Understanding Employment Contracts: A Simple Guide

Employment Contract Blog

Employment law provides a framework that governs the rights and duties between employers and workers. Here are some key aspects regarding employment contracts and HR-related legal standards. Please note that legislation can change, so it’s always a good idea to check the most current laws or seek legal advice for specific situations.

Types of Employment Contracts

  1. Permanent Contracts: These are the most common form of employment, offering ongoing employment until the employer or employee ends the contract.
  2. Fixed-Term Contracts: Employment under these contracts is provided for a specific period.
  3. Zero-Hours Contracts: These contracts do not guarantee regular work; employees work only when they are needed.

Key Features of Employment Contracts

  • Written Statement of Employment Particulars: While the contract itself does not need to be in writing, employers must provide employees with a written statement of the main terms of employment within on or before day one of employment.
  • Contract Terms: These can be express (clearly stated, whether in writing or verbally) or implied (not written down, but understood to exist, often through customary practice).
  • Changes to Contracts: Any changes to the contract must be agreed upon by both parties. Employers cannot unilaterally change the terms without consent, except in very specific circumstances.

Rights Under Employment Contracts

  • Minimum Wage: Employees have the right to be paid at least the National Minimum Wage or National Living Wage, depending on their age.
  • Working Hours and Breaks: Workers are protected by limits on the number of hours they can be required to work and are entitled to breaks and rest periods.
  • Annual Leave: Workers have the right to a minimum amount of paid holiday per year.
  • Sick Leave and Pay: Employees might be entitled to Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) if they are too ill to work.
  • Maternity, Paternity, Adoption, and Parental Leave: Employees have various entitlements around leave for childbirth, adoption, and childcare.
  • Notice Periods: The contract should outline the notice periods required for termination by either the employer or employee.
  • Protection against Discrimination: Employees are protected against discrimination based on age, gender, race, religion, disability, sexual orientation, and other protected characteristics.
  • Right to Work: Employers must ensure that employees have the right to work in the UK.

Dispute Resolution and Termination

  • Grievance and Disciplinary Procedures: Employers should have clear procedures in place for handling grievances and disciplinary actions.
  • Unfair Dismissal: After two years of service, employees have protection against unfair dismissal, although there are some exceptions where claims can be brought from day one.
  • Redundancy: There are specific rules around redundancy, including notice periods, selection processes, and redundancy pay.

This overview provides a general understanding of employment contracts and HR obligation. For detailed guidance, please get in touch.

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