Want to talk to an expert employment law solicitor?

You'll receive a callback from a specialist within an hour

Contracts of employment – a quick guide

Table of contents

What is a contract of employment

A contract of employment is a contract between an employer and an employee and contains all of the terms that you have agreed with your employer. There is always a contract between an employer and an employee – this will either be partially or wholly verbal or in writing. Verbal contracts have the same status as written contracts, but are harder to prove.

Your employer must provide you with written details of certain terms and conditions of your employer within two months of the date that you start work (see “Your right to be given written statement of your employment contract”).

What the contract will cover

The contract covers the agreed terms of your employment, with some of these terms being express, some implied, and some inserted by statute. The contract lasts from the date that you commence employment with your employer to the date that your contract terminates (normally if you are dismissed or you resign).

Your right to be given written statement of your employment contract

You have, under s.1 of the Employment Rights Act 1996, the right to be given a “written statement of particulars” of your employment. This is also known as a “section 1 statement” and must be supplied to you within two months of the date that you started employment with your employer.

The written details of your section 1 statement must include (among other things):

  • The names of the employer and the employee;
  • The date of which your employment began;
  • The amount of pay and how often you will be paid;
  • Your hours of work;
  • Your job description or a brief description of the work for which you’re employed;
  • Terms relating to holiday, including holiday pay and public holiday entitlement; and
  • How much warning (notice) you are entitled to if you are dismissed and how much warning you must give to your employer if you want to leave your job

The section 1 statement is not in and of itself the contract of employment but it is strong evidence of what the contract terms are.

What happens if there are problems with your written statement

If no proper written statement of particulars is provided to you within two months of the start of your contract of employment then you can apply to the Employment Tribunal within three months after the date your employment ends for a determination of your particulars.

Which documents could make up your contract of employment

Your contractual terms may be comprised of a number of documents, including:

  • Your contract of employment (if applicable)
  • Staff handbook
  • Collective agreement
  • Your offer letter from your employer

The terms may also be verbally agreed or implied by law.

What happens if your employer breaches your contract

Your contract of employment may be broken if you or your employer does not comply with a term in your contract – this is commonly known as a “breach of contract”. For example, if your employer fails to pay you your wages or to pay you for your notice period.

If you believe that your employer breaches your contract of employment then you should normally do the following in the following order:

  • Raise the matter informally with your employer
  • Raise a grievance with your employer
  • Take advice from a specialist employment lawyer on the breach of contract

What happens if you are offered a job and that job offer is then withdrawn by your prospective employer

There are two key issues here:

  1. Have you satisfied all of the criteria to be offered employment? (e.g. provided proof of identity, proof of your right to work in the UK, proof of any qualifications/memberships etc.); and
  2. Have the parties entered into the contract? (i.e. signed it or indicated an intention to be bound by it)

If the answer to both of the above questions is ‘yes’ then you may be entitled to your notice pay under the contract if your employer subsequently decides to withdraw. However, this will depend on the circumstances.

What happens if your employer wants to change your employment contract

If your employer wants to try and change your contract then the consequences of this will depend upon whether these changes were agreed with you.

If your employer changed your contract with your consent (e.g. your employer increases or decreases your pay with your agreement) then the variation would be unlawful.

If your employer changes your contract without your consent then that variation would not be recognised as lawful. However, if you don’t object to the change within a reasonable period of time then you may be deemed to have “waived” the breach – you must therefore object to the proposed change in your contract as soon as possible.

You should obtain specialist advice from an employment solicitor if your employer is trying to change your contract terms without your consent.

Termination of a contract of employment

Your contract of employment will normally be terminated by you resigning from your job or your employer dismissing you.

If you are resigning from your job then you should normally give the requisite period of contractual or statutory notice, whichever is longer.

Summary dismissal is dismissal without notice and should only be used for gross misconduct, where a situation occurs that is so serious (such as theft, violence, fraud) that the employer gives no notice. However, employers should investigate the circumstances before making a dismissal and follow a fair procedure even in these cases

Other types of contracts

There are other types of contract that you may be working under in an employment relationship:

  1. A zero-hour contract; or
  2. A key time contract

You may also be what is known as an “employee shareholder” (although it is not possible to now create such a relationship).

Illegal contract of employment

Your contract of employment may be illegal if:

  • You entered into it with the intention of permitting an unlawful act
  • Where the contract is expressly or impliedly prohibited by statute; and/or
  • Where a contract was lawful when it was made but it has been performed illegally

An illegal contract of employment will be void and the parties will therefore not be able to rely on its terms.

Call Redmans today to discuss your employment law matter

Call Redmans on 020 3397 3603 or email us at enquiries@redmans.co.uk to discuss your employment law matter.

Alternatively, you can call Chris Hadrill, the partner responsible for the employment department, on 020 3397 3601 or email him at chadrill@redmans.co.uk.

Call us

Our awards

Request a callback

    Your first name (required)

    Your last name (required)

    Your email (required)

    Your telephone number (required)

    Brief details of your enquiry

    Testimonials

    4.80 Average

    312 Reviews

    Anonymous

    I have been very pleased with the support I got from Redmans Solicitors on my case with my employer. Caroline has always helped me to put things in perspective and showed me different scenarios ultimately to help me taking the right decision. She was very professional and always available when I needed, and at the same time also emphatic which I found also really important to establish a strong relationship. Will definitely recommend!

    Posted 1 day ago

    Anonymous

    Prompt and efficient response to my enquiries. Excellent negotiating skills with my employer which considerably improved the terms of my settlement agreement.

    Posted 2 days ago

    Anonymous

    Very quick and professional service , Rana was very helpful

    Posted 2 days ago

    James G

    Very professional, knowledgeable and kept me informed at every stage of my case. I would highly recommend Redmans.

    Posted 4 days ago

    Pravina P

    Chris was really good and help solve my issues with current company. I would recommend him to anyone.

    Posted 1 week ago

    Paul L

    Sacha was extremely helpful in my matter. I would not hesitate you use Sacha or Redmonds again. Everyone was very helpful.

    Posted 2 weeks ago

    Monique N

    I had Mel Chin helping me with a settlement and she was very professional and reliable throughout my case. Mel provided me with a good understanding of what was happening and gave suggestions on routes I could take. My case was resolved and closed promptly although the opposing side were very difficult to deal with. A very big thank you to Mel and Chris.

    Posted 2 weeks ago

    Jackie C

    My first ever experience needing the services of a solicitor; cannot speak highly enough of Mel and Chris’s personable, reassuring and straight to the point advice in dealing with my settlement agreement. They put me at ease during an extremely stressful time. I am equally as happy with the outcome, as l am their professional services.

    Posted 2 weeks ago

    ""

    Really happy with the service. All very efficient. Mel rattled through things very fast, however was great whenever I needed to stop and ask a question! Would definitely return to Redmans if I ever needed Legal advice.

    Posted 3 weeks ago

    Peter F

    Very helpful and clear advice, would highly recommend.

    Posted 3 weeks ago

    William A

    Second time I have had to use Redmans. They did not disappoint. They are fast , efficient and friendly. I have already recommended them to friends and colleagues. I hope I dont have to use them again but if I have to , they are the solicitors for me.

    Posted 3 weeks ago

    Fleeta C

    Great service with tantastic communications. The solicitor responsible is extremely knowledgeable and was responsible for bringing a timely and desired solution.

    Posted 3 weeks ago

    Veronica M

    Extremely helpful, starting from a request for advice at very short notice, to dedicating time for me to understand and review all documents thoroughly.

    Posted 3 weeks ago

    Sophie R

    Very efficient and professional service. Chris was very empathetic, knowledgeable and personable. Highly recommended.

    Posted 4 weeks ago

    Melanie M

    Very happy with the detailed advice provided from Redmans. They also helped me to secure a higher settlement than originally offered by my employer and were extremely diligent. I first spoke with Chris at relatively short notice and then Sacha dealt with my case. Would definitely recommend and use again in the future if needed.

    Posted 1 month ago

    Anonymous

    Redmans helped me with a work related issue, which was resolved quickly and professionally. I would definitely recommend this company.

    Posted 1 month ago

    James F

    Great people, really friendly and professional helped with everything that I needed.

    Posted 1 month ago

    Anusha S

    My case was handled by Sacha who was very thorough and helped me to achieve a good outcome with my employer. Sacha was very personal, professional and helped me during quite a stressful time, so I am hugely grateful to her and to Redmans. This was my first time engaging with a law firm so I wasn't sure what to expect but I can definitely say that it was a good experience overall and I ended up better off due to having the help of an experienced and proactive solicitor on my side.

    Posted 1 month ago

    Diane P

    So grateful that I contacted Redmans to deal with my Redundancy Agreement. Everything from the initial call to the completion of the matter was professional, efficient and effective. I was listened to, had everything explained simply and kept informed of every step. I received super advice and the costs were very competitive. I would highly recommend them to anyone seeking similar help. First class service - thank you

    Posted 1 month ago

    Chris L

    It was a very efficient and effective service - Would recommend.

    Posted 1 month ago

    Anonymous

    Exceeded my expectations. Very professional and proactive. I highly recommend them.

    Posted 1 month ago