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Employee Benefits

Salary is no longer the sole determinant of whether a successful candidate accepts a job offer. Further, it is no longer the only thing that retains employees. Employee benefits are a great way to incentivise your employees. Greater employee satisfaction also results in higher productivity.
Some common benefits offered to employees are:

  • Insurance
  • Mobile phone plans
  • Lifestyle and health (such as gym memberships)
  • Sponsored professional development
  • Catering during work hours
  • Travel allowances

Legislation

Legislation governing employment is found in both the State and Federal jurisdictions. The majority of employment disputes fall under the Fair Work Act 2009 (Cth) and under the domain of the Fair Work Ombudsman or the Fair Work Commission (FWC).

Terms of employment also fall under the National Employment Standards (NES) and minimum remuneration falls under the national industry Award rate. An employment contract must comply with the minimum standards set out in the NES and relevant Industry Award.

What is an Employee Benefits Lawyer?

An employee benefits lawyer is a lawyer that focuses on devising employee benefit and compensation schemes. Specifically, these lawyers focus on the creation of schemes surrounding lifestyle, health and welfare, retirement, employment incentives and compensation. The purpose of these schemes is to provide non-wage compensation to employees additional to their salaries either as a form of bonus or perk. The law in this area is complex particularly because these benefits are regulated in certain ways in order to reduce tax evasion. A lawyer in this field understands the tax obligations of such a benefit scheme whilst being able to create and implement them effectively.

Why do I need an Employee Benefits Lawyer?

If you run or manage a business and are looking to implement a form of employee benefit scheme, it is beneficial to engage with an employee benefits lawyer. Their experience in the area of employment law gives them knowledge of the most efficient way to implement a scheme of your choosing. Beside this if you have already given employees benefits such as fringe benefits, a lawyer in this field will be able to help you understand and minimise your tax obligations. They are particularly helpful if you are looking to implement any form of executive compensation through both financial and non-financial rewards.

What will an Employee Benefits Lawyer provide?

The goal of an employee benefits lawyer is to successfully implement the correct policy for any benefit scheme. In order to do this, they might be required to complete specific documentation or agreements for employees to follow and agree to. Besides this, they will provide effective advice regarding the tax implications of such a scheme.

How much will an Employee Benefits Lawyer charge?

Employee benefit lawyers, like most employment lawyers, don’t have fixed rates. Depending on the scheme your business is looking to implement it is likely they will charge by the hour. This will be the case particularly if the lawyer is required to draft specific documents to coincide with the employee benefit scheme.

When you submit a quote through LawPath, we’ll source you quotes from a range of expert employee benefit lawyers. All of our lawyers work on a fixed-priced basis, meaning you always know how much the process will cost.

Hourly rates and Court fees

The cost of an Employee Benefits Lawyer will vary based on the scope of the work. Small issues likely to be addressed quickly will cost less. For matters that will need to go to the relevant Court or Tribunal, there may be additional fees involved, particularly as this work takes time. These types of matters may also involve obtaining documents and negotiating with the other party.

What can an Employee Benefits Lawyer legally charge?

Legal costs can rise very quickly, especially in litigation. However, this is sometimes hard to avoid when work is being done by a lawyer on an hourly basis. Where fixed-fees are not offered by the lawyer, you should expect to be invoiced on a monthly basis with a time period within which you are required to make payment. Lawyers are required to adhere to the rules outlined in the relevant acts. For example, in NSW and Victoria, this is the Legal Profession Uniform Law 2014. Lawyers who do not comply with these rules can face disciplinary action from the law society of their State.

Lawyers are required to provide to their clients a document called a ‘costs disclosure’ if your costs will be higher than $750.00. This document will outline how costs will be calculated in relation to your case. Also be mindful that costs are divided into ‘professional costs’ and ‘disbursements’, and you will be expected to pay for both. Professional costs are the costs of the actual work done by the lawyer, whilst disbursements cover incidentals such as court filing fees, telephone calls, photocopying charges – amongst other things.

What if I don’t agree with the costs?

You have the right to request an itemised bill that will outline how much time was spent on each task in relation to your matter, and how this adds up to the fee you’re requested to pay. If you wish to dispute the cost, you can make a complaint to the The Office of the Legal Services Commissioner (OLSC) and they will investigate the matter and may allocate a costs assessor. You can also take further legal action in the Courts if you feel you have been unfairly charged.

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