Can you be employed without a contract?
It is not unusual to come across individuals who have been employed for many years and who say that they have no written contract of employment.
Those individuals may not be aware of, is that it is a legal requirement for an employer who has employed someone for at least one month to provide that individual with a contract of employment. A contract of employment provides the employee and employer certain rights and obligations.
The most common example is that employee has the right to get paid for the work they do, and the employer has a right to give reasonable instructions to the employee for him/her to work at their job. These rights and obligations are called contractual terms.
The information must be in writing and must be provided to the employee within two months of the start of their employment (from April 2020, such written information will need to be provided on or before the first day of employment).
There is certain information which must be provided in writing such as the employee’s start date, job title, place of work, hours of work, pay details, and holiday entitlement. However, the employer is free to include further information, often in the form of a more comprehensive contract of employment. This information does not have to be given on a single document and may be provided in an employee handbook that all employees can access.
The rights that you have under your contract of employment are in addition to the rights you have under law, such as, for example, the right to a national minimum wage and the right to paid holidays. Generally, you and your employer can agree to whatever terms you wish to be in the contract, but you cannot agree to a contractual term which gives you fewer rights than you have under law.
The rights and duties of both employers and employees are found in the contract of employment. They are called ‘terms’ of the contract. Some of these terms are ‘express’ terms – that is they are expressly or specifically stated, either orally (at the initial interview, say) or in writing. Express terms include things like pay, hours and holidays.
The law states that certain express terms must be put in writing and handed to the employee in the form of a written statement of particulars within two months of starting work.
There are other contractual terms called ‘implied’ terms. These are not expressly or explicitly stated because, in the main, they are fairly obvious to both parties to the contract of employment.
Occasionally, the courts will imply a term in a contract of employment where an important term has been left out. Implied terms include statutory rights, such as the right to equal pay and duties, such as a duty of care. An important implied term is the duty of mutual trust and confidence, which is implied in every employment contract.
Aeris Employment Law is based in Solihull, West Midlands and has helped many companies and individuals with contracts of employment and other employment law issues. For an informal chat please contact Karin Henson on 07980 837148 or by email [email protected]