You may have heard that late last year, the Australian consumer watchdog (the ACCC) commenced court proceedings against employment advice provider Employsure. We are now able to provide an update on those proceedings – the Federal Court of Australia has set the matter down for a two-week hearing in March 2020.
Many business owners (especially those who had engaged Employsure and were disappointed with the service) will be following the hearing with keen interest, as will we.
The ACCC alleges that:
- Employsure represented to small business owners that it was a government agency, or was affiliated with a government agency when that was not the case.
- Employsure represented to small business owners that it provided a helpline for free workplace relations advice when the primary function of that helpline was to secure marketing leads to sell its services.
- The staff answering calls to the helpline were business sales consultants who had telesales experience but absolutely no training in employment law or human resources.
- The business sales consultants used high-pressure sales tactics to encourage small business owners to meet with one of their business development managers.
- The business development managers were also not experienced in employment law and human resources – they were salespeople receiving a commission based on their sales performance and pressured small business owners into signing multi-year services contracts with substantial ongoing fees at the first meeting.
Those multi-year service contracts are alleged by the ACCC to contain unfair terms, including clauses that:
- Did not provide small business owners with a way to exit the contract once they were signed up
- Penalised customers who failed to pay installments on-time, by making the full payment for the entire term of the contract due and payable immediately
- Stated that, at the end of the term of the contract, it would not necessarily come to an end but instead would be automatically renewed
- Increased prices on automatic renewal
We will keep our eyes peeled for any updates as we wait for the hearing in March 2020.
In the meantime, if you require any employment advice, you can always contact our friendly team in Bathurst, Oberon, and Lithgow. We provide expert employment law advice, but when we say it's free, it's free, and if we disclose that there will be legal fees, we will give you time to consider our fees, without any undue pressure. That's the way it should be!
Aaron Strickland | Solicitor