Employment Contract Lawyers

As an employer, it is important to have clear and comprehensive agreements with both your employees and your contractors. While written employment contracts are not required by law, they are highly recommended to ensure that both parties understand their rights and obligations.

Difference between an Employee and a Contractor

It is important to distinguish correctly between your employees and your contractors. Broadly speaking, an employee is paid a regular wage or salary and is entitled to a range of benefits and protections under Australian employment laws, such as minimum wage rates, paid leave entitlements, and superannuation contributions. 

In contrast, a contractor works under a contract for services. They are generally not entitled to the same benefits and protections as employees and are responsible for their own tax and superannuation obligations. You should be aware that even individuals who label themselves as contractors can be later found by a court to have actually been an employee.

Contracts for Employees

At a minimum, a contract for an employee should include details of the employee’s duties, hours of work, pay, and leave entitlements, as well as information about termination and any relevant award applicable to the employment. Ideally, it should also include any specific terms or conditions that are important to your business, such as confidentiality agreements, non-compete clauses, or intellectual property rights.

It is vital that the pay, conditions and entitlements contained in the employment agreement comply with the National Employment Standards (NES). This includes provisions for annual leave, sick leave, parental leave, and other types of leave. You cannot contract out of the NES. If your agreement offers less than the minimum entitlements set out in the NES, your agreement will not be enforceable in relation to those parts. 

If you agree to substantial changes in the course of someone’s employment, it is best practice to document these changes in writing and create an updated employment agreement. 

Agreements for Contractors

A contractor agreement should outline the scope of work that you expect to obtain from the contractor. It should specifically set out the expected outcome of the work, the fees to be applied (including consideration for GST), and the payment terms. It should also clearly state that the contractor is not an employee, but an independent contractor, and that they are responsible for their own taxes and superannuation.

The most effective agreements include details about the contractor’s obligations in relation to the specific contracted work, such as deadlines, and any specific terms or conditions unique to the project. You should also include references to relevant laws or regulations, such as occupational health and safety laws, and ensure that the contractor has the necessary insurance and licences to perform the work. As with your normal employee agreement, you should also consider including clauses to protect your confidential information or intellectual property. Finally, the agreement should outline the circumstances in which either party can terminate the agreement, including notice periods and any applicable termination payments.

It is important that you ensure that both employee and contractor agreements are clear, concise, and consistent with relevant laws and regulations. You should seek legal advice to ensure that your agreements are legally enforceable and protect your interests.

Our Gold Coast employment lawyers specialise in employment law, providing advice and guidance exclusively to employers to help them understand their workplace obligations and navigate the evolving maze of complex laws and regulations.

For expert employment law advice contact [email protected] or call 1300 421 599.