The Big Question

Can an employee work permanently full-time or part-time in your business and also work casually for you on the weekends? This is a common question that many small and medium businesses face. In this article, we’ll delve into the intricacies of dual employment contracts, offering insights and practical steps to navigate this terrain while ensuring compliance with industrial relations laws.

Understanding Dual Employment Contracts

Dual employment contracts entail one employee holding two separate contracts with the same employer, typically involving distinct roles and responsibilities. This arrangement can provide both employers and employees with increased flexibility and opportunities for additional income. However, it’s essential to approach dual contracts thoughtfully to avoid potential legal, operational and work health and safety pitfalls.

Key Considerations

  • Initiation of the Arrangement: Any dual employment arrangement must be initiated at the employee’s request, ensuring the employee is volunteering and is not coerced. For instance, an employee may seek to take on a weekend role unrelated to their primary job for personal development or supplemental income.
  • Role Differentiation: To comply with industrial relations laws, the duties performed under each contract must be distinctly different. This helps prevent conflicts of interest and ensures that employees can fulfil their obligations effectively in both roles.
  • Legal Compliance: Dual employment arrangements must adhere to relevant laws and regulations governing employment, including those related to minimum wage, Award classifications (if applicable), and other employment conditions. Employers must navigate these legal considerations to avoid potential liabilities.
  • WHS Considerations: Employers should consider whether the secondary role puts the employee at risk of fatigue (or any other work health and safety requirements).
  • Conflicts of Interest: Consideration should be given to whether there is any other potential conflict or interference with the primary role. For example, if someone is expected to do reasonable overtime in their primary role but they are unwilling or unable to do this due to their commitment to the secondary role.
  • Over Time and Penalty Payments: Ensuring that you pay the right overtime, penalty, and any other payments can be tricky if you don’t have experience working with Awards and Employment contracts. Additionally, employers should not use this as an excuse to try and circumvent overtime payments or penalty rates in the primary position.

Exploring Real-Life Scenarios

Let’s consider a practical example to illustrate the application of dual employment contracts. Imagine a Digital Marketing Manager, Sarah, working full-time for a marketing agency during the week. Sarah possesses excellent organisational skills and a passion for event planning. The agency hosts numerous events throughout the year on weekends, so Sarah expressed interest in assisting the Event Manager as an Events Assistant on the weekends.

In this scenario, Sarah’s primary role as a Digital Marketing Manager is distinct from her weekend gig as an Events Assistant. By seeking additional work in a field distinctly different to her primary job, Sarah aims to expand her skill set, network, and earning potential for a house deposit. Meanwhile, her employer benefits from Sarah’s enhanced capabilities and strengthened commitment to her primary role.

Maximising Benefits

When implemented strategically, dual employment contracts can offer numerous benefits for both employers and employees:

  1. Enhanced Flexibility: Dual contracts enable businesses to adapt to fluctuating workloads and employee preferences, promoting a more agile and responsive workforce.
  2. Skill Development: Employees can broaden their skill sets, gain diverse experiences, and pursue personal and professional growth opportunities through dual roles.
  3. Supplemental Income: For employees, weekend or casual roles can provide additional income streams and financial stability without having to work for a different employer, contributing to overall job satisfaction and well-being.

What Employers Should Do Next

If an employer gets a request from an employee to work in a secondary position in their organisation they should:

  1. Review both positions to ensure they are significantly different roles and ensure that they have a detailed position description for each role.
  2. Seek advice from an experienced HR practitioner to review the roles and any relevant Awards or Legislation to make sure it is allowable in your industry/organisation.
  3. Check that your payroll system can accommodate one employee working in two roles which may have different pay rates and conditions.
  4. Ensure that the employee has two different employment contracts covering each distinct role.
  5. Keep records of the written employee requests, contracts and any other relevant information supporting the dual roles.
  6. Review this arrangement regularly to meet both changing Legislative and Award requirements as well as the employees preferences.

In Conclusion

Dual employment contracts present a viable option for businesses seeking to optimise workforce flexibility while ensuring legal compliance and employee satisfaction. By carefully considering factors such as voluntariness, role differentiation, and legal obligations, businesses can harness the potential of dual contracts to create mutually beneficial arrangements for all parties involved. Through clear communication, transparent agreements, and a focus on mutual benefit, businesses can unlock new opportunities for productivity, growth, and success.