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Employment Contracts and Terms & Conditions

What legal documents do I need when employing someone?

When it comes to employing someone, it is vital to have all the correct legal documents in place in order to be legally compliant.

Once the candidate has been selected, a written job offer should be sent out to the individual. It is also worth including their key terms and conditions of employment such as job title and pay within this.

Do I need to produce a contract of employment?

As soon as the job offer has been accepted, the two parties enter into a legal arrangement which should be written particulars detailing the key terms and conditions of employment. This is usually called ‘a contract of employment’.

Within 8 weeks from the date of employment, if the employment is to last more than a month, the employee must be given the contract of employment. There is no legal requirement for an employment contract to be written but it is strongly advisable that the details are recorded in some format or another.

What happens if I do not produce a contract of employment?

Failure to provide such information in writing or providing it in a way that does not comply with the requirements of the Employment Rights Act 1996 exposes the employer to the risk of being taken to an employment tribunal. If this happens the tribunal can decide what the employment contract needs to include and can also lead to an assessment into employee pay. If an employer fails to provide a contract of employment and the employee is later made redundant or unfairly dismissed, for example, the Employment Tribunal can use this to request additional compensation from the employer.

What should be in a contract of employment?

The content of an employment contract can range from the simple to the complexdepending on the job role. Each contract should be designed specifically based on the nature of the role. When considering what to include in a contract of employment, it is worth considering  the following:

  • The correct name of the employer and employee
  • Employment start dates
  • Any probationary period
  • The job title and description
  • The salary
  • The hours and place of work
  • Holiday Entitlement
  • Sickness provisions
  •  Pension provisions
  • Any handbooks on policies and procedure that should accompany the contract
  • The termination of the employment such as notice
  • Any restrictions to the employee being able to work elsewhere during the employment
  • Any restrictions on the employee that need to put in place after the end of the employment

This is not a complete list.  Knowing what to put in to a contract of employment is key and our Employment Team has extensive experience to help produce contracts of employment which will work for you.

Can I make changes to employee contracts and terms and conditions?

Employers are able to change the terms and conditions of employment for their employees to meet business needs. However, there are procedures to follow to ensure that changes are in response to sound business reasons and that employees are consulted to avoid potential claims for constructive unfair dismissal.

What processes must be followed when making changes to employee terms and conditions?

Before terms and conditions of employment are changed, consultation has to take place with employees and, where appropriate with trade unions. We can help advise on following consultation procedures, who should be included and the period of notice required. If an insufficient period of notice is issued, the employer could be liable to claims for constructive unfair dismissal or discrimination. Consultation is an important factor in judging the reasonableness of the change in employees' terms and conditions and will also assist in the defence of any potential employment tribunal claims.

What happens if the employee does not agree with the changes to their terms and conditions?

Where an employer imposes a change in terms and conditions of employment, an employee may be entitled to resign and claim constructive unfair dismissal or discrimination on the basis that the employer has acted unreasonably in introducing the changes in terms and conditions. This means that failing to make changes properly could result in a costly compensation claim.

These claims can be successfully defended if:

  • the employer has established a sound business reason for the change in terms and conditions
  • the reason for the dismissal was proved
  • the employer is able to submit evidence of the business reason
  • the changes in terms and conditions are reasonable
  • the employer has followed a fair and reasonable procedure

 

Having the correct legal documents in place and following the correct policies and procedure is essential if you employ anyone. Understanding exactly what is required and ensuring you are legally compliant can be difficult, therefore we recommend seeking professional legal advice.

Our employment team is able to provide you with the necessary guidance and advice to ensure you have the correct documents in place to protect both yourself as the employer and your employees. It can be a minefield, but we can help you navigate your way through it. We offer no-obligation initial appointments and can meet you at any of our office locations in Market Harborough, Leicester or Wigston. You can contact the team directly by calling 0116 212 1000 or complete our online contact form.