1. You think something may be illegal
If you think something you have been asked to do, or not do, as part of your job is illegal, you need to get some employment law advice.
Employment contracts generally require that employees must do what their employers ask of them. However, if your employer is asking you to do something that might be illegal, that contractual obligation does not apply and you can refuse to comply with the request.
Some examples of employers asking employees to do something illegal are:
- perform unlicensed electrical or plumbing work;
- bully someone else at work so that they leave their employment;
- talk to a competitor and agree to fix prices or share information relating to a tender;
- overcharge a customer; and
- lie about the goods or services that your employer sells as part of its business.
But employers might not be your only concern. You might be asked to do something illegal by a competitor, a client or another employee.
Either way, you should talk to an employment contract lawyer to figure out whether you have been asked to do something illegal and what you can do about it.
The important thing is to avoid any negative consequences and ensure that you do not break the law.
2. Your employer is becoming hostile
At some point during your employment, your employer or manager may become hostile.
Hostile behaviour by an employer may include:
- reducing the number of shifts you are rostered on to;
- yelling, shouting, humiliating or other bullying behaviour;
- threatening to do something that will negatively impact you or your job; and
- ignoring you or excluding you from work events.
In Australia, bullying behaviour in the workplace is not tolerated. In fact, bullying is quickly becoming a criminal act in many States and Territories across Australia.
It is recommended that you take this step sooner rather than later because bullying and hostile behaviour can take their toll on your mental health and employment.
3. You haven't been paid correctly
Let’s face it – no one works for free. You do your job and your employer has a legal obligation to pay you.
If your employment contract is inconsistent with the Fair Work Act or a Modern Award, that part of your employment contract will not be enforceable by your employer.
There are many companies that fail to pay their employees correctly. These employers are risking being fined, having to back-pay their staff and losing key employees. Underpayment of wages has been a key focus of the regulators in Australia in recent years as it amounts to wage theft and is unlawful.
If you think that:
- you are not getting paid enough;
- your employer is deducting amounts from your pay;
- your employer is not paying your superannuation; or
- your employer is not paying you regularly,
you need to contact an employment lawyer.
Generally, an employment contract is your source of truth. However, many people don’t realise that some employment contract terms are not enforceable or are simply designed to deter employees from behaving in a certain way.
- Chances are you need an expert employment lawyer if you are not being paid correctly
- Get advice if your employer’s behaviour has changed for the worse and you believe you are being treated differently or discriminated against
- Seek legal help if your employer is doing something illegal or if they have asked you to do something illegal