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Employment contracts have been a major source of litigation in recent years, with some cases leading to very large payouts. This subject examines the evolving law of employment contracts, and other related kinds of personal work contracts. Drawing on recent cases as well as leading articles by Australian and international scholars, the lecturers consider several key questions. These include determining and varying contract terms, employer and employee duties, non-compete clauses, termination and damages. The subject also looks at the interaction between employment contracts and major statutes, such as the Australian Consumer Law and the Fair Work Act 2009 (Cth). The subject seeks to combine discussions of the practical realities of contracting with a broader analysis of the underlying assumptions in current law.
Principal topics include:
- The scope of employment regulation: which work relationships are covered?
- The regulation of independent contracting, such as agency relationships
- The content of the employment contract: express terms
- The content of the employment contract: implied terms
- Non-compete clauses and restraint of trade
- Employment, the Competition and Consumer Act 2010 (Cth) and estoppel
- Variation and flexibility in the employment contract
- Termination and remedies at common law
- The relationship between contracts, awards and agreements.
Intended learning outcomes
A student who has successfully completed this subject will:
- Have an advanced and integrated understanding of the legal principles relevant to the individual employment relationship, including recent developments in this field of law and practice
- Be able to critically examine, analyse, interpret and assess the effectiveness of these legal rules
- Be an engaged participant in debate regarding emerging and contemporary issues in the field, such as recruitment; non-compete obligations; the interaction between express and implied contractual terms; the relationship between policies and employment contracts and the relationship between federal legislation (the Fair Work Act 2009 (Cth) and the Competition and Consumer Act 2010 (Cth)) and employment contracts
- Have a sophisticated appreciation of judicial decision-making in this field, and the factors and processes driving parliamentary approaches to the individual employment relationship
- Have an advanced understanding of situations in which the regulation of the individual employment relationship is relevant in work relationships and management practices
- Have a detailed understanding of the development of Australian employment contract law in an international context
- Have the cognitive and technical skills to generate critical and creative ideas relating to the regulation of the employment relationship, and to critically evaluate existing legal theories, principles and concepts with creativity and autonomy
- Have the cognitive and technical skills to independently examine, research and analyse existing and emerging legal issues relating to employment relationships
- Have the communication skills to clearly articulate and convey complex information regarding the employment relationship to relevant specialist and non-specialist audiences
- Be able to demonstrate autonomy, expert judgment and responsibility as a practitioner and learner in the field of the individual employment relationship.
Last updated: 3 November 2022