View Full Version : Australian Employment contracts in SE Asia

16-08-2010, 08:01 PM
I am an HR Rep from the USA and not working in HR at the present.

I have a question regarding labor law in Australia that I hope some of you can help me with.

My husband signed a contract with no end date to work for an Australian mining company in Laos.

Management changed quickly and he was hired under previous management and quickly treated very poorly by the new "boss". His agreed-to position title changed, he was moved to a much less important position and the "boss" expressed verbally that it was "my f&6%ing way or the highway!!!". Things worsened terribly over the course of the first year, in the position and in the reporting structure and the "treatment". He now reports to a "local" employee that speaks very little English.

He has been recruited by a company in the Middle East and accepted the position. He gave 2 weeks notice. The employment contract does stipulate 3 months notice, but does not list ramifications if he does not give that notice. Also, other employees have been in similar situations and they have not pressed the point.

Now this company has decided he must repay the difference to them in CASH! We aren't sure how they intend to collect this money, but it is frightening, and intimidating to be sure. My points are:
1. Other employees (including one HR employee) have done the same and been treated differently (they did not ask for reimbursement)
2. My husbands contract was already broken in regard to position title, and responsibilities.
3. Intimidation and discrimination (we're American by the way!) are very evident.
3. Although the contract asks for 3 months there is no agreement that they can "cherry pick" their action if it is not received.
4. HR department is difficult to deal with and states that they have applied this policy across the board, but we have clear and reliable (and ready to testify witnesses) that they have not.

Any assistance is helpful as I am unaware of Aussie laws and reading them online seems complex! We have hired a local attorney to respond to their request for monies to be paid back to them but we feel damaged already and losing the new positing would be detrimental in a HUGE way!

Thoughts and help please?? Thank you!

24-08-2010, 09:02 PM
Is it an Australian company like BHP Billiton?

If so, it may have had an Australian influence regarding training in the set up phase of the organisation in the country, then the Australians leave and the company is Laotian owned and run with local customs and behaviours, which is apparent in your description.

Just because the mining company name is Australian, does not mean Australian policies and procedures apply anymore. It would have been more helpful for you to post on a Laotian HR website!

25-08-2010, 09:35 AM

I think you are wasting your time looking at Australian labour laws, they only apply in Australia. Just like US labour laws would only apply in the US.

Some companies may choose to apply their policies across all of there operations, regardless of location, but I don't think there is any legal requirement for them to do so.

Obviously there may be PR implications if they are mistreating people but I don't think a contractual dispute is going create much bad press.

As for their request for him to repay the difference in cash - what does that mean? What is the "difference" ? Technically a company could sue someone for breach of contract if they don't serve out their notice period, but it rarely happens.

Bear in mind however, just because a company chooses to let one person go without serving their notice period doesn't mean that must apply to everyone.

The way I see it, assuming your husband has not been paid in advance, he doesn't owe them anything, so if he walked away he would simply forfeit the pay for the notice period, because he hasn't worked the notice period. Of course he would be unlikely to get a good reference, but it sounds like he might find it hard to get a reference anyway if his new boss doesn't speak much English.