Employment agreements

Employment agreements have the terms and conditions of employment. Every employee must have a written employment agreement.

Good employment relationships start with a good recruitment process so that the employee and employer have the same expectations about the role and working conditions.

A well written employment agreement helps the employee and employer to know what is expected from them and what they’re entitled to. This means misunderstandings are less likely to happen and if a problem does come up then the employee and employer can go to the employment agreement to clarify things.

30-day rule for new employees

For the first 30 days, new employees must be employed under terms consistent with the collective agreement, where there is a collective agreement in place. An employee and employer may agree on additional terms that are more favourable than the terms specified in the collective agreement.

After the 30-day period expires, if the employee has not become a member of the union then the employee and employer are free to negotiate and agree on different terms and conditions in the individual employment agreement.

Every employee must have a written employment agreement.

  • An employer must provide an employee with a copy of their individual employment agreement.
  • Failure to ensure the employment agreement is in writing may result in a fine of $1,000 per employee.
  • The employment agreement can be either an individual agreement or a collective agreement. If there’s a relevant collective agreement, employers must provide an employee with the Form for new employees to indicate if they intend to join a union [PDF 258KB] within first 10 days of the employee starting their new job.
  • The type of employment agreement an employee is on may depend on whether or not they are a union It is the employee’s choice whether they join a union, and an employer can’t unduly influence their choice. If an employee chooses to join a union, they will be covered by the relevant collective agreement, if there is one.
  • An individual employment agreement should be signed by the employer and employee, although it can still be valid even if it isn't. For example, when there is verbal or written acceptance. Electronic signatures, if agreed between the employer and employee, are acceptable to meet this requirement.
  • There are some things that must be in your employment agreement and other things that are usually in employment agreements but don’t have to be, such as your notice period.
  • Minimum rights (such as the minimum wage and annual holidays) are legal requirements and apply even if they’re not in the employment agreement. Your employment agreement can’t reduce these or trade them off for other things.

Employers are required to keep a copy of the employment agreement (or the current signed terms and conditions of employment). The employer must keep an 'intended agreement' even if the employee hasn’t signed it. Employees are entitled to a copy of their agreement on request. 

If you have a workplace issue, you may want to use the Early Resolution Service to resolve it early, quickly and informally.

Early Resolution Service

Types of employment agreements

An employee can have an individual employment agreement or if they’re a union member they’ll be covered by any relevant collective agreement.

Things an employment agreement must contain

Employment agreements must have certain clauses. Additional clauses should be agreed which suit the needs of the organisation and the employee.

Offering and negotiating employment agreements

The type of employment agreement offered and negotiated in good faith depends on factors such as if the employee is a union member.

Employment agreement builder

You can use our employment agreement builder to draft an employment agreement for your employees that suits your organisation's requirements.

Unfair bargaining

Unfair bargaining is when an employee is significantly disadvantaged when they are negotiating an individual employment agreement.

Page last revised: 23 September 2021

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