[EP 009] Tips for Avoiding Unfair Dismissal Claims

We want to talk today about all of the things that you can do differently. The small things that you can put in place in your business to try and set it up into the position that you’re able to avoid the risk of unfair dismissal claims or at least reduce the risk as much as possible.

 
 
 

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CLICK HERE to download our Tips for Avoiding Unfair Dismissal Allegations plus a copy of the transcript for this episode.

EPISODE HIGHLIGHTS

0:45 Risks in Terminating Employees

1:45 The Disgruntled Employee

3:02 Dodging An Unfair Dismissal Claim

3:15 Redundancy or Termination

3:48 Poor Conduct or Performance

6:14 The Case with Resignation

6:47 Four Action Steps

9:58 Unfair Dismissal vs Breach of Contract Claim

10:49 Who has the power to hire and fire?

11:20 Importance of a Clear Record Keeping Process

11:48 Train the Management Team

12:08 Avoid On-the-Spot Dismissals

12:50 Don't Delay Your Decisions for Too Long

14:18 Give Them a Chance to Respond

14:40 When in Doubt, Get Advice

14:59 Quick Recap

FULL TRANSCRIPT

Hi! It’s Joanna Oakey here. Welcome back to Talking Law.

Today we're talking about tips for avoiding unfair dismissal claims. Why is this area important for businesses?

The Risks in Terminating Employees

I find that often businesses don’t understand the risks involved in terminating employees until they find themselves sitting at the end of an unfair dismissal claim by an employee that they’ve just terminated. I’ve had clients who come to us in this situation where wasted time and money could have easily been avoided just by doing a few things differently.

We want to talk today about all of the things that you can do differently. The small things that you can put in place in your business to try and set it up into the position that you’re able to avoid the risk of unfair dismissal claims or at least reduce the risk as much as possible.

There’s lots of legal firms out there that tap for business from disgruntled employees so you just need to be aware that if termination isn’t managed correctly, there’s a lot of risks on the table and a lot of people who are happy to exploit that risks.

So what is this all about?

The Disgruntled Employee

What does a disgruntled employee have to do to make a claim against you if you terminate them?

The first thing for you to understand is that the process is very simple. A disgruntled employee simply has to fill in the form with the Fair Work Commission. Pay a small fee, which is currently seventy dollars. Lodge it. There you go, an unfair dismissal claims process is on its way.

Alternatively, they could just do simple Google search and find the mountains of lawyers that are touting for their work in this area because it’s big business for lawyers out there acting for disgruntled employees, helping them make claims against their previous employers.

  • The terminated employee has twenty-one days to make an application for an unfair dismissal.
  • They need to have been employed for more than six months before the dismissal. But for some businesses who fit in to the small business heading, that is extended to twelve months. Therefore, if you dismiss an employee during that period, the employee can’t bring an unfair dismissal claim.
  • Finally, the employee needs to show that the dismissal was unfair. Soon we’ll talk about what that actually means.

Avoid the risks of unfair dismissal claims, know your rights as an employer

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Dodging An Unfair Dismissal Claim

How do you ensure that you don’t end up with a claim against your business? Or if there is a claim, then lessen likelihood that you’ll be found to have acted unfairly in the situation?

Redundancy or Termination

  • You need to consider whether the dismissal is really a redundancy. By that I mean the work that they are doing doesn’t need to be done anymore.
 

If in fact what you’re dealing with is a redundancy rather than a termination, say for example a termination on the basis of poor performance, then you’ll need to deal with this in a different way. We’re not talking about redundancy situations today but certainly we’ll have that in future episodes. So the first thing: consider whether or not the dismissal is really redundancy.

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Poor Conduct or Performance

  • If the dismissal is due to poor conduct or performance you need to have warned the employee about the issues and have given them clear instructions that they need to improve their conduct or performance otherwise they will be dismissed.
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You need to have this warning process set up in the background. To do that, you need to then be monitoring the performance of your employees and have systems that pick up problems with the performance of your employees before things gets so bad that you’re at the point of considering dismissal.

If you have systems in place that help you identify performance issues before they get out of control, this also gives you the ability to potentially remedy the situation so that you don’t end up in the situation when you need to terminate them.

It’s really important when you do have these meetings about conduct and performance that you are clear about what they can do to improve their conduct or performance and that you document these meetings because you need to be able to, at the end of the day, prove that you have complied with this requirement, that you have provided a warning to the employee about their conduct and performance and given them instructions about how they can remedy that performance and ensure that they are aware that their job may be terminated if they don’t fix the issues.

  • You need to provide a reasonable amount of time for the employee to improve their performance or conduct.
  • You need to provide assistance, if necessary, to help them improve their performance or conduct.
  • If the poor performance or conduct continues, you then need to give the employee a reason for the dismissal and give them an opportunity to respond.
  • My final point here is, you need to keep a record of warnings made and how the conduct or performance could be improved. I talked about that above, but it’s so important that I’ve included it again as another step.

Here’s all of the things that you should be doing to ensure that you don’t have the risk of an unfair dismissal claim being brought against your organisation.

The case with resignation

What if there have been issues and then your employee resigns? I’ve had this question post me in the past and it’s important that you’re very careful in this area because we've seen actual cases where what appeared to be resignation on the surface ended up in the disgruntled employee still claiming that there had been a dismissal by the employer. t’s reaIlly important to understand what the warning signs are and to get legal advice as soon as problems start appearing.

Four Action Steps

We talked earlier about what unfair dismissal claims are and the basis upon which a disgruntled employee could make an unfair dismissal claim against you. But now I just want to go through some action steps about what you can do from a whole business perspective in terms of protecting yourself against the situation of an employee bringing an unfair dismissal allegation.

10 Step Guide to building the business environment to avoid unfair dismissal claims

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I’ve created a guide to help you in this area if you’d like something in hard copy. I’ve got a Ten Step Guide to Building the Business Environment to Avoid Unfair Dismissal claims. You’ll find that at our website talkinglaw.com.au under this particular episode.

Now I just want to give you these top tips:

  1. It begins right when you employ your new employees. You need to have the right communications in place and then right employment agreement in place. When you first hire your employees, you have to be clear and specify what you expect from them and make sure your company policies are clearly written and easily understood and available and well known to employees so they understand what your expectations are.
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  1. You need to have the right employment agreement in place making sure that it‘s up to date with current legislation and that it is clear about what the requirements for your business.
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  1. Ensure that your contracts don’t create excessive limitations on your relationship with your employees. We’ve seen many employment contracts that unnecessarily reduce the employer’s rights due to being used in the wrong ways. But we’ve also, on the flip side, seen many employment contracts that unnecessarily complicate the termination process. Just make sure your employment contracts don’t fall into either of these traps and that it’s clear for you and for the employee what the termination process is (i.e. your rights to terminate the employee) and also make sure that their obligations during the term of the employment are clear.
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  1. Make sure you set the right probation period for your new employees. It’s standard to provide a probationary period for your new employees. As I’ve said earlier in this podcast, an employee can’t bring an unfair dismissal claim against your business if they have been dismissed within the first six months. They might bring another claim, like for example unlawful termination, which we won’t go through today, or termination on the basis of other things. But those are much higher buzz for an employee to bring a claim under.
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Today we’re just talking about the area of unfair dismissal which is a broader and easier claim for an employee to bring. But they can’t bring that type of claim if it is within the first six months of their employment with you or if you qualify as a small business, then within the first twelve months.

Unfair Dismissal vs Breach of Contract Claim

But if in your contract with your employee you don’t have a right to terminate, then say for example you’ve set out a fixed term contract or you haven’t given yourself any particular right of termination within the probationary period, an employee, even though they may not have the right for an unfair dismissal claim, might have a right in a contract breach claim if what you have done in the termination is in breach of the clauses that you’ve set out in your employment contracts.

That’s another trick for the unwary and something to bear in mind to make sure that you’re not making your obligations more difficult for your business by the sort of clausing that you’re adopting in your employment contracts.

Who has the power to hire and fire?

Another tip for business is to determine who has the power to hire and fire. Here is where it’s really important to have good communication with your managers and be clear about who has the responsibility when it comes to recruitment, discipline and termination and make sure you have documentation in place that sets out these delegations and a process for what you do if the responsible staff is away when an issue occurs and that’s something that’s often forgotten in this process.

Importance of A Clear Record Keeping Process

My next tip is to have a clear process about records and record keeping. You need to have a process in place that ensures that all staff that are involved in recruitment, discipline and termination take and keep appropriate notes of all relevant discussions with employees that could affect the employment relationship in the future and you need to have a clear way of saving these records so that you can find them if you need them in the future.

Train the Management Team

My next tip is to make sure you give your managers and supervisors’ adequate training. Some dismissals arise due to personality clashes and can't be avoided. However, giving your management team education and knowledge about the risks and the best practices that should be followed will reduce the risk of any future unfair dismissal claims.

Avoid On-the-Spot Dismissals

My next tip is to try to avoid on-the-spot dismissals. An employee who commits a gross breach of their contract won’t be able to substantiate an unfair dismissal claim. However, where the employee’s actions are not deliberate but rather the result of poor judgment, summary dismissal may not be justified even if a valid reason exists for termination.

Should you practice on the spot dismissals?

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The case law in this area is littered with the examples of organisations that found themselves in trouble after trying to use the on-the-spot dismissal process. The decision to implement an on-the-spot dismissal should only be taken after careful consultation with someone who understands this area of the law.

Don't delay your decisions for too long

But my next tip is do not overly delay your decision. It’s really important that if you have followed the process of provided warnings and you’ve documented those warnings you need to follow through quickly because if action issues have been occurring over a long period of time and you haven’t been taking any action and you suddenly one day take action without any warning, then that is likely to be something that would create an issue for you moving forward in terms of an unfair dismissal claim.

So while I recommend avoiding on-the-spot dismissals, you also should ensure you don’t delay your decision for too long. You need to make sure you issue warning letters when needed. Keep a record and follow up. There’s no absolute rule, but I advise that you should give two warning letters followed by a final warning and ultimately dismissal if there is no improvement. Of course these warning letters should also be accompanied by a meeting with the employee that deals with some of those things that we talked about earlier in terms of giving the employee insight into what the poor performance or issues consist of and how they can go about improving and the fact that if they don’t improve then you would be considering termination.

Give them a chance to respond

And finally, before you dismiss an employee, give them a chance to state their case. Put forward your reason for the proposed dismissal and give the employee a chance to respond. You don’t necessarily have to use this to change your mind about the dismissal but the important thing is to at least give them the opportunity to respond.

When in Doubt, Get Advice

If you’re in a situation that is looking like might be leading to a dismissal, I recommend getting advice quickly if you’re not sure what you’re doing in the area, if you’re not absolutely sure if you followed the right processes.

Quick recap

In this episode we talked about:

  • Tips for avoiding unfair dismissal claims
  • Why this area is important
  • How easy it is for an employee to potentially bring an unfair dismissal claim
  • The sorts of things that would have to be proven to show that there was an unfair dismissal
  • A range of tips to avoid the situation where you need to get into the area of needing to make dismissals; and
  • If you are in that difficult situation, then the tips for how you can ensure that you’ve done the right things and documented the right things to protect yourself as much as possible if indeed an unfair dismissal claim is made.
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If you’d like more information about this topic, just head over to our website at talkinglaw.com.au for our free download on the simple tips to avoiding unfair dismissal claims. Also, through that website you’ll be able to download a transcript to this podcast if you’d like to read it in more detail and you’d also find details on how to contact our lawyers at Aspect Legal, if you’d like help with any of the issues that we talk about today or if you would like to talk through the process that you’re adopting at the moment within your organisation.

I'd also like to find out what you’re interested in hearing about. If you have any questions, we'd love for you to head over to our website at talkinglaw.com.au and leave us a message via our website there or pop us an email to aspectlegal.com.au and just let us know what you’d like to hear about. We’ll be answering listener questions in future episodes. And finally, if you enjoyed what you heard here today, please pop over to iTunes and leave us a review. We’d be very thankful.

Thanks again for listening in and hopefully we’ll see you next time.

One common legal issue businesses face are problems that crop up from time to time with clients. This can lead to clients paying slowly, or not at all, costly and time consuming disputes, and brand damage. In this episode we discuss how having the right approach from the start can help you to avoid most of these problems.

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Episode Highlights

1:40 Five customer engagement issues you need to look into

5:11 Setting up the right terms and conditions

6:00 What should you include in your terms and conditions

6:38 Clarity on responsibility of both parties

7:49 Clarify who owns the intellectual property

9:06 Payment terms – incentives and penalties

9:57 Liability clauses you need to include

13:50 Writing your terms and conditions in plain English

14:55 Fulfill your own terms – and be proactive

16:24 Consider the cost of inaction

17:31 Four action steps you need to take

Full Transcript

Today we’re talking about the ways that you can set up your client relationships right from the start.

So, why is this important? One common legal issue that businesses face, are problems that crop up from time to time with clients or customers, depending on which language you use.

That might reflect itself in:

  • Clients being slow payers;
  • Clients not paying at all;
  • Clients that raise issues with the goods or services you’ve provided;
  • Clients that try to terminate contracts with you before they’ve come to an end; or, at the worst,
  • Situations where clients try to make you liable for the loss they have suffered, that potentially could even be greater than the value of the goods or services that you’ve provided to them.

The most common of all of these that I see are payment related issues and disputes about the goods or services that have been provided. Although, I have to note that when disputes occur, they often directly link also to slow non-payment as well because when customers aren’t happy they generally stop paying, so all of these problems can be interlinked.

In most cases these sorts of issues essentially come down to a failure in the process of the original engagement with the customer and the systems you set up right from the start to support them and deal with any issues as they occur. For example, generally I see these issues arising from one of these particular situations:

  1. Terms and conditions or terms of sale that have been used in the beginning that haven’t had the right clauses included or, they’ve had the clauses but they’ve been set up in a way that means that they don’t have the effect that they were meant to have;
  2. There were no Terms and Conditions right from the beginning of the relationship with the client;
  3. The Terms and Conditions were not read and understood by the client;
  4. There was a lack of communication in any engagement process and throughout the relationship, which then allowed issues to bubble up to the surface; or, finally
  5. There was a lack of systems established to monitor the relationship and deal with any issues as they occurred.

Today we’re going to talk about each of these five areas. Essentially, having terms and conditions in place to begin with that include the right clauses, communicated in a way that your customers understand; ensuring that your communications throughout the process of delivering the goods and services are clear, and that your systems support the rights and obligations that arise through your terms and conditions document.

What does that mean? Essentially, that you have systems in place to make sure that you are providing what you have said to your client that you will provide.  Now, if all of these things are ticked off, I think you’re fine and that you’re in a situation where it is extremely unlikely that you will have customer issues going forward.

An example of this having been done really well is a recent case that I worked on where we were able to get a $250,000 win for one of our clients, on the basis of really tight wording that we used in their contract initially and a good negotiation strategy in dealing with the contractor’s view.

That’s an example of where terms and conditions have really correctly and helpfully given you a basis that you can launch from if a dispute does occur in the future even though, if done well, you’re also highly reducing the likelihood of dispute. But, on the flip side, we’ve had many instances where businesses have signed up clients for lots of projects who have then pulled out half way through and refused to pay for the work done, or clients who have come in to see us who have lost tens of thousands, sometimes hundreds of thousands of dollars when their clients refused to pay, because an argument erupted during the period of the provision of the goods or services. All of those usually link back to some issue in one of those five areas that I mentioned a few minutes ago.

What processes should you have in place?

Today, we’re going to start discussing what processes you need to have in place to ward off issues from the start. I’ve also created an action guide for you as a checklist that you can use to guide you through all of these areas because we’re going to be talking about a lot today, obviously too much for you to take note of while you’re listening to a podcast.

So, to make it really easy, I’ve made a checklist available for you related to this episode at talkinglaw.com.au or you can access it via the website of my commercial legal practice at aspectlegal.com.au

Okay, so let’s launch into what you need to do to have the right terms and conditions in place.

The concept of having the right terms and conditions in place comes from, in essence, the concept that a contract is imperative.

  • A contract sets the relationships between parties;
  • It sets the expectations between the parties; and
  • It’s not a document that describes simply what you will and won’t provide but also what you expect of your clients.

When done well, it helps to ward off arguments with clients because, essentially, arguments only occur when both parties think they’re right.

Thatmeans arguments can only occur when something hasn’t been clear, so our task is ensuring that we have documents that make all of these areas really clear that help to protect you from open liability and that helps you to set up the right expectations from the start.

Okay, so what should you be including in these documents? I’ll go through a bit of a checklist of the sorts of things that you should be considering including, but obviously I need to add a caveat that each business is different so you need to ensure that your terms and conditions are a reflection of your business not a reflection of someone else’s.

This is why copying and pasting someone else’s terms and conditions doesn’t really work because they’re not your business they’re a different business. So if you have copied and pasted a set of terms and conditions it’s important that you go back and that you review them thoroughly in light of the things that I’m about to talk about now.

Alright, so what should you be including in these documents?

Clarity on What You’re Responsible for

Firstly, clarity about what you will do and what you’re responsible for. This is, essentially, the crux of the documents. This is something that you should sit down and think about and understand first before you even get started in working out whether or not your current terms are appropriate for you where you are now. Other areas that you need to think about clarity are on payment terms, which sounds obvious but it’s so often not dealt with clearly enough in the agreement and it’s super important. You need to be clear on what the client’s obligations are and what you need from – if you’re going to require anything from them – to be able to deliver your goods or services. These issues are really important and often forgotten. If you need something from them, you need to be clear about this in your terms.

If they’re providing things to you then you need to ensure that you get protection in relation to any information they give you.

For example, sometimes this might look like licenses in relation to your use of those things.  You need to be clear that intellectual property (I’m not going to go into this in too much detail, we’ll do it in some future episodes) but essentially intellectual property you need to think about a few different things.

Clarify who owns the intellectual property

Number one, if intellectual property ownership is important, you need to make it clear about who will own the intellectual property and, if intellectual property will pass over at some point, you need to be clear about when that will pass over.  For example, very simply, many documents just simply say intellectual property will pass to the client but that isn’t making clear that you won’t pass to the client until the client has actually made payment. So that’s an important thing to include.

Also, bear in mind that sometimes, intellectual property clauses need specific caveats. So, that means if you are providing services or goods to your client that are based on some things that you then use with other clients as well, you just need to make sure you’re clear about what you’re actually handing over in any intellectual property clauses.

You don’t want clauses that essentially say all intellectual property will pass to the client, because that’s not really reflective of what’s happening and it might restrain you from being able to use that base intellectual property with other clients moving on into the future. Or, maybe you don’t even own all of the intellectual property yourself, say for example, if you’re licensing images from someone else and you’re providing graphic design or web development services you need to make sure that you’re clear that that intellectual property is not something that you can ever pass over in intellectual property form.

The next area that you might want to consider building into terms and conditions documents are clauses that deal with slow payment.

You might, for example, want to include some sort of incentive for your clients not to want to be a late payer. For example, Interest. Even if you won’t be applying the interest, or administration fees, or whatever else you’re calling fees that you might threaten to apply to slow payers, at least if you have clauses that allow you to charge these figures, it gives you something that you can threaten to apply if you have slow payers. It gives you some carrot to encourage them to pay in a timely manner.

Slow payment is a whole different topic which I will deal with in another episode in the future, but for now it’s enough to say that it’s important that when you’re reviewing your terms and conditions, you have the appropriate clauses to deal with slow payment.

You also need to make sure you have the ability to on-charge your customers for any enforcement cost and you need to make sure you have the right protection against liability and that in this you don’t over shoot the mark. Quite often I see liability clauses that really aren’t appropriate for the situation that they’ve been used in and that really overshoot the mark. The problem with that is that there’s various legislation around that might create an issue or the situation in which that clause then becomes invalid and you, therefore, don’t have any protection from that liability clause at all.

So, it’s really important when you have liability clauses – and when I say liability, I mean clauses that might be under the heading of indemnities or waivers or release clauses or there might be exclusion of warranty or exclusion of liability clauses, anything with that sort of heading – you need to make sure you understand what those clauses actually mean and make sure that they are appropriate for the situation of your relationship with your client.

I often find that people look at these clauses and have no idea what they mean and then decide, therefore, just to ignore them. But, that’s completely the wrong approach because if you do that and the clauses are incorrect for your business, then you don’t want to be finding that out later when it’s too late.

So, it’s really important that you understand what each of these clauses mean in your business and that they are appropriate for your business.

And then finally, you should also be thinking about how it is that you link this document – being your standard terms and conditions document – together with the documents where you provide the specifics of what you’re providing your customer.

Quite often businesses would use separate documents like, for example, proposals or estimates or schedules, or a statement of works where they set out the details of what it is that they‘re going to be providing to the customer, that isn’t something that’s included in the general terms and conditions.

It’s really important that each of these documents are referred to correctly in the terms and conditions and that you work out how they are going to interact together, and that you’ve also worked out a framework for what needs to be included in these documents that are your proposals or estimates, to make sure you’ve covered off the detail that you need to, to link it up correctly with your terms and conditions.

Alright, and the list goes on but these are the major issues that you should be considering.

But it’s not enough to just have your terms and conditions document in place, you also need to make sure they’re up to date with current legislation – and that current legislation, I must say, is changing all the time, so you really need to have your agreement updated at least once a year to ensure that you’re on top of that changing legislation and on top of your changing business phase. Quite often your business will be in a completely different stage now than it was one year before or one year in the future, and therefore, your terms and conditions need to accurately reflect where your business currently is now and the way you interact with your clients now; not how you did in the past or how you’re going to do it in the future.

There’s no point having terms if they aren’t understood by you and if they aren’t understood by your clients.  I’m often surprised by how often people in the business don’t know or don’t understand what’s in their terms. It’s not just the owners and managers that need to understand agreements that regulate your relationship with your clients, but anyone who is part of the initial sale or who is client facing throughout the relationship.

So how do we do this? How do we create the situation where we have documents that are understood by you and understood by your clients? Because, let’s face it, I think the reality is, that many of us click away terms and conditions without ever reading them and I think that’s the reality that many of us have businesses or work in businesses where we deal with terms and conditions that we don’t even understand ourselves.

So where do we start with all of this?

Writing your terms and conditions in plain English

The first thing is we need to have our own client agreements that are written in plain English and that are easy to understand and that aren’t overly long or overly complicated, because the longer they are the less likely that any of the terms are going to be read or considered carefully by the very people that you want to communicate these to.

So, if we think about our agreements, essentially it’s a checklist for us. It’s a way for us to think about the important elements of our relationship with our clients, and that essentially means that we need these documents to be something that we understand and that they understand.

Another important thing to do then is also to review your terms and conditions and to work out what are the really important clauses to you and restate this to your clients in a really clear and succinct way in a separate communication to your client.

A nice way to do that, for example, might be to send out a welcome pack, or onboarding documents, or whatever you call them.

Firstly, as I said you need to understand the documents and then you need to make sure that your clients understand them as well.

Then, the next element to consider is whether or not you’re actually complying with the terms yourself, so you need to put the systems in place to make sure you can deliver your services or goods the way you’ve promise them.

You need to be rigorous about the standard of products and services you provide and the way in which you provide them, and this is particularly important as you grow because sometimes businesses grow quicker than the systems that are supporting them and the reality is that poor customer service  will cost you dearly in the long run. So, if you’re making promises that you’re not going to back up, then you’re going to be creating a difficult contractual situation for yourself, but you’re also going to be creating bad blood with your customers.

So, you need to jump on issues quickly. You need to communicate early and this means that you need to have systems in place that can identify the issues before they escalate.

And fourthly, make sure your clients don’t slip too far away from the obligations that they have under the contract.

This can be a slippery slope. Sometimes, it feels really hard to pull up clients if they are not complying with their end of the bargain, but it’s really important that you reign them in gently at first, but quickly because these sorts of things, as I said, can end up being a slippery slope. So you need to have systems in place that can help you to identify if your client’s aren’t complying with their obligations and you need to ensure that you deal with it as soon as you’ve identified these as an issue.

The cost of inaction

What if you’re busy and you don’t have time for thinking about your terms of sale and you think people don’t even read them anyway? The thing that I would say to you in this situation, which I completely understand – we’re all busy and, as I said before, certainly there’s the belief that people often don’t read the terms and conditions that you send to them.

I think it’s really important that you think about the cost of inaction. So think now about what it would cost you if even just a few clients decided that they didn’t pay. Obviously, this is far, far greater potential cost than the cost of actually sitting down and going through the process properly.

What if, on the other hand you get upfront payments or deposits to cover your initial costs so you figure slow payment isn’t relevant? Don’t think you’re immune in this situation. We see lots of instances of customers demanding money back which then puts a strain on the business. But, simple economics aside, remember that client’s that are unhappy can do a lot of harm to your brand, so the concept of proper client engagement is as much about building and protecting your brand it is about legal and financial protection.

Four Action Steps for You to Take

We’ve talked about what you can include in your terms and conditions, now let’s talk about the Action Steps that you should be following in relation to this whole process, once you’ve got your terms and conditions, to ensure that you’re implementing them in the correct way. And, remember, if you’d like a download of this guide that we’ve gone through today, head over to our show notes at talkinglaw.com.au and download the guide from there.

So, your action steps are four to keep it really simple:

  1. Firstly, as I said review your terms and conditions of sale.
    1. Do you have each of the elements that we’ve discussed above? That’s the first thing;
    2. Are they compliant with current legislation?
    3. Are they easy to read and understand?
    4. Do your customers actually sign them, or do they just a tick a box that you know they’ll never be able to read?
    5. Do you understand what’s in your terms and do your staff or to the other staff in your organization understand what’s in your terms?

So these are the first things to do in relation to your review of your terms and conditions of sale.

  1. Then the second action step, is to think about your process of on boarding. Once you’ve got your terms and conditions right – once you’re confident that they contain all of the right elements and once you’re confident that you have produced them in a way that your clients and your staff will understand them, then now think about on boarding of your clients.

If your clients receive your terms and conditions in a tick a box exercise, then I would suggest that you separately send your terms to your clients as part of the onboarding process to give them the opportunity to have a copy of the terms, so that they can have a read through them. Obviously, it won’t be so exciting for them to read through the terms and conditions if they’re long and boring, so this gets back to ensuring that your terms and conditions are easy to read in the first place. And then, in your process of on boarding, the other thing that I recommend is being clear about the items that are important. So, as I said before, restate them in a welcome pack. You can say things like this in a nice way but just make sure you’re communicating it clearly.

So we’ve talked about the action steps of reviewing your terms and conditions of sale and thinking about your process of on boarding. The third element in your action step here is to review your systems for complying with your terms.

System and compliance reviews

  • Do you measure how you are delivering your goods and services?
  • Do all of your client-facing staff understand the terms and conditions and your obligations and your client’s obligations?
  • Do you pick up your clients if they aren’t complying?
  • Are there review periods in these terms?

Think about all of these issues in relation to how you can build systems to ensure that you are complying with the terms.

And finally, and this is action step number four, have a process for ensuring that you jump on emerging problems quickly before they gather speed.

So that’s it. That’s all I have today to say about this episode so just a quick recap. In this episode we talked about:

  • Ways to set up your client relationships correctly right from the start. If you’d like more information about this topic, as I said, head over to our show notes at talkinglaw.com.au for your free download and through that website, you’ll also be able to get a transcript to this podcast episode if you’d like to hear or read each of these elements in more detail, and there you’ll also find details of how to contact our lawyers at Aspect Legal if you’d like help with any of the items we covered today.

We can certainly help guide you through what can be a bit of a complicated process if you’re trying to do it on your own.

And finally, if you enjoyed what you heard today, please head over to iTunes and leave us a review. We’d be very grateful and if you’d like us to talk about a particular topic, feel free to head over to our website and leave us a voice message with a particular question or issue that you would like covered.  We’d be more than happy to cover any of the questions that you have and certainly I’d really like this podcast episode to be all about what you want to hear about.

Ask me what you want to hear about commercial law and business law and I’ll try to cover it in the future.

Thanks for listening in to what can sometimes be a dry topic, but I really hope you’ve got some pointers to take away that will help you really super charge those client relationships and help you ward off problems before they occur.