In Australia, executives, including directors, CEOs and senior managers, have certain workplace rights and obligations. Because of this, these executives sometimes require specialist legal advice, especially when it comes to dispute resolution, negotiating employment contracts or understanding their rights.
At Owen Hodge, our executive employment lawyers are experienced in dealing with a number of executive employment matters. If you have any questions about executive rights, please don’t hesitate to contact Owen Hodge.
Does the Fair Work Act apply to executives?
Even for the most senior executives, there are minimum conditions and rights set out in the Fair Work Act 2009 that must be compiled with. Examples of common workplace rights include the right to:
- Take annual, personal and parental leave
- Make a complaint or inquiry under workplace laws
- A safe work environment that is free from discrimination, such as:
What other rights are executives entitled to?
In addition to the above, executive employees may also be entitled to other executive rights that make up remuneration packages. These include:
- Sign-on bonuses
- Relocation allowances
- Housing or accommodation
- Children’s education
- Share options
- First-class air travel
- Interest-free home loans
Executive employees should also always ensure that the terms and conditions set out in their employment contract are customised for their own benefit – particularly regarding the provisions of notice and redundancy.
If you require any assistance with executive employment contracts, please get in touch with Owen Hodge’s executive employment lawyers.
Executive termination & redundancy
If a business becomes insolvent/bankrupt or an employee’s job is no longer needed, it is possible for an executive employee to become redundant.
Often, the priority for an executive that has been made redundant is to maximise their termination/redundancy payout. This payout will most likely be determined by the National Employment Standard (NES) and the executives contract. If there is no contractual term providing for redundancy pay, a senior executive’s legal entitlement may be limited to the NES.
Can executives claim unfair dismissal?
In the Fair Work Act, there is a high income threshold that limits an employee’s eligibility to be protected from unfair dismissal. As of July 2021, this threshold sits at $158,500.
As a result, the unfair dismissal remedy is of no relevance to most senior executives due to the presence of the salary cap.
Public sector executives
However, a public sector senior executive or an executive working in the college, academic or health services will be entitled to unfair dismissal claims since the terms and conditions of employment are regulated by a State or Federal industrial instrument or by an enterprise bargaining agreement.
Alternative cause of action
However, if a senior employee was wrongfully terminated (i.e. for reasons of race, colour, sexual preference, age, physical or mental disability etc, or because of illness or injury or filing a complaint), they may still be able to take legal action.
The senior employee may be able to:
- Make a claim under the State or Federal Equal Opportunity legislation or Commonwealth Trade Practices Act; or
- Claim for unlawful termination; or
- Claim under common law for breach of contract
In such situations, the executive should speak to an experienced unfair dismissal lawyer to discuss their rights and entitlements.
Our executive employment lawyers are by your side
At Owen Hodge Lawyers, our executive employment rights lawyers have experience servicing middle to senior-level executives with all their employment matters. We always strive to get the best outcome for middle and senior executives – be it through negotiating a contract in your favour or representing you in dispute resolution matters relating to your employment.
Frequently asked questions
Some common examples of director’s rights include:
- The right to remain in office until removed (with a valid reason)
- The right to be involved in board meetings/decisions
- The right to have access to confidential information and necessary documentation
- The right to delegate any of their powers to another person (providing it does not breach any company policies)
An executive contract is an employment contact for an employee who serves in an executive capacity within a company. The contract outlines the terms and conditions of the employment.
Similar to a non-executive employee, you must follow a process when terminating a senior manager. This includes:
- Having a valid reason for termination.
- Issuing the manager with written warnings and giving them an opportunity to improve before termination is considered.
- Inviting the manager to a formal disciplinary meeting where they can be accompanied by a support person.
- Complying with the notice period set out in their employment contract.
If a proper process is not followed, the senior manager may claim the terminating employer is in breach of employment contract. If you are unsure about how to terminate a senior employee or believe you have been wrongfully terminated, speak to the executive employment lawyers at Owen Hodge