What is a breach of employment contract?
A breach of an employment contract occurs when one party involved in the employment agreement fails to meet their obligations or violates the terms and conditions outlined in the contract.
Employment contracts can be written or implied, but written contracts are more common and provide a clear record of the agreed-upon terms and conditions of employment.
Breach of employment contract by an employer
A breach of employment contract by an employer may occur in various ways, including the following.
Failure to pay agreed-upon wages or benefits
If an employer doesn't pay an employee the salary or benefits stipulated in the employment contract, it constitutes a breach of contract.
If an employee is terminated without just cause or without following the termination procedures outlined in the contract, it can be a breach of the employment contract. For example, if the contract specifies a notice period that the employer fails to provide, it's a breach.
Violation of non-compete or non-disclosure agreements
If the employment contract includes non-compete or non-disclosure clauses, and the employer knowingly allows or requires the employee to violate these terms, it can be considered a breach.
Failure to provide promised job duties or advancement opportunities
If the employer fails to provide the job responsibilities or advancement opportunities specified in the contract, it can be seen as a breach. For instance, if an employer promised a promotion after a certain period but doesn't fulfill that promise.
Unsafe working conditions
If the employment contract specifies certain safety or working condition standards that the employer doesn't meet, it can be considered a breach of contract. For more information about workplace safety, visit Safe Work Australia.
Discrimination & harassment
If an employer engages in discrimination, harassment, or other inappropriate behavior that violates anti-discrimination laws or the terms of the contract, it may be a breach.
Denial of agreed-upon benefits or perks
If an employer doesn't provide the benefits or perks, such as health insurance, retirement contributions, or paid time off, as outlined in the employment contract, it can be a breach.
Violation of terms related to hours, location, or remote work
If the contract specifies certain work hours, location, or remote work arrangements and the employer unilaterally changes these terms without employee consent, it can be a breach.
Breach of terms related to severance or termination pay
If the contract includes terms related to severance or termination pay, and the employer doesn't provide the agreed-upon compensation when an employee is terminated, it can be a breach.
Unilateral changes to the employment contract
If the employer makes significant changes to the terms and conditions of employment without the employee's consent, it can be considered a breach.
In the event of an employer breaching an employment contract, the affected employee may have legal recourse, including the right to seek damages or other remedies through negotiation, mediation, arbitration, or litigation, depending on the specific circumstances and applicable laws. It's essential to consult with an attorney or legal expert to understand the options and the appropriate course of action in such situations.
Breach of employment contract by an employee
A breach of employment contract by an employee may occur in various ways, depending on the terms and conditions outlined in the specific contract. Here are some common examples of how an employee might breach their employment contract.
Failure to fulfill the duties and responsibilities outlined in the employment contract, such as consistently missing work, not completing assigned tasks, or underperforming in their role.
Violation of company policies
Breaking internal rules and policies established by the employer, such as violating codes of conduct, safety protocols, or other workplace regulations.
Unauthorised disclosure of confidential information
Sharing sensitive company information, trade secrets, or proprietary data with unauthorized individuals or competitors.
Conflict of interest
Engaging in activities or relationships that create a conflict of interest, which may compromise the employee's ability to act in the best interest of the employer. This can include working for a competitor, conducting personal business during work hours, or participating in activities that directly undermine the employer's business.
Moonlighting without permission
Taking on additional employment outside of the primary job without obtaining prior approval from the employer, especially if it competes with or interferes with the employee's ability to perform their job effectively.
Breach of non-compete agreements
Violating a non-compete clause in the contract by working for a direct competitor or starting a competing business within the specified geographical and temporal boundaries outlined in the contract.
Unauthorised absence or excessive absenteeism
Repeatedly missing work without proper notification or exceeding the allowed number of absences as per the contract terms.
Violation of intellectual property rights
Using the employer's intellectual property (such as patents, copyrights, or trademarks) for personal gain or without proper authorization.
Violation of notice period
Failing to provide the required notice before resigning or leaving the job, as specified in the contract.
Breach of non-solicitation agreements
Soliciting the employer's clients, customers, or employees after leaving the company, in violation of a non-solicitation clause in the contract.
Misuse of company resources
Unauthorized use or misuse of company property, equipment, or resources for personal purposes.
Breach of confidentiality agreements
Disclosing sensitive information about the company or its operations to third parties without permission.
It's important to note that the specific terms and conditions of employment contracts can vary widely, so the circumstances under which an employee may breach their contract can also differ. If an employee is found to be in breach of their employment contract, the employer may have various options, including issuing warnings, termination of employment, or pursuing legal action, depending on the severity of the breach and the contract's provisions. Legal advice should be sought when addressing employment contract breaches to ensure compliance with applicable laws and regulations.