Tuesday, May 17, 2011

New Standard Employment Contract

Belinda Thalakada
Customer Support

As you may know, Cleardocs has launched another new product: the Standard Employment Contract. This product allows you to tailor contracts between your organisation and its employees to suit both parties’ needs.

The contract itself complies with the Fair Work Act 2009 and, as with all our documents, legal sign-off is provided by Maddocks – a top 20 Australian law firm.

Why standard employment contracts are useful?
An employment contract is a useful thing to have for both employers and employees. It clearly sets out what obligations an organisation has to its employees, such as penalty rates, commissions, annual leave etc. It also sets out obligations an employee undertakes on employment such as the duties of the job description, working hours, notice period before resignation etc.

How does an employment contract interact with a collective industrial agreement?
The Cleardocs employment contract can be used to set terms and conditions of employment that are not already addressed in any collective industrial agreement between an employer and its employees.  The contract can do that as long as it does not reduce an employee’s rights under the collective agreement.
For example, the contract can be used to specify terms of employment for an individual employee, such as hourly rates, leave entitlements, obligations to confidentiality and intellectual property, and so on.

Who can use the Cleardocs employment contract?
At the moment, the Cleardocs employment contract is relevant to most part-time, full-time, and non-senior employees.
We are currently in the process of developing an executive employment contract.

What’s included in the document package?
The document package includes:
·         Your tailored contract of employment; and
·         An establishment kit telling you what to do next
You may also consider purchasing the Cleardocs HR Policies and Procedures Manual if your organisation does not already have one. This and the employment contract are designed to work together. Read more about our HR Policies and Procedures Manual here.

How much does it cost?
The Cleardocs employment contract only costs $99. However, if you need to purchase multiple contracts, call us on 1300 307 343 to see what discount can be applied, depending on how many contracts will be purchased.

Read more at the Employment Contract product information page.

Click here to start a new order for a Cleardocs Employment Contract.

knowing your session timed out - the friendly (Cleardocs) way

Thomas Lam, IT Manager
Most web sites will automatically log users out if idle for a period of time – ranging from 5 (bank sites) to 30 minutes. And we often knew our sessions timeout the painful way – submitting (and loosing) your un-submitted form data only then get redirected to a login page.
At Cleardocs, these pains are now things in the past! We have recently implement a session checker for all our product forms. If you try to submit your product form data after your session expired, our session checker will pop up a login prompt. You could then login again to stay logged onto Cleardocs and more importantly, submit your unsaved answers to Cleardocs site.  
Figure 1 – Login prompt provided by our product forms session checker.

Monday, May 9, 2011

US plain-language awards dinner

Christopher Balmford, MD

The second-ever US plain-language Awards were presented by the Center for Plain Language at the end of April. For the second year, I had the honour, and the fun, of being the MC (or “emcee”) for the event.

The Awards
At the Awards dinner, in the National Press Club in Washington D.C, the Center announced 3 categories of winners:

1.  the ClearMark Awards — for documents that are stunningly, refreshingly clear. This year, there were 28 finalists from 8 categories.

2.  the WonderMark Awards — for documents that are hard to understand. The reason these awards are named the “WonderMark”, is that the documents make you think “I wonder what it means . . . I wonder who wrote it . . . I wonder what they were doing when they wrote it . . . I wonder what they thought they were doing when they wrote it . . . I wonder what they had for breakfast the day they wrote it; and

3. the TurnAround Award — for an organisation that, after “winning” a WonderMark Award one year, successfully rewrites the relevant communication in plain language.

Last year the theme for the Awards was Demand to Understand. This year the theme was, Words Impact Lives.

Guest speaker
The guest speaker was Kristi Kaeppline a Senior Advisor in the US Security Exchange Commission’s Division of Risk, Strategy, and Financial Innovation. Kristi spoke:
  • about the aspects of plain language which resonate, and — sadly — those that fail to resonate, with executives and bureaucrats; and
  • how this affects their decision-making on plain-language issues.
Kristi had a good line. She said, we need to make ”plain language the rule rather than the exception”. That phrase is my nomination for the theme for the Center’s Awards next year.

WonderMark winners
The WonderMark Grand Prize — for the most confused, convoluted, inarticulate, frustrating, baffling, elusive, and mind-bogglingly unhelpful of the entries the Center received — went to Blue Cross/Blue Shield of Maryland, for its Care First Explanation of Benefits.

You can see the “winning” document here.

One of the judges commented:

"The design is repulsive, the organization atrocious, and most importantly, it's impossible to understand what the insurance company is explaining. If executives were required to read their company documents, we might not have documents as terrible as these."

Enough said.

One of the winners of a WonderMark Award was a ballot paper produced by the New Jersey County of Gloucester.

The ballot contains a public question for citizens to vote on about an amendment to the New Jersey Constitution. The question is difficult to understand. So, to make things clear, the ballot includes an "interpretive statement". Sadly, that supposedly clear interpretative statement is no help at all.

Here is a copy of the document:

Wondermark 1 -- NJ 2010 ballot question

The thing is, there is no need for the question to be so awkward — after all, the substance of the amendment is pretty straight-forward. In a sane world, the question on the ballot would be clear. In turn:
  • there would be no need for the interpretative statement — so the duplicated efforts of writers, and of readers, would be saved;
  • citizens would be better informed and able to make better decisions; and
  • the community’s respect for our democratic system would be enhanced.
All thanks to 20 minutes effort to improve a few lines of text.

Grand Prize ClearMark
The 2011 Grand Mark ClearMark Award went to the Internal Revenue Service for 2 rewritten forms.

You can see the winning documents here.

The judges commented that the highlights of the IRS’s project were:
  • Before rewriting anything, the team spent time analysing the existing document AND the existing environment.
  • The project involved a systemic effort that looked at processes as well as the documents.
  • The team was able to combine documents and eliminate documents — so as to reduce and rationalize the overall amount of information.
  • The team tested the draft rewrites on a sample audience.
In light of those comments, it’s understandable why the project produced such an outstanding document. Indeed, anyone seeking to rewrite a document should be thinking about making sure their project involves similar activities.

TurnAround Award winner
The Center’s first-ever TurnAround Award was presented to Chase for its card member agreement. In 2010, the original agreement earned a WonderMark Award.  Chase took the award seriously, and revised the agreement so that it presented information to credit card holders in a clear, concise format.

You can see the “before” and “after” of the Chase document here.

All power to those WonderMark winners who receive the Award in the spirit with which it is intended, and who go on to turn their communications around.

Next plain-language conference
By the way, the next plain-language conference is on in Stockholm in June 2011, you can read about it here.

Cleardocs and plain language
For information about Cleardocs and plain language, see our site here.

Monday, May 2, 2011

Improving the work flow

Lisa Galbraith, CEO

Working efficiently and productively within your business and with your customers and clients is important. Customers and clients in particular like working with organizations where information is collected once and used consistently. How many times have you sighed when, as a customer, you are asked, by your advisor, once again to complete a form that asks for your home address?

At Cleardocs we have recently started integrating standard forms for our accountants. These forms are often set up paperwork for when new structures are put in place or when a new client moves professional advisor. Example of the forms include letter to notify change of administration of SMSF, administration application form, and direct debit form.

Using the answers entered into the Cleardocs question interface the Cleardocs system completes your firm’s standard letters and forms. The accountant then has a complete package of documents ready for their client to sign. Completed easily and efficiently in one step.

We are keen to expand this completion of basic forms to as many of our users as possible. We have identified some common forms that many Cleardocs users may find helpful in improving efficiency. We will be releasing these forms in the coming months. For example we have developed an ABN/TFN checklist that will speed the entry of data into the ATO portal.

Please look out for these forms. If you have any suggestions for forms or you have some business specific forms that you would like to integrate please call me on 1300 307-343. We would be keen to explore the options with you.