When drafting employment agreements, I often get asked how to avoid a breakdown in employment relationships between the employer and employee. I usually suggest that employment relationships fail for three reasons:
1. The employee should never have been hired;
2. There are no proper steps in place for resolving workplace issues;
3. There is no proper plan in place for a smooth termination of employment.
To avoid mistake number one, make sure that as an employer you undertake a vigorous selection process when hiring staff. For example, research the candidates past employment history, or even have a look on Google. Facebook and Twitter is great for getting a feel for who the candidate is.
Obviously, it’s important to be mindful of equal opportunity laws and privacy legislation. Equally as important, is making sure you do your homework to increase the likelihood of hiring the best possible candidate.
Resolving Issues and Terminating Employment
Once an employee is hired, it is critical to put steps in place for resolving workplace issues. Here are a few practical suggestions:
- Set the standards that both the employee and employer will be bound by.
- Clearly outline the position description.
- Have clear policies for handling under-performance, workplace bullying, workplace health and safety.
- Put everything in writing.
To achieve the above, I recommend you have a document which clearly sets out the expectations on both employer and employee. When conflicts arise, and they inevitably will, having a clearly thought out and mutually understood policy to follow is invaluable.
Further, all employment contracts should have a clearly drafted Termination Clause. There are a number of circumstances which warrant immediate dismissal. Be aware of the relevant applicable Modern Award and the National Employment Standards which apply under the circumstances and particularly the notice periods required by the Fair Work Act 2009 (Cth).
If you have any further questions on Employment Relationships, please do not hesitate to contact me.