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Your Employment Contract

By: Jeff Durham - Updated: 16 Oct 2012 | comments*Discuss
Employment Contract Contract Employment

Regardless of whether or not you have anything in writing as yet as soon as an offer of a job is made, you are deemed to have a contractual relationship with your employer. However, within 2 months, you are entitled to ask for a written contract or at least a written statement, outlining the main terms of your employment.

Employment Contracts – Your Legal Rights

The Employment Rights Act 1996 states that you are entitled to receive a written statement of the major terms of your employment within 8 weeks of starting a new job. This must include:

  • The name of the employer and employee
  • Your job title
  • The date you commenced employment (and when it will end, if it’s a contract job)
  • Rate of pay and how often and when you will receive your pay
  • Address of your usual place of work or multiple addresses if you are working at different locations
  • Number of hours you are contracted to work and the times when you are contracted to work them
  • Holiday and sick pay entitlement
  • Required notice period
  • Details of any pension provisions

In addition to the above, an employment contract might also contain additional clauses. These might include things such as restrictions on poaching staff or clients if you should leave the company to join a new one. However, this only usually applies to senior management posts. There may be other clauses too which might relate to collective agreements, such as trade union membership.

Disciplinary and Grievance Matters

An employment contract will not always contain any references to what constitutes a breach of discipline, what are ‘sackable’ offences etc, or what the company’s grievance procedure is.

These kinds of issues will usually be obtained in a staff handbook or in some other form of document and, unless one is given to you, it is your responsibility to find out what your company’s policy is on these matters. Remember, ignorance is no excuse so it’s important that you find out all about this as breaches of discipline and grievance procedures can vary between companies.

Terms of the Employment Contract

Your employer cannot impose changes to the terms of your agreed employment contract without your consent. Should they do so, that is a breach of contract and you may well be able to take your employer to an employment tribunal. Likewise, should you be dismissed from your job because you refuse to accept a revised employment contract, your employer could be liable to face claims for compensation if the procedures and reasons for terminating your contract have been incorrect.

If you should find yourself in this position, you can complain to an employment tribunal providing you have been working for your employer for at least a year and you make your complaint in writing within 3 months of your dismissal.

Implied Terms of the Employment Contract

In addition to the wording of the employment contract itself, there may also be implied terms which are not explicitly referred to. Some of these can still be enforced by law, such as the right to the Minimum Wage, whilst others assume that the employer will provide a safe environment for you to work and for the worker to be honest and trustworthy towards the employer.

Terminating the Employment Contract

Both employer and employee can terminate the employment contract according to the terms contained within it. Either side can make a complaint against the other when, for example, the employer wants the employee to leave before they have worked their notice and vice versa. However, there can be exceptions to this rule where no notice is required, e.g. both parties agree that the notice period (or part of it) need not be worked or in instances where an employee is dismissed for gross misconduct.

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