Employment Contracts & You: Your Legal Obligations


Employment contracts contain terms and conditions which both the employee and employer agree upon.

An employment contract cannot provide for less than the legal minimum set out in:

  • the National Employment Standards (NES)
  • awards, enterprise agreements or other registered agreements that may apply.

All employees are covered by the NES, regardless of whether they’ve signed a contract. A contract can’t make employees worse off than their minimum legal entitlements.

Ideally, this contract should be written rather than confirmed verbally to avoid miscommunication or misunderstandings. Contracts may also contain implied terms i.e. not misusing confidential information.

Employment contracts are also governed by legislation, which provides further information about the minimum terms required, remedies that can be utilised, and basic regulatory frameworks. The industry you are in may also have additional industry-specific requirements which are legally reinforced.

Breach of employment occurs when employers or employees fail to comply with the terms of the contract. The innocent party may be entitled to sue for the damages that have occurred due to the breach – so they can be restored. A substantial breach may also allow an immediate termination of the contract and additionally allow individuals to sue for any loss incurred.

If an employer or employee has breached a contract, it may be easier to navigate the difficult processes that need to be completed with the help of a legal advisor. This is because a breach of contract can be fairly nuanced, and information provided on websites may not be sufficient to lead the process without help from a legal professional.

The government may be able to provide free or concessional legal advice, which should be utilised as legal proceedings can often be costly.


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