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Why You Need To Regularly Update Your Contracts And Policies

Published January 05, 2016 (last updated June 24, 2020) -
Hand Drawing On Chalkboard About Contacts And Policies

An employment contract provides the parameters for the relationship between an employer and an employee.  They also determine the rights and obligations of the employee and employer who are parties to that contract. It is imperative that every employee is provided with an employment contract, whether they are engaged on a casual, part-time or full-time basis.

When considering the contents of an employment contract it is important to consider several things, including:

  1. legislation relating to various employment conditions, such as leave and rates of pay
  2. any oral/verbal arrangements agreed
  3. custom and practice at your particular workplace
  4. common law rules and terms (law developed by judges, courts, and similar tribunals)
  5. any implied terms of the contract (may exist in order to make the contract effective)
  6. professional practice rules. These are specific to some workplaces, such as medical ethics
  7. workplace policies and employee handbooks

It is essential that all employment contracts are reviewed from time to time to ensure they still reflect the current arrangement in place, and to ensure they meet legislative standards. It is not uncommon for employees to be provided with an employment contract at the commencement of their employment, which is then not reviewed for several years, or until a significant change in their position has occurred. If employment contracts are not updated, it can cause issues in the event of a dispute and often, it is left to a court or another relevant tribunal to decide what the terms of the contract are.

It is important to note that where changes to an employment contract are required, both parties (the employee and employer) must mutually agree on such changes.

Policies and procedures

Employment related policies and procedures are also essential for the employment relationship to clearly outline the expectations of staff. Such policies and procedures are also required to be reviewed and updated to ensure they reflect your current workplace practices. Each business will have their individual requirements when it comes to setting expectations. However, there are some core employment related policies that all businesses should consider for 2016. These include social media, bullying and harassment, and if required, a motor vehicle policy. 

Social media

It can be a challenge to manage staff in regards to social media, however it is important to set the expectation. Ultimately, any work related issue or material that could be identified with the employer, and which could adversely affect the employer or any person associated with the business, must not be placed on any social media platform. It is also recommended to prohibit the use of social media during work time. In the event that you have staff who update the businesses social pages, set up an approval process and have it in writing to ensure all the content listed is appropriate and in the best interests of your business.

Bullying and harassment

Bullying and harassment is another area in that cannot be ignored. Statistics show many employees claim to have experienced inappropriate behaviour within the workplace. Therefore, it is imperative to build a policy and communicate it to staff. The policy should include:

–   a statement that recognises the importance of providing a safe and harmonious workplace

–   a definition and examples of behaviour which would constitute bullying

–   a definition and some examples of behaviour which would constitute harassment

–   what will happen in the event either an informal or formal grievance is raised

–   acknowledging that no employee will be adversely affected or victimised by raising any form of complaint

Company vehicles

Should your employees be required to operate a company or personal vehicle as part of their duties, it is highly recommended to include a motor vehicle policy. Some areas worth including are:

–   the requirement to obtain and maintain a valid driver’s license, with a photo copy held for company purposes

–   employees must immediately informing you if they are disqualified from driving

–   adherence to all the relevant road laws

–   reporting of any damage immediately

–   stating you as the employer will not be responsible for any fines incurred

–   if it is a company vehicle, state it cannot be used by any other person other than the employee

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