Updated: Apr 3
If you have landed a new job and been provided with an employment agreement, there are several reasons why you should hire an employment contract lawyer to review the agreement before you sign it.
After the long road of job hunting, writing resumes and cover letters and endless interviews, you want to ensure that you get that last hurdle right.
In this article, we will explore each of those reasons and explain the benefit that having a workplace lawyer review your contract can have in the long run.
Author: Farrah Motley, Legal Principal of Prosper Law.
Review the remuneration clause in the employment contract
When you get a new job, one of the first things that you will be interested to know is how much you will be paid. You may also want to know when you get paid whether your remuneration is inclusive or exclusive of superannuation, whether you are paid overtime and how many additional hours you will be expected to work.
An employment contract lawyer can help explain these matters to you, including whether your contract is at odds with a modern award that applies to your role. If that is the case, then any remuneration clauses in your employment contract will be subject to the requirements of the modern award.
For example, some employment contracts may set out that you will not be paid overtime. However, it may be a requirement under a modern award that you must be paid overtime and at a different hourly rate.
Further, under the Fair Work Act, it is a requirement that every employee be paid at regular intervals and not Longer than each calendar month.
Review the clauses around employment expectations
It is reasonable to expect that many employers will want to get the most out of their employees. And remember, the employer has likely had their own employment contract lawyer prepare the template. However, this may involve asking for things that go beyond what you had discussed in your interview or what has been promised by your employer.
Employment disputes surrounding pre-employment representations made by an employer to an employee are not uncommon. Some of the things discussed during the onboarding process may not find their way into the terms of the employment contract and an employment contract lawyer can identify these for you.
Here are some real-life case examples where issues arose out of pre-employment representations:
During pre-contractual negotiations, Morto, a sales manager asked his new employer about the bonus structure that was to apply after the first year of his contract.
The manager advised Morton that he would receive a bonus based on a particular formula. Morton subsequently signed a contract of employment that contained no reference to the formula.
Within 12 months of commencing work, a new management team took over the company and implemented a different, less generous bonus scheme.
Morton sued the employer for breach of contract. The court found that the formula became a term of Morton’s contract and was a binding representation.
A company was found to have made false, misleading and deceptive pre-employment representations when it placed an advertisement describing its business as ‘successful’, when it was relying on the support of its parent company to keep it solvent.
If an employment agreement contains an ‘entire agreement’ clause, any promises made by your new employee during the interview process will not form part of your employment agreement.
An employment contract lawyer is able to read your contract and explain to you how your contract may be unreasonable or calling for things that you had not agreed to.
Some of the kinds of things that may be set out in an employment contract that impact the expectations around your employment may include:
requiring you to work away at short notice and for long periods of time.
requiring you to work overtime whenever an however required by your employer to meet project deadlines
requiring you to work weekends and public holidays
enabling your employer to require you to perform different or additional duties for no extra remuneration
An employment contract lawyer will be familiar with the kinds of issues that may lead to an employment dispute later on down the track and give you advice about how to manage or avoid them.
Review how your employer can terminate your employment
Many of us that get a new job are far from thinking about the end of the employment relationship.
However, it is important to have an employment contract lawyer look at the whole of the employment contract and determine how much notice your employer has to give you notice to terminate your employment.
You may also be interested to know how much notice you have to provide your employer if the role is not for you, and you decide that you want to end your employment. For example, some employment contracts require that an employee provide three months’ notice before resigning. This can make it difficult to find a new job.
How can Prosper Law help?
Contact the team at Prosper Law today to discuss how we can provide you with workplace legal advice for a fixed fee.
Farrah Motley | Legal Principal
PROSPER LAW - A Commercial Law Firm for Businesses
M: 0422 721 121
A: Suite No. 99, Level 54, 111 Eagle Street, Brisbane, Queensland Australia 4000