Employment Agreements Need Review

General employment protections are much in the news, recent changes to the Fair Work Act mean that employment agreements should no longer include clauses aimed at making employees keep their remuneration and related conditions secret. Employers should urgently review their standard form contracts to ensure compliance.

We have just finished a trial in the Federal Circuit and Family Court of Australia, where we acted for an employee who alleged that their employment was terminated by the employer due to the complaints and or inquiries they made in relation to their employment – pursuant to provisions of the Fair Work Act 2009, an employer must not take any adverse action against an employee because that employee exercised their workplace right to make a complaint or inquiry.

In this scenario, our client’s complaints or inquiries were in relation to allegations of bullying, exclusion and modification of their role in the business, and the adverse action taken in response to those complaints/inquiries was the suspension and termination of our client’s employment.

While judgment has been reserved, employers need to be aware that there is risk in terminating employees who have made complaints in relation to their employment, even complaints which are unrelated to the reason/s for dismissal. If a claim is issued by an employee, the onus is on the employer to rebut the presumption that it took adverse action against the employee because that employee exercised a workplace right.

On that note, employers should ensure that employee complaints or inquiries are handled quickly and that if they are considering terminating an employee, it will need to be for a legitimate reason not related to that employee’s complaints or inquiries.

If you have any further queries please contact Adam Rich 03 9629 8333.