Although having an employment contract is not compulsory when you take on an employee, putting one in place ensures that both you and your staff are aware of your obligations to each other, and the employee is aware of his or her rights. Remember, even if you choose not to have employment contracts for your staff, you still need to provide them with a Written Statement of the main terms of their employment, such as salary and working hours. This must be provided within two months of an employee starting work.
No, but it is much better if it is and may save you a lot of hassle at a later date if your employee raises a dispute.
A contract of employment can include a number of terms that detail both the employers and the employee’s rights and obligations. These can include:
Express terms refer to the terms expressly written into the contract, such as an employee’s hours of work and retirement. Implied terms are terms that are not written down in the contract, but can be implied as part of the agreement due to the nature of the employer – employee relationship. An example of an implied term is that you will not steal from your employer.
If you breach a term in your employees contract of employment they may be able to claim for wrongful dismissal. You will need to seek legal advice if a claim is brought against you.
Existing contracts of employment can be varied only with the consent of both parties. As an employer, you will need to fully consult with your employee and give your reasons for wanting to change the terms. You do not have to put the changes in writing, but for the purposes of clarity it is much better to have a written record.
If your employee will not agree to the proposed change in terms, then you can terminate the contract and then re-employee them on the new terms. To do this you must follow a fair dismissal process, otherwise, your employee may have grounds to take you to the Employment Tribunal for unfair dismissal.
To ensure that you have a clear, concise employment contract, it is imperative that you receive expert legal advice, without which you risk having a claim brought against you by an employee if the relationship between you turns sour.