There are different types of Employment Agreements available to employers and employees that are suitable for different employment structures.

Fixed Term Agreements

The employment will come to an end on a specific date for a specific reason or on the happening of a specific event.  Fixed Term Agreements are good in terms of project work, or for providing cover while another employee is on leave, but a key point to remember is that a Fixed Term Agreement cannot be used as a way of assessing whether the employee is suitable for the job.  There has to be a genuine reason for the fixed term, such as covering for an employee on maternity leave and these types of agreements also cannot be used when the job should be a permanent one.  Fixed term agreements can become permanent if they are repeatedly rolled over and/or there is no longer a genuine reason for the fixed term.

Casual Agreements

The law requires casual agreements to be linked to casual work arrangements.  This means there is no obligation on the employer to provide work, nor is there an obligation on the employee to accept work offered.  This type of arrangement can get tricky if the employment becomes continual and can then be deemed to be a permanent agreement.  One example is where an employee was given rostered shifts on an ongoing basis.  This was not ‘as and when required’ and cost the employer over $7,200 payable to the employee.  Holiday pay can, if it is too difficult to do otherwise, be paid on an as you go basis but it must be separately identified in each pay.

Permanent Full or Part Time Agreements

As the name suggests these are permanent employees on a full time or part time basis and are the most common employment agreements.  Most will contain a notice period stating that the employer can terminate the employment on so much notice.  Do not be fooled by such a clause as an employer cannot terminate without good cause and having followed a proper process regarding performance or discipline.  See our Guides to Discipline and Performance on our website or call me for copies.  An employee can give the required notice at any time without reason.

90 Day Trial Period

This is not a separate agreement type but is a clause inserted into some employment agreements .  The employee can be dismissed within the trial period without the ability to bring a personal grievance for dismissal.  They can still claim other remedies such as discrimination on racial or religious grounds or for non payment of wages. 

Trial Period

Again not a type of agreement but some agreements specify a trial period.  They can be used for a workforce of any number of employees.  The employee cannot be dismissed at the end of the period unless their performance is below acceptable standards and they have been given reasonable opportunities to improve.

Independent Contractor Agreement

This is not an Employment Agreement and independent contractors do not receive all the rights that employees do under employment legislation.  However, this type of scenario allows a contractor to control how and when the work is done, he or she makes a profit or loss directly and usually supplies his or her own equipment and materials.  The contractor is responsible for payment of their own taxes, ACC and insurances.  Independent contractor agreements must be carefully worded to avoid being held by the Courts to be employment agreements in disguise.  The Courts will look at the degree of control the “employer” has over the “employee” such as a requirement to be at work between specific hours, perform specific duties and receive an hourly wage.

Special rules apply to film industry workers where the contract stipulation that the person is an independent contractor is determinative of the issue.

If you would like a specific Employment Agreement or Independent Contractor Agreement tailor-made to suit the requirements of your business, give Alan Knowsley a call for a free initial relaxed chat about how we can help you.