Tips to reduce the risk of employment disputes

11-March-2017 Commercial Disputes By Mel Collins

Owners of small to medium-sized enterprises who wish to protect their businesses from internal work disputes with their employees must establish a process that creates clear and concise job descriptions and employee agreements.

Streeterlaw Senior Solicitor Mr Evatt Styles explained: “Employees with clearly defined Key Performance Indicators, regular direct reports, clear and concise employment agreements and internal work policies are less likely to become involved in work disputes as they have clear expectations and can remain focused on the job at hand.”

Unfortunately, Streeterlaw commonly meets with employers seeking advice in relation to an employment agreement which is unsigned, has terms which are too broad, difficult to interpret or non-existent, and have no records regarding the employee’s work performance, budget or their management.

It is often at this point that the employer realises (they receive the scope of work and quotation for legal professional services) that the legal costs to overcome the employee dispute are going to be far more than it would have cost to put a workable employment agreement in place.

“Many times it is only in retrospect that employers see that they should have obtained advice on the relevant legislation provisions and managed their employee more closely from the beginning,” Mr Styles said.

Six tips to reduce the risk of employment disputes:

  1. Do obtain a signed Employment Agreement.
  2. Do ensure that the Employment Agreement includes an enforceable restraint of trade, confidential information, clear and concise key performance indicators and obligations which continue past the termination or conclusion of the Employment Agreement (eg. the delivery-up of company property and confidential information).
  3. Do ensure that these clauses provide adequate (and reasonable emphasis added) protection against the “solicitation” of your company’s clients or employees and the improper use of confidential information of the company. Please contact our office if you require advice regarding your business’ fiduciary and statutory obligations.
  4. Do have a direct report supervisor for each employee. That supervisor should hold regular direct report meetings with that employee (as formal fixtures), which should be attended on a regular basis. The supervisor’s failure to attend or to adjourn these meetings will create an impression to the employee that they (and their development) are not important.
  5. Do keep minutes of the meeting, outlining what is to be done and who is to do it. There should be a balance in the agenda items in relation to future progress, the improvement of internal systems, as well as any retrospective assessment of performance that needs to be provided. The minutes should be clear, signed and acknowledged as being true and correct and should fall in line with key performance indicators set out in the Employment Agreement.
  6. Do take steps to protect yourself and your company.

Contact Streeterlaw’s Mr Evatt Styles or Streeterlaw’s Principal, Mr Mark Streeter, an Accredited Specialist in Commercial Litigation, on 81970105 to receive confidential advice.

 

The advice set out in this article is not to be considered as advice and should be assessed on a case by case basis.

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