1Employment law affects all businesses with employees or contractors. It can be a complex and highly emotive area to deal with. Generally businesses need to work with an employment lawyer or specialist when hiring new employees, when looking to terminate an employment contract and when dealing with performance or behavioural issues.
2When hiring an employee, it’s important to work out whether an employment award applies to the role. For example, administrative roles may be covered by the Modern Clerks Award. You can research this on the Fair Work Australia website, or your lawyer can assist you with this.
3You will then need to ensure that the employee’s employment contract is drafted correctly and in compliance with all relevant legislation, including Fair Work Australia requirements and any specific award or relevant enterprise agreement requirements. You can include clauses to protect your business, including: (i) a non-compete clause so your employee does not leave and compete directly with you; (ii) a non-solicitation clause to prevent ex-employees poaching your customers and staff, and (iii) a non-interference clause to prevent ex-employees from interfering with your business relationships including suppliers.
4Employment can be contentious when an employer wants to terminate the employment of an employee. It is wise to seek advice on when and how you can terminate the employment. Employers face the risk of legal action for unfair dismissal, among other potential actions.
5Finally, there are other working structures, such as contractor relationships, which a small- or medium-sized businesses can use to hire staff. There are different superannuation and tax obligations between employees and contractors. You need to understand and comply with Australian Tax Office guidance on the differences between employees and contractors.