8th May 2023

Understanding Employee Relationships

When it comes to formalising an employment relationship, the various agreements and standards that need to be considered can be overwhelming. Terms such as National Employment Standards, Modern Awards, Enterprise Agreements, and company policies can be confusing and difficult to navigate. However, it's crucial to understand how these agreements and policies apply to your business and employment contracts.


Unsure where to start? Let’s look at some further insights and tips on how to ensure that your organisation meets its employment obligations and maintains positive workplace relations.


The Fairwork Act 2009 (Cth)

Think of employment law in Australia as a pyramid, with the Fair Work Act 2009 (Cth) (the FWA). at its base. This legislation sets out the minimum standards that apply to all employees in the private sector.


National Employment Standards

Next in your pyramid would be the National Employment Standards (NES). The NES is nestled within the FWA and set of 10 minimum employment entitlements that apply to all employees. The National Employment Standards (NES) are the minimum employment entitlements that apply to all employees in Australia, regardless of any Modern Award or Registered Agreement that may also apply.
Employers must provide at least these minimum standards and cannot offer less favorable conditions to their employees.


Modern Awards

Depending on the industry and occupation, your employees may also be covered by a Modern Award. Modern Awards are industry and occupation-based and provide additional terms and conditions of employment on top of the NES.


Modern awards can interact with other legal requirements, such as the National Employment Standards (NES) and enterprise agreements.


Enterprise Agreements

Enterprise Agreements (EAs) or Collective Bargaining Agreements (CBAs) are collective agreements that provide minimum employment conditions above any applicable Modern Awards.

It’s important to note that these agreements can only build on the FWA and cannot offer any terms or conditions that are less favourable than what employees are entitled to under the law.


Employment Agreements

Your employees' contracts also sit on top of this pyramid and must comply with all applicable laws and regulations.


Employment Contracts are the formal agreements that establish the agreed terms and conditions of an employment relationship, including position title, working hours, remuneration, notice periods, and any applicable Modern Awards or EAs. Employers cannot provide employment conditions that are less favorable than what is set out by the NES, Modern Awards, or EAs.


Company Policies

Company policies are also an essential aspect of the employment relationship, outlining a company's expectations around acceptable behaviour in the workplace. While policies are not required to be included in employment contracts, they should be clearly defined and communicated to employees. Some policies are required by law, while others are best practices to ensure a safe and productive workplace.

Understanding your obligations in regard to these agreements and policies is essential to ensure compliance and a positive employment relationship.


How can we help?

Standard Candle HR is dedicated to helping clients navigate the complex landscape of employment regulations and terms. By providing comprehensive explanations of key terms such as National Employment Standards, Modern Awards, and Enterprise Agreements, and offering practical guidance and support, we empower clients to comply with their obligations and make informed decisions that benefit their businesses and their employees. With our expertise and commitment to excellence, we are confident in our ability to provide valuable solutions to any HR-related challenges our clients may face. Call us at 1300 620 100.

Understanding Employee Relationships

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