Employment Law Start-Ups

The people that you enlist to help you in your business are critical to its success.

But Australian laws about employing or contracting your workforce are complex and overlapping, and it is easy to go wrong. We can help you decide what kind of employment or contracting framework will work best for your business, so that you get it right from the outset.

What we do

We can help by:

  • Advising you about the employee entitlements applicable to your workers (or proposed workers)
  • Advising you about the types of records you need to keep and for how long
  • Advising you on whether an Enterprise Agreement is a good idea, and, if so, assisting you to implement one
  • Providing you with template contracts for your employees, consultants or contractors
  • Providing you with workplace policies
  • Offering education and training for your executive team, including our popular (and free) HR Managers’ Forums
  • Providing ad-hoc phone advice quickly and cheaply (because we know our stuff, and can answer many of your questions on the spot)

The MV difference

  • Our Employment, Industrial Relations and Safety Team is led by William Ward, an Accredited Specialist in employment and industrial relations law. Collectively our team has over 35 years of employment law experience.
  • We offer a quarterly HR Managers’ Forum, which is a friendly and informative workshop, led by our employment law experts. With ‘Chatham House rules’ is an ideal environment for you or your HR manager to get the latest legal updates and discuss topical employment issues with colleagues. The forum is free to attend (although places are limited).
  • Although we have off-the-shelf documents that can be purchased, what we really love is getting to know our clients well. By allowing us to develop an ongoing relationship with you, we can become an extremely cost-effective resource. Once we understand your business, we work with you as your HR partner, and many of your questions or issues can be solved on-the-spot in a short phone call or single meeting with our experienced employment lawyers.

FAQs

The National Employment Standards and any applicable Award will apply to your staff, regardless of whether you have an employment contract. The chief purpose of an employment contract is to provide some added security and protection for your company.  An employment contract can:

  • Prevent your staff from taking your confidential information, intellectual property, and customers when they leave
  • Let you suspend staff in certain circumstances
  • Offset payments in excess of award entitlements
  • Let you change employment duties as the needs of the business change
  • Withhold payment of termination entitlements if company property has not been returned or the staff member has taken leave in advance.

Although Australia has a set of National Employment Standards (NES), they are only a minimum baseline and in fact are supplemented by many statutory Awards that provide greater entitlements.  Whether an Award applies to the people you will be engaging depends on the type of work they will be doing. Different people within your business could be covered by different Awards. Understanding and implementing all the various entitlements can be a daunting task for a new business, but we can help.

Enterprise agreements

You can simplify the various employment entitlements applying under numerous Awards by implementing an Enterprise Agreement that covers all of your current and future employees (or a particular sub-set of your employees).  Whether you are able to do this when you are just starting out will depend on a number of factors, including how many employees you have and the type of work they perform.

Independent contractor/consultant agreements

Many workers are engaged as consultants or independent contractors without being employees and having employment entitlements. However it is not enough that your worker simply has his or her own company (ACN) or registered business name (ABN) in order for them to be an independent contractor.  There are a number of hallmarks of an independent contractor versus an employee, and it is important that you understand these and document the arrangement properly before the relationship starts.

Workplace policies

You should document your business’ policies about how workers should conduct themselves.  Not only do policies clearly set out your expectations, but they can also protect your business from liability for unfair dismissal, general protections, work health and safety, sexual harassment and discrimination.

Policies you should consider adopting include:

  • Work Health and Safety
  • Anti-Discrimination & Sexual Harassment
  • IT & Social Media
  • Workplace Surveillance
  • Flexible Working Arrangements
  • Employee Leave
  • Drug & Alcohol Use

These policies are all available for purchase from us as templates.  Alternatively we can tailor a policy specifically to suit your business.

As soon as you can, and preferably before you commit to employing or contracting with anyone.  Although legal advice may seem like an unnecessary expense for a fledgling business, a small investment up front can save tens, if not hundreds, of thousands later.