten. Since the fourth quarter of 2019, the e-commerce share in Cencosud’s DIY business has risen from 3.3% to 4.5%.

France: DIY Sales drop 61% in April

The French spent April entirely subject to the lockdown conditions on account of the Covid-19 pandemic. As a result, the figures from the home improvement sector were worse than in March, the first half of which was not impacted. Sales in the sector plummeted by 61.5% in April compared with those in April 2019. The downturn in March was 49.2%, according to the Banque de France. A drop in sales of 29% occurred between January and April 2020, according to these figures published by the French industry association FMB. “The majority of DIY stores were chiefly functioning on the basis of drive-ins and click & collect during the 55 days of the lockdown. Stores were only able to reopen from 11 May onwards and gradually resume their operations to counter the deficit,” said FMB president Mathieu Pivain, commenting on the situation.


Canada: Lowe’s Canada’s new DC will be biggest in Western Canada

Lowe’s Canada has unveiled plans to open a giant distribution centre in the greater Calgary area. The facility, which will be 1.23 million sqft in size, is expected to open in the autumn of 2021 and will represent a total joint investment of more than $120m. The DC will become part of a network supplying more than 470 corporate and affiliated stores under Lowe’s Canada’s different banners. The Lowe’s facility will reportedly be the largest leased DC in Western Canada. Construction is slated to begin this month.

Germany: Support for Spoga+Gafa 2020 Encouraging

“We are working together with the garden sector to prepare ourselves for a new normal in daily life. We are underscoring this shared conviction under the hashtag #gardenbackstronger,” Koelnmesse says. The management of Koelnmesse has issued a further statement to exhibitors and visitors to the Spoga+Gafa show. In the statement, business division director Catja Caspary and Stefan Lohrberg, director of Spoga+Gafa, confirm: “As delighted as we are that most of the comments we’ve been getting from exhibitors and visitors have been confirmatory, we take their concerns very seriously, especially the uncertainty felt by our partners from overseas.” The feedback has encouraged the trade show management team to make the decision to let Spoga+Gafa go ahead on 6-8 September 2020 in Cologne.

Germany: Hornbach reports 18% sales rise

The German DIY store chain Hornbach has reported a rapid increase in sales by its DIY stores and almost doubled earnings due to the coronavirus crisis. According to initial preliminary results, sales in the first quarter (1 March to 31 May 2020) have grown by 18.4% to EUR 1.492 bn. The operating earnings adjusted for non-operating impacts on earnings (adjusted EBIT) increased by around 90% to around EUR 160m. The reason for the significant improvement in earnings is essentially the strong sales growth at home and abroad, reports the company. They state that in the course of the coronavirus crisis, customer demand in the stationary and online business has risen significantly since mid-March – also benefited by the pleasant spring weather in 2020. The largest sales growths were achieved in May 2020 with plus 36% (March 2020: minus 2%; April 2020: plus 17%), after all of the initially up to 64 Hornbach stores. which were affected by official sales restrictions, were reopened.

BHB supports use of the Corona warning app

The federal government’s Corona warning app has recently become available, with the aim of reducing the spread of the virus. The German DIY Industry Association BHB advocates installing the app on behalf of the hardware store branch and thus joins the HDE, which also recommends using it. “We see – and here we are in complete harmony with the German Trade Association (HDE) – the Corona warning app as an important step in increasing safety in our daily dealings with each other,” said BHB general manager Dr. Peter Wüst. The possibility of being able to identify the formation of possible infection chains and their triggers by means of modern tracing technology closes an important gap in the fight against the virus.

Denmark: Bygma Group reports 8% growth 

The Danish Bygma Group’s sales grew by 6.2% to DKK 8.3899 bn (EUR 1.1255 bn) in 2019. Bygma A/S increased its sales by 8.1% to DKK 6.0837 bn (EUR 816.1m). CEO Peter Christiansen expects to see a possible slowdown in the market in 2020 and 2021.

Spain: DIY retailers see big turnaround

Sales in the Spanish DIY and hardware trade were down by “only” 2.96% in May as compared with May 2019. In a press release, the AECOC retail association stresses the “only”, because in April the downturn came to 75.4% and in the first quarter it was 9.3%. Most businesses in Spain were closed for weeks due to the coronavirus pandemic. On reopening, which occurred at different times in different regions, the big-box home improvement stores made up the most ground, with sales in May trailing those of the same period in the previous year by just 0.6%. In April, they were impacted more heavily than traditional hardware shops, seeing a drop in sales of 81.4% as compared with a 49.6% downturn for the latter. The fall in sales in May was 3.3%.

Phillippines: AllHome’s 42% sales rise in Q1

Philippine home improvement retailer AllHome’s first-quarter income rose by 30.4% despite the closure of top-selling stores in the last two weeks of the period. The company disclosed a net profit of PHP 270.2m (EUR 4.8m, USD 5.4m) for January to March 2020, from PHP 207.1m in the same period last year. Sales rose by 41.6% to PHP 3.36 bn from PHP 2.38 bn. A 24.3% rise in same-store sales, though weaker than the 32.5% growth posted in the first quarter last year, and revenues generated by 22 branches opened between April and December 2019 provided support. There were no new locations opened in the first quarter of 2020. AllHome closed all stores on the country’s largest island of Luzon from 17 March to 15 May following the imposition of one of the world’s toughest and longest Covid-19 lockdowns. Pre-lockdown, they accounted for 84.3% of AllHome’s 2020 revenues.


Cash Flow | Cash is King: Tips to Get Paid Faster


The relationship between a company’s profitability and its cash flow, while straightforward, isn’t always fully understood. Many businesses, especially sales-oriented companies, tend to manage operations from the bottom line, believing that if sales are increasing, the business is profitable and success is guaranteed.
The problem with this thinking is that businesses don’t pay their vendors from the bottom line, they pay from positive cash flow. Too often, sales-oriented businesses are so eager to get new clients, that the structure required to get paid for current work isn’t fully fleshed out. Suddenly, the funds needed to pay current invoices are not available, and the company is at risk of selling themselves out of business by not properly managing cash flow.

Get a grip on accounts receivable

The best course of action is to get a firm grip on accounts receivable before it becomes a problem. This will give you enough cash on hand to stay ahead of bills and still have funds left over to invest in the future.
Until payment is received (positive cash flow generated) any transaction can’t really be considered complete. Too many outstanding customer payments lead to cash flow problems. Getting paid should always be a priority, but before any receivables get collected, several actions are required to help guarantee receipt of that payment.
When customers owe you money, there shouldn’t be a major investment of time and manpower on your part to get paid. For any accounts receivable process to work, it starts with accurate data collection. This includes information regarding the product or service rendered, price with tax, any discounts that might apply, expected payment date, and any other information relevant to that specific transaction. If this is a manual process or data needs to be applied to different programs, the process can be time consuming and prone to errors.

Automation makes the process more streamlined

Part of the success of any accounts receivable effort is the ability to establish the right payment terms. The amount of time you offer customers to make their payment should be considered carefully. The longer the
payment term, the more credit you are extending to your customers. Conversely, the shorter the term, the quicker you get your money—theoretically. The typical payment cycle for goods or services ranges from 30
to 90 days.
The best approach is to set terms that work financially for you, but also are fair to your customer. Perhaps you want to include an incentive, such as a discount, to clients who pay early. For example, you could offer a 2%
discount on an invoice if paid within 10 days. Whatever term works best—say it is a 30-day deadline—be sure to include that data on all future invoices.
The biggest obstacle to positive cash flow is customers who don’t pay on time. When that happens, instead of having capital available to pay your own vendors or make your own payroll, your money is tied up on your balance sheet. One of the first steps to speed payments is to set clear and concise credit policies. Set responsibilities with your sales or finance department about when to extend credit, how much credit to extend, and what penalties to impose on overdue accounts. Then commit to process all credit applications within a specified time frame.
Think carefully about the wording of terms you decide upon—a little bit of courtesy can go a long way to speed payments. For instance, asking politely for payment within 21 days always beats a statement such as “due in
full on receipt.” Knowing your clients well, as you do, and understanding what motivates their operations and payments can help you choose the best strategies to get paid while still appearing friendly.
Just as important as the information that goes into creating the invoice is the data that determines who will receive it. You need to keep track of contact information for key accounts payable contacts. You probably want to verify this information monthly to keep up with any changes. Equally important for larger businesses, is the need to have at least one additional manager’s contact information, or an owner for smaller businesses, should be there ever be a need to escalate communications. When payment is overdue you will also need an accounting department contact.
The collection process undoubtedly runs smoother when your customers understand payment terms completely so there are no obstacles to receiving payment.

Software simplifies accounting routines

Every month, the billing department goes through the same process. All your data has been collected and verified and it is time to run the latest batch of statements. If you mail invoices, it can take hours or even days to
print, stuff envelopes, and apply postage. Once they get sent out, any number of reasons can keep payment from being delayed. Your ability to reduce the amount of time between billing and payment collection is imperative, and integrated accounting software can streamline that process and improve cash flow.
Easily integrated with emailed invoices, document management capabilities allow account information and all related assets to be readily accessible from anyone in the organisation including accounting, sales and
even collections. Statements can be sent electronically instead of through the mail, which reduces cycle time, improves cash flow, and drives efficiency in the accounting department.
Every business benefits when it’s easy for customers to settle their accounts. Offering flexible payment methods including, credit card, check, pay pal or other self-service options can also speed the receivable process.

Automation serves all business needs

If you are working in separate systems that require a lot of duplicate entries, the system you’re using is old or inefficient, or you’re still using a spreadsheet to track billings, it’s probably time to consider upgrading.
According to Inc. magazine, the more professional your billing system is, the more likely your clients will pay up in a timely manner.
An enterprise resource planning (ERP) system can handle not only all the accounting around your business transactions, but also take care of product ordering, inventory, setting delivery routes, and managing a variety of other processes required to run your business.
ERP systems will manage point of sale, inventory management, purchasing and receiving, electronic data interchange (EDI), and reporting while saving time and virtually eliminating input errors.
In the same way that leveraging technology can improve your inventory management and purchasing process, it is imperative that businesses leverage all the benefits that an ERP system can offer to improve cash flow.
Think about it for a minute. With an ERP, accounts receivable is no longer a headache, as all the transaction information is available in one system and managing/tracking paper invoices is no longer necessary. With the help of an integrated ERP, your customer’s payment history or purchasing patterns are just a click away.
Don’t sell yourself into debt. ERP insights will allow you to efficiently monitor, manage and maintain a healthy cash flow on your terms.
White paper written by ECI Solutions