Employment Contract

Last updated: 19 Jul 2021

All employers must give their employees and workers a written document setting out the main terms of their employment or service when they start work.  This sets out the key rights and obligations that exist in the relationship. These rights are in addition to those that you have under employment law, such as the right to have be paid the National Minimum Wage.  

This is known in legal terms as a ‘written statement of particulars’ or a “section 1 statement” as it is a requirement of section 1 of the Employment Rights Act 1996.   The written statement is made up of: 

  • the main document (known as a ‘principal statement’) 
  • a wider written statement 

Employers must provide a principal statement on the first day of employment or work, and the wider written statement within 2 months of the start of employment or work. 

Workers are not employees, they are usually contracted to do work personally for an employer but do not have their own business.

Terms that must be given on day one:

  • employer’s name and address
  • employee or worker’s name
  • the date the employment/work starts
  • the date that ‘continuous employment’ started for an employee
  • job title, or a brief job description
  • the places or addresses of where the employee or worker will work
  • pay, including how often and when
  • working hours, including which days the employee or worker must work and if and how their hours or days can change
  • holiday and holiday pay, including an explanation of how its calculated if the employee or worker leaves
  • the amount of sick leave and pay and procedures (if this information is not included in the document, the employer must state where to find it)
  • any other paid leave e.g. adoption, maternity, paternity and shared parental leave (if this information is not included in the document, the employer must state where to find it)
  • any other benefits, including non-contractual benefits
  • the notice period to be given by employee/worker and employer
  • any probation period, including its conditions and how long it is
  • how long the job will last and if fixed term/temporary, the date of termination
  • if the employee will work abroad, for how long and any terms that apply
  • training that must be completed by the employee or worker, including training the employer does not pay for

Employers can provide some terms in at a later date but these must be provided no later than two months after starting employment. The terms that can be given later are:

  • pension arrangements (the employer must state where the employee can find this information)
  • any terms and conditions that apply to other employees too (‘collective agreements’)
  • details of any training provided by the employer that is not compulsory
  • disciplinary rules and disciplinary and grievance procedures

Terms of the Employment Contract

Most employees will also get a written contract of employment setting out their main terms and conditions of employment which usually incorporates the above written particulars. An employment contract is made up of:

Express terms – which would include things written down in the agreement, this should include pay, hours and place of work. This may also include things agreed orally with your employer.

Collective agreement – some terms may be incorporated by a collective agreement e.g. redundancy pay or selection process, this would be referred to in your contract;

Implied Terms – these are not always written in the contract but are usually easily understood and include the employee’s duty to obey reasonable orders, the employer’s health and safety duties and the implied term of mutual trust and confidence;

Custom and Practice – these are implied terms in employment contracts if they are customary in a particular trade or workplace. To be binding it must be “reasonable, notorious and certain” If you have worked in a particular way for a period of time, with your employer’s approval, then this pattern of working may form part of your contract.

How is this different from my Statutory Rights?

All employees and workers have rights given by law – these are your statutory rights. Your contract cannot provide for less than your statutory rights e.g. the right to paid holidays, to be paid the national minimum wage and the right to not be discriminated against. These rights are included even if they are not written into your contract. If your written contract gives you fewer rights under the law e.g. lower than minimum wage, this will not be enforceable and you should take legal advice as you may have a claim against your employer.

What if I don’t have anything written down?

You might not have anything in writing with your employer, but once you have made an agreement to work for someone, even if it is just verbally agreed, a contract exists. Once you agree to do work for your employer and your employer agrees to pay you, this forms a contract of employment or engagement.

1. Request your written particulars from your employer:

If you haven’t received a written contract or “statement of particulars” , you can request one.

If you are an employee or worker and your employer has failed to provide you this written statement of your terms of employment or if the statement is inaccurate or incomplete you may want to ask your employer in writing for a written statement reflecting your employment/work arrangement.

We always advise that you first seek to resolve issues informally with your employer and to maintain an amicable relationship wherever possible. You could alert them to your understanding of the law that they are supposed to provide you with this in writing, as it may be down to a lack of awareness on their part. It is always advisable to try and resolve things amicably, as formal processes can damage your working relationship with your employer.

2. If your employer refuses to provide you with your written terms

If after you have asked your employer for your terms in writing, your employer refuses to provide you with your statement of particulars, you may decide to raise a grievance. For some legal insight into grievances and tips on how to engage with your employer before it reaches this point read our blog

3. Employment Tribunal: As a last resort you may decide to bring a complaint to an employment tribunal that your employer has failed to issue you with your statement of particulars.

You should consider this option carefully, and after you have approached your employer informally, as it may damage your working relationship. We do not recommend bringing a claim against your employer unless you have no other options. If you decide to bring this claim, an employment tribunal may confirm the particulars that should be included in the statement; it may amend the particulars; and/or it may substitute other particulars for those given by the employer.

If you are successful in bringing another claim against your employer e.g. for unfair dismissal and bring a claim for failure to provide written particulars, you may also be eligible for compensation of between two and four weeks’ pay (capped at the statutory amount) in respect of the failure to provide statement 1 particulars. You will not be awarded compensation if your only claim against your employer is a failure to provide this statement and so we would urge caution before bringing a claim for this alone.

Submitting an Employment Tribunal claim should be a last resort that should only taken after exhausting the other next steps wherever possible and time permitting. However, if you wish to submit a claim, there are strict time limitations to do so. You must contact ACAS to start early conciliation within three months less a day of your dismissal (for unfair dismissal and constructive dismissal) and within 3 months less 1 day of the act complained of (for discrimination or other claims). For further details of the process for bringing an Employment Tribunal claim please see our articles on Time Limits, Early Conciliation and Starting a Claim.

This advice applies in England, Wales and Scotland. If you live in another part of the UK, the law may differ. Please call our helpline for more details.

If you have further questions and would like to contact our advice team please use our advice contact form below or call us.

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The information on the law contained on this site is provided free of charge and does not, and is not intended to, amount to legal advice to any person on a specific case or matter. If you are not a solicitor, you are advised to obtain specific legal advice about your case or matter and not to rely solely on this information. Law and guidance is changing regularly in this area.