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This employment contract amendment agreement can be used to make permanent changes to an existing employment contract. It is not designed to be used as a standalone contract.
It can be used to document revisions, additions and deletions to the terms and conditions of an employment contract that is currently in force. An amendment does not replace the entire original contract, just the part that is changed by the amendment.
If there only need to be several changes to a contract, it can be much easier to create an amendment than to create an entirely new contract from scratch.
As the world learns how best to deal with the COVID-19 pandemic, many employers are altering the terms of their employment contracts, to account for new work arrangements. For example, some employers are adding terms to deal with remote work, or are altering their requirements regarding work hours.
Under Australian workplace health and safety laws, employers are required to ensure, so far as is reasonably practicable, the health and safety of their workers and others at the workplace. This means that employers have a duty to take steps to protect the health and safety of their employees, workers, and other visitors - and this includes taking steps to protect them from the coronavirus. If in doubt, seek legal advice about how to meet these health and safety obligations.
How to use this document
The Coronavirus/COVID-19 situation is changing rapidly. Before preparing this document, it is a good idea to check for up-to-date information from authorities such as the World Health Organisation, the Australian Government Department of Health, or Safe Work Australia.
It is also important that the employer complies with all relevant employment laws when taking action in relation to the coronavirus. This may be particularly relevant to workplace health and safety considerations, leave entitlements, or work-from-home arrangements. Even if employees are working from home, workplace health and safety laws continue to apply.
For example, if altering employees' entitlements (such as by altering their sick leave entitlements) the employer may need to consider any applicable employment award or enterprise agreement, as well as the National Employment Standards, as set out in the Fair Work Act 2009 (Commonwealth). The National Employment Standards apply to many employees in Australia, and set out various minimum standards of employment.
If necessary, review employment contracts and any applicable laws, or seek legal advice if there are any concerns. The Fair Work Ombudsman also provides some useful information in relation to coronavirus and Australian workplace laws.
This amendment agreement should include information such as:
Be sure to be as specific as possible, and to include the subsection numbers and names if there are any in the original contract.
This document creates permanent changes to the employment contract. If the parties intend the changes to only apply for a limited period of time, then they will need to ensure that they make this clear when drafting the changes. For example, if the parties only intend for the changes to remain in effect for the duration of the coronavirus pandemic, then they should state that that the changes are only effective until the World Health Organisation declares that the COVID-19 Pandemic is over.
Once the amendment has been completed, it should be signed by both parties.
The amendment should then be filed and maintained with the original employment contract so that anyone looking at the contract will know that it has been amended.
General principles of contract law apply to contract amendments.
Each state and territory has legislation in relation to work health and safety. Further information is available from Safe Work Australia.
In addition, general principles of employment law will apply to the employment relationship. Employment contracts may be interpreted in accordance with general principles of contract law, as provided by the common law. In some cases, an employment award or enterprise agreement may apply. The National Employment Standards, as set out in the Fair Work Act 2009 (Commonwealth) may also apply.
If in doubt, seek legal advice.
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