Expert Q&A: Managing Employees in your Business

Expert Q&A: Managing Employees in your Business

Authored by Isabella Zamorano,
Employment Relations Adviser

As an employment relations adviser, I work with business owners from many different industries, payrolls, and backgrounds. In my daily interactions with clients, regardless of their differences, the most frequent questions I get are around their employees.

And there is no escaping it, if you run a business, you will understand that employees are your strongest asset but they can also become your biggest liability.

Below I share the questions that I receive most often, around employees, and my responses to them.

Q1: What do I have to include in my employment contract?

A1: While every employment contract is unique, there are crucial elements that should be included in it, regardless of your company size or industry. This includes:

  • name and personal details of both you and your employee
  • commencement date of employment
  • job title
  • number of hours worked per week
  • type of employment (i.e. full-time, part-time or casual)
  • method of payment (i.e. salary, wage, commission or piece-rate)
  • amount of notice to be given by both the employee and the business to end employment
  • confidentiality agreement
  • provisions to deal with potential changes in the employee’s role or their scope of duties (i.e. will the same contract still apply if the employee has to change locations, roles or duties?)

Q2: Do I need an employee handbook for my staff?

Q2: While this is not a legal requirement, I would recommend having an employee handbook. It will function as a centrepiece of your business’ onboarding program while strongly setting out why your business exists and is different from others, which will help to frame the identity of your company.

It will also set out the expectations that the business has for the employee and what the employee can expect from the business. This helps ensure that the rules are set from the start of employment.

Q3: My employee is underperforming, what can I do?

A3: There are many different management systems to explore. The three that I find effective both in the results and costs are:

  1. Conduct regular performance reviews so that both you and your employee are on the same page.
  2. Provide 360 feedback. This is where your employee has the chance to receive performance feedback from a broad range of people (their manager, colleagues, client) which will give them a wholesome idea of their performance.
  3. Manage by objectives or KPIs. This will ensure there are goals set to be achieved which can be measured and assessed.

Q4: My employee has just given me their resignation letter, what is the notice period?

A4: Different situations can have different notice periods. This is affected by industry, size of the business, modern award, and agreements. So, you need to refer to the following to determine notice periods: including the employee’s award or agreement, the national employment standards, and the employment contract.

Q5: Do notice periods apply to all my employees?

A5: No, they don’t. If an employee is a casual, employed for a specific time of work – for example, if they’re on a fixed-term contract – or doing seasonal work, they do not have notice periods. Also, if your employee is dismissed because of serious misconduct, you may not have to give them any notice.

Q6: How much time do I have to issue final payment?

A6: This again depends on your award and agreements. However, the Fair Work Commission recently updated some awards to incorporate a 7-day deadline to issue final payments. If your award wasn’t impacted, it is best practice to pay out final pay on your employee’s last day of work or their next scheduled payday.

Q7: What is included in a final payment?

A7: You need to include the following in the final payment:

  • all outstanding wages for hours worked, including penalty rates and allowances
  • any accumulated annual leave
  • and, if it applies:
    • annual leave loading
    • accrued, or pro rata, long service leave
    • redundancy pay

Did you find that helpful?

I understand that employee management is not an easy task, especially with the many legislative requirements surrounding it. So, I regularly research, write, and share information that could support and grow small businesses across Australia.

In my next venture, I’ll be presenting a free webinar where I discuss the answers above in-depth, as well as other employee management tools and tactics.

Tanja and I will be discussing the three key areas in managing employees: Hiring, Retention, and Dismissal. We’ll also be taking questions in this interactive webinar.

Register for the Webinar here, and share this with other business owners who may benefit from it.

About Employsure

Employsure receives more calls every year (365,000) from employers than the Fair Work Ombudsman (116,622). In these calls, we provide immediate advice and solutions to employers.

Amongst other workplace issues (wages, award/legislation changes, health & safety), we also support employers in every stage of employee management. We ensure that your business is protected with the right employment contracts, provide advice on managing difficult employees – right down to terminating employment correctly.

As an Employsure client, you will receive tailored documents for your business and have dedicated advisers 24/7 to provide immediate answers to any questions you may have.


“Biggest thing from Employsure, it gives us certainty. Where we have guidance and help of what we need in place, how to put it in place, and how to implement the systems for HR.’

– Jonathon Grealy, Niche Reform 

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