Every employee has certain basic rights in UK employment law. We discuss them in a series of blog posts. The first right is the right to an employment contract under section 1 of the Employment Rights Act.

Employment contract

Basic right no.1- right to an employment contract 1The phrase ’employment contract’ has several meanings. One is the legal terms that govern the employment relationship; these terms can be expressly agreed on, implied by caselaw or implied by statute.

Another meaning is the piece of paper that may record these terms (though it will go out of date, with revised duties, pay rises and changes of law).

Employers are required to provide a statement of the main terms and conditions of the employment contract to the employees within two months of the commencement of the job and to keep it updated. The statement should contain the following details:

  • Parties’ names
  • Start date
  • Job title
  • Pay details
  • Hours and place of work
  • Holiday entitlement and pay
  • Sick pay
  • Pension arrangements
  • Notice periods
  • A note of the grievance, dismissal and disciplinary procedures or where to find them

If the employer doesn’t do this, an employee may go to a tribunal to require them to do it. But this rarely happens. The usual claim for not providing the statement of terms and conditions is a ‘piggy-back’ claim of two or four weeks’ gross pay that is added onto a tribunal claim when the employee leaves. Often you can get an extra few hundred pounds in an unfair dismissal claim because the employer has forgotten to provide or update the ‘s1 statement’ in the employment contract.

Changes in the terms and conditions of the contract require the consent of both parties. However what happens in practice is that the employer changes the terms and the employee continues working there, which shows the necessary consent. If an employee is not happy with a proposed term and condition change, they need to resign or in some cases work “under protest” otherwise they lose the right to complain.

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