Welcome to the second of our quarterly HR Tips for 2017. This quarter will highlight the importance of compliant employment contracts for your staff members.
Ready and Willing Staff but No Contract of Employment?
Having a compliant employment contract is a fundamental element of recruiting new staff or renewing a contract for an existing staff member. But what’s the problem if the contract hasn’t been issued yet and the employee is ready, willing to start work without one?
Not only is having a valid contract a University audit requirement but it reduces the risk of misunderstandings about the terms and conditions of a staff member’s employment. It also helps prevent the potential for over or underpayment of wages.
Think about the impression we make if the first contact a new starter has is unprofessional and disorganised. Recruitment is our chance to demonstrate the commitment the University has to be a model employer.
There are legal consequences for having a staff member commence work with the University before they accept the contract terms we have offered them. By doing so, you put the University at risk of a potential breach of industrial obligations including:
- the University of Adelaide Enterprise Agreement 2014-2017 which requires the University to provide all prospective staff members with a letter of appointment containing prescribed employment information upon engagement and to pay salaries fortnightly (a staff member cannot be paid until they have a compliant employment contract); and
- the Fair Work Act 2009 (Cth) which requires all employers to pay their employees at least monthly.
A breach of the Enterprise Agreement or the Fair Work Act may lead to a dispute being raised under the Enterprise Agreement, the matter being referred to the Fair Work Commission, and potential financial penalties being imposed on the University.
Preparation and forward planning are key to minimising delay and ensuring that a contract is in place in time for your new recruit to start. If you are extending a contract to an existing staff member, they will not be able to continue at work if you allow one contract to expire before the new one is in place.
Contract terms including start dates, salary level and any loadings which may apply should be discussed with your prospective staff member prior to any contract being sent. The contract should be the end of the negotiation process rather than the beginning.
The Recruitment and Appointments team in the HR Branch create all offers of employment including renewals. When it is received in the HR Branch from either the relevant Faculty HR Hub or local Hiring Co-ordinator, the request needs to be checked for compliance with the Enterprise Agreement and Immigration requirements, approved by both finance and branch heads and then sent to the prospective staff member for their acceptance before their first day at work.
You will need to allow at least 5 working days for the offer to be sent out and should bear this in mind when agreeing a start date with your prospective employee. The prospective employee then has up to 14 days to accept the offer.
If you have any new appointment requests or renewals which become urgent, in the first instance please contact your Faculty HR Hub or local Hiring Co-ordinator who you would have previously liaised with regarding the recruitment process. Alternatively please contact the HR Service Centre on 8313 1111.
Your effective forward planning will minimise risks and ensure a seamless experience for all parties in the recruitment process. Preparation at the early stages of the recruitment process will also reduce the likelihood of breaches of the Enterprise Agreement and the Fair Work Act, including the potential financial penalties associated with these. Your staff member will have a positive experience when beginning or renewing their employment, leaving a positive perception of the University as an employer.
Questions or Feedback?
We’d like to hear your thoughts on how we can tailor HR Tips to address the challenges and opportunities presented to you in your role as leader of people in the University. Please email HR Feedback with your comments or suggestions for future quarterly HR Tips.
If you have a general HR query, please get in touch with our friendly HR Service Centre team on 8313 1111 or complete the online enquiry form.