Employment contracts are at the heart of every employment position. Even if you don’t have a detailed employment contract, your employer is still under a duty to provide you with certain information.
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Not all individuals who perform work for others are employees. The difference is important as only employees are entitled to redundancy payments or to present a claim for unfair dismissal. Employee is defined as someone who works under a contract of employment. Most people, unless expressly told, will be employees.
A contract of employment is the basis of the employment relationship. Employers will usually state the terms and conditions that govern the relationship into writing within the employment contract; however, there is no legal obligation to do this and it can be oral.
Where terms have been agreed, they cannot be changed without both parties agreeing to the changes. Therefore employers cannot unilaterally change the terms and conditions of a contract. It should be noted that should an employee begin work, it demonstrates that they accept the terms and conditions offered by the employer.
If there is no written contract of employment, then employers must provide a written statement of terms to their employees within 2 calendar months of beginning employment. This written statement sets out minimum details about the terms governing the employment relationship such as date employment began, hours of work, job title and so forth.
If an employee does not receive this written statement, then they could present a claim at the Employment Tribunal but compensation is limited to 2-4 weeks pay. Usually employers will provide the contract of employment or written statement before the employee commences the employment.
Some terms of an employment contract are implied by statute law such as working time regulations and minimum wage. However, terms can be implied into a contract by common law (derived from other cases).
This includes such duties from the employer such as;
– Duty to pay wages and provide work
– Duty to take reasonable care of the employee’s safety and working conditions
– Duty of mutual trust and confidence.
Furthermore, employees duties can be implied by common law and include factors such as:
– Duty to obey reasonable orders
– Duty of good faith
– Duty towards trade secrets.
It is advisable for the avoidance of doubt and to avoid disputes, for a written employment contract to be created. It will save a lot of potential misunderstanding further down the line.
Here at Seatons, we can provide employers with template employment contracts to use across the business or a tailored employment contract for a specific employee.
There are many rules and procedures that should be followed within a written employment contract to ensure that it is up to date with the law and that it protects the employer if there is a future dispute.
If you are an employee, we can carry out a review of your employment contract and inform you of what you are being asked to sign, and if necessary, negotiating the best terms for you.
If an employer fails to pay remuneration due under the contract of employment, the employee can rely on protection of wages legislation.
If an employer wishes to make deductions to wages, they cannot unless it is authorised by statute (such as NI payments), authorised by employment contract or the employee has previously agreed in writing.
There are some exceptions to this which include if they employer has mistakenly overpaid wages to the employee. This overpayment cannot be recovered if the employer led employee to think money was his or if the employee changes his position (spends the money).
A contract of employment will state the hours an employee is expected to work. There is a demand for flexible working hours but for the health and sanity of employees, the Working Time Regulations were introduced more so to ensure that employers were not taking advantage of their employees.
The Working Time Regulations govern the hours that employees are permitted to work which is a limit of an average 48 hours a week by employees can work longer by ‘opting out’. The Regulations detail statutory entitlement to paid leave, rest periods for employees, limits normal hours of night work and regular health assessments.
Here at Seatons, we can draft protective and tailored employment contracts for your business to use.