5 Common Mistakes with Contacts of Employment

As an SME there are a few things you need to watch out for when issuing employee contracts.

An employment contract will set out obligations and duties for both employer and employee, so it really does pay to get the terms of contract correct from the start.

Employment law is weighted in favour of the employee, so as an employer it is really important that you follow your own procedures and policies set out in the contracts you issue.  It is not unusual for employers to lose unfair dismissals cases, not because the employees conduct didn’t warrant it but because the employer didn’t follow the proper process for dealing with the matter.

Here we look at five common and costly mistakes that employers can make and advise on how to avoid them.

  1. One contract suits all

Having one standard contract of employment, for all staff whatever their job may prove to be a mistake. As your business grows and you take on more staff to do different types of jobs with different responsibilities, you need to ensure that your contract reflects their role, hours and responsibilities. A contract for your sales manager is going to differ a lot from that of your warehouse manager or receptionist. Always review your contract templates regularly.

  1. Contracts vs policies

An employment contract is no different from any other type of contract, once signed neither party can alter the terms without the others consent.  This can be limiting for employers, especially as employment law can change quite rapidly. To give more flexibility to employers, especially in areas such as the disciplinary procedure, IT and intellectual property protection, it is advisable to have employee policies and procedures in place which are non-contractual. Always include a statement where the employer reserves the right to alter policies and procedures at its sole discretion.

  1. Part time, temporary or fixed-term contracts

Different types of contracts don’t have the same rights. Part-time, full-time, permanent, temporary and fixed-term contracts all differ and as employment law is a highly statutory area of the law, statute will often override the terms of the contract. Be aware that non-permanent and part-time staff will still have employment law protection.

  1. Reviews and updates

Keep well informed about changes to employment law. Sometimes changes come about in employment law or practice and procedure dictate that employment contracts should be reviewed. As a rule of thumb, you should review and ensure your contracts are up to date on a yearly basis.

  1. Adhere to the contract you’ve put in place

As a business owner, whatever process or procedures you have included in your contracts of employment, it’s vital that you stick to them as well or you could be in breach of contract. Whatever an employee may have done or however badly they’ve behaved, it’s imperative to stick to the contract. An employment tribunal will likely infer certain things if you don’t.

For further help or advice on any of the issues above please contact our Litigation Department at Forrester Sylvester Mackett in any of our 5 offices:

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