Employment contracts

Employee rights at work
An employee's rights at work will depend on:- the employee's statutory rights and the employee's contract of employment. A contract of employment is an agreement between an employer and an employee. Your rights and duties, and those of your employer, are called the 'terms' of the contract. The contract is made as soon as you accept a job offer, and both sides are then bound by its terms until it is ended formally (usually by giving notice) or until the terms are changed (usually by mutual agreement).

A Contract of employment

Contract terms can come from a number of different sources; for example they could be:

- verbally agreed
- in a written contract, or similar document
- in an employee handbook or on a company notice board
- in an offer letter from your employer
- required by law (for example, your employer must pay you at least the minimum wage)
- in collective agreements
- implied terms

What is included in a contract?

All employees, regardless of the number of hours they work per week, are entitled to receive a written statement from their employer, within two months of starting work. The statement describes the main terms of the  contract of employment. The statement must give details about:- job title; wages; hours of work; holiday entitlement; sick pay; pension schemes; notice; grievance, dimissal and disciplinary procedures.

Statutory Employee rights

In more specific terms, the employee also has, under law:
- the right to carry on working until you are at least 65.
- the right to notice of dismissal, provided you have worked for your employer for at least one calendar month.
- the right to written reasons for dismissal from your employer, provided you have worked for your employer for one year. Women who are pregnant or on maternity leave are entitled to written reasons without having to have  worked for any particular length of time
- the right to claim compensation if unfairly dismissed. In most cases you will have to have worked for one year to be able to claim unfair dismissal the right to claim redundancy pay if made redundant. In most cases you will  have to have worked for two years to be able to claim redundancy pay the right not to suffer detriment or dismissal for 'blowing the whistle' on a matter of public concern (malpractice) at the workplace. This applies from  the day the employee starts work.
-the right of a part-time worker to the same contractual rights (pro-rata) as a comparable full-time worker.
- the right of a fixed-term employee to the same contractual rights as a  comparable permanent employee.

Are there any exceptions to statutory right entitlement?

Some workers are not entitled to some statutory rights, for example anyone who is not an employee, for example, an agency or freelance worker. That person is not under the "direction and control" of the employer, so they are not an
employee, but self-employed.

Click here to read 'What to do when consulting an employment solicitor'

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