The dummies guide to employment and contractor agreements

Although it is often underestimated, a contract of employment is often one of the most important documents in our life because it governs your rights and responsibilities in relation to your employment.

What are the essential elements of an employment contract?

A contract is an agreement or an exchange of promises between two legal persons. An employment contract is no different. It requires an offer, acceptance, consideration and the intention to create legal relations as the fundamental elements of an employment contract. Because employment law is highly regulated, it must also be compliant with the wide array of employment regulations, awards and collective agreements which apply to the Australian workforce.

The most important of these is the National Employment standards which are the fundamental standards enshrined in the Fair Work Act of 2009. The national employment standards mean, amongst other things that employees have the right to request flexible working arrangements, parental leave, annual leave, personal/carer’s leave and compassionate leave and community service leave. Long service leave, public holidays, notice and redundancy pay and a fair work information statement are also all rights which are derived from the Fair Work Act of 2009. In addition to the legal framework in which employment law operates, Employment contracts specify a number of things such as the rate of pay, location of work, the identity of the employer, relevant jurisdictions, job description and general and miscellaneous provisions.

Changing nature of work

There are a number of factors at present which are coalescing to radically change the nature of work and expectations about rights and obligations and law in relation to work. At a fundamental level, automation of the workforce is beginning to mean that the steady long term well paid jobs which were once available are now disappearing and being replaced by a model of work which accomodates the on demand economy. People move jobs and even careers quickly, change their roles inside organisations and the workplace environment constantly morphs. We have begun to see a trend where the legal certainty of having a contract is still required, but organisations and workers are requiring greater flexibility in their work arrangements and need to accomodate this in their employment contracts. Increasingly casual employment is preferred and contractor arrangements are becoming much more common because of the need for flexibility.

We offer complete services for employment contract drafting in all types of settings at very reasonable prices. Naturally, advice is also provided in consultation where it is requested. Please do not hesitate to contact us if you require additional information.

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David Coleman
9 Years PQE