As an employer, the last thing you want to worry about is legal compliance. It just sounds pretty painful, right? But unfortunately, failing to do so can have severe consequences for you and your business.
To help ease that pain, we have put together this quick checklist for employers to ensure ongoing legal compliance and best employment law practices. Of course, if you have any specific questions or concerns, you should ask an employment lawyer.
1. How are my Workers Classified?
The Australian worker market is made up of permanent employees, casual employees, fixed/maximum term employees, and contractors. But just because a contract identifies a person as one of these, doesn’t mean that’s the correct classification at law, and this can have serious consequences. For example, if the Court finds a contractor is, in fact, an employee, he or she can then be entitled to superannuation and other employment entitlements, including back-pay.
2. Am I Compliant With Applicable Awards and Minimum Wage Requirements?
Most workers, including clerical staff, hospitality workers, apprentices and trades, are subject to awards which guarantee not only the minimum rate of pay, but also such things as penalty rates, meal allowances, and over time. It’s then worthwhile to take a few moments to review each applicable award and ensure compliance. Of course, noting the complexity of some awards, an employment lawyer should be consulted if any issues arise.
3. Are my Contracts and Paper Work in Order?
Having a precedent contract you found on the internet when you started your business many moons ago probably isn’t going to be good enough to protect you and your business. Employment contracts play an important role, not just in setting out the respective parties’ rights and obligations, but also in protecting your business’ valuable IP, confidential information and ongoing business relationships even after the particular employment relationship concludes. Having in place a well-drafted employment contract, applicable to your industry, and with all the relevant attachments is essential.
4. Do I Have Appropriate Workplace Policies?
Once your employees have signed the contract and are on board, your legal obligations and risk by no means end. So, it’s good practice to have in place, and distribute, an employee handbook setting out appropriate conduct that relate to, for example, bullying, use of equipment, health and safety and drug and alcohol use.
5. Do I Have a Legally Compliant System of Warning or Terminating Employees?
Defending a claim for unfair dismissal is a tax on any organisation, but is a very common scenario employers face, particularly given the ease and low cost associated with filing a claim for unfair dismissal. To avoid this, employers should have in place a proper policy and system to deal with the issue of warnings and termination of employees. Further, if you find yourself wishing to issue a warning or terminate employment, but are concerned about the ramifications, consult an employment lawyer first.
6. Am I Aware of my Health and Safety Obligations?
Employers in particular industries, including construction, mining, or anything involving chemicals, are subject to strict laws requiring appropriate measures to be taken to protect their workers’ health and safety.
Questions about whether your business is legally compliant? Let our employment lawyers know and they can assist you in conducting an audit.