Employment contracts are essential for making sure rights and responsibilities are lawfully distributed between the employer and employee. Because getting them wrong can be both harmful and expensive for your business, we have written this step-by-step guide to get it right.
Before writing the contract
1) Start by looking at samples of written statements and contracts. A good idea would be to contact ACAS, your trade union/association or similar businesses you know.
2) Establish the basic terms for the written contract. For example pay, working hours, holidays and notice periods.
3) Decide whether the job is permanent and if it should include a preliminary period.
4) Think about which areas might need flexibility – like job titles, responsibilities and place of work.
5) Consider areas that might have to be left out of the contract, for example possible bonuses.
Writing the contract
6) Make sure you include all the legally required information.
7) Ensure that all other employment-related documents (e.g. pension schemes) you refer to are easily accessible for the employee.
8) Review the job. Have you previously experienced any problems with employees or ex-employees?
9) Establish all requirements for the employee. For example, does the person need to have a driving license or a professional qualification?
10) Are there any other concerns? For example in relation to intellectual property or confidentiality?
Finalising the agreement
11) Draw up a clear contract, making sure all additional clauses have been included.
12) Ensure the contract is not discriminatory in any way, is fair to the employee’s rights and legally binding.
13) Make sure you contact a legal advisor if the contract can be seen as restrictive to employees after they leave your employment, just to be certain you go about it in the right way.
14) Remember to give each employee his or her contract within two months of starting.
15) Most importantly, make sure you explain the contract and that the employee agrees to it and signs it.
If you have any questions or concerns, don’t hesitate to contact a legal advisor.