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Employment Contracts Explained

By: Garry Crystal - Updated: 17 Mar 2017 | comments*Discuss
 
Employment Contracts Rights Employee

When a person agrees to undertake a job for an employer then an employment agreement will exist between employee and employer. At first there may not be any written contract, but a contract of employment will still exist. Employment contracts are set in place to fully outline the employee and employer’s terms, conditions and rights with regards to the employment.

Employment Contracts and the Law

The law has strict rules regarding employment contracts and the rights of the employee; these are known as statutory rights. An employee has a number of these statutory rights and employment contracts must include them. An employee and employer can list any number of duties and expectations in the contract but the contract must include the employee’s statutory rights. Be aware that some rights will be different if the employee is a self-employed or under a specific contract.

Statutory Rights of the Employee

Statutory rights are set in place to protect the employee. For example if an employer tries to dismiss an employee unfairly this will go against the statutory rights of the employee and the matter can be taken further. The employee has numerous statutory rights all designed to protect the worker from illegal employment practices. Some of the many employment statutory rights include:

  • Rights to maternity leave.
  • Rights to a detailed pay statement.
  • The right to written employment contracts.
  • Rights regarding unfair dismissal.
  • Harassment and discrimination rights.
  • Rights regarding sickness and holiday pay.
  • Minimum wage rights.
  • Rights regarding unfair dismissal.

The Written Employment Contract

Under the law, employees do have the right to a written employment contract within two months of starting any form of employment. It is well known that numerous employers will hold off on giving out employment contracts for their own reasons. Some employers are under the impression that they can dismiss employees without notice simply because they do not have a written contract. This is against the law and does go against the employee’s statutory rights.

Requesting a Written Employment Contract

All employees have the right to a written employment contract regardless of the number of hours the employee works or whether they are full or part-time workers. If an employee has still not received a written employment contract after two months of beginning work then they should request one either verbally or in writing. An employee is entitled to this contract under the law, and if an employer makes it difficult for the employee or tries to unfairly dismiss them for asking for a written contract then this matter can be taken to a higher level.

Terms of the Written Employment Contract

There are two sets of terms in an employment contract; these are implied and express contractual terms. Implied contractual terms are conditions that are not specifically set out within the contract. For instance the contract could state that an employee must undertake any reasonable request of work by the employer, although in real terms the word “reasonable” is hard to define. However, if an employer gives you work to do that you think is unreasonable then the best way to query this may be to ask other employees who have been there longer and may be more rights aware.

Express contractual terms are specific terms and conditions of employment that are set out in a detailed and clear manner. These terms should include wages, hours of employment, sick and holiday pay, notice period, redundancy rights and overtime. It may be the case that not all of the employment contract terms and conditions will be in your own personal contract. There may be other manuals and workplace books that have the full contract terms, and these should be fully available for you to read.

Broken Employment Contracts

The consequences of broken employment contracts can be very serious. If the contract is broken, known as breach of contract, then the employee can sue the employer. This can happen if any of the rights under the terms of the contract are broken. But an employer also has certain rights if the employee breaches his or her contract and broken contracts cannot be taken lightly on either side.

If an employer does breach contract then the first step for the worker should be to try and resolve the matter with the employer. If the issue is not resolved then there may be no alternative than to take the matter to the next level and issue a written grievance statement to the employer who will then have 28 days to respond. If the matter still cannot be resolved then it may take an employment tribunal to resolve the issue.

Employment contracts play an important part in the workplace. They should not be overlooked when starting a new job; the rights set out in the contract are there for the employee and employer’s protection under the law. Always be sure to ask for an employment contract within two months of starting any new employment.

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Hi All, I have started out working self employed offering the services I have carried out for the last 17 years, but for the first time, as a virtual business assistant for myself. Exciting times.Can you please point me to a self employed contract so that I have some protection, and the client knows I agree to uphold confidentiality at all times regarding their business etc. Thank you greatly. EJ
EJ - 17-Mar-17 @ 9:29 AM
we run a small run village hall and we have a self employed caretaker who works for around 12 hours per month. do we have to have invoices for his work as he is paid on a monthly basis, also does he need his own Public Liability Insurance, or is he covered on the Halls Public Liability Insurance, he said that he does not need one for the hall as he has been working at the hall for about 10 years and has never been asked for one before, as he is covered by the hall. We are a new committee and the last one seem to let things go. We need to get this right. as if this is not sorted out, we may be labial for his PAYE and income tax? My understanding is that if somebody is self employed he has to have his own Public liability insurance, also he should supply invoices every month for his work carried out at the hall as we need to show this in our accounts at year end. And he is responsible for his own national Insurance and Income Tax.
Fred - 21-Dec-16 @ 11:06 AM
Nikolai74 - Your Question:
Hi,I accepted a job on the verbal promise that I would be provided with a lap-top and able to work from home 2 days per week due to the location and lengthy daily commute.This assurance had a direct influence on my salary negotiations (when factoring time spent travelling and petrol and vehicle maintenance costs etc)On applying for a promotion it was drawn to my attention that it had not been written into my contract terms (more fool me for not double checking I know), however it is acknowledged that this conversation and offer was made verbally.I have very recently been TUPE transferred to another company, and now that I am managed by a different person (the manager who made me the job offer since having left) I have been advised that I am no longer able to work from home, unless in emergency (the criteria of which have not been made clear so I'm at risk of having to use holiday or take unpaid leave should I be unable to reach the office)Any advice on how I should approach this, or if it is a futile cause would be very gratefully received.Kindest regards,Nikolai

Our Response:
I think in this case it would be advisable to contact ACAS to see whether you have any rights due to the contract being verbal and the complicated issues associated with a TUPE transfer. Please also see WorkSmart link here which goes some way to outlining your rights.
ContractsAndAgreements - 14-Dec-16 @ 10:54 AM
Hi, I accepted a job on the verbal promise that I would be provided with a lap-top and able to work from home 2 days per week due to the location and lengthy daily commute. This assurance had a direct influence on my salary negotiations (when factoring time spent travelling and petrol and vehicle maintenance costs etc) On applying for a promotion it was drawn to my attention that it had not been written into my contract terms (more fool me for not double checking I know), however it is acknowledged that this conversation and offer was made verbally. I have very recently been TUPE transferred to another company, and now that I am managed by a different person (the manager who made me the job offer since having left) I have been advised that I am no longer able to work from home, unless in emergency (the criteria of which have not been made clear so I'm at risk of having to use holiday or take unpaid leave should I be unable to reach the office) Any advice on how I should approach this, or if it is a futile cause would be very gratefully received. Kindest regards, Nikolai
Nikolai74 - 13-Dec-16 @ 1:34 PM
I accepted a job offer by email, which after being given a counter offer by my current employer I decided to turn down. Only days had past when I informed them I would no longer be leaving. I am now being threatened with legal action to recoup money laid out for taking me on. Do they have the right to pass those costs onto me when I never signed a written contract and was never told should I pull out these costs would be passed on?
alex94 - 2-Nov-16 @ 1:56 PM
@Butters -You should have a franchise contract outlining the conditions and consequences of termination of the agreement for both parties. I should include whether the franchisee ior franchisor is in breach of any of the terms of the agreement. The British Franchise Association might also be able to help if you are a member. Otherwise, I suggest you take some legal advice if you need to exit before the term, so that you ensure you are legally covered. I hope this helps.
ContractsAndAgreements - 10-Nov-14 @ 1:04 PM
I have a catering franchise within a golf club. I have been given 3 months notice to quit due to providing an inconsistent service. Shortcomings were never brought to my attention, therefore I was never given a chance to rectify matters. I now have to work within a very unfriendly work place, which is causing me severe stress. I have had two stress related heart attacks in the past and I am very worried I might have a third. Can I leave before the 3 months is up?
Butters - 9-Nov-14 @ 6:47 AM
I have a written contract for 8 hrs, but for over a year I have had an implied contract for 18 hours which I am regulary given every week. I am treated as an 18 hour worker yet because of contract do not receive the benefits as in holidays etc is this legal.
Jojo - 15-May-13 @ 2:17 PM
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