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Employment Contracts FAQs

Employment Contracts

Does an employment contact have to be in writing?

Yes. Any employee should be given a written contract no later than on the day they start a job with a new employer.

Can your employer change the terms of your employment contract?

An employer cannot unilaterally change the terms of an employment contract unless there are provisions within the contract allowing them to do so. If they do change the terms without an employee’s consent or reasonable contractual right, they may be in breach of the contract. An employee could reject the change and make it clear that they are working under protest and/or resign and may be able to make a claim for constructive dismissal.

Are you entitled to be paid for overtime?

This will depend on the terms of your employment contract.

What are examples of breaches of contract by employer?

This is not an exhaustive list, but a few examples could be: reducing staff pay with consent or right, unilateral changes to the terms of employment contract without consent or right, not paying monies owed under a contract, breaching their duty of care to staff health and safety, or breaching trust and confidence.

What are my remedies for a breach of contract claim?

The most common remedy for breach of contract under employment law is for financial loss, such as a loss of earnings and/or a basic award if an employee is found to be constructively, wrongly or unfairly dismissed. It may also include compensatory damages for injury to feelings if the breach of contract is found to be discriminatory.

Can I still be paid if my employer sends me home because there is not enough work?

If an employer cannot provide enough work to an employee and sends them home, they can only withhold payment if it is permitted in the employment contract. Usually this takes the form of a "lay off" or "short term working" clause. If an employer withholds payment without a contractual right to do so, or prolongs the time off work, this could give rise to a constructive dismissal and/or a redundancy pay claim.

Can my employer force me to work from home indefinitely?

This will depend on the content of the employment contract.

What is the difference between an employee and self-employed status?

An employee is protected by the Employment Rights Act 1996 and is entitled to statutory employment rights, such as sick pay, holiday pay and entitlement, parental leave, notice pay, working time limits, minimum wage requirements etc. Someone who is self-employed is not protected by employment law legislation. To determine the employment status of an individual, it will be necessary to look at the way in which they are expected to perform their services.

What is the national minimum wage in UK?

The National Minimum Wage is usually updated in April every year, and differs based on an individual’s age. The different tiers can be found on the official government website at www.gov.uk/national-minimum-wage-rates

Am I entitled to be paid for my travel time to work?

Unless there is an agreement regarding travel time, it is generally not common for travel time to be included in working time/for employers to pay for time to travel to their usual place of work. Paid travel time is most common where employees are required to travel from a usual place of work in order to fulfill their work duties.

What are my rights if my job offer has been withdrawn?

It will depend on whether it is an unconditional or conditional job offer and whether the offer has been accepted. If you have accepted an unconditional job offer, a withdrawal by the employer could be seen as a breach of contract, and you may be entitled to sue for breach of contract, but any damages would be for financial loss. If the offer is conditional and you have not met some or any of the conditions, then the employer can withdraw the offer without penalty.

My new contract includes a 'non-compete' clause. Should I sign it?

It is important to seek legal advice from a solicitor when signing a contract with a non-compete clause or any other restrictive covenants. If the non-compete is an enforceable clause, you will need to determine the extent of the restrictions on you prior to signing a contract.

Is it illegal for an employment contract not to include maternity/paternity leave?

It is a legal requirement for employment contracts to include a term stating that employees may be entitled to maternity or other types of paid leave.

What types of break between contracts would not constitute a break in continuous employment?

Situations which do not constitute a break are:-

1) If an employee resigns or is dismissed due to sickness and then re-employed within 26 weeks;

2) Where an employee is off work due to a temporary cessation of work;

3) An arrangement or custom whereby an employee is off work for a period of time agreed in advance or at the start of the gap;

4) Statutory continuity involving a transfer of business or trade;

5) Re-employment after redundancy, as long as the re-employment begins before the end of employment under the previous contract;

6) If a dismissed employee is re-engaged following their dismissal either within 4 weeks of the dismissal or as a result of an ACAS conciliation agreement, settlement agreement or at the direction by an Employment Tribunal; or

7) Full or part of the work (not in redundancy) is completed outside of Great Britain will be treated as the same as working within Great Britain.

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