Contract Law & Employee Handbooks

Contract Law & Employee Handbooks

Employment law is always changing, and as businesses try to plan for the future faced with real world uncertainties it is important not to overlook the mundane but essential matters such as updating employment contracts and employee handbooks to ensure your company is fully compliant with any changes in the law

These documents are also incredibly useful methods of communicating key information to employees, and building a strong ‘psychological contract’ and trust between employees and your business at the beginning of the employment relationship

Recent Changes

Employees (and workers) taken on from 6th April 2020 are entitled to a written statement of terms and conditions of employment from day one of their employment (previously this was within two months of employment)  

The mandatory information that must be included in the written statement of terms has been extended to include details such as any probationary periods, details of paid leave entitlements, how shift patterns may vary, which additional benefits are provided (or if none are provided), and any training which is provided

Clauses that prevent a zero-hours contract worker from working for another business are void and not enforceable. Following a recent consultation, the government proposes to extend this ‘exclusivity clause’ ban to the contracts of other lower income workers (whose guaranteed income either equals or is less than the Lower Earnings Limit, which is currently £123 per week). This means that lower income workers will be able to supplement their income by having additional jobs (which will also affect your company’s obligations to managing the employee’s compliance to the Working Time Directive and Health & Safety laws)

This will provide any lower income workers who are dismissed or treated unfavourably because they refuse to comply with an exclusivity clause the opportunity to bring a claim of unfair dismissal, or having suffered a detriment, at an employment tribunal

The risks from not having legally compliant contracts, offer of employment letters and employee handbooks

If you cannot provide the required written statement of terms and conditions of employment (detailing all of the required information) then an employee may bring a claim for failure to provide a written statement alongside any other claims at a tribunal, with a potential compensatory award of up to four weeks’ basic pay

If you have outdated or illegal terms or clauses in a contract then an employee could make claims for wrongful dismissal, breach of contract, discrimination, harassment, or unfair and constructive dismissal at a tribunal (depending on the action taken in relation to the contract) with large sums of money potentially awarded in compensation

If your business has grown and evolved since first implementing an employee handbook it is likely the information it contains needs reviewing and updating too. It is important that the information contained in a handbook accurately reflects the actual policies and procedures in the company both to protect your business from tribunal claims, and so that new employees see a coherent and reliable source of information they can rely on

Make sure you have a fully compliant Company / Employee Handbook and Employment Contract 

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