Employment law governs the relationship between employers and employees and addresses a range of workplace legal issues.
Having a basic understanding of your legal obligations when hiring and managing staff, and knowing when to seek advice from a professional, can help organisations avoid costly workplace issues or mitigate loss when disputes arise.
There are numerous statutes, regulations and standards applicable to the workplace and these laws change frequently. Staying up to date with employment law and implementing processes and systems to ensure best practice is an ongoing task.
Whether hiring a junior receptionist or chief executive officer, an employment agreement is essential to set out the terms of service, remuneration and entitlements, and to provide clarity regarding the rights and responsibilities of each party.
Employment terms and working conditions must comply with legislation, the National Employment Standards (minimum standards applicable to all national system employees irrespective of industry, occupation or income) and any relevant awards. The agreement may also include enforceable restraint of trade clauses to help protect against misuse of valuable assets (client contacts, confidential information and intellectual property), by an employee.
Workplace discrimination, harassment, bullying, unfair dismissal and adverse action claims continue to receive significant media focus. Employers should understand the types of conduct (whether intentional or otherwise) that may leave them open to a claim with the Fair Work Commission.
Taking proactive steps to prevent and manage these issues by implementing policies and procedures is essential to reduce the risk of disputes and legal proceedings and to help everybody in the workplace understand their rights and obligations.
If your organisation is proposing a restructure that will impact upon the workplace and employees, it is important to obtain advice regarding potential issues that could arise such as transfer of employees on the sale of a business, termination and redundancy entitlements.
Workplace Health and safety
Employers must abide by their statutory duty of care to employees under work health and safety laws and regulations.
Workplace health and safety incidents can have a devastating impact on an organisation. To reduce risk, businesses can implement systems to maintain high occupational health and safety standards, to prevent injury and loss and to set out processes for identifying, reporting and eliminating potential workplace hazards.
A breach of a work health and safety law could result in government investigation and enforcement action. Preparing for a work health and safety investigation and responding to a request for information can be intrusive, disruptive and daunting. Due to the potential gravity of such investigations, it is prudent to seek immediate legal advice.
Employees confronting a workplace issue may feel vulnerable and confused. Obtaining legal advice when facing redundancy or termination of employment, disciplinary action or dismissal can help you understand your legal rights and ensure that you are protected.
An employee may take action against an employer for certain unlawful activities (adverse action) under the general protection provisions of the Fair Work Act or for discriminatory conduct, harassment or bullying.
If you believe you have been or are being treated unfairly in the workplace, it is important to seek appropriate advice.
We have expertise across various areas of employment law and have assisted many employers and employees from a range of industries to proactively manage their workplace, their employment contracts and to resolve disputes.