Work can take up a big part of our lives whether you run your own business or work for someone else. So, if you face problems at work, having the right person advising you will have a profound impact on your life. An employment lawyer is well-suited to help you deal with the issues at work, but choosing the right one can be difficult. This article will explore five considerations you should look for when choosing an employment lawyer.
1. Is My Employment Lawyer Experienced?
It is important to choose an employment lawyer that has experience with the Fair Work Act 2009 (Cth) (‘Fair Work Act’) and the Fair Work Commission. They should be well versed in important case law, as well as recent decisions that may impact their advice.
For example, let’s say you are an employee who is looking for advice on whether you can cash out your annual leave. The Fair Work Act allows for cashing out of annual leave based on terms in the applicable award, enterprise agreement or agreement between the employee and employer. In 2015, the Fair Work Commission added clauses to most awards to set out additional conditions that the employer and employee have to meet when annual leave is cashed out. If your employment lawyer was not aware of both the Fair Work Act and this decision, their advice to you may be incorrect.
2. Can My Employment Lawyer Cater to My Specific Needs?
The needs of employers and employees are very different so it is important to choose an employment lawyer who understands this difference and can advise their client accordingly.
For example, consider yourself an employer and the situation arises where one of your employees would like to start their own business that directly competes against you. If your employee were seeking advice on this situation, they would need an employment lawyer who could advise on the impact of the restraint of trade clause in their Employment Agreement. They would need to know whether it is reasonable and whether it can restrain them from starting and operating their new business.
The advice to you as an employer would be very different because you would need an employment lawyer who could advise on your options to enforce the restraint of trade clause. You would also require strategies to protect your intellectual property and confidential information.
3. Is My Employment Lawyer Empathetic?
Emotions usually run high when employees and employers disagree, so it is important to find an employment lawyer who can empathise with this and who will work to resolve the dispute amicably.
For example, let’s say that co-workers are bullying you at work and you are seeking advice on what recourse you can take. In this situation, your employment lawyer should consider your emotions before advising on the best option for you. One option may be to apply to the Fair Work Commission to help stop the bullying. However, this may mean that the Commission will bring you and your employer together to resolve the dispute. If you feel threatened or intimidated by your employer, you should feel comfortable communicating this first to your employment lawyer.
4. Does My Employment Lawyer Offer Complimentary Initial Consultations?
It is important to choose an employment lawyer who offers complimentary initial consultations with them or a member of their team to work out the best way to assist you. These consultations can also be helpful to determine whether you are eligible for the recourse you would like to take.
For example, consider the situation where your employer has terminated you, and you would like to make a claim for unfair dismissal. Consider also that it has been one month since the date your termination became effective, and you make $200,000 per year. Unfortunately, you are ineligible to make a claim for unfair dismissal because you do not meet the legal criteria. If this information is discovered in an initial consultation before you pay for an employment lawyer to draft an application to the Fair Work Commission, this will save you time and money.
5. Does My Employment Lawyer Offer Fixed Fees?
It is important to choose an employment lawyer who offers fixed fees and sets out their scope of work clearly, so you know exactly what you will receive when working with them.
For instance, let’s say you are starting a new business and you would like to pay all of your employees on a commission-only basis. Starting a business is an important time to be cost conscious, and fixed-fees can help you budget. Having a set scope of work at an agreed price also means that you know that you will receive the advice you asked for to ensure you protect your new business.
It is important to find an employment lawyer with the traits set out above whether you are an employer or employee. Luckily, you are in the right place! Get in touch with our employment lawyers by sending us a message or calling 1300 544 755. We work on a fixed-fee basis and have serviced thousands of happy clients around Australia.