It’s crucial that your contracts work for your business, accurately reflect what’s happening day to day and be practically enforceable. Our employment law experts based in Southampton and Winchester will be able to give business owners and HR teams well rounded advice and help ensure that your employment contracts are compliant and up to date.
How we can help
- Advice on employment status and the right type of document to use for different people working in your business
- Drafting employment contracts and ensuring employment contract compliance
- Advising on and drafting directors’ service agreements
- Review of clauses in your employment contracts and advice on The Good Work Plan
- Advice on when and how to review your employment contracts
- Making changes to employment contracts and communicating changes to staff
- Terminating employment contracts and best practice to protect the business
- Bespoke advice around flexible and hybrid working clauses in employment contracts
- Advice when an employment contract has been breached and steps that should be taken
- Guidance on employment contracts and GDPR issues
- Advice on a-typical ways of working, including zero hours contracts and agency workers
- Advice on the work and agreements for self-employed consultants and contractors, including the impact of IR35 on those working through a personal service company
Different types of employment contracts – what to include
You will usually want to have several different templates for contracts of employment depending on the employee’s level of seniority and role. For example, it would be common to have a longer notice period for senior employees. You are also likely to need restrictive covenants to protect the business when an employee leaves for senior roles, such as those in sales or management, which may not be required for more junior roles.
A worker or employment contract should always, as a minimum, include the basic particulars of employment set out in section 1 of the Employment Rights Act 1996, otherwise known as a “section 1 statement”. Many contracts should go beyond this though to protect the business.
A contract which doesn’t include the key terms can make it harder for a business to enforce key terms or take action if a problem arises. It is therefore an important document to get right.
Contracts of employment should also be regularly reviewed to make sure they remain up to date.
We run regular HR courses at our offices and external venues over the year designed for HR professionals and those responsible for HR within their organisation. We also run webinars on these topics. Keep an eye on the Events section of our website to see upcoming courses.
How we work with you
Whilst based in Southampton and Winchester, Paris Smith acts for businesses and families throughout the UK.
Technology has enabled us to provide a high level of service to our clients whether they are local to our offices or not. Our advice can be given in many ways:
- Over the telephone
- Via video conferencing
- In face to face meetings
We will talk through how you would like to be contacted and the best ways for us to meet in our early conversations with you.
Complete Guide to Employment Contracts
We have prepared a useful Guide to Employment Contracts. Please leave your details for a free copy of the Guide.
How we’ve helped our clients
Paris Smith is a fantastic company with departments for all areas. Not only are they a fast responsive team they are good at what they do and are easy to communicate with. They have helped review all of my employment documents across three companies, tying them all up together with the correct documentation and making it easy for me to move forwards with minor editing. They were sympathetic to my new company as this only had start up funds and so I was working to a budget!. I found them willing to help me, and were interest in my business and projects. Really trying to understand and suggest what was best for me. I am continuing to work my way round the departments so all areas of business meet current legislation. I look forward to future business.
I have been a client of Paris Smith’s Employment law department for several years, including for the resolution of a challenging worker-related dispute. The team has been superb throughout, far exceeding my expectations in terms of their professionalism, proactiveness, pragmatism and generous spirit, often going above and beyond in their service delivery to bring the matter to a far better than hoped for conclusion. At a personal level, everyone I dealt with was delightful too. Paris Smith will certainly remain by ‘go to’ law firm for employment and other legal advice!
Employment Contracts – Frequently Asked Questions
Here we answer questions we are frequently asked around employment contracts. If you need further information please contact a member of the Employment team.
How long does it take to draft an employment contract?
On average it can take us 3-4 hours to draft a contract of employment which is tailored to the needs of your business. However, this depends on whether we are updating your existing contract or providing our own template contract. It also depends upon how many benefits you offer and the specific terms you want to be included for your business.
How to draw up a contract of employment?
The starting point when drafting a contract of employment should always be the list of specific requirements in section 1 Employment Rights Act 1996. However, this is a basic list and many businesses need a contract which goes far beyond it.
A business should think about the practical arrangements for the role, the pay and benefits being offered, the work the employee does and any risks the business wants to protect itself against. Businesses should consider whether restrictive covenants and intellectual property clauses are relevant to the work being carried out.
Businesses should also consider the different categories of roles and whether different contracts should be used to reflect the seniority of the roles, the nature of the role and the tasks those categories of employee do. For example, a factory worker on the shop floor may need clauses relating to shift work, lay off and short time working; whereas for someone in the office working from home for part of the week these clauses may not be relevant but they may need hybrid working clauses instead.
Can an employment contract be verbal?
Yes, an employment contract can be verbal. However, it can often be difficult to prove what was agreed verbally and there is more scope for one of the parties to challenge what was said. Verbal agreements can certainly be contractual and employers need to be careful that line managers don’t inadvertently make contractual offers which become binding.
It is also possible for clauses to be implied into a contract through custom and practice, incorporated through a staff handbook or a collective agreement, included through negotiation with the unions or added as a result of a piece of legislation.
Although an employment contract doesn’t have to be in writing, employees and workers do have a right under s.1 Employment Rights 1996 to be given certain information in writing from day one of their employment. This is known as a “written statement of employment particulars”. It is not an employment contract but most employers do use it as the base for their employment contract as it covers the key terms you would want to include in an employment contract.
What is a non-compete clause in an employment contract?
A non compete clause prevents an individual from working somewhere else for a period of time after they leave their employment. They are a type of restrictive covenant.
Pure non-compete clauses have been controversial for several years. They can stop a person from working and earning a living. Depending on the industry, they could also prevent them from using skills which need to be regularly exercised to stay up to date and relevant.
Non-compete clauses are often included in a contract of employment along with the other restrictions as a standard clause. However, commercially employers often accept that if pushed they may not be enforceable. They are often included as a deterrent with employers not actually intending on enforcing them if breached, but instead hoping employees will abide by them due to the fear of any repercussions if they did breach them.
Although a specific clause all on its own, often the term “non-compete clause” is also used to refer collectively to all types of restrictive covenants. For example, non-solicit, non-deal, non-poach and non-compete clauses.
Can you backdate employment contracts?
It is not normally possible to backdate an employment contract. It can only be done if there is a legitimate reason for doing so. For example, it is possible if the parties are simply recording in writing an agreement which had already been agreed.
When should an employee receive a contract of employment?
Whilst there is no specific time frame within which an employee should receive a contract of employment, an employee or worker should be given a s.1 written statement of employment particulars before they start work. As most businesses use the s.1 written statement of employment particulars as the base for their employment contract, the same time frame should be used.
The contract should therefore either be given to the employee or worker before their first day or when they arrive at the workplace on their first day. It is generally seen as best practice to send the document to the employee or worker in advance and ask them to bring a signed copy with them on their first day.