When we advise our clients, some myths about Contracts of Employment often crop up.
One of the biggest myths we hear is that contracts need to be in written form in order to be legally valid. Contrary to popular belief, a Contract of Employment may be a verbal agreement or it may be a written document. You can read more about that here. What employers are legally required to provide each employee with, whose employment is to continue for more than one month, is a ‘written statement of employment particulars’.
Is this written statement of employment considered a contract?
No, but it is evidence of a contract. A Contract of Employment will be much more detailed and set out all the terms and conditions of employment. It is advisable to provide a written Contract of Employment to each and every employee, laying down your obligations and their rights. This gives clarity as to what has been agreed.
Does the written statement of employment particulars have to be signed to be legally valid?
There is no statutory obligation to have the Contract of Employment or the written statement of employment particulars signed by both parties.
However, it is considered best practice to have the employee sign and date their Contract of Employment and return it back to you. You should retain a copy for your records and then provide the employee with a copy.
When does the written statement of employment particulars have to be provided to employees?
It must be provided within two months of the employee’s start of employment.
What does it need to include?
It may be found in a number of documents but there must be a ‘principal document’ which details the following:
- Employer’s name
- Employee’s name
- Job title or job description
- Start date and when continuous employment began
- Pay (including the frequency of pay intervals)
- Hours of work
- Holiday entitlement
- Place of work
The written statement of employment particulars should also specify notice periods, collective agreements and pensions.
It must say where information can be found about sick leave and pay, disciplinary, dismissal and grievance procedures. This could be found in a reasonably accessible place, such as the Employee Handbook or intranet.
What about if the employee is working abroad?
If an employee is to work aboard for more than one month during their first two months of employment, employers are obliged to provide the employee with the written statement of employment particulars before they leave the country.
You also need to provide them with the following information:
- How long the employee will be out of the UK
- What currency the employee will be paid in
- If they will receive any extra remuneration or benefits
- Terms and conditions in relation to their return to the UK.
What happens if an employee is not issued a written statement of employment particulars?
If an employee is not issued a written statement within two months, they can submit a complaint to an Employment Tribunal and get a declaration as to what the particulars should have been.
Are there changes looming for the written statement of employment particulars?
In the Taylor Review, it was proposed that government should extend the right to a written statement to ‘workers’ as well as employees. The government has accepted this suggestion, but they have decided to launch a consultation to seek views from businesses, employer associations, unions and workers.
The government is considering whether extending this right to both workers and employers from day one of employment will be of benefit to both the employer and individual. They are looking at the contents of the written statement of particulars and seeking views on whether it would be useful to add in the duration of the probationary period, all remuneration (not just pay), paid leave (such as maternity leave and bereavement leave) and any training requirements and entitlements.
They are also seeking opinions on how whether there should be compensation if an employee brings a claim for a failure to receive a written statement. At present, compensation can only be granted if another substantive claim is made.
The consultation ends 23 May 2018.