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Contracts and Handbooks

Employment Contracts

When a business takes on an employee you must agree on terms and conditions. These agreements can be in writing, verbal or by the actions/behaviours of both the employee and employer. It is highly recommended you document these terms and conditions to ensure they are clear. It is important to set out how you want that individual to work within your business and what they will receive from you in return.

At The HR Dept we provide you with the right contracts for all your staff.  We can advise you on pay and benefits, as well as ensuring you meet all the legal requirements.

National Employment Standards (NES)

The National Minimum Wage and the National Employment Standards (NES) make up the minimum entitlements for all Australian employees. Within the NES there are 10 minimum standards that must be provided to all employees.

They are:

  1. Maximum weekly hours of work – 38 hours per week
  2. Requests for flexible working arrangements
  3. Parental Leave – up to 12 months unpaid leave
  4. Annual leave – four weeks paid leave per year
  5. Personal/carer’s leave and compassionate leave – up to 10 days paid personal/carer’s leave per year
  6. Community service leave
  7. Long service Leave (LSL)
  8. Public holidays – a paid day off on a public holiday, unless reasonably requested to work
  9. Notice of termination of employment and redundancy pay for some employees
  10. Fair Work Information Statement (FWIS)

Employees can be employed under an employment contract, award, enterprise agreement or other registered agreement. Employers can’t provide conditions that are less than the National Minimum Wage or the NES and they can’t exclude the NES.

 Modern Awards

Modern Awards apply to all employees covered by the national workplace relations system.  They are industry or occupation-based and apply to employers and employees who perform work covered by the Award.

Determining what Modern Awards apply to your business can be tricky and time consuming. The HR Dept can take the hassle out of navigating this by ensuring you are aware of your obligations under the Fair Work Act as well as any future legislative changes.

Enterprise Bargaining Agreements (EBA’s)

An EBA is a document that sets out the terms and conditions that apply for a particular employee, a group of employees and one or more employers.  Like Awards, registered agreements can have extra entitlements, but they can’t provide for less than the NES.  They can benefit a business because they’re tailored to each workplace’s needs.

There are complex rules about how to negotiate, lodge and approve a registered agreement but The HR Dept can take away these hassles by managing or advising you on the process.

Different types of Contracts

Having the right type of employment contract for an employee is a must in any business but which type? In Australia, there are several types;

  1. Full-time – generally works on average 38 hours per week
  2. Permanent Part-time – generally works regular hours but on average less than 38 hours per week
  3. Casual – are not guaranteed ongoing work, no sick pay, holiday pay or entitlements but are paid an extra ‘leave loading’
  4. Fixed Term – hired on a short term basis for a fixed period of time
  5. Consultancy Agreements – professionals hired to supply expert advice, services or knowledge and are paid as an outside contractor.
  6. Contractor Agreements – hired for specific tasks or projects as defined in the signed agreement and are paid as an outside contractor


As a business grows it becomes more important to have a Staff Handbook that sets out “how things are done around here”. The HR Dept writes Handbooks in plain English which reflect the culture and style of each business. The Handbook helps new staff learn the correct way to do things and reminds existing employees of the rules.

By subscribing to our retained HR Solution services, your contracts and Handbooks will be regularly updated to reflect any changes in HR and employment legislation.

The HR Dept is here to help

Our experienced HR experts are on hand to get your business the documentation it needs. Use the form below to request a free HR healthcheck from one of our advisors, and see whether your documentation is in order.