The New Year marks an opportunity to make resolutions for how to be better employers, but as January 1st becomes a distant memory, and the majority of resolutions have fallen by the wayside, a recent case reminds employers of the importance of issuing contracts of employment to new staff, and provides helpful guidance as to when this process should be completed.
Most employers are familiar with their obligations in relation to issuing a “written statement of particulars of employment” containing specific details, including the start date, the rate of pay, the place of work, and the notice arrangements, when a new employee starts employment (usually in the form of a contract of employment).
More experienced HR practitioners may also be aware that the law provides that such a statement must be issued no later than two months after the start of employment, but is not required for employees with less than one months’ continuous service, and that failure to provide a statement can attract compensation if pursued with other employment tribunal claims, of between two to four weeks’ pay.
A recent case involving employees with very short service has muddied the waters on this a little, as the Employment Appeal Tribunal (EAT) has confirmed that an employee with six weeks’ continuous service should have been issued with a written statement of employment particulars, and was therefore entitled to compensation where her employer failed to do so.
The EAT suggested that whilst the law confirms that an employer has up to two months to issue a written statement of employment particulars (and is not required to do so for the first one month of employment), an employee can still seek compensation for not having a written statement of employment particulars if they are employed for between one and two months. Confused? So were we!
The upshot is that employers should now ensure that all employees who have over one months’ continuous service are issued with a written statement of employment particulars - in other words, a contract of employment. That also reflects good practice, to ensure that at least the key terms are set out in writing, to avoid any confusion or dispute.
In any case, from 6 April 2020 and the launch of the Government’s “Good Work Plan”, all employees and, for the first time, workers, will be entitled to a detailed written statement of terms from the very first day they commence work.
So, the moral of the story here is to make sure you have detailed contracts of employment, and that those are issued to employees (for now) in a timely manner (and, from next year, from their first day of employment).
If you need any assistance in relation to preparing contracts of employment, or would like us to review your existing contracts, please do contact a member of the Employment Team via 01603 610911.