Employment Contract Lawyer Sydney

EMPLOYMENT CONTRACT
LAWYER SYDNEY

Specialist employment law firm Stevens & Associates offers a free and confidential initial call with an employment law expert. 

(to see if we’re a good fit for you!)

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Develop robust employment contracts

Expert advice on contract development, for the protection of the employee/employer relationship.

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Understand your contractual rights

Supporting you to accurately interpret the terms of your employment contract, and understand what it entitles you to.

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Quickly and effectively resolve contract disputes

Access strategic advice if employment contract terms are breached, and empower yourself to take the best next steps.

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FOR EMPLOYEES
FOR EMPLOYERS

What is an employment contract?

Every employee in Australia has a legally binding employment contract. In some industries, employment contracts tend to be verbal or take the form of an initial offer letter. Other sectors and organisations favour detailed written contracts.

Either way, an employment contract is a legally binding statement that outlines the key terms and conditions of an individual’s employment and the rights and responsibilities of both employer and employee.

Australia has a combination of federal and state legislation relating to employment contract law. Nationally, the National Employment Standards and the Fair Work Act 2009 (Cth) outline the minimum terms, conditions, and entitlements that most Australian workers can expect. State-based legislation covers worker health and safety, leave entitlements, and freedom from discrimination, harassment, and workplace bullying.
Alongside existing state and federal legislation, an employment contract provides additional protection.

Why is an employment contract important?

The primary purpose of an employment contract is to protect the relationship between employer and employee and provide a tool that will hold either party accountable if they fail to stick to what has been agreed.

Employment contracts can also include considerations not typically covered by legislation, providing both parties with clear expectations, obligations, and conditions of employment and a level of certainty about entitlements and requirements.

For instance, every contract will likely include a commitment to the remuneration an employee can expect. Details and conditions around bonuses or commissions might also be included, as might additional parental leave entitlements.

A contract may also stipulate the amount of notice an employee must provide if they intend to resign from their role. Rules around social media engagement, non-disclosure agreements, and intellectual property ownership might also be covered.

In cases where one party is seen to have breached the terms of an employment contract, the existence of a clear and well-worded legal document will support a fair resolution, ideally without the need for Fair Work or court intervention.

Should I get my employment contract reviewed by a lawyer before signing it?

Many people choose to sign their new employment contract without having it first reviewed by a lawyer, which is something that we would never recommend doing.

Employment contracts often contain complex terms that have substantial implications for the employee during and after the employment relationship ends. That is why it is essential to consult a lawyer before signing any legal document, especially an employment contract.

Consulting a lawyer before signing an employment contract lets you know where you stand concerning the contractual terms (and what they mean). A lawyer can point out any areas of concern and help you negotiate a better position for yourself with your new role.

Does an employment contract need to be written by a lawyer?

While consulting a qualified lawyer on drafting an employment contract is not a legal requirement, it is highly advisable. After all, many considerations must be made if all possible outcomes are to be covered.

Your employment lawyer will use their in-depth understanding of employment law to help you draft, review, and finalise contracts, letters of appointment, restrictive covenants, and post-employment restraints.

Taking advice from an employment contract lawyer will ensure your adherence to the National Employment Standards, with all necessary considerations reflected correctly in the wording. Your lawyer will check that the contents are transparent, legal, and fair, making the document helpful for navigating disputes should they arise while protecting your business’ interests.

A correctly worded employment contract overseen by expert legal eyes is the most effective way to ensure robust protections are put in place for both employer and employee.

What constitutes the breach of an employment contract?

The breach of an employment contract occurs where its terms are not adhered to, either by the employer or employee. Because employment contracts are legally binding, any breach can have serious consequences.

There are many ways an employment contract can be breached, depending on what is covered in the document.

Examples of breach of employment contract by employee:

  • leaving a role without offering to continue to work during the specified notice period; 
  • the misuse of confidential company information;
  • posting comments on social media that could reflect poorly on the business;
  • repurposing intellectual property owned by the business for other uses; or
  • agreeing to work for a competitor when your contract specifies this is not allowed 

Examples of breach of employment contract by the employer:

  • terminating a worker’s employment without giving then the specified period of notice, or ending a fixed-term contract prematurely;
  • the poor handling of an employees dismissal or immediate dismissal for gross misconduct without adequate cause;
  • withholding wages, commission or bonuses; or
  • changing employment contract terms without consultation.

If you suspect the breach of an employment contract has occurred, it’s essential to check you have fully understood your rights and obligations. Consulting a legal expert will confirm whether your concern does represent a breach. Beyond this, they will offer advice on what you should do next and what you can expect regarding a resolution.

Can I be dismissed for breach of contract?

In a word, yes. In New South Wales, you can be dismissed if you have breached the terms of your employment contract.

Can you break an employment contract?

Again, the answer to this question is yes. People’s circumstances change over time, as do the requirements of a business. Employment contracts allow for these changes by stipulating what needs to happen for someone’s employment to be terminated.

A contract typically stipulates the period of notice an employee must provide if they intend to resign and that an employer must provide should they wish to terminate a worker’s employment.

Failure to adhere to any of the above might represent a breach of contract and could result in one party taking legal action against the other. It is essential to consult a lawyer before you consider breaching an employment contract or if you are on the other side of the fence and suspect a breach of an employment contract has occurred to your detriment (or the detriment of the business).

What do breach of contract solutions look like?

In many instances, employment contract breaches can be amicably resolved through gentle discussion.

If you believe there has been a breach, the first step would be to check the terms of the contract. Once you’re confident a breach has occurred, and if you feel comfortable, consider raising it directly with the other party. You may find you can reach an agreement between yourselves about what a fair resolution should look like, with no further action necessary.

If this course of action does not yield a satisfactory result, or you don’t feel able to have the conversation yourself, talk to an employment lawyer about alternative approaches to dispute resolution. They will review your contract, listen to the specifics of your situation, provide an overview of your rights and responsibilities, and outline the possible paths to resolution.

In New South Wales, solutions for an employee might include monetary compensation in cases of financial loss, psychological distress, or negative impact on career progression. Solutions for the employer might consist of something known as ‘specific performance of an employment contract’. This court order requires the employee to meet their performance obligations, as outlined in their employment contract.

The above actions are fraught with complexities, which is why it’s so important to seek sound legal advice from an experienced employment contract attorney who is well versed in employment law issues.

executive employment contract

Employment contracts tend to become more complicated when hiring for senior executive roles. There may be a need for additional or more complex terms and conditions around remuneration, performance targets, confidentiality, company vehicles, stock and shares, travel expenses, benefits, redundancies, restraints, privacy and more.

The additional complexities associated with executive employment agreements can increase the possibility of breaches occurring. Therefore, it is all the more important to seek legal expertise in negotiating and developing executive contracts so that swift resolutions can be facilitated if disputes arise.

Our employment contract lawyers can assist you BY:

  • Negotiating, developing, and reviewing employment contracts and their terms, including at an executive level;
  • Interpreting contract terms and helping you to understand your contractual rights;
  • Determining where breaches of a contract have occurred;
  • Advising on the best course of action to resolve contract disputes;
  • Working to resolve contract disputes quickly, effectively and with minimal stress; and
  • Satisfactorily resolving cases of unfair dismissal.

BOOK YOUR FREE INITIAL CALL

Specialist employment law firm Stevens & Associates offers a free and confidential initial call with one of our employment law solicitors, which our team will only use to assess if we are a good fit for each other.

A highly-skilled employment law team member will take you through our legal services, taking the time to understand your needs and goals and advise on how best to move forward with your matter.

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