Key Documents for Managing Employees

Once you hire employees, you need to make sure you have the right tools in place to effectively manage them. Otherwise, things can get messy if a dispute arises.

As many small business owners will know, when issues arise with employees, they can be a huge distraction for the business. At the same time, getting all the ‘ducks in a row’ when it comes to employees can feel overwhelming and cause HR teams and owners headaches.

The goal of this article is to provide business owners with some practical tips to make the process of managing employees as smooth as possible without getting lost in the paperwork.

There are two key documents that every every small business should have in place to manage its employees. 

1.  Employment contract

Having an employment agreement for each employee is crucial. This is because a written agreement will help to ensure that the rights and obligations of each party are clearly understood. An employment agreement will typically set out:

  • What hours the employee will need to work;
  • On what basis the employee is hired i.e., full time, part time, casual, fixed term etc;
  • From what location the employee will work;
  • What the employee’s remuneration will be (and whether the employee is Award covered);
  • A description of the employee’s duties; and
  • Any other entitlements or expectations that the employer might have of the employee.

An employment agreement will also usually contain clauses about confidentiality, intellectual property and other obligations the employee needs to abide by. An employment agreement is also an opportunity for the employer to include terms around probation and restraints of trades.

Without a written employment agreement, disputes over the terms and conditions of employment are more likely to arise and it can be hard for an employer to manage these disputes in lieu of any formal terms agreed between the parties.

2.  Policies and procedures manual

Employment policies and procedures often reinforce and clarify standard operating practices in the workplace.

The key benefits to having well drafted workplace policies and procedures are:

  • They help employees gain an understanding on what is expected of them and their behaviour in the workplace;
  • They provide guidelines for how disputes and general management will be handled for example, if complaints are made in the workplace;
  • They set the framework for delegation and adopt a clear and consistent approach for development and growth within the business; and
  • They offer protection from breaches of employment legislation.

Effective policies and procedures enhance the quality of the organisation overall and provide for a safer workplace. If drafted properly, policies and procedures also reduce liability for risks in the business.

If you run a business and are not sure how to manage your employees without getting bogged down in paperwork, seek advice from an appropriately qualified lawyer.

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