Employment Law

Workplace relations is an important part of any business that engages a workforce, and is an area that is increasingly coming under public scrutiny.

By ensuring that workplace relations frameworks are properly set up from the inception of your business, business owners can minimise the risk and the prospect of workplace disputes arising.

We understand that businesses have different workplace relation needs at different stages of the business life cycle, and also that some organisations have specific workplace relation needs depending on their industry.

We enjoy partnering with our clients so that we understand their business and can help them put in place the processes and structures to manage their workforce successfully, leaving them free to focus on the business.

Engaging employees

When a business first expands its workforce by engaging employees and contractors, it has access to additional resources to support the expanding business, but is opening itself up to new compliance issues and risks.

Engaging employees and contractors can be governed by a patchwork of legislation, enterprise agreements and awards. We can help you identify your workforce needs, as well as your legal obligations connected to the different options. Protecting your business in workplace-related matters can involve:

  • enterprise agreements
  • employment agreements
  • contractor agreements
  • workplace health and safety compliance and policies
  • workplace policies.

You can read our article about the difference between a contractor and an employee here.

Managing the workforce

We often find that businesses can grow quickly, and this can lead to a business expanding its workforce without having the internal framework in place to support it. The workplace needs of a business can also change with growth, and so the framework that worked when the business was young may not still be effective as the business matures.

We can help you to audit your workforce and employment practices to ensure that the way you are engaging employees or contractors is compliant with the law. If there are any gaps, we can work with you to put in place a strategy to ensure that you are meeting all your obligations to minimise the risk of issues arising.

Engaging employees and contractors, but particularly employees, also means that new issues can arise relating to employee performance. We can help you to understand your obligations in relation to performance management best practice so that you have the right policies in place to allow you to properly manage performance issues while minimising the risk of disputes arising.

Managing your workforce can also involve putting in place employee incentive schemes to drive performance and loyalty to the business.

Disputes and complaints

All business owners who engage a workforce, no matter how small, are likely to deal with workplace disputes and complaints. These can be regarding relationships between employees, allegations of misconduct, allegations of non-compliance with your obligations, or bullying and harassment.

We can help you to ensure that procedures are in place to guide you through dealing with such issues. If needed, we can also help you to conduct workplace investigations to ensure that any issues are dealt with in a transparent and fair way, with minimal disruption to the business.

If disputes cannot be dealt with effectively internally, we can assist you by representing your business in the Fair Work Commission or the relevant court.

For more information about commercial disputes and employment-related disputes, go to our dedicated page here.

Changing or reducing the workforce

As part of the business life cycle, workforces change due to the individual employees and/or the business needs. In some cases, decisions have to be made regarding termination of employment or redundancy in order for you to achieve your business goals.

Ending employment for your staff can be a legal minefield, and if not done properly can result in claims against your business for adverse action, unfair dismissal or breach of contract. Businesses can minimise their risk by ensuring that best practice performance management is applied and that procedural fairness is applied to all termination processes. In relation to redundancies, in order for a redundancy to be lawful, certain steps or criteria have to be met. We can help you to understand these requirements to ensure that you can avoid, or successfully defend, any resulting legal claim.

Succession planning

Do your employees think and act like business owners? Hardworking employees are an essential part of any well-functioning business. What would it mean if your employees were as committed to achieving success as you are?

While short-term incentives are certainly encouraged, they should really be used to supplement a strategic, long-term incentive plan. In this regard, acknowledging the valuable contributions of your staff by way of a long-term incentive can be achieved through the implementation of an Employee Share Ownership Plan (ESOP).

An ESOP allows employees to own a part of the company they work for, by providing employees with shares or certain other interests in the relation to their employment. The express intention is that employees will think and act like business owners and see the business with a new perspective.

The benefits of implementing an ESOP, for both the employer and employee, can be considerable. In fact, research overwhelming shows that ESOP companies have improved performance, higher profit and better staff retention compared to non-ESOP companies.

You can find out more about planning for successful leaders of tomorrow in your business here.

Secure local jobs certificates – building & construction, cleaning, security, traffic management and services worth over $200,000

The Secure Local Jobs Code (the Code) came into effect in the ACT on 19 January 2019. The Code replaced the Industrial Relations and Employment (IRE) Certificate.

While the construction industry required an IRE Certificate before they could apply for, and be awarded, ACT Government work, the new Code Certificate applies to not only the construction industry, but also to cleaning, security and traffic management service providers.

In order for businesses to apply for ACT Government work, they will need to obtain a Code Certificate. In order to get that certificate, businesses will be required to engage an approved auditor to assess whether they meet the requirements to obtain a certificate. Emily Shoemark and Margaret Young are Snedden Hall & Gallop’s approved auditors.

Businesses will need to provide their auditor with information relating to insurance, tax, superannuation, work health and safety, collective bargaining and payment of wages.

As a registered Code Auditor, Snedden Hall & Gallop has prepared a step-by-step procedure for the Code certification process for ACT government contracts. If you need to arrange a current Code certificate for your own organisation or sub-contractors working on your projects, we can help. We will undertake a Code audit and issue certificates to ensure that you can provide the ACT Government with your services. Critical timeframes can be affected if a current Code certificate is not in place. We will use our resources to meet any critical deadlines that ensure your project will not be delayed.

Read more about Secure Local Jobs Certification here.

Meet your Employment Law team

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I just wanted to thank you. I am so glad that Snedden Hall and Gallop Lawyers were recommended to handle the ACT issue we had involving employee theft. The lawyer that was assigned, Emily Shoemark, did a great job. And the fees were reasonable. The matter was resolved to our satisfaction and relief.

Anon (Employment Law 1)

22 April 2015

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