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Julian Hackenberg
+ About Julian Hackenberg
Julian has worked in a range of human resource generalist and employee relations roles within the NSW Government and Healthcare. Prior to joining Employsure he was the Human Resources Manager as part of NSW Health Pathology. Julian works closely with Employsure’s diverse range of clients to understand their businesses and requirements, while delivering tailored outcomes and solutions.

Tips to ensure your employment contracts are OK

Wednesday, July 03, 2019

Employment contracts are often neglected to an alarming degree by employers. Alarming because people seem to forget employment contracts are legally binding documents. A misstep can spell disaster which, in some cases, can mean potential legal action.

Here’s how you can make sure your employment contracts are up to standard:

1. What is Required?

Employment contracts establish the terms and conditions of a working position. Outlining everything from duties and responsibilities of employment, expected hours, employee rights, remuneration, and more. They must adhere to the legal minimum set by the National Employment Standards (NES) or relevant award, enterprise or other applicable agreements.

TIP: Have your letter of employment reviewed by a legal expert to fix up terms that may appear vague, unclear, or unlawful to ensure the document is compliant.

2. Written vs. Verbal

Believe it or not, a conversation and a handshake can be as legally binding as a signed document. 

They’re usually used by small business owners for the sake of convenience. But if you’re going to be exposed to the same level of legality, why wouldn’t you want it in writing to avoid a potentially messy fight in the future? 

Verbal contracts might be easier and less time consuming, but they don’t come without problems and they can be extremely difficult to prove. You not only need to prove that the agreement exists, but also the actual terms agreed to. Basically it’s a case of one person’s word against another. In the case of a dispute, this can make court proceedings with former employees complex and messy.

If you do not have a written contract in place, you will be required to provide evidence to support your version of the truth. In the case of a verbal agreement, this could include any emails or text messages that have been exchanged, pay slips, and so on.

Having a written contract serves as a sound point of reference and, in worst case scenarios, a sound safety net. Profit entitlement agreements, employment contract – all this will save a lot of trouble down the line.

TIP: Nothing disperses doubt like the legal clarity of a tightly worded contract. Be proactive, answer all the questions before they’re even asked.

3. Regular updates are a must

To combat being left behind, review your employment contracts periodically. They need to reflect: 

·       the current arrangement in place

·       the current legislative standards

·       additional arrangements such as licencing and certification required for the role

·       terms for the issuance of company property and allowances

·       protections around confidential information and intellectual property.

·       If employment contracts are not updated by employers, decisions on the precise terms of the contract could potentially be surrendered to a court or relevant tribunal in the event of a dispute. Don’t leave it to chance. Take matters into your own hands.

TIP: When it comes to employee documentation and contracts, it’s always best to get professional advice. It could save you, and your business, future heartache.

Employsure is the largest provider of employment relations and workplace health and safety services in Australia, servicing more 24,000 clients nationally. Employsure believes all Australian employers, no matter the size, deserve access to comprehensive, quality, honest advice and support that is scalable to the needs of their business. Find out how Employsure is helping businesses around Australia.

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