There are many things to think about when running a business; clients, finances, staff recruitment and retention … the list goes on. However, it is crucial amongst the hustle and bustle of business to ensure that you’re complying with employment law.

Firstly, all your employees (whether they are permanent, fixed term or casual) must have a written Employment Agreement.

Secondly, your written Employment Agreement must include the following information:

  • The full names of the parties; employer and employee.
  • The position the employee is being employed for.
  • A clause describing the duties of the employee. This can be as simple as saying that their duties are set out in an attached job description.
  • A statement about where the work is to be performed. This could provide for a fixed location, several fixed locations, or flexible locations as directed by the employer.
  • The hours the employee will work. If your employee is a casual employee or their hours vary, then you should record that in the agreement.
  • Information about the employee’s pay: their hourly rate or their salary, when they will be paid and whether it will be by direct credit or cash.
  • A clause specifying what payment the employee will receive for working on a public holiday.
  • A clause that sets out the procedures for resolving problems in the workplace. This should include reference to the Department of Labour’s mediation service, and the 90 day time limit for raising a personal grievance.
  • In most cases a clause(s) describing what the employer will do to protect employees in the event of a restructure due to sale of the business will be required. For certain workers, such as cleaning and food-catering workers, these clauses are not required. This is because they have extra rights in the event of a restructure, written into the Employment Relations Act, 2000.
  • If you currently employ less than 20 people and you wish new employees to be subject to a trial period, then you must also include a clause which sets out:
    • That a trial period will apply from the beginning of their employment for a specified period (no more than 90 days); and
    • That during the trial period, the employer may dismiss the employee and the employee cannot bring a personal grievance or legal proceedings in respect of the dismissal.

After 1 April 2011, any employer (even if you have more than 20 employees) will be able to use trial periods for new employees.

We also suggest you include the following clauses in your Employment Agreements:

  • Suspension – this clause should state that you can suspend an employee on pay if you are investigating an allegation of misconduct by them.
  • Termination of employment – this clause should include how much notice must be given by either party if the employment relationship is being terminated.

Remember also that Employment Agreements must be in writing, and your employee must be advised that they can seek independent advice about the agreement before they sign.

From July 2011 employers will also be required to have copies of their employee’s Employment Agreements on file, including intended draft agreements that were considered but not signed. When preparing for this change over the next few months it is a good idea to review your existing Employment Agreements and check that they include the above mandatory clauses.

If you have any questions about the above, or would like assistance putting together an Employment Agreement, please call us on our freephone 0800 733 427 for a relaxed and confidential initial chat.