Recruiting and appointing employees

Employees may be employed by incorporated associations to undertake a range of duties, including:

  • service delivery to undertake those activities to which the association has committed as a means of furthering its objectives. For example, community educator, advocacy caseworker, policy worker, recreation coordinator, personal care worker, youth worker, counsellor, crisis worker, refuge worker, information provider (including over the telephone);
  • administration and support to assess, develop and maintain the administrative infrastructure required for the association to conduct its business. For example, reception, financial reporting, accounts, corporate documentation, media and public relations, records, data systems, office management;
  • management to manage the day-to-day operation of the association. This may include one or more levels of management or coordination. For example, manager, coordinator, supervisor, team leader, executive officer.

Sometimes, employees will be given responsibilities across different areas. For example, a manager may also have service delivery responsibilities, a senior caseworker may be given the task of supervising junior workers or all employees may have joint responsibility to share administrative duties.

Types of employment

There are a number of different working arrangements that employers can apply when engaging workers. Incorporated associations should consider what type of employment they wish to offer as it may affect the terms and conditions of employment.

  • Full time: employees generally work between 38 and 40 hours per week on a regular, ongoing basis. Benefits such as paid sick leave, annual leave, holiday pay, long service leave and carers usually apply.
  • Part time: employees generally work regular hours each week but fewer than full time employees. Part time employees are usually given the same basic entitlements as full-timers, based on hours worked (this is called pro-rata).
  • Casual: employees are usually employed on an hourly, daily or weekly basis and don’t usually get paid sick leave or annual leave.
  • Fixed term: employees are employed to do a job for an agreed length of time. Many employers hire fixed term employees to do work on a specific project or fill in for employees who may be on leave.
  • Commission: people in this category may be paid on a ‘commission only’ basis which means they only receive money when they sell or achieve a specific target.

Start at the beginning

When an incorporated association is considering employing a person, it is essential to take into account some fundamental concerns, including:

  • what the association wants the employee to do;
  • the selection process that will be followed;
  • the employment conditions (full/part time, short/long term contract etc); and
  • the legal obligations of the association as the employer.

In considering these matters, incorporated associations should take into account their own objectives and needs, legal and regulatory requirements, potential employee needs and resource availability.

Job descriptions

Job description profiles are useful tools in ensuring that any new position fits with the association’s objectives, vision and strategic plan.

The document should include details such as:

  • the position title;
  • the essential tasks or duties of the position;
  • the hours that the employee will be required to work;
  • the remuneration the employee will receive in return for work performed;
  • the reporting structure (who the employee reports to and who, if anyone, reports to the employee); and
  • other conditions of employment.

A job description can be sent to prospective employees so that they know what the job requires, and allows them to decide if they think they are suitable for the position. 

Selection criteria

The association should set out in writing the matters that will be taken into account in selecting applicants for employment. These are called selection criteria. The use of selection criteria ensures that the selection process is transparent, fair, consistent and accountable.

The selection criteria should include matters such as the qualities, skills, knowledge and experience that the incorporated association requires of a successful applicant. For example, ‘well developed written communication skills’ or ‘ability to develop Excel spreadsheets’. It is helpful to limit the number of selection criteria to, six to ten as having too many often makes the selection task more difficult.

It is fair and normal practice to let applicants know what criteria will be used to assess applications, and any special weight that will be given to each criterion. The selection criteria are usually forwarded to potential applicants along with the job description.

When preparing selection criteria (and later, selecting people for employment through the interview) associations need to be mindful of anti-discrimination legislation (See Discrimination and Harassment).

Advertising the position

An association may need to advertise for applicants for a position (although this is not a requirement of the law). The Association should use the best means available (newspaper, recruitment agent, websites) to attract suitable applicants.

The advertisement should provide details about the job and contact details for obtaining further information on the job description and selection criteria.   When preparing advertisements, consideration should be given to requirements under anti-discrimination legislation, and any information provided should not be misleading or deceptive.

The employment interview

The employment interview provides the employer with an opportunity to meet face-to-face with an applicant, learn more about the person and see if he or she is suitable for the association, persons or committee interviewing the applicant (the interview panel) should prepare a basic set of interview questions relevant to the particular job description and the selection criteria. For example, questions about a person's previous employment experience, qualifications and reasons for applying for the job will generally be relevant.

As noted above, all aspects of the employment selection process are subject to anti-discrimination legislation and the interview panel should keep this in mind when developing questions. For example, questions about a person's religion, marital status or sexual orientation are not likely to be relevant and may give rise to discrimination issues.

The employment contract

Generally, a contract of employment forms the foundation of the relationship between an employer and an employee. The employment contract contains the terms and conditions of employment, including matters such as pay, leave and hours of work. A contract of employment may be in writing or verbal. However, it is preferable to have a written contract, as this generally minimises any confusion, uncertainty or doubt about the terms and conditions of employment and in particular, key terms and conditions like remuneration, duties and notice of termination of employment.

For the majority of incorporated associations, an employment contract could be:

  • a contract that supplements entitlements in:
    • an existing industrial award,
    • a collective agreement made between an employer and either employees or a union/s; or
  • an individual agreement made between an employer and one employee;
  • a ‘common law’ contract of employment, particularly where the association is not covered by any award or agreement and only legislated minimum entitlements apply.