We are going to look at some of the terms that can appear in the average employment contract. Much of what follows is mandated by Section 1 of the Employment Rights Act 1996. If your employment contract doesn’t include any of these points, you need to clarify with the employer before signing.
Commencement date. This is when your contract starts, and where your statutory rights are calculated from.
Job title and duties. What you’re called and what you’re expected to do. There will often be a mention of “other duties as deemed reasonable,” this is fair.
Place of employment. The usual place of work should be listed. It is usual for to include a provision permitting employers to move or transfer employees (“the mobility clause”) to other locations.
Hours of work. Normal working hours, break times and any overtime rates should be listed.
Holidays. This should list the amount of holiday entitlement and the rate at which holiday accrues. It should also mention when the leave year begins, and what happens to unused leave.
Remuneration. The wages or salary and how and when it is to be paid should be stated. There may also be a provision for regular review.
Nature of employment. Employment can be temporary, permanent or for a fixed term. Make sure you get what you signed for.
Sickness and absence. This should list the rules relating to sickness and absence. It should include the amount of sick pay an employee will be entitled to receive.
Grievance and disciplinary procedures. These procedures should be non-contractual and are often incorporated into a separate document. ACAS guidelines should be followed in all cases. The right to dismiss an employee in circumstances amounting to “gross misconduct” needs to be included in the contract as a contractual right. A list of examples of those offences deemed to constitute “gross misconduct” offences should be included with it.
Notice of termination. If specifics are not provided in the contract, the Employment Rights Act sets out minimum notice periods. This needs to be fair across the board. Often it’s the same period as the pay. If you’re paid weekly, one weeks’ notice. If you’re paid monthly, a month’s notice is usual.
Acceptance and acknowledgement. Employers should ensure that the contract is signed by the employee to indicate acceptance of the terms contained in it.
Those points are just the basics. There are many other clauses in the average work contract and you need to read them all. It’s important to get it right before signing as it can be difficult to get them changed afterwards.