Written contracts for employees may seem like burdensome paperwork. Yet another admin step prolonging your recruitment process. That is, until the full extent of their importance becomes clear to you when something goes wrong later on.
You may feel that a verbal agreement with an employee saves time. But it can also cause all sorts of problems for you should conflict arise later in the employment. An apparently trifling misunderstanding has been known to develop into a full-blown tribunal. And without a written contract, you’d be left with little protection.
A written statement of particulars, which most employees are entitled to within two months of their start date, sets out the key terms and conditions of their employment with you. However it does not protect your business in the same way as a contract, and can be disputed at a later date. Therefore, it is wise to prepare a contract prior to an employee’s start date to reduce any misunderstanding before work begins.
A DIY contract can do more harm than good
Cutting corners with contracts holds as much risk as staffing your business with no contracts at all.
An employment contract is legally binding, but only if it has been drafted correctly. So, whilst an employment contract template downloaded from the internet might look professional, it won’t necessarily tick all the boxes for your business or provide you with the relevant legal protection.
Add to the mix a variety of working hours and shift patterns, which is commonplace with today’s approach to flexible working, and you potentially have an entire workforce without the right contracts. Dodging that minor paperwork pain can quickly become a major paperwork nightmare.
It is also important to note that template contracts can be out of date and not reflect the most recent legislative changes or case law. But how would you know? Are you confident about the employment status of your new recruit, are they a worker or an employee? Their rights are different.
What should be included in employee contracts?
Your contracts will need to be compliant with UK employment law. They must include (but are not limited to):
- Business name,
- Start date,
- Details of the work,
- Conditions of pay,
- Hours of work,
- Holiday entitlement,
- Notice period,
- Pension and collective agreements,
- Who to escalate with if they have a grievance or disciplinary matter.
Sick pay details do not have to be in a written statement of particulars, but we would always recommend that they are in a contract.
Depending on the business function, you may want to include further policies in your contracts that discuss IT, security, privacy and social media use, to protect your business from harm.
Additionally, policies that detail your company’s approach to family commitments and employee well-being can form part of your recruitment and retention strategy and can also be included in contracts.
Getting peace of mind on HR paperwork
Seeking expert advice will provide clarity on which policies work well for your business. If you’re about to hire your first employee or would like to review your current employee contracts, we can help. Contact us today for peace of mind, knowing that your HR paperwork is on the right side of employment law.