Government’s new online hiring tool could cause issues for employers

Published July 12, 2021 -
Employment Contract Tool

While the Federal Government’s new Employment Contract Tool is a helpful way for small business owners to hire their first employee, it does have its shortfalls.

Employers who want to generate an employment contract with the online tool are met with multiple tick boxes and drop-down menus that, depending on what is clicked, is added into a master document that is generated at the end of the 30-minute exercise.

But it’s the sheer number of different clauses that may or may not be added into the contract that could land employers in hot water, according to Employsure, workplace relations advisor to more than 30,000 SMEs across Australia and New Zealand.

“While the tool gives helpful hints designed to assist employers in constructing a contract, there is a lot of jargon that can confuse them,” said Employsure employment relations specialist Nicholas Hackenberg.

“Most of the advice that appears in the process is broad and applies to several awards, which can cause issues if the employer doesn’t know which of the 120+ modern awards the employee falls under. While this can lead to clauses added to the contract that don’t need to be there, the real problem comes if clauses that need to legally be there are not added.”

If a contract is not drafted accurately, employers may be in breach of the relevant award. This can lead to issues, most notably the underpaying of employees or failure to keep proper records, if clauses like overtime pay, casual loading amounts, start and finish times, break times, and days of work aren’t added when relevant.

When drafting a letter offering employment together with an employment contract, it is useful to have them professionally reviewed to ensure the terms are sufficiently clear. Doing so will mitigate the risk of inadvertently incorporating unlawful terms.

Every employment contract is unique and needs to reflect the specific employment relationship between the employer and the employee. There are specific conditions of employment that should be included in an employment agreement, regardless of a company’s size, or industry.

“Overall, this is a good tool for employers who do not already have a contract and need to generate one quickly. However, if the employer wants to offer something unique to the contract that the tool doesn’t provide, or if they are worried they will get it incorrect, they are best suited to go to an expert,” continued Mr Hackenberg.

“Employment relations experts like Employsure help provide tailored advice and assistance with contracts that comply with the award. The government’s tool does not attempt to do that. What it does is assume the business owner has existing knowledge of their legal obligations, but it won’t assist employers in complying with them.”

Further enquiries:

Matthew Bridges

[email protected]

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