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If you are starting a new job, you should have received or will receive an employment contract or employment agreement from your employer. Your employment agreement is an important document because it outlines both you and your employer’s rights and obligations. If you have received an employment agreement from your new employer, it is worth taking a few moments to review the contract before accepting and starting the job. This article will explore the key clauses that you should always check before starting a new job.

Schedule

The first thing you should confirm is the type of work arrangement you are entering into with the new employer. Most employment contracts will include a letter of offer or a schedule that sets out the basic information about the job such as the:

  • position: The role description, for example, will you be a manager or an assistant?
  • employment type: Will you be a casual, part-time, or full-time employee? You should also note whether an award or enterprise agreement applies to your role. An award or enterprise agreement will affect your employment and your entitlements under the agreement.
  • term of employment: Will your employment be ongoing or fixed term? You should ensure that you are comfortable with this status. A fixed-term contract for 12 months, for example, will terminate automatically at the end of the 12-month term.
  • location of role: This will set out where you will be working, and whether you may be required to move to another location as required for the role.
  • salary: This will set out the salary that you will be paid and should address whether the salary will include or exclude superannuation.
  • probation: This will set out whether the employment contract includes a probation period or not.
  • qualifications: The employment agreement may also require that you have certain qualifications and maintain them throughout the term of the agreement.
  • hours of work: The employment agreement will usually set out your hours of work. For example, 38 hours a week if you are full-time or the specified days you will be working if you are part-time.

In addition to this basic information, you should ensure that you look at the key clauses which will determine your rights and obligations under the employment agreement. These key clauses include:

1. Overtime and Hours of Work

Your agreement should address if your employer requires you to work additional hours and whether you will be paid overtime for these hours.

2. Leave

You should check your agreement for the leave entitlements that the employer provides. Some standard leave provisions which your employer may be obliged to provide you under the National Employment Standard include annual leave, and personal/carers leave. Employers may choose to provide additional paid leave as a benefit to employees.

3. Expenses and Salary

Your employer may be obliged to pay for certain expenses on top of your wage or salary.

For example, if the work you are undertaking requires equipment, travel, or a vehicle, you should ensure that the agreement addresses these expenses.

You should make sure there is a relevant provision which outlines the amount of the allowance your employer will pay you.

4. Work Health and Safety and Obligations

You should also ensure your agreement has a relevant workplace health and safety provision. It should outline the workplace obligations that both you and your employer will have to comply with under the law.

5. Termination and Redundancy

The agreement should set out how you or your employer can terminate the agreement. Termination of the agreement should be made in compliance with the National Employment Standards (or the relevant award or enterprise agreement). This clause will usually also set out your obligations upon termination of the employment agreement.

6. Restraint of Trade

Your contract may also include a restraint of trade clause. A restraint of trade clause will set out the specific period after termination of your agreement where you will not be allowed to compete with your employer. It may also include a non-solicitation clause which will prevent you from:

  • soliciting or poaching clients;
  • taking other employees with you when you leave a role; or
  • interfering with the relationship the employer has with their suppliers.

7. Confidentiality

Employment agreements will typically set out detailed confidentiality clauses. However, employees will have a common law obligation to maintain confidentiality, even if not explicitly included in the contract.

8. Intellectual Property

Most employment agreements assign any intellectual property you create during your employment to your employer. If the agreement does not address this, your employer will still likely own any intellectual property you create.

9. Ongoing Obligations on Termination

You should take note of the clauses that will still be in force after you terminate the employment agreement. These include the:

  • restraint of trade clause;
  • confidentiality clause; and
  • intellectual property clause.

Additional Documents

Upon receiving your employment agreement, you will likely receive some other attachments. These will include the staff handbook and other staff policies, the National Employment Standards Information Statement, superannuation and tax forms.

The staff handbook is important to review and understand. If there are any issues with your performance or behaviour, your employer can point to the staff handbook and rely on where you may not have complied.

Key Takeaways

There are several key clauses in your employment agreement you should review before starting a new job. You should also be aware of your additional entitlements outside of the agreement. For example, the National Employment Standards that apply to all employees and any applicable awards or enterprise agreements. If you have questions about your employment agreement, get in touch with LegalVision’s employment lawyers on 1300 544 755 or fill out the form on this page.

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