Guide index - HR employment law and your business

Terms and conditions of employment

Employees are entitled by law to receive a written statement of their terms and conditions of employment within two months of starting work.

The written summary must include terms covering the matters below:

The statement must accurately represent the terms as they were seven days prior to the date of the statement.

However the statement is not a written contract, and since there are many areas outside the statutory list of terms which it is good practice to define in writing, most employment lawyers advise employers to provide proper written contracts from the outset to avoid disputes or potential Employment Tribunal claims later.

For example, most deductions from pay will be unlawful unless the employee has given prior written consent, which can be done by way of a suitably worded clause in a written contract of employment.

A properly-drafted contract of employment can define what is expected of the employee in many other areas of the employment relationship including conduct at work, qualifications and training, business protection (what happens if the employee goes to work for one of your competitors), care of uniforms, work clothing and equipment, use of company vehicles, use of email and the internet at work, smoking, drugs and alcohol at work, bribery and corruption, etc.

Notice periods

Unless an employee is contracted to work for only a specific fixed period of time or their contract provides other circumstances that automatically end it, their employment can usually only be terminated by either party giving a period of notice.

The contract can set out how much notice either party needs to give but the employer must give the employee at least the statutory minimum period of notice which is one week, until there have been two completed years of continuous employment, after which it is one week for every completed year of employment up to a maximum of 12 weeks’ notice.

This rule applies to employees who have been employed for more than a month.

An employee only has to give a week’s notice, after a month of employment, irrespective of how long he or she has been employed unless there is an express contractual term that requires them to give a different notice period.