Reading time: 4 minutes

Has your boss dismissed you without giving you prior notice? Are you still waiting for that bonus promised in your contract? As an employee, it is your right to bring a claim if you believe your employer has breached your contract. If you are thinking about taking legal action against your employer (or former employer), it’s best to have a firm legal understanding of all the requirements you’ll need to meet. This article sets out five steps you should check off before you take action.

(1) Is There a Contract?

While this may seem like a relatively basic step, often claims for breach of contract do not succeed because the claimant cannot prove to the court that there was a contract in the first place. You must be able to provide evidence that, more likely than not, a contract between you and your employer existed at the time it was allegedly breached.

(2) What Specific Term(s) Has Been Breached?

Before you can sue your employer for a breach of contract, you must first determine whether your contract has actually been breached. You need to be able to identify the precise contractual term (actual or implied) which you allege the employer has breached. 

(3) Is This Term Clear?

Some contractual terms can be ambiguous, and their meaning unclear. If this is the case, you will need to provide the court with an argument about how to interpret the clause. It’s then best to research whether the court has considered a similar term to the one you allege your employer breached in the past, and how they decided its interpretation. For example, if you are arguing that an employer has not fulfilled a clause in your contract. The court may decide to construe the term broadly and then might not view your employer’s actions amount to a breach.

Since analysing the meaning of a term will involve looking into decisions from similar cases and interpreting complex laws, a contract lawyer will be important in making sure you understand the possible outcomes before you take action.

(4) Are There Are Any Time Limitations?

If you believe your employer has breached your contract, it is vital to make sure you lodge your claim before it is too late. Like most kinds of legal action, you have a limited amount of time in which you can sue. It’s important that you fully understand the time limits (and any other limitations) that exist on your claim so that you can achieve the best possible outcome. You should also ensure that you consider any other causes of action which may be available. Except in very limited circumstances, employees only have 21 days following termination of employment in which to lodge a claim.

(5) What are my Damages?

The standard remedy for breach of contract is monetary damages (that is, the court will order money as compensation for losses that resulted from the breach of contract). In some circumstances, you may be able to receive an injunction which stops your employer from terminating your employment. Commencing legal proceedings against your employer, however, can be a time-consuming process. Before you do so, it’s important to weigh up and understand the costs, both financial and emotional, involved with litigation.

***

Contracts are diverse and complex legal documents, and deciding whether or not you can sue an employer for a breach of contract can be difficult. If you’re not sure whether you can satisfy the above steps, then seeking an experienced lawyer’s assistance is prudent in order to achieve the best possible outcome. If you are an employer and have any questions, get in touch with our employment team on 1300 544 755. 

Webinars

How Franchisors Can Avoid Misleading and Deceptive Conduct

Wednesday 18 May | 11:00 - 11:45am

Online
Ensure your franchise is not accused of misleading and deceptive conduct. Register for our free webinar today.
Register Now

New Kid on the Blockchain: Understanding the Proposed Laws for Crypto, NFT and Blockchain Projects

Wednesday 25 May | 10:00 - 10:45am

Online
If you operate in the crypto space, ensure you understand the Federal Government’s proposed licensing and regulation changes. Register today for our free webinar.
Register Now

How to Expand Your Business Into a Franchise

Thursday 26 May | 11:00 - 11:45am

Online
Drive rapid growth in your business by turning it into a franchise. To learn how, join our free webinar. Register today.
Register Now

Day in Court: What Happens When Your Business Goes to Court

Thursday 2 June | 11:00 - 11:45am

Online
If your business is going to court, then you need to understand the process. Our free webinar will explain.
Register Now

How to Manage a Construction Dispute

Thursday 9 June | 11:00 - 11:45am

Online
Protect your construction firm from disputes. To understand how, join our free webinar.
Register Now

Startup Financing: Venture Debt 101

Thursday 23 June | 11:00 - 11:45am

Online
Learn how venture debt can help take your startup to the next level. Register for our free webinar today.
Register Now

About LegalVision: LegalVision is a commercial law firm that provides businesses with affordable and ongoing legal assistance through our industry-first membership.

By becoming a member, you'll have an experienced legal team ready to answer your questions, draft and review your contracts, and resolve your disputes. All the legal assistance your business needs, for a low monthly fee.

Learn more about our membership

Our Awards

  • 2020 Innovation Award 2020 Excellence in Technology & Innovation Finalist – Australasian Law Awards
  • 2020 Employer of Choice Award 2020 Employer of Choice Winner – Australasian Lawyer
  • 2020 Financial Times Award 2021 Fastest Growing Law Firm - Financial Times APAC 500
  • 2020 AFR Fast 100 List - Australian Financial Review
  • 2021 Law Firm of the Year Award 2021 Law Firm of the Year - Australasian Law Awards
  • 2019 Most Innovative Firm - Australasian Lawyer