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In recent years there have been many changes to employment law and HR best practice has also shifted massively since Brexit and the pandemic. That’s why we recommend you review your employment contracts every 1-2 years, particularly if you have older contracts that may need more attention.

Most businesses will have had contracts and staff handbooks in place since day 1, but in many cases the business has grown, changed, developed and evolved, meaning that a review of them is almost certainly necessary. Not only can it minimise the risk of protracted disputes with staff, but it can free you up to focus on increased productivity and business development.

Time well spent

Although it’s not a particularly exciting task, it’s keeping on top of the more mundane HR housekeeping tasks that really can be time well spent. Don’t forget that employment contracts, and to a certain extent staff handbooks, are incredibly useful tools for employers to understand the basis of employment relationships and can come into their own when uncertainly or faced with a grievance or tribunal.

A contract of employment exists between employer and employee and forms the basis of the employment relationship. Covering details such as working hours, scope of the job, holiday entitlement, sick pay, benefits and an employee’s duties and responsibilities, it’s a very important document. Usually, it’s drafted by an employer’s HR adviser and signed by an employee when they start a new role.

What’s new?

We’ve all started jobs where the contract didn’t appear for a few weeks, or sometimes months, but new employees and workers, employed on or after 6 April 2020 are entitled to a written statement of terms from day one of their employment. It should include the following as a minimum:

  • Employer’s name
  • Employee’s or worker’s name, job title or a description of work and start date
  • How much and how often an employee or worker will get paid
  • Hours and days of work and if and how they may vary (also if employees or workers will have to work Sundays, nights or overtime)
  • Holiday entitlement (and if that includes public holidays)
  • Where an employee or worker will be working and whether they might have to relocate
  • If an employee or worker works in different places, where these will be and what the employer’s address is
  • How long a job is expected to last (and what the end date is if it’s a fixed-term contract)
  • How long any probation period is and what its conditions are
  • Any other benefits (for example, childcare vouchers and lunch)
  • Obligatory training and whether it’s paid for by the employer or not

On the first day of employment the employer must also provide the employee or worker with information about:

  1. sick pay and procedures
  2. other paid leave (for example, maternity leave and paternity leave)
  3. notice periods

Did you know that failure to provide an appropriate written statement of terms on day 1 can mean that an employee, if successful, can claim compensation, which could be up to four weeks’ basic pay?

And there’s more!

As well as checking clauses, terms etc, you should ensure that contracts are legally compliant. You may also need to edit job descriptions, or pay, if duties or roles have changed. Finally, it’s worth also updating, adapting or reviewing separate HR policies in your non-contractual handbook. This means you can refer staff to disciplinary and grievance policies within the staff handbook without the need for staff agreement, which would be required if they are set out in their contracts.

How can we help?

If you’re needing specialist HR assitance to review your employment contracts and staff handbooks, get in touch – 01327 317537 or caroline.robertson@actifhr.co.uk. We can provide the necessary help, support and non-obligatory advice necessary so that you can valuable management time and expense.