A contract of employment in the UK is a legally binding document between an employer and an employee, agreeing on points of the role. All employees are entitled to a contract that summarises the main terms of their employment, and there are several points that must be included. But how do you know if your contract of employment is correct, legal and fair? It can be challenging to sift through the jargon contained in the terms of your agreement, and this can often leave employees feeling confused and concerned.
This month, Herries-Smith, your local High Wycombe Solicitors, look into the main points of your contract, what should be included and some common issues that employees face. We will also advise you on what to do if you think your contract is wrong, unfair, or there has been a breach of terms.
Did you know that several main terms should be included in your contract? Below are the main terms of your contract and what they mean in layman’s terms so your information is a little clearer:
Express terms are the terms in your contract of employment that are specific. This could include your pay or salary and your expected working hours.
Some points and agreements are too obvious to be written down. However, it’s always good practice to put these terms in writing so every employee is aware of their roles, rights and responsibilities whilst working with the company.
Statutory terms cover terms that are part of employment law and should be followed by the company you work for.
If you have a staff handbook or an agreement that applies to most staff under employment, these terms could be part of your contract of employment under Incorporated terms.
As to be expected, with such lengthy documents, many common issues arise from a contract of employment. We have included just a few of the most common disagreements and challenges below:
There isn’t one! Under employment law, anyone legally classed as an employee has the right to a contract; however, if you are classed as a worker, you only have the right to a contract if you started working for the company after 6th April 2020. Unfortunately, it’s true that many companies are still going under the radar for not offering their employees contracts of employment when they should by law.
Out of date For those who have worked for the same company for an extended period of time, you may find that your contract is out of date, and many of the terms included no longer apply or aren’t in line with current legislation. This could also be true for new employees where the company has not updated its contract of employment for some time. Contracts should be reviewed periodically to ensure they are always up to date.
Points may not be relevant. If the contract writer has decided to source an existing contract from a different company, and this has not been thoroughly checked, you may find that your contract of employment is not relevant to the company you are working for. To avoid this, companies should always write their contracts with the support of a qualified legal team.
Vague and misleading A contract of employment has to include specific points and terms, but that doesn’t mean it’s always clear and concise! Many employees have challenges with reading and understanding the contract, and that’s not their fault! Clauses may be vague or ambiguous, which is not a good practice for employers.
Inconsistent Every employee is individual, and therefore terms and conditions within a contract may change to reflect this. Pay, hours, and clauses may vary dependent on agreements and requirements. However, the primary statutory terms implied and incorporated terms should be the same to promote equality in the workplace. Failure to do this could lead to discrimination claims.
Too long and wordy! Contracts don’t have to be vast and full of jargon to be legal, yet so many still are. If your contract is too long or too wordy, this could reduce the likelihood of it being accepted and understood. Keep to the terms, don’t overuse words to make the contract seem longer and remain clear at all times.
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Many people think that their contract of employment is set in stone, but the reality is that employment contracts can change. What you need to be aware of at all times is whether your contract is considered to be legal, whether it can be understood and if there is the potential for discrimination or lack of equality within your workplace.
Herries-Smith is your local Marlow solicitor who has a wealth of knowledge and experience in dealing with contracts of employment and employment law. If you feel there has been a breach of contract or discrimination in the workplace and you aren’t sure where to turn for advice and support, get in touch with us, and we will be able to support you in finding the best outcome for your situation.
Address:Catherine Herries-Smith SolicitorJubilee House, Globe Park, Third Ave, Marlow SL7 1EY