Contract of Employment - Your Questions Answered by Pennine Business Partners

Your HR Questions Answered

Contracts of Employment - Your Questions Answered

Posted on 1st May 2019
Do I have to give my employees a contract of employment?

A   As an employer, you are required by law to give your employees a written statement of the main terms and conditions of employment. You may choose to go further by giving them a more detailed contract of employment. This can provide additional details of terms and conditions and provide greater protection for the employer.

When do I have to give my employees a contract of employment?

A   You must give your employees a written statement of the main terms and conditions of employment within two months of them starting to work for you.   This applies even if they are on a temporary contract.  There is no benefit in delaying issuing the contract – in fact, the sooner you issue it, the sooner they are bound by the terms and conditions. 

Q  What information should be in a contract of employment?

A   There is some essential information that you will need to include within the statement of main terms and conditions.

  • The name of the employee and of the company employing them
  • Their job title – full details of the job do not need to be included 
  • The date when the employment began
  • The intended duration of the employment if it is not permanent
  • The place of work
  • The rate of pay and the intervals at which it is to be paid
  • The hours of work
  • Holiday entitlement
  • Notice required by each party to end employment
  • Reference to any relevant collective agreements.

You should also provide details of the following, although these may be provided separately:

  • Sick leave and pay entitlements
  • Pensions and pension schemes
  • Disciplinary and grievance procedures, including appeals procedure. 

Many employers will refer to these in the contract of employment and include more details in an employee handbook.

Q  What is a probationary period?

A   A probationary period is sometimes agreed at the start of employment. It usually lasts between 1 and 6 months, depending on the complexity of the role. During this time, the employee’s performance and suitability for the role will be assessed. At the end of this period, employment is either confirmed or terminated.

It is beneficial to give the employee feedback during the probationary period to give them the best chance of succeeding in the role. It also means that there are no surprises at the end of the probationary period.

Different terms and conditions may apply during the probationary period, such as notice period and access to benefits.

Q  How long should a probationary period be?

A   A probationary period will typically last between one six months, although there are no set rules on the duration.

Q  Should I give my casual workers a contract?

A   Casual workers may not be classed as employees if they are not obliged to work any fixed hours or to accept work if offered. However, if the period of work is longer and there is an obligation to accept work, they may be classed as an employee and be entitled to additional rights. It is a good idea to have contract in place to clarify the working relationship and, if genuinely casual, to make clear that each period of work is a separate employment.

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