A Guide to Employment Contracts updated for 2024

from Silk Helix
Photograph of Jenefer Livings, Founder of Silk Helix Ltd
UPDATED 26 January 2024
First Published: 6 October 2019
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What is a contract of employment?

In simply terms, a contract of employment is formed when someone agrees to provide their service as an employee in exchange for wages, it can be written or verbal and is often a mix of both.

A written contract is always recommended as it provides both the employer and the employee with a clear record of the terms and conditions agreed upon.

There is however a legal requirement to provide a statement of particulars to all employees and workers by the end of their first day of employment. The full list of the information that must be provided can be found in our article on what a contract of employment should contain.

There are a few key reasons that employers should provide a written contract of employment:

  • Protecting the company - A written contract should include clauses like deductions from wages, non-compete and flexibility such as to place or times of work. Without written agreement these types of clauses will not be legally binding.
  • Dispute resolution - A contract of employment can help to resolve disputes between employers and employees. If there is a disagreement about the terms of employment, a written contract can be referred to in order to clarify the terms and reach a resolution.
  • Attract and retain employees - A contract issued at the point of offering employment shows that the employer is treating employees fairly and happy to commit in writing to promises made during the recruitment process. Without a contract that matches the expectations gained during recruitment it may be harder to get people to accept offers.

What is a Written Statement of Particulars?

There are a number of pieces of information that must be provided to employees:

  • The business name
  • Employee’s name
  • Job title or a description of work
  • Start date
  • A statement covering whether any previous job counts towards the period of continuous employment
  • How much and how often the employee will be paid
  • Hours of work (and if work is required Sunday’s or nights)
  • Overtime requirements
  • Holiday entitlement
  • Where the employee is working
  • If the employee is working in different places, where these will be and what the employer’s address is
  • Duration and conditions of any probationary period
  • All remuneration (not just pay) both in cash and kind
  • Which specific days and times workers are required to work
  • Training provided by the employer, required by the employer or required by the employer which they will not bear the cost of
  • How long the job is expected to last if it is temporary or the end date for a fixed term contract
  • Notice periods
  • Collective agreements
  • Pensions
  • Who to report a grievance too
  • How to complain about the way a grievance is handled
  • How to complain about a disciplinary or dismissal decision
  • Details of other types of paid leave - e.g. maternity and paternity leave

The following information can be available elsewhere but the written statement must tell the employee where the information can be found:

There are additional requirements if an employee is required to work abroad for longer than one month.

Our Advice

The written statement of particulars is a minimum legal requirement. The written statement can also be used to detail contractual requirements of the individual and is the ideal place to include any contractual offering you are making.

At the point you offer employment to an individual you are entering into a contractual relationship, this includes a verbal job offer made by a recruiting Manager. Ideally you should provide the terms of that contractual relationship at the point of offer. You may find new recruits are unwilling to accept offers or submit notice to current employers without written terms of employment.

It is very difficult to insert or change contractual terms once an individual has started working with you. The employment relationship won’t get off to a good start if your new employee suddenly finds a requirement of them they were not aware off.

Getting the statement of particulars and any other contractual document right is key. The terms of employment must work for your business. These documents should reflect the reality of the role the individual is in and the requirements you have of them.

Getting it wrong

An employment tribunal can award compensation of two or four weeks pay (at the current limit for a weeks pay) where a statement has not been issued in line with the legislation. However, compensation will only be awarded where the employee has successfully bought another employment tribunal claim (e.g. unfair dismissal).

More commonly errors in statements of particulars cause problems within the organisation and employment relationship. Whilst the statement is not the full contract of employment, it does create contractual terms.

Common errors include offering a bonus within the statement which employers then find themselves having to pay even when they cannot afford to. Hours of work often fail to reflect the real requirements of the job, for example failing to mention a requirement to work additional hours may result in employees refusing to attend the evening meeting you planned. These are just two of the common errors we come across. Both are simple to avoid with the right wording and professionally written terms and conditions of employment.

How can Silk Helix help?

  • Getting your HR documentation right is vital not only for legal compliance but as a tool to run your business successfully. We can write your statement of particulars, employee handbook and other employment policies.
  • We can review and update your existing employment documentation.
  • We can advise on contractual disputes with your employees.
  • We can advise on changing terms and conditions of employment.
While this guide covers the basics, every situation has its own complexities so you should always seek professional advice.
We can help, so book a Free Advice Call .

Article last updated: 26 January 2024

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