What is your most important asset? When asked this question, you may think of your house, your car, or any other high value material item. But your most important asset could be something you don’t expect – your job. Without your job, you can’t pay your mortgage, fix your vehicle or look after the people you care about.
One form of job protection that everyone has access to is their employment contract. Your contract details what your entitlements are with regards to remuneration, bonus/commission structure, notice of termination, post-employment restrictions and much more, which is why it’s so important that you know exactly what your employment contract does and does not include.
Most people do not thoroughly check their employment contract upon beginning a new job, perhaps because they’re excited about their fresh opportunities or afraid to negotiate so early. But especially in a global pandemic that has caused widespread disruption to people’s employment, it’s critical to protecting you and your family. This does not just apply to those starting jobs either – if you are currently employed you should also find your contract and re-read it to check what you are entitled to.
Below are some of the things we check when doing a contract review:
- Is the probation period reasonable and what is the notice period?
- Does the contract comply with the Fair Work Act 2009 (Cth) and protect your minimum statutory obligations?
- Is the notice period reasonable? Is it long enough to compensate you while you find other suitable employment?
- Do you get more than the statutory redundancy pay if you are made redundant?
- Is there any protection from unfair dismissal, e.g. an agreed disciplinary process and dispute resolution process?
- In what circumstances can the employer summarily dismiss?
- Are the post-employment obligations fair and reasonable? There are lots of different ways these appear – confidential information, intellectual property, non-compete, non-solicitation, non-disparagement and ongoing assistance in investigations/litigation.
- Does the remuneration reflect what was agreed, e.g. is the incentive/bonus clear and payable on termination?
- Are all of the promises and representations that were made to you during the recruitment process reflected in the contract?
- Are the implied duties to good faith, fidelity and cooperation protected?
When going through this checklist, you may find that some of the terms in your employment contract don’t add up. If so, you are entitled to approach your employer to negotiate. It is your right as an employee under the Fair Work Act 2009 (Cth) for you to make complaints or enquiries regarding the terms of your contract. If your employer tries to take adverse action against you, you can commence a general protections claim within 21 days of the termination.
Do you need help reviewing your employment contract? We regularly review contracts for all employees. You can contact us here.
If you would like to learn more, check out this Lawyers Weekly podcast with our Principal Carly Stebbing as she discusses why your employment contract can also be your insurance policy.