Be clear about your working relationships
Employers often say their employees don’t have employment contracts. What they mean is they don’t have a written contract. It doesn’t have to be in writing for an employment contract to exist but the terms are likely to be hazy.
Although an employment contract hasn’t been put in writing if an employee is employed for over a month they must be given basic written details about the terms of their employment. They are also entitled to a written disciplinary and grievance procedure. That procedure must take account of the ACAS code on disciplinary and grievance issues.
Employment Contracts – Contractual and Statutory Rights
All employees in the England have two sets of rights. First are contractual rights agreed with the employer such as the nature of the job, rate of pay and so on. Secondly employees have specific legal employment rights, whether the employer likes it or not. If those legal rights conflict with the contract the legal rights will apply and modify the contract. For example if the contract says an employee is only ever entitled to a week’s notice then at least the statutory minimum of a week per full year of employment applies.
Some other terms the employer and employee are free to agree. This maybe because employment rules don’t cover the point or the rules allow changes provided they are clearly agreed.
Good fences make good neighbours.
And good employment contracts can help make an employment relationship better. Even if the employer and employee relationship is good having no written contract can lead to uncertainty and concerns. If problems do arise an unclear contract leaves the employer with a dispute they may not win, a disgruntled employee and an unsettled workforce. Ideally get matters sorted out at the begining when you have the maximum options available. However even if employees have been with you for years we can help you get written employment contracts in place. It’s worth taking the time to sort of grey areas before they become problems.
Many business owners don’t think they have employees, they claim that everyone who does work for them is self-employed. That is rarely the case; as Uber, for example, found out. Knowing a person’s status is hugely important as it affects what rights they have and which rules apply to them from holiday pay and minimum wage to redundancy and unfair dismissal. So it’s vitally important that you know whether someone is an employee, worker or self-employed? We can help you identify their status, advise you about the options and sort out the paperwork.
Kirsten Moon – Employment Law Solicitor – Partner