When you start a new job, there are certain terms that your employer should give you within two months of your start date.
These terms do not have to be in the form of a written contract. In fact, the law doesn’t require that your employment contract has to be in writing at all. You will have a contract with your employer, even if nothing has been given to you in writing.
A written statement must include the following:
Your name and that of your employer;
Your job title and description; The date your employment began;
When the period of continuous employment began, if you’ve been working as a contract or temporary worker.
How your pay is calculated;
The intervals when you will be paid, ie weekly, monthly etc;
Your hours of work; Any holiday entitlement, including public holidays and holiday pay;
Any terms and conditions applicable if you’re absent due to sickness or injury, including any entitlement to sick pay (or, if these are set out in some other easily accessible document eg a staff handbook, that document’s location). If there are no provisions for sickness absence it should say so;
The terms and conditions of any pensions and pension schemes (or if these are set out in some other easily accessible document eg a staff handbook, that document’s location). If there are no provisions for pensions it should say so; The length of notice you and your employer must give to each other to terminate your contract of employment;
If your job isn’t permanent, how long it’s expected to continue, or when it will end; Your place or places of work, and if you will work in multiple locations, your employer’s address; Any collective agreements (ie agreements made between your employer and a trade union or staff association, even if you’re not a member of either) which directly affect the terms and conditions of your employment;
If you’re required to work outside the UK for more than one month, the currency of your pay, any additional pay or benefits, and any terms and conditions relating to your return;
A note specifying: or referring to an easily accessible document (eg a staff handbook) that sets out any disciplinary rules and procedures that apply to you; who you can apply to if you’re dissatisfied with a disciplinary decision; who you can apply to if you have a grievance and how you should make that application; if there are any further steps to be taken in such an application, an explanation of those steps or reference to a reasonably accessible document where those steps are set out.
You will be contractually bound by any terms that you accept whether expressly or by implication. The basic principle is that you’re free to agree whatever terms you and your employer want, but the reality is that your employer may be unwilling to change the terms it’s prepared to offer to you.
It’s in your interest to obtain a written contract from your employer if possible. If the contract isn’t written down, you will be equally bound by any terms agreed verbally, but you’ll have nothing to support you later if there’s a disagreement about what you agreed. If your employer sent you an offer letter, this is likely to set out many of your agreed terms and conditions.
Whatever written documentation you have should be kept in a safe and memorable place. If you verbally agree to anything that’s not written down, you should record it, for example by putting it in an email to your employer.
Some employment terms are required by law. These include rules setting national minimum wage rates, minimum rest periods, paid holiday and notice periods to terminate the employment contract.
There are also terms that are implied by law into all employment contracts. These include the mutual (ie you owe it to your employer and they owe it to you) duty of trust and confidence, the duty for you to obey reasonable and lawful instructions, and the duty of your employer to provide you with a safe work environment.
Some terms can become implied into your contract through custom and practice.
To get tailored legal advice for your situation, join Which? Legal today. Our team of legal advisers can provide you with unlimited expert legal advice across a range of topics for a low monthly fee.