Let’s face it, no one wants to end up in front of the Fair Work Commissioner facing lengthy and expensive legal wrangles so I wanted to put this into perspective for you by getting you to answer four questions:
- Are you happy for your casual employees to get redundancy notice and payments?
- Are you happy for the intellectual property you have put your blood, sweat and tears into to disappear with your first departing employee – who is now your competitor?
- Are you happy for people to take ten days carer’s leave in one go without providing any evidence of illness?
- Are you happy for your second departing employee to take your five top-billing clients with them when they go?
If you answered yes to all of the above, then stop reading; this article it is not for you. I suspect though that you were yelling “No!” at the top of your lungs and I wouldn’t blame you – but I also think your head was saying “this won’t happen to me.” But are you really sure of that? Most businesses undervalue and under-protect their intellectual property and confidential information. If your employee walks with your client lists, your costings and program, how long do you think it will be before they are set up and ready to go? Or, let’s face it, they may have been working on this behind the scenes for weeks – did you complete reference checks or background checks? No? Well big oops! (And that is a whole other article). So how do you protect yourself and your business?
- use employment contracts for permanent, full and part-time employees, casuals and independent contractors
- your permanent employees can have open-ended contracts or alternatively fixed-end dates which allows you to reassess your requirements at a set time without paying for redundancy
Essentially a contract covers all the terms and conditions of employment (which is not a minimum requirement by law). An example being that all permanent employees are entitled to 10 days personal leave – this is a legal requirement – but you can ask for evidence of the need for leave such as a Dr’s certificate, if it is for 2 days or more. I hear what you are saying: ‘contracts are boring!’ But believe me, it is worth the time and money to protect your intellectual property, your clients and ultimately your business. (I also recommend that you diarise to review the terms of the contracts every two years given the current pace of change). Questions or comments anyone?