Executive hands indicating where to sign contract

Pictorial Employment Contracts – a legitimate craze, or just plain crazy?

Now here’s a new idea: the pictorial employment contract.  

As part of its focus on innovation, global engineering and advisory company Aurecon is introducing a visual employment contract, effectively eliminating the bulk of the text from their employment contracts by using pictures to accompany the contract’s wording.  As reported in the Australian Financial Review, this is the first time that an Australian company has introduced this type of visual employment contract.

The drive behind utilising the visual contract is to make the document as accessible and understandable as possible for those involved in the employment process.  Aurecon is also hoping that the introduction of this new type of contract will result in a focus on the day-to-day relationships between the company and their employees, rather than creating an overload of threatening (and for some, difficult to understand) legal text.

Aurecon’s Chief People Officer, Liam Hayes has said that “sometimes with contracts it feels like we sign it without really understanding it because it’s too complex – we wanted to take that away because that’s not a great way of starting an employment relationship…It’s got to be built on trust from day one.  We’re not trying to hide anything in our employment contracts.”

And as you can see above, the employee is a light bulb – presumably representative of an ideas person.  Neat.

The fundamentals of the relationship are set out like this: 

And leave entitlements are set out as above, with links to policies – also neat.  

What are the pros and cons of this approach?  

Developing contracts in a pictorial format is likely to take quite a degree of input, and would surely require more artistic flair than many employment lawyers (well, me at least) are able to summon.  We would presumably need a resident artist to draft our contracts.  

The nuances of the drawings might result in interesting interpretative questions.  Would meaning vary if the style was Marvel Comics, or Michael Leunig?   On the other hand, perhaps there is a much greater likelihood of an employee taking in the message, rather than glazing over when reading text?  We may similarly find that it turns out to be easier for an employer to ask ‘which bit of that did you not understand?’.

It’s definitely an interesting idea – and it will be fascinating to see how judges and commissioners deal with such a contract.  Whilst Professor Camilla Andersen of the University of Western Australia’s Law School, who initially worked with Aurecon on a prototype contract, has indeed conceded that she couldn’t rule out the courts finding the contracts unenforceable – former High Court chief justice Robert French last year called the initiative “bold and socially useful”.  

I look forward to interpreting the first graphic restraint clause to cross my desk!

If you have queries regarding your company’s pictorial contracts – or simply have a query regarding any of the above information, please don’t hesitate to get in touch with:

Share:

Send an enquiry

Any personal information you provide is collected pursuant to our Privacy Policy.

Categories
Archives
Author

More posts

SafeWork NSW
SafeWork NSW releases new strategy to address psychosocial hazards

On 22 May 2024 SafeWork NSW introduced a new strategy to address psychological and psychosocial hazards. The SafeWork NSW Psychological Health and Safety Strategy 2024-2026 establishes new supports for employers regarding their duties in preventing psychosocial harm in the workplace.

roles in the strata scheme
Understanding roles in the strata scheme

A strata scheme is a building or group of buildings that have been divided into lots which can be apartments, villas, offices, units or townhouses. This will be articulated in the strata plan.

Airbnb home
Can I put my home on Airbnb?

Airbnb is a form of short-term rental accommodation. To add your property to Airbnb in NSW, you are required to meet several laws and regulations governing short-term rentals.

liquidators required to seek approval
When are liquidators required to seek approval to retain legal counsel?

When does a liquidator (or the company he or she is appointed to) need court, creditor, or committee approval to validly retain a solicitor to act in a liquidation matter which is likely to extend for longer than three months?  The answer to this question has only recently been settled.

Proposed changes to building
Proposed changes to building and construction law in NSW

The Building Bill 2022 (the Bill) is the key avenue through which the NSW Government has proposed to reshape the culture of the building and construction industry by eliminating poor performance and improving the quality of building statewide.

Dismiss an employee
Can you dismiss an employee who fails to return to the office?

Slowly but surely, most employers are requiring employees to return to the office for at least a portion of their working week. Some employers continue to struggle with employees resistant to returning to the office or those who have an expectation that they can continue to work from home whenever it suits them.

Phoenixing in Construction
New powers to combat phoenixing in construction

The rise of phoenixing in the building and construction industry in Australia in recent years has proved a significant challenge to regulators. Mismanagement of time or cashflow can quickly propel businesses into insolvency.

© 2024 Coleman Greig Lawyers  |  Sitemap  |  Liability limited by a scheme approved under Professional Standards Legislation. ABN 73 125 176 230