In the world of human resources and industrial relations a variety of people management tools are recognised as being key to effective daily management.

We’re talking about policies, employee handbooks and most importantly, well-prepared employment contracts.

Some people think that a handshake is all that is required or that all employment contracts are the same, but we’re here to tell you that neither is the truth. 

Contracts may include some of the same items because the items are legislatively required (eg specific employee entitlements like leave arrangements or dispute resolution processes) but your employment contract should be carefully considered to include details that assist you to manage your specific workforce so that you can deliver the best product/service you can to your clients or customers.

Employment contracts, policies and employee handbooks are not only items that establish how an employee should conduct themselves in the workplace, but they are critical tools used to help protect your business or organisation from risk of litigation.

We know that documentation of this type can leave a lot of employers cold.  Many employees too are left shivering when faced with formal documentation for the first time because the documents can appear intimidating to say the very least.  So if you do not have existing documentation in place but have decided it is something that you want to instigate, then our recommendation is to talk to us first. We may have some valuable suggestions to assist you.

Some would argue that an employment contract is not needed because there is an Award that covers their workplace and they would be correct, and while Awards – whether they be State or Federal Awards- include items and terms that legislatively, employers are obliged to meet as a minimum, Awards do not:-

  • set out guidelines on how your employees should communicate with each other or with your customers;
  • set out what is confidential information or intellectual property in your workplace;
  • set out your Code of Conduct;
  • set out rules and guidelines on preventing bullying and harassment in your workplace;
  • set out an employer’s requirements regarding uniforms and personal presentation;
  • set out alternative conditions or additional benefits an employer might like to provide (eg employee bonus schemes, discounted purchasing, additional leave etc);

Further benefits of preparing an employment contract include the ability for an employer, under certain circumstances to adjust conditions of employment.  For example, an employee’s hours of work and location.

We could go on but needless to say workplaces are diverse and practices differ so not all employment contracts, policies or handbooks will contain the same information and the uniqueness of your documentation could be your competitive edge.

You could even write your own documentation but if you are not in the business of keeping up with the ever-changing world of employment law, then inevitably we would recommend that at some stage you have your documents checked. We know all too well the assortment of litigation, the confusion and the complexity that surrounds meeting (or not meeting) employment legislation obligations.

If you have any doubts, concerns or queries about employment contracts, policies or other workplace documentation we hope that you will contact the Workwise office today and gain some clarity and peace of mind.


The information contained in this article does not constitute and should not be relied upon as ‘legal advice’. Workwise Advisory Services recommends that legal advice be sought from a suitably qualified legal practitioner prior to any action being taken. Such advice may be accessed via Workwise Advisory Services.