A recent Employment Relations Authority (ERA) ruling further proves how vital Employment Agreements are.   An employee was awarded $3,000 after the ERA ruled that she had been unjustifiably disadvantaged through the lack of an Employment Agreement. 

Order of events:

 In 2008, the employee accepted an advertised role offering 25 hours per week with flexibility and potential for 40 hours during peak times.   A year later, the employee requested more hours and the role expanded.   After six months, the extra work was reduced, along with the employee's hours.

The employee claimed that she then verbally applied for, and accepted, a vacant full-time position at the Company.   One of the employer's three Directors later stated there was no offer of a full-time role, no documentation confirming the alleged appointment, and no staff announcement.  In addition, he said that he lacked the authority to make such an appointment, and was only able to adjust hours.

Down the track the amount of work declined, and the employer reduced the employee's hours.  She resigned and raised a Personal Grievance.

 

The verdict: 

It was decided that the employer acted without good faith by not providing an Employment Agreement.   Had he done so, confusion surrounding the employee's hours could have been avoided.  This in turn might have prevented a further finding to the employer's disadvantage relating to reduction in the employee's working hours (for which compensation of another $7,000 was awarded).

Where an employee is not covered by a Collective Agreement, the law requires an individual Employment Agreement to be in writing.   

This promotes greater certainty and trust - which can only be a good thing.