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Navigating Notice Periods: An Employer’s Guide to NES and Employment Agreements

By August 30, 2023Blog

Navigating Notice Periods: An Employer’s Guide to NES and Employment Agreements

In the vast realm of employment, few things rival the perplexity of notice periods. When your employee announces their departure and employment agreements deviate from the National Employment Standards (NES), it’s as if you’ve entered a labyrinth of confusion. But worry not; we’re here to illuminate the path and guide you through this maze.

Grasping the NES Foundation

The National Employment Standards (NES) are part of the safety net for employees in the national workplace relations system. The federal minimum wage is the other part of the safety net. These standards set the minimum terms and conditions of employment. Even if an employee is covered by an award, enterprise agreement or employment contract, those conditions cannot be any less than the minimum in the NES.

Picture the NES as the bedrock of employee-employer relationships – a fundamental blueprint outlining various work aspects. Among these standards lies the often-forgotten notice period – an essential element often overlooked yet profoundly integral.

The notice period marks the bridge between the announcement of resignation or termination and their actual departure. The NES sets the baseline, a shared language between both sides. This baseline establishes the minimum notice periods for resignations and terminations, varying according to an employee’s tenure.

Employment Agreements: Your Customised Canvas

Imagine employment agreements as a canvas for crafting custom solutions. These agreements can extend notice periods beyond the NES, enhancing your approach to workforce transitions.

By striking this balance, you enrich the experience for your employees and your business. An extended notice period is a cushion for the workforce’s transition, ensuring a smoother handover.

Harmonising NES and Agreements

Employment agreements possess a unique capability: they can override NES guidelines, provided they are more beneficial to your employees.

An extended notice period ensures a smooth transition for your workforce and provides extra time for comprehensive project handovers. Increasing your notice period on your employment agreements results in the optimal blend of regulations and customised solutions. But remember, this goes both ways. If you opt for a lengthier notice period for when an employee resigns, this will be the same notice period you will use if an employee is terminated, and you will have to pay this notice period.

Cracking the Code of “Payment in Lieu of Notice”

When it comes to the employee’s end of the journey at your workplace, choices must be made. After informing an employee about their impending termination or receiving their resignation notice, two paths emerge: they can either work through the notice period or be compensated instead.

If the employer initiates this path, this concept is known as “payment in lieu of notice.” It signifies the amount you would have been obligated to pay if the employee had continued working until the notice period’s end.

An illustration of this scenario could be a situation where the relationship between the employee and the employer has deteriorated significantly. In such cases, paying in lieu of notice might be more beneficial than having the employee linger around the workplace for weeks.

Navigating Employee Initiatives Beyond Legal Requirements

The realm of notice periods isn’t limited to legal mandates. If an employee offers a notice period longer than legally required, you’re not obliged to accept it. You can choose to adhere to the notice period outlined in the employment agreement and request the employee complete their tenure at its conclusion.

Conversely, if the employee initiates that they do not want to work part or all of their required notice period, the employer can accept this. In this instance, the employer would not need to provide payment in lieu of notice.

Charting Your Employment Journey

Within the expansive realm of employment, notice periods often resemble a maze. Embracing employee autonomy while ensuring seamless organisational continuity demands a delicate balance. You may enrich the intricate tapestry of your workforce’s journey by harnessing extended notice periods beyond the NES.

Notice periods hold more than legal significance – they’re opportunities to nurture goodwill, reinforce your organisational values, and pave the way for smoother transitions for all parties involved.

And if you need help finding the right strategy, contact the Strawberry Seed Team. We are always happy to help!

Kylie Simmonds

Author Kylie Simmonds

Kylie is a Human Resources professional with a passion for supporting small business.

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