November 18, 2017

3 tips for on-boarding an employee at your startup

A lawyer’s tips for on-boarding an employee at your startup

Updated: 8 December 2019

Have you decided to hire an employee for your startup ? Below, we share useful tips for on-boarding an employee at your startup.

1. Job description

A good job description sets  clear expectations for a future employee.

Also,  it reduces the risk of a misleading and deceptive conduct claim against your business. 

Now the other part of avoiding a misleading and deceptive conduct claim is to make sure the job duties actually align to  the job description.

To help with this, employment market place company Seek recommends that you include the following information in your job ad: 

a. About the business

  • Who you are
  • The achievements and reputation of your business
  • Is your company local, national, or international?
  • How many people work for your business?; and
  • What is your business known for?

b. About the role

  • A high-level summary of the business’s goals, and explain how the role supports them
  • What are the reporting lines?
  • Who are the stakeholders?; and
  • How the role contribute to the success of the business ?

c. Duties

  • Day-to-day duties
  • A list of the duties the candidate would be required to perform; and
  • List core duties.

d. Skills and experience

  • What will get a candidate the job;
  • Skills and experience a candidate would need to succeed;
  • Qualifications that applicants must have?; and
  • How much experience (if any) do applicants need?

e. Culture

  • A video to introduce candidates to your business’s culture
  • Why do people enjoy working at your business ?
  • What kind of people thrive at your business ?; and
  • What is work/life balance like at your business ?

f. Benefits

  • List key benefits your ideal candidate would value most;
  • Learning and development programs;
  • Flexible work policies;
  • Share options; and
  • Mentoring.

Seek also provides a visual of good and bad job descriptions, reproduced below.

3 tips for on-boarding an employee at your startup

Seek's example of a good job description

3 tips for on-boarding an employee at your startup

Seek's example of a bad job description

2. Employment agreement

An employment agreement should cover the important terms and conditions for employment. Below are are some key items you can include:

  • position;
  • hours;
  • work location; and
  • employee entitlements  including leave, pay and superannuation.

Also, your employment agreement should also include items to protect your business like:

  • confidentiality;
  • intellectual property; and
  • dispute resolution.

a. Confidentiality

A confidentiality  clause explains what confidential information is, how it can be used and how it's to be handled when the employment relationship comes to an end. 

b. Intellectual property

In Australia,  an employer owns the intellectual property created by an employee for it's business. For example if an employee creates software or an article for your business  then you own the intellectual property in those items. 

However, it is still important to have a clause that deals with intellectual property in your employment contract.

Why ? because in the event of a dispute, you can refer the employee back to their employment contract  and reduce the risk of a dispute escalating to formal legal proceedings.

c. Dispute resolution

Similar to the intellectual property clause above, a dispute resolution clause also helps you save on legal fees.  

How ?

This clause allows either the employer or employee to raise issues  and conciliate before a matter gets to court.

In Australia, employees have the right to bring a dispute before the Fair Work Ombudsman. Employees may also start unfair dismissal proceedings against you in some instances even if you do not fire them. 

For example, even if you do not dismiss a worker, but handle a workplace dispute poorly and the employee then feels they have no choice but to resign, they may lodge an unfair dismissal application against you on the basis that they were forced to resign.

So this example above shows there is a strong case for a good dispute resolution clause.

e. Fair work information statement

You will need to provide workers with a copy of the Fair Work information statement before, or as soon as possible after they start working for you.

3. Minimum entitlements

An employee can be paid more than the minimums set out in an applicable award and legislation but not paid less.

Got questions or comments about onboarding a worker? Leave them below. 

I wish you success in your ventures! 

About the author 

Vivian Michael

As founder and lawyer at Michael Law Group, Vivian advises Australia's top entrepreneurs on business and employment matters. Clients benefit from Vivian's commercially focussed and pragmatic legal advice, business experience, and commitment to deliver the best quality business legal services to her clients.

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