Employment Contracts and Staff Handbook

Avoiding conflict is about certainty. Certainty of terms and certainty of procedures.

It is also about compliance with the custom and procedures of your industry and with current employment laws and regulations. If you are taking on a new employee or are accepting a new job, having a written, employment contract in place and a comprehensive staff handbook to refer to can save a great deal of confusion and conflict further down the line.

Solicitors at Judge and Priestley can draft employment contracts and staff handbooks, tailored to meet your organisation’s needs.

  • Employers:- our employment solicitors will take the time to talk with you to understand your business and its requirements;
  • Employees (especially those in senior executive roles):- we offer clear, concise advice as to whether the terms of the employment contract you have been offered are in your best interests and assist in negotiating better conditions if required.

Do I Have to Have an Employment Contract? 

Legally you are not required to have an employment contract in place for every type of worker. Some workers are not employees, but are self-employed or are casual workers. Some are agency workers.  However, employers are required under Section 1 of the Employment Rights Act 1996, to provide a written Statement of Terms and Conditions of Employment, to workers who are employees, within two months of the date the employment commences. Failure to do so may result in an employer being fined by the Employment Tribunal, and risking adverse findings on any claim.

As soon as a person begins his or her employment they are protected by certain statutory rights, such as the right to a minimum wage and the right to maternity leave and statutory maternity pay.

Express and Implied Terms

An employment contract is made up of both express and implied terms.  Express terms are terms which are provided for expressly in the contract; such as clauses concerning dispute resolution procedures or hours of work.  Implied terms are contractual terms that the court will imply exist between an employer and employee, whether they want them to or not. Examples of implied terms are, an employee will not steal from an employer, and an employer will provide a safe and secure working environment. Some terms can be oral. Some arise from custom or practice.

Staff Handbooks

The aim of a staff handbook is to set out company policies, procedures and expectation in order to build cohesion between managers and employees and avoid future conflict.  However, if staff handbooks are poorly drafted they can:

  • Cause confusion and inconsistency as to the procedures to be applied;
  • Create inequalities between staff and;
  • Otherwise encourage unfairness.

This can create vulnerabilities for the employer.

The staff handbook needs to be:

  • Tailored to the needs of your organisation;  
  • Clear and concise leaving no room for costly misunderstandings;
  • Relevant, comprehensive  and up to date.

Judge and Priestley can not only draft your essential work bible but:

  • By agreement maintain it at regular intervals;
  • Advise on any disputes arising in the workplace;
  • Provide workplace training for managers and staff.

To talk to us about an employment contract or staff handbook, call Paul Stevens on 020 8290 7422.