July 18, 2022

Employment and Workplace Relations: Early legal intervention is almost ALWAYS best

Employment and workplace relations

When it comes to legal matters, especially those affecting employment and workplace relations, early legal intervention is almost always your best option. Waiting to see how things turn out usually allows situations to escalate into matters that can become more complex, more time consuming and require more resources to resolve.

That can be costly, not just financially but also in terms of your relationship with your entire workplace and damage to your public reputation. Here we explore EIGHT common workplace legal situations that can cost an employer dearly, and the solutions you can put in place to mitigate that cost while resolving legal issues quickly.

There are many employment circumstances where early legal intervention can assist all those involved: the employer, the employees and the business itself.

Many business leaders – business owners, executives and senior managers – find themselves in situations where they are large enough to endure regularly occurring legal matters but not of a size that warrants inhouse lawyers.

Unfortunately, added to this dilemma is an innate hesitancy for business leaders to call in legal support early. This is most often due to negative perceptions of legal processes and fees.

In our experience, legal services on retainer provide fast access to legal advice that can prevent or quickly curtail escalating legal matters. This is invaluable when faced with legal matters that continue to roll in, stealing your time and causing distraction.

Here are eight common, some seemingly innocuous, legal situations faced by mid-sized businesses in the mining and resources business sectors that can quickly escalate into more complex legal matters:

1: An employee makes a throw away comment regarding another employee’s actions. The reaction to those comments escalates to performance reviews and employee unrest.

2: Social media comments or interactions between employees or groups of employees are creating issues with customers or other employees, and generally affecting the integrity of the business.

3: The employer or management team needs to counsel or critique an employee.

4: An employee continually takes sick leave with or without a medical certificate.

5: An employee is not performing and there needs to be performance management of that employee.

6: An employee makes an enquiry about their right to access maternity, paternity or domestic violence leave.

7: The business is using out of date documents and policies or the business’ policies do not address important matters or focus on the wrong issues.

8: The business needs to explore downsizing or redundancy options.

Workplace problems and unrest can develop into fully fledged legal disputes quickly and this can bring unwelcome side-effects. These commonly include distraction from your core business, poor employee morale that affects productivity and, in some situations, media headlines that can tarnish a business as well as an employer’s personal reputation.

Having a lawyer on retainer that you can speak to quickly pursuant to the retainer arrangements, can solve and resolve a lot of issues before those small matters turn into something much bigger and more costly.

There are numerous benefits for both parties involved in retainer arrangements. Among them, smooth cash flow as legal retainers are paid in regular, affordable and planned instalments over the period of the engagement. You can read more about this along with the efficiency, value and fairness of legal retainers here.

Next steps

To decide whether a legal retainer is suitable for your business, may I suggest you review the legal services you have engaged over the past 12 to 24 months.

To do this, identify the type of legal issues you dealt with most commonly; calculate the number of hours your executive or management team dedicated to managing those and other incidental legal issues over that time as a direct management time cost; and add up how much you paid in ad hoc legal fees for that period.

May I then invite you to contact me for a discussion about your legal requirements, which will likely extend beyond the employment and workplace relations issues identified here to other matters such as commercial law, property law and litigation, and how a legal retainer can provide affordable and fair legal support when you need it most.

Please contact Robert Lamb on +61 (0) 7 3007 2000 or email contact@resourcesunearthed.com.au

 Resources Unearthed is a solutions hub that provides integrated financial, legal, property, accounting and business advisory services for executives, professionals and business owners in the mining and resources sectors.

The information in this article is intended only to provide a general overview and has not been prepared with a view to any particular situation or set of circumstances. It is not intended to be comprehensive nor does it constitute legal advice. While we attempt to ensure the information is current and accurate, we do not guarantee its currency and accuracy. You should seek legal or other professional advice before acting or relying on any of the information in this blog as it may not be appropriate for your individual circumstances.



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