A brief look at what paperwork is required or useful
Employee Relations and Benefits
Our employment contract guide looks at the terms between an employer and employee. By law you must give employees certain basic terms in writing. What if you don’t provide one or it’s incomplete or don’t tell employees about changes? An employee can apply to the Employment Tribunal for them to clarify the matter. If an employee is making a claim to the Employment Tribunal for something else e.g. unfair dismissal or discrimination and the tribunal finds the employer hasn’t provided a complete and accurate statement of terms then the tribunal can award the employee two to four weeks’ pay in addition to any other award it makes.
The statutory statement must include information about around 12 different defined aspects of the job including
- the date continuous employment began
- place or places of work
- rates of pay
- holiday entitlement
- pension provisions.
A fully written employment contract is likley to include even more terms. The advantage is that there is less room for argument what the terms are and what happens various circumstances.
What should you include in the employee contract?
Putting it all down in writing can seem overwhelming but we will take you through the basics that really should be included and explain what they mean and why it’s important to have them. We can then discuss what else may be useful for a particular business.
Part of this process also involves looking at what other documents you may need to consider or are relevant. For example you will need to see “right to work” documents for all employees. Other employees will need to produce driving licences or other qualifications. All employers should have a health and safety policy and if you have 5 or more employees, it must be in writing. Even if you have fewer than 5 employees it’s of course easier to prove you have a policy if it’s written down. What these documents include will vary depending on the risks in your business.
Other policies are optional but can be very useful. On a daily basis, having policies which employees understand and follow, makes running a business easier. On other occasions you want to be able to prove the exact contractual term, policy or procedure because of a problem or dispute. For example you may need confidentiality terms in a contract or want to dicate what an employee can do when they leave. You might have a discrimination dispute so an equal opportunities policy is helpful or simple a query about taking time off at Christmas can cause issues.
Here are some more examples. First of areas an employer must cover and then of some things it can be useful to have.
An employer must, for example
- be able to prove that their employees have the right to work in the UK.
- show they have complied with auto enrolment for PAYE and National Insurance purposes.
- have evidence of pensions auto enrolment on an ongoing basis
- prove compliance with the National Minimum Wage
- adequately show that the working time regulations are being complied with
- provide a written disciplinary and grievance procedure.
Employers are likely to find it useful to have, for example,
- time recording procedures – help with national minimum wage and working time issues……
- driving and vehicle use rules – help with health & safety and insurance …..
- alcohol and drugs policies – help with disciplinary and health issues….
- holiday recording and permission procedures – helps with employee relations and business planning….
- sickness absence processes and policies – helps avoid discrimination and wage issues….
We can help explain where you are obliged to provide details to employees in employment documents and where voluntary policies can be useful. Sometimes procedures need to have a contractual backing. At other times policies need to be outside the contract so they can be updated and changed. What is important differs from business to business.
You also need to bear in mind that some things you may want to include can have consequences you don’t anticipate. For example the business that required their receptionists to wear high heels didn’t anticipate the bad press and discrimination issues that arose. This wasn’t a small unsophisticated employer making a mistake back in the 1980s. This happened to an international accountancy firm in London in the spring of 2016. It pays to get your employment documents right.
To learn more contact us
Kirsten Moon – Employment Client Partner
This is a brief note only intended to generally inform and should not be considered an exhaustive guide on the subject. Further advice should be sought before taking or reframing from taking any steps. © Moon & Co Solicitors.