How important is my employment contract?

employment contractUnless you are retired or currently unemployed, you most certainly have an employment contract drawn for you by your employer. Oh, but I’m a contractor or I’m self-employed I hear you say – you will still have a contract of some sort made up to govern how you interact with your customer and what your day-to-day duties are within the given role. How important do you think your contract of employment is to you, is it really needed what is it good for?

This legal document is one of the most important piece of paper you will ever have with your name written on it that prescribes what your obligations are toward your employer. As much as it is in your interest to have a fair contract validated, it is important for companies to formalise and describe your position within the business.

Who benefits more from the contract of employment?

In my own personal experience, and from what I hear out in the job market place, it is the employers that normally tend to ignore workplace contract that a worker may have been given and ask employees to perform tasks that are beyond fair and reasonable from a legal point of view. In my particular case that is certainly what happened but little more about that later on – let’s just say that I had to hire employment lawyers in Sydney – thank you McArdle Legal! Companies tend to and are obliged to create employment contracts that conform to the employment laws of the particular state or country however they will in some cases ask you to go way beyond what is reasonable to ask an employee to perform which means they are really breaking that agreement and asking you to work for free virtually.

In my example, my employer at the time whose name I’m not allowed to mention, completely ignored my contract that clearly stated the hour of employment yet they didn’t just ask me to stay back few hours but they asked that I remain available 24×7 without relief. Yes, that meant that I was to be on standby and available to work day, night, weekdays, weekends, public holidays and the only time I was able to switch my phone off was when I was on annual holiday paid leave.

Employment law options

So what are your options if this happens to you if you happen to live in Australia specifically? A law was enacted few years ago called National Employment Standards which are the basic 10 standards that govern how employees are to preserve worker’s rights in the workplace. They deal with worker’s entitlements and conditions such as hours of work, annual, sick and personal leave, leave without pay, occupational health and safety, remuneration, overtime pay and so on.

Before you start looking to hire employment lawyers to help you if you feel your employer is not honouring the signed contract of employment, there are some options for you where you can do your own research saving you time and money and also clarifying if you really are in the right or whether your employer is allowed to pursue their actions. In Australia the government department is called Fair Work Ombudsman and the page specifically dealing with contractual issues can be found here:

Failing all that, by all means – don’t hesitate to find a legal employment specialist to help you navigate the waters of workplace law as you will find that although your human resources department and your manager are turning a blind eye to your concerns, they will always take note of anything coming from your legal council and take your issues seriously.

An employment contract is an agreement between an employer and employee that sets out terms and conditions of employment. A contract can be in writing or verbal.

Take this seriously, time is money and if someone’s asking you to do more than what you’re getting paid for – you may as well give your money away.