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FAQs: Employees Rights & Contracts Of Employment

Here our employment law team answers some employees’ questions about employment contracts and terms and conditions of employment. If you need employment contract advice contact our specialist employment law team at your nearest office.

  1. Do I have the right to a written contract?
  2. When should I receive a statement of written terms?
  3. What must a written statement of particulars include?
  4. Will I find my employer’s disciplinary policies in my contract?
  5. Can my employer stop me from working for somebody else whilst I am employed by them?
  6. I have been given a zero-hours contract – is this legal?
  7. My employer has included terms which would stop me working for other companies after I leave – is this legal?
  8. How much notice am I entitled to receive?
  9. I have a ‘Pay in Lieu of Notice’ (PILON) clause in my contract – is this significant?
  10. My contract is asking me to agree to work more than 48 hours per week. Do I have to sign this?

Do I have the right to a written contract?

Yes – provided you are an employee, your employer should give you a document which meets the requirements of a written statement of employment particulars. See thee answer to question 3.

However, if you are a worker or a contractor then you do not have the right to a written contract.

When should I receive a statement of written terms?

Your employer should provide a written statement of particulars within two months of you starting your employment – or if you will be working abroad for more than one month, before you leave the country.

Even if you leave your job within two months then your employer must still give you a written statement of terms.

What must a written statement of particulars include?

  • As a minimum your contract should include:Your employer’s name and your name
  • The start date of your employment
  • The date on which your period of continuous employment began
  • Your salary or rate of pay
  • How frequently you will be paid (e.g. weekly, monthly)
  • Your hours of work or normal working hours
  • Your holiday (and holiday pay) entitlement – or alternatively that there are no specific contractual entitlements
  • Your sickness (and sick pay) entitlements – or alternatively that there are no specific contractual entitlements
  • Any pensions or pension schemes that are in place – or alternatively that there are no specific entitlements
  • Notice periods, both to be given by you and by the employer – or alternatively where they can be found
  • Your job title or a brief description of the work you are expected to do
  • The duration of your employment
  • Your place of work or an indication of the area you will cover, together with the employer’s address
  • Details of any collective agreements which directly affect you
  • Details of any disciplinary rules – or alternatively where they can be found
  • Details of any disciplinary procedures – or alternatively where they can be found
  • The person to whom you should send any appeals against disciplinary sanctions or dismissals and how you should go about doing this –or alternatively where this information can be found
  • The person to whom you should address any grievances and how you should go about doing this – or alternatively where this information they can be found
  • Whether there is a contracting-out certificate (i.e. for the purposes of pensions)

Where you will be required to work outside the United Kingdom for a period of more than one month then additional information must be provided.

Will I find my employer’s disciplinary policies in my contract?

Not necessarily. Whilst your contract may contain disciplinary policies, it could refer you to other documents, such as a Staff Handbook, where the policy can be found. This is because many employers want to be able to update their disciplinary policies and it is harder for them to do this if the policy is written into your contract. Also, if a disciplinary is contained in your contract and your employer does not follow it to the letter, then your employer may be in breach of contract.

Can my employer stop me from working for somebody else whilst I am employed by them?

Yes. Your employer can include terms in your contract which prevent you from working for other companies, e.g. competitors, during your employment and devote all of your time to the company.

I have been given a zero-hours contract – is this legal?

Yes – it is lawful for employers to offer zero-hours contracts. However, these contracts should reflect that your hours are variable and they should not be used to disguise the fact that you are an employee on fixed hours.

My employer has included terms which would stop me working for other companies after I leave – is this legal?

In principle, yes. Many employers ask their staff to enter into contracts containing post-termination covenants by which the employer require their staff not to work for competing local businesses for a fixed period of time. If you were to breach a post-termination covenant then in certain situations your employer could apply to Court for an injunction and also an award of compensation. However, this does not give employers a free rein because post-termination covenants must be reasonable in order to be enforceable, and they must protect their business interests. If you are concerned about agreeing to post-termination covenants in your contract – or if you are unsure whether taking up a new job might put you in breach of post-termination covenants from your previous job – then you should seek advice from a specialist employment lawyer.

How much notice am I entitled to receive?

Your contract of employment should state what notice period you are entitled to receive but this is subject to the statutory minimum:

  • After one month of employment you are entitled to a minimum of one week’s notice
  • After two years of employment, you are entitled to one week’s notice for each complete year you have worked, up to a maximum of 12 weeks

I have a “Pay in Lieu of Notice” (PILON) clause in my contract – is this significant?

Yes. It means that your employer can dismiss you and pay you for your notice period, as an alternative to giving you notice and letting you work your notice.

Where there is a PILON clause any payment made under it is always taxable. This can affect any money your employer might offer you when you leave.

My contract is asking me to agree to work more than 48 hours per week. Do I have to sign this?

No. You are entitled to refuse to work more than 48 hours per week. Also, the law prevents your employer from treating you unfairly because you have refused to sign an “opt-out” clause.

To find out how we can help you with contracts of employment, contact us today on 01273 609911, or email info@ms-solicitors.co.uk.

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