Workplace Rights for Employers and Employees

16th March 2017

You may be familiar with, or have heard the terms 'Employment Contract', 'Award', and 'National Employment Standards', but for most people it is difficult to understand the relationship between them and what they mean for you or your company.

If you find yourself in a situation where you are unsure about your rights or obligations, you should always first look to your contract with your employer or employee.

An employment contract is a legally binding agreement between the parties which sets out the terms under which the employee is engaged by the employer. If anything changes, then the employment contract should be updated and re-signed by the parties to avoid any confusion in the future.

Many people are unsure about Award entitlements and what relationship the Award has to contracts. Modern industrial awards have been created and given legal force by legislation to provide protection and regulation of certain occupations. Awards often cover remuneration, penalty rates, working conditions, leave entitlements and other employment-related issues. 

Although Awards regulate certain occupations, most of them allow for flexibility in working arrangements.

In addition to awards and contracts, industrial relations are also governed by the National Employment Standards (NES). The NES contains 10 minimum employment entitlements which must be provided to all employees including maximum weekly hours, leave entitlements and termination rights and obligations.

The impact of the entitlements are based on your status as an employee, and therefore employees and employers should always seek advice, as the above instruments can affect your circumstances differently.

In the case of termination, employees generally have 21 days to make an application for Unfair Dismissal with the Fair Work Commission. If you work for a business that has more than 15 employees, then you have to be employed for at least six months before you can apply for an unfair dismissal. If you work for a small business, (under 15 employees), then an employee must be employed for at least 12 months to be eligible to apply.

There are other criteria which may affect your rights and therefore it is important that you seek advice early to ensure that you are able to take action in the requisite time period.

Are you a business owner or an employee that has a question about your workplace rights? You can contact us. We'll be able to help you via a quick phone call, ask us a question via email or even chatting with you online.