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Introduction to this document

Written statement of employment particulars

Issuing at least a basic statement of the main terms and conditions of employment is a legal requirement. But the use of a full-blown contract with clauses tailored to suit your needs offers you far greater opportunities in terms of flexibility and control.

Legal minimum

As an absolute minimum, the law requires you to provide all employees employed for one month or more with a Written Statement of Employment Particulars. You must do this within the first two months of service (and you still need to provide it even if the employee’s employment ends between the one and two-month points). Use our sample written statement of employment particulars if you want to ensure, as a minimum, you’re legally safe. The other major benefit of having a written statement is that should there ever be a dispute between you and your employee over the terms they’re employed under, the contract is much easier to prove if it’s in writing.

A detailed contract of employment

However, many employers prefer to issue a much more detailed contract containing all of the statutory requirements of the written statement plus a whole host of extra clauses to suit the particular needs of the business. In essence, you can bolt on whatever extra clauses you need. You should therefore view the written statement of employment particulars as a starting point from which to build a more detailed, tailored contract of employment.

Signature required?

It’s the age-old question - does the employee have to sign the contract for it to be enforceable? The simple answer is no. However, ideally it should be signed because this avoids any possible dispute over what terms the employee has accepted and what terms they have refused to accept. If the employee refuses to sign the contract, find out what the problem is and take steps to resolve it. If you still cannot obtain a signature, the longer the employee works for you without objecting to any terms of the contract, the more likely it will be that they have taken to have accepted them, at least when it comes to those terms of the contract that are operative on a day-to-day basis.

Changing terms

If you’d like to use several of our specimen contractual clauses, is it as simple as adding them to an employee’s existing contract? Well it might be if the employee is better off as a result. But the reality is that it’s not always so simple. It’s unlawful for you to unilaterally change an existing employee’s contract of employment without their agreement - unless the change is permitted by the contract itself. To impose contractual changes without the employee’s express agreement constitutes a breach of contract. If the breach is sufficiently serious, they may then claim that they have been constructively unfairly dismissed if they have been forced to resign due to your actions and they have sufficient continuity of employment. An employee can generally claim constructive dismissal if they have been employed for two years or more. So, inform the employee both verbally and in writing that you’re proposing (not making) a change. You should set out in detail the nature of the proposed change and why you think it is so important. The employee should be invited to consider the change and revert to you with their views. If they’re willing to accept the change, it can then be incorporated into their contract of employment and, for the avoidance of doubt, their consent to it should be obtained in writing. This can usefully be done by issuing a new contract for the employee to sign.