The Department of Labour is reminding employers that the law now requires them to keep signed written employment agreements for all their staff.

Since 1 July all employers are required to keep signed copies of employment agreements or current terms and conditions for all employees, or they may face a penalty.

“Employment agreements are required for all employees no matter when they started work,” says Annie Newman, the Department’s Acting Chief Adviser of Employment Relations.

“This affects all employees including those hired on a verbal agreement or employees who do not have current written agreements in place,” says Ms Newman.

“Having a clearly written employment agreement helps reduce the risk of misunderstandings and there are some provisions that must be included in employment agreements,’’ she says.

They must include the name of the employer and employee, a description of the work to be performed, the place of employment, times the employee is to work, the wages or salary, and an explanation of services available for solving problems.

“It’s the employer’s responsibility to maintain and keep an up to date copy of each employee’s agreement and provide a copy of the agreement if an employee requests it,” Ms Newman says.

The Department of Labour has developed an Employment Agreement Builder to help employers through this process.

Failure to ensure an employment agreement is in place for all employees may result in a labour inspector taking a penalty action against an employer. This involves a seven-day notice period to rectify the breach and if this isn’t complied with then penalties may be sought in the Employment Relations Authority of up to $10,000 for individuals and $20,000 for companies.