Do You Need to Provide Employees with a Written Employment Contract?

It is commonly thought that there is no requirement for an employee to have a written contract, and whilst that is true to an extent (where there is no contract there are terms implied by law and custom and practice between the parties), there is a requirement to give an employee written statement of employment particulars (often called a section 1 statement) within the first 2 months of their employment. This document(s) must include at least: –

• The business’s name
• The employee’s name, job title or description of the work and start date
• The period of continuous employment
• How much and how often and the employee will be paid
• Hours of work
• Holiday entitlement
• The place of work and whether the employee may have to relocate
• If an employee worked in different places, where these will be what the employee’s address is.

The above information is often called the “principle statement” and should usually be contained in a single document. In addition to the principal statement, it written statement must also contain information relating to

• How long a temporary job is expected to last
• The end date of the fixed term contract
• Notice period
• Collective agreements
• Pensions
• Whom the employee should go to is they have a grievance
• How to complain about how a grievance is handled
• How to complain about a disciplinary or dismissal decision

Employers should be aware that currently all employees must be provided with a written statement within 2 months of the start of their employment. However, there is currently an exception to the right if the employee works for less than one month. Employers who have a high turnover of staff (such as in the retail or hospitality industries) should be wary of this requirement. It is common in such industries that employees might only work for a few weeks. However, the Employment Appeals Tribunal in Stefanko and others v Maritime Hotel Ltd recently decided that the claimant – who was employed for just 6 weeks – was entitled to a statement of employment particulars. The fact that the company had failed to provide this entitled the claimant to an increased award under the Employment Act 2002. In such circumstances, employees may be entitled to be awarded an additional 4 weeks’ pay.

In light of the above, employers also be aware that the Employment Rights (Employment Particulars and Paid Annual Leave) (Amendment) Regulations 2018 come into effect from April 2020. These Regulations repeal the exception to the right for employees who worked for less than one month. From 6 of April 2020, all employees will have the right from their first day of employment to receive a statement of written particulars of employment.

In practice, as the employer is required to give substantial amount of information by law, it is often useful to take the opportunity to introduce a contract of employment governing the terms of the employment relationship. This allows the employer the opportunity to introduce, for example, terms relating to when holiday must be taken, overtime provisions, and even confidentiality restrictions and restrictive covenants which are notoriously difficult to introduce after the employment has already begun.

Should you require any assistance with statements of employment particulars, employment contracts, or anything else raised in this article, please contact Charlotte Braham on 01494 521301 for further advice.

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