Strictly speaking employers are not required to give their employees written employment contracts however they are required to give each employee a written statement of particulars of certain important terms within 2 months of the employee commencing employment (section 1 of the Employment Rights Act 1996).
The written statement should contain the following information:-
- The names of the employer and employee.
- The date when the employment began.
- The date when the employee’s period of continuous employment began.
- The scale or rate of remuneration or the method of calculating remuneration.
- The intervals at which remuneration is paid (eg weekly, monthly or other specified intervals).
- Any terms and conditions relating to hours of work.
- Any terms and conditions relating to (a) holiday entitlement (including bank holidays), (b) sickness and sick pay and (c) pensions and pension schemes.
- The length of notice required by the employer and the employee to terminate the contract of employment.
- Job title or brief job description.
- Where the employment is not intended to be permanent, the period for which it is expected to continue.
- The place of work or, where the employee is required or permitted to work at different places an indication of that and the employer’s address.
- Any collective agreements which directly affect the terms and conditions of the employment.
- Where the employee is required to work outside the UK certain further particulars.
What happens if I do not give my employee written particulars or an employment contract? This is not a standalone right so that the employee cannot bring a claim simply for not having written terms. However, if the employee brings another type of claim, the employee can also claim compensation for not having written particulars of between 2 and 4 weeks pay. More importantly however a well drafted employment contract will contain a number of important terms which are there for the benefit of the employer. It is therefore in the employer’s best interests to ensure that all employees have written employment contracts. Employers should consider including the following clauses in their contracts (in addition to the clauses mentioned above):-
- Restrictive covenants. This is a must for sales staff and other key staff to reduce the risk of employees leaving and poaching customers or staff or setting up in competition.
- A clause entitling the employer to put the employee on garden leave during their notice period.
- A clause entitling the employer to make a payment in lieu of notice.
- A mobility clause entitling the employer to move the employee’s place of work.
- A clause reserving the right to make deductions from wages.
It is also advisable to have a handbook containing various policies and procedures. The handbook will often contain the following types of policies and procedures:-
- Disciplinary and grievance procedures.
- Detailed sickness policy.
- An internet / IT policy.
- A car policy.
- An expenses policy.
- An equal opportunities policy.
- A retirement policy.
- A harassment policy.
- Health and safety policy.
- Maternity/adoption/paternity/parental leave policy.
The employer should think about what rules and procedures they want in place whether it be a provision in the employment contract or a separate policy.
As dispute lawyers we are mindful that a significant number of disputes (and not just employment disputes) are caused by uncertainty. Parties enter into relationships and the expectations are unclear. If the parties at the beginning set out what they expect from each other they are less likely to fall out at a later date.
Hastings and Co Solicitors specialise in all aspects of employment law. For further advice please telephone 01245 835 305 without any obligation.
Disclaimer: this blog is only intended to give a brief overview of the law and is not intended as a substitute for legal advice.