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Conditions of Employment

Employment agreement

The purpose of an employment agreement between an employer and employee is to clearly set out the terms and conditions of the employment relationship between the parties (i.e. the employer’s and employee’s obligations under the agreement).

An employment agreement should be entered into with each employee (i.e. full time, part time, casual, fixed term, etc) to govern the relationship.

There are legal requirements which must be met in order for an employment agreement to be legally binding to the parties. The terms of employment agreements will vary depending on the nature of the relationship between the parties and what rights and responsibilities are sought to be created. However, employment agreements include, but are not limited to, terms related to the position, pay, hours of work, employees’ duties and warranties, protection of intellectual property and confidential information, and rights to terminate the agreement.

Interns and work experience

When it comes to a person who the employer does not intend to create an employment relationship with (i.e. an intern or work experience person), the company may look at an alternative type of agreement to document the relationship. Often, the training institution that the student is attending will provide the company with information regarding expectations of both the student and the company or alternatively this needs to be agreed upon between the student and the company.

It is recommended that a company induction (which includes training on relevant policies and procedures and expectations in the company) is conducted with the student.


Employers may require new employees to serve a probationary period, as set out in their employment agreement. Probationary periods allow both the new employee and the company to assess that they are suitable for the position and the business.

A probationary period is different to a qualifying period (i.e. when an employee may make an unfair dismissal claim in certain circumstances), which means that employers must ensure that they follow legally compliant processes if the new employee turns out to be not suitable for the position, and legal advice may need to be obtained in those circumstances.

National Employment Standards (NES)

The Fair Work Act 2009 (Cth) (FW Act) contains the NES which set out the minimum workplace entitlements in Australia:

  • maximum weekly hours of work
  • request for flexible working arrangements
  • parental and adoption leave
  • annual leave
  • personal/carer’s leave
  • community service leave
  • long service leave
  • public holidays
  • notice of termination and redundancy pay
  • Fair Work information statement

You cannot contract out of the NES, even if an employer and employee agree or requests to.

Modern awards

In addition to the FW Act and NES, modern awards provide additional rights and obligations for employers and employees in specific occupations and industries. For example, modern awards contain provisions relating to the types of employment under the award, pay rates, termination, hours of work, classifications of employees, leave and so forth.

You cannot contract out of award entitlements unless it is permitted by the award (i.e. award flexibility provisions).

Enterprise agreement

An enterprise agreement is an industrial instrument which allows employers to tailor the conditions of employment for its employees (or particular employees). There is a strict process which must be followed if an employer wants to make an enterprise agreement, and it will only begin to operate after it has been approved by the Fair Work Commission.

For further information on enterprise agreements please see:

AHRI – Australian Human Resources Institute
Integrated Human Resourcing

Useful Links

Fair Work Templates:

Fair Work Minimum Workplace Entitlements:

Fair Work Information Statement:

Australian Government Guidance – Responsibilities when dealing with staff:


Gold Coast Education and Training Network Inc ABN 35 036 042 606 trading as Study Gold Coast (Study Gold Coast) have provided this material on the Gold Coast Student Jobs Platform located at as a free resource for employers or others (Users) to use.

Users of the material do not become clients of, or form any type of relationship with, Study Gold Coast until such time as Study Gold Coast is formally engaged for this purpose.

The information contained in this material is correct as at 15 October 2020 and is subject to change. The material provides a broad overview of types of arrangements but does not provide a comprehensive or complete overview of all matters related to the topic.

The material provided does not constitute advice. It is the responsibility of Users to seek their own independent professional advice relevant to their particular circumstances (legal or otherwise).

Study Gold Coast does not make any representation or warranty about, and accepts no legal liability whatsoever arising from or connected to, the accuracy, reliability, currency, or completeness of any information in the material provided. Study Gold Coast is not liable for any loss resulting from any action taken or not taken, or reliance made by a User on any information contained in the material provided. It is recommended that Users independently verify any of the information in the materials upon which Users intend to rely.