Do I need a written contract of employment?
A written contract of employment is useful because it sets out what you can expect from your job and from your employer. However, the law protects you as a worker, even if your contract is verbal and not written down. Whether or not you have a formal written contract, your employer must give you a written statement.
Every employee must be given a written statement that sets out the terms of employment. This could be just a letter or a page in the staff handbook or it could be a formal contract document. You should get this statement within two months of starting your job.
The statement must include:
- your employer’s name;
- your job title or a brief description of the work you will be doing;
- where you will be working, and your employer’s address if you will be working in more than one place;
- when you started work;
- the date on which your continuous employment began (this is important when considering your entitlement to other benefits set out below);
- how much you will earn; and
- when you will be paid.
It will also include information about:
- your hours of work;
- your holiday entitlement (and whether this includes public holidays);
- the length of notice you and your employer have to give if you leave or are dismissed;
- how long your job is expected to continue, if it is temporary;
- any agreements between your employer and a trade union that affect the terms of your employment.
Some information may be in either the written statement itself or another document, but it must be included somewhere that is available for you to read. This is information on:
- your entitlement to sick leave and sick pay;
- your pension; and
- your employer’s disciplinary and grievance rules and procedure.
If you have to work outside the UK for more than a month at a time, the written statement should also cover:
- the period of work outside the UK;
- the currency you will be paid in;
- any extra pay and benefits you will get for working outside the UK; and
- any terms and conditions for your return to the UK.
If your employer won’t give you a written statement, or will give you one with only certain terms in it, you can apply to an employment tribunal, which will decide what should be included in the statement (see ‘How does an employment tribunal work?’).
An employment tribunal can also make your employer pay you between two and four weeks’ pay as compensation for not giving you a written statement. It can only do this if you are bringing another employment claim at the same time, for example for holiday pay you are owed.
- Am I a worker?
- What are my rights as a worker?
- What are my rights as an employee?
- Do I need a written contract of employment?
- What is the least I should be paid?
- How many hours can my employer make me work?
- What should I do if I have a problem at work?
- What if my employer has a problem with me?
- What if I’ve been dismissed unfairly?
- Bringing a claim for unfair dismissal
- What if I’ve been made redundant?
- Bringing a claim for wrongful dismissal
- What if I've been discriminated against?
- What are my rights if I work part-time?
- What are my rights if I’m having a baby?
- Can I take leave as a new father?
- What are my rights if I'm adopting a child?
- Can I change my working arrangements if I have children?
- Can I change my working arrangements if I care for an adult?
- Can I take time off if I am someone's carer?
- Further help with employment law
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