Did you know that an employment relationship exists from the moment a job offer is accepted? And that your employee is afforded certain legal protections as soon as they start work?
An employment contract is more than just a legal necessity; it’s a cornerstone of your business and a collection of promises and obligations, all enforceable by law. It’s an opportunity to set the tone of your work environment, and to encourage harmony and maximum productivity.
An employment contract that is fit-for-purpose will clearly define the employment relationship; it will dictate how it starts, how it can be brought to an end and what can happen thereafter. It will give you control over your confidential information, your trade secrets and anything else that rightfully belongs to your business. It can protect against ex-employees soliciting your customers and competitors poaching your key staff. Ultimately, where a contract is silent, the law may step in, with unintended and potentially costly consequences.
Getting the balance right benefits everyone, and helps avoid the misunderstandings between employers and employees that can lead to disputes. Reviewing that balance periodically to reflect any changes in the law (GDPR being a prime recent example) or the development of your own business and its workforce is as important as getting it right in the first place.
Think of some reasons why you might want to make changes to your existing contracts. Perhaps you are looking for an alternative to making redundancies, or a way of making cost savings by reducing working hours, benefits, and annual leave allowances.
Once a job offer is accepted, making changes to that employment relationship can be a veritable minefield, even where a contract already provides for future changes to be made.
Changes to contractual terms, such as giving pay rises or promotions, are frequently implemented by mutual consent and rarely cause any legal or practical problems for employers. However, not all changes to contract terms are so readily welcomed by employees. Making unwelcome changes to your employees’ employment contracts and working practices can result in staff dissatisfaction and damage to morale. Minor changes can simply be communicated to staff; more substantial changes will require a genuine business justification, a formal process, and consultation with those affected. Failure to follow the correct procedures could be a breach of contract, entitling your employee to resign and pursue a constructive dismissal claim.
Our Employment Law specialists will provide you with support and guidance throughout that process.
Talk to Tollers
Our Employment Team would welcome the opportunity to review your employment contracts and staff policies and advise you on any areas for improvement. We will take the time to understand the status of your workers and the specifics of the job roles and then tailor our advice to suit. We can help you to keep your contracts under regular review to take account of changes in role specifics, whether resulting from promotions or changes to responsibilities and duties. We can work with you to structure legally compliant documentation such as contracts, employee handbooks and workplace policies and help you establish and maintains a positive business culture.