Contracts of employment
A contract of employment is in place as soon as an offer of employment is made and accepted with the terms of the contract being as stated at the interview or in the letter of offer.
Within two months of starting a job, an employee must be given a statement containing the written particulars of the terms of employment. These include: name of employee and employer date employment commenced rate of pay (or grade), how it’s calculated and whether it’s paid weekly, monthly or otherwise working hours paid holidays (including public holidays) and how it’s calculated notice period details of sick pay pension details job title and brief description of the work location of where the work has to be carried out.
The statement must also contain the details of the disciplinary rules and the grievance procedure or where they can be read and who will hear any grievance and appeal against disciplinary action.
Advice on contracts of employment and employment legislation can be obtained from trade unions and ACAS (the Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service).
Benefits of a contract of employment
A contract will provide a secure framework of terms and conditions relating to the employment. A written contract of employment is useful because it sets out what you can expect from your job and from your employer, and equally what they may expect from you.
The terms of a contract may be broken down into “implied terms” and “express terms”. The implied terms are those that are so obvious that they do not need stating (eg you will not steal from your employer), and the express terms are more specific to the role.
Breach of contract
When either the employee or employer breaks one of the terms within the contract, this is known as a ‘breach’. As an example, an employee would be in breach of contract if they failed to work the agreed number of hours per week; similarly, the employer would be in breach if they didn’t pay the employee.
The terms of a contract may be changed, eg the number of hours worked, with the agreement of both the employer and employee.
Employment legislation exists to protect both the employer and the employee. Employment legislation covers a number of areas and the following are the main laws and regulations:
The Race Relations Act 1976 makes it ‘unlawful for an employer to discriminate (in respect of employment in Great Britain) against a person of a particular racial group on the grounds of colour, race, nationality or ethnic origin’.
Discrimination is classed as:
- Direct Discrimination, ‘where on racial grounds alone a person is treated less favourably than others would be treated or is segregated’ and
- Indirect Discrimination, ‘where a requirement or condition is applied to all people, but it is a requirement
a) with which very few people in a smaller racial group can comply and
b) which the employer cannot show is justifiable and
c) which is to the detriment of that person because he or she can’t comply with it.’
This law also states that the fact that the discrimination was unintentional is not a defence. Race discrimination may be permitted in employment in certain circumstances ie where there is a genuine requirement (eg involvement in a dramatic performance or entertainment; working in a place where food or drink is provided where a person of a particular racial group is required for reasons of authenticity; where the provision of personal services relating to the welfare of people from a particular racial group are required to be provided by a person from that racial group).
The Sex Discrimination Act 1975 makes it unlawful for an employer to discriminate (in respect of employment in Great Britain) against a woman or a man on the grounds of his or her sex.
This act covers the recruitment, terms and conditions of employment, access to training…