Employment contracts: we are often asked about employment contracts – what should be in the terms or even if they should have received one from their employer.
Once you have accepted a job you have entered into a legal arrangement, in effect a contract of employment and some of your employment rights will begin as soon as you start work.
In offering the job, the employer does not have to put down in writing all of their terms and conditions of employment, but they must do this within two months of you starting work. You are entitled to the statement even if your job finishes before the initial two months, as long as the job was supposed to last for more than one month and you have worked for at least a month.
The written statement must include by law:
- the names of you and your employer
- the date you started work
- the amount of pay and how often you will be paid, for example, weekly or monthly
- the hours of work
- your holiday entitlement, including how many days off you are entitled to and what your holiday pay will be, if any
- how much warning (notice) you are entitled to if you are dismissed and how much warning you must give the employer if you want to leave the job
- the title of the job
- where the job is based, for example, whether you will have to work in more than one location
- what the disciplinary, dismissal and grievance procedures are in the workplace
- what sick pay you are entitled to
- whether you can join the employer’s occupational pension scheme, if there is one.
The above information does not have to be included in the written statement of terms and conditions. It can be given in, for example, a staff handbook which all the employees can have access to.
If you start work with a probationary period, this is a contractual term and your statutory rights during this period are the same as if you were not on probation.
An existing contract of employment can be varied only with the agreement of both you and your employer. Changes can be agreed by with either on an individual basis or through a collective agreement. When any change to a contract of employment occurs the employer should give you written notification of the changes in writing, within one month of the change taking effect.
If you are an employee who does not have a written contract, as your employer may try to dismiss you illegally so you should consult an experienced adviser before taking action, for example, at a Citizens Advice Bureau.