As a general rule of thumb, the employment issues that senior executives are likely to encounter are quite different to those regularly encountered by more junior or less skilled employees.  As a senior executive, you can generally benefit from legal advice at the start and also at the end of your contract.

Pre-Employment Advice

Where junior employees often lack the bargaining power to engage in a truly equal negotiation over an employment contract, this can be a very important stage in the employment process for an executive. The specifics of the commercial terms negotiated can have very significant outcomes for an executive (this could relate to profit share schemes, share option schemes, long term and short term incentive schemes et cetera).

Similarly, post-employment obligations (such as restraints of trade/non-compete clauses) need to be very carefully considered and negotiated, as senior employees tend to have a narrower range of options for alternative future employment (their skills generally being quite specialised), and consequently a thoughtlessly drafted contract can severely impact a person’s ability to earn a living once ties with the employer company are severed. It is worthwhile understanding clearly the scope of the restraint being signed up to, and negotiating it down if necessary.

End of Employment Advice

As a senior executive, it is likely that you will not have recourse to any unfair dismissal remedies (these are generally (but not always) limited to those who are paid below the high income threshold (at present, $142,000)).

Often, if you have been terminated unfairly, your options will be limited to bringing a claim for breach of contract. In certain specific circumstances, you may have access to alternative remedies under the Fair Work Act. In any case, the stakes are generally higher, because there is no statutory cap on the quantum of damages that you may be able to claim. Because of this, employers are generally more likely to negotiate with an executive (rather than take their chances in court), and we have had good success in obtaining compensation for senior employees who find themselves suddenly without work.