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Employment Law

Contracts of Employment

The key to a good working relationship is knowing what is expected of you as an employee. It is equally important for you to know what to expect from your employer. Our employment law solicitors can make sure you understand your rights and help you with any legal matters related to contracts of employment.

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What is an employment contract?

An employment contract is a legally binding agreement between an employer and an employee. Both parties must follow the terms of the contract until it ends or until the terms are changed.

An employee’s rights and responsibilities should be clearly set out in an employment contract. The Contract should also state terms of employment such as working hours, place of work, salary, holiday entitlement, benefits and bonuses.

It is important to understand the terms and conditions of an employment contract before you accept a job offer. When you verbally accept a job offer, you are assumed to have accepted the terms and conditions in the Contract, even if you have not signed it yet.

On occasions during your employment, an employer may propose changes to the Contract, which should be properly assessed.

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Taking on a new role

When you are offered a new job, it is vital to make sure your employment contract protects your interests when you start and in the future. Your contract may include clauses that you are not comfortable accepting, such as a clause that allows your employer to change your job location.

Terms of your employment contract may include entitlement to bonuses, share options, profit share and other financial variables which require clearly expressed terms.

Employment contracts are also relevant when your job ends. They can contain restrictive covenants that can prevent you from carrying out certain business activities or working with specific individuals or businesses after your employment ends. It is important to understand restrictive covenants before you sign an employment contract because your future job prospects could be hindered.

At Davisons, we can review your employment contract to ensure it is reasonable, complies with the law and protects your interests. We can clearly explain the terms of the Contract and if requested, seek to negotiate a variation of the terms.

Self-employed contracts

Many self-employed contractors work under verbal contracts, but it is better to have a written contract, so both parties know what to expect from each other. This can reduce the chances of disagreement later. A written contract provides stronger evidence than a verbal agreement if a legal dispute occurs.

Self-employed contracts are usually known as a ‘contract for services’ or ‘consultancy agreement’.

A contract for services is used when a freelance contractor provides a specific service to a company, such as accountancy or marketing.

A consultancy agreement is when a consultant provides advice to a company to improve performance in a specific area such as finance or information technology.

In today’s gig economy, workers sometimes find they have signed a self-employment contract, but they are treated as an employee. That means they have all the responsibilities of being an employee but without benefits such as holiday or sick pay.

If you are concerned about your employment status or feel you are being treated unfairly, please talk to us, and our employment contract solicitors will be happy to help.

Changes to your employment contract

Neither you nor your employer can change the terms of your employment contract without each other’s consent.

There are many reasons why an employer might want to change your contract. The business might be restructuring or moving, or they might need to make changes due to the introduction of new laws. Changes might be made to your duties and responsibilities, your employer’s duties and responsibilities, your salary, your working hours or another aspect of your contract.

Your employer must consult you or your representative and explain their reasons for the proposed changes and seriously consider alternative suggestions. Changes can be agreed upon directly with you or through your representative.

Please note that if a collective agreement has been reached between a representative body such as a trade union and your employer, then the changes still apply to you even if you are not a member of that body.

If your employer wants to change your contract, it is imperative to understand your legal rights.

You may be able to claim for constructive dismissal or breach of contract if there are fundamental changes that will have a detrimental impact on you. However, even if you do not sign the new contract, you may be deemed to have accepted the changes by your conduct in not objecting to them.

Talk to our employment law solicitors, who will answer any questions you have related to contract changes.

Employment contract disputes

An employment contract is legally binding. If an employer or an employee fails to abide by the agreed terms, they may be in breach of contract.

Contract disputes can arise for many reasons, including a poor working environment, an unreasonable increase in workload, redundancy, restrictive covenants, or a job role change.

A dispute could also arise due to discrimination resulting in being treated differently on the grounds of disability, ethnicity, gender, pregnancy, marital status or another factor. Such disputes can lead to discrimination claims under the Equality Act 2010.

Disputes may be resolved through company grievance procedures or through ACAS (Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service). If conciliation fails, then a claim can be made to an employment tribunal. An employment tribunal is like going to court but is less formal.

If you think your employer is in breach of contract, but you are not sure, please talk to us. Our employment lawyers will advise you about your specific situation and the best course of action to take.

New ownership and your employment contract

If the Business you work for is involved in a transfer or takeover, your employment rights are protected under the Transfer of Undertakings (Protection of Employment) Regulations 2006, known as ‘TUPE’.

Under TUPE regulations, your new employer takes over all the rights and obligations set out in your existing employment contract. TUPE regulations protect you from being given worse terms and conditions after the transfer. Your new employer is obliged to meet the terms of your employment contract unless a variation is agreed on.

Before the takeover or transfer, your current employer cannot change your employment contract to make it the same as the new company. However, they could change your contract for economic, technical or organisational reasons.

It is often the case that a new employer may need to make redundancies for economic, technical or organisational reasons. You may be asked to reapply for your job as part of the process of choosing which employees to make redundant. You cannot be selected for redundancy simply because you transferred from another company because this would amount to unfair dismissal.

If you find yourself in this situation, seek legal advice as soon as possible.


Do you need legal advice about a contract of employment?

Please get in touch, whether you would like a thorough review of an employment contract before you sign, or you think your employer is in breach of contract. Our friendly, knowledgeable specialist team are here to advise you and protect your interests.

Have any questions or need any help?

Our team of specialist lawyers are experts in their field. Be confident in their advice and decisions to help get the right outcome for you. Contact us today to see how we can help