Everyone should know what the terms of their employment are. Sadly, few read or understand what they are agreeing to. This can include important clauses which could require you to be very flexible about what you do or where you work and restrict what you do once you leave. Employment contracts are clearly important.
It is wise to take advice on your employment contract before you find yourself bound.
Because we write so many for businesses and also advise employees, we know employment contracts inside out.
A contract of employment does not need to be in writing – it can be verbal – but it is preferable to have the terms written down to avoid confusion and disputes later.
You are entitled at the very least to a ‘written statement of particulars’ of the terms of your employment after being employed for 2 months. The written statement is not a contract as such, but sets out the minimum terms governing your employment and includes:
If your employer has not provided you with a written statement, you can apply to the Employment Tribunal who will determine what the particulars should be and can award compensation of either 2 or 4 weeks’ pay.
Can my employer change my contract?
It is difficult for any employer to change the terms of your contract without your consent. You can agree to the change verbally or in writing, or it may be implied from the fact that you knew about the change but continued to work on the new terms for a significant period without taking any action.
In most employment contracts, employers reserve the right to vary some terms without requiring your consent. If your employer goes beyond what is permitted in the contract, or tries to exercise the right in an unreasonable way which would affect your fundamental rights, you may have a claim for breach of contract and may be able to claim constructive dismissal. We can help you enforce your employment rights.
If you do not accept the change to your contract, your employer may decide to dismiss you and offer the employment again on completely new terms. We will explain your options.
Can I work under protest?
If you don’t want to take action immediately, you can work under protest by continuing under the new terms, but by making it clear to your employer that you do not agree to the change by raising a grievance. You need to do this properly. We can advise you how to preserve your employment rights.
Eventually, you will need to make a decision to either accept the change, or take action by raising a Tribunal claim. You cannot work under protest indefinitely.
What do I do now?
This is where we come in. Employment law is all we do. Employment contracts are our speciality.
It can often feel like your employer holds all the power. They will likely have experienced HR professionals or a solicitor working in the background. That’s why you need the best support and advice available. You need a specialist employment lawyer – one who will push for the best outcome for you.
We understand how it feels. We have helped hundreds of employees and because we act for businesses too, we know the tactics you’re likely to face from your employer. We know all the tricks in the book.
We will advise you of your options and how best to proceed – whether you want to negotiate over your contract, or challenge the changes your employer wants to introduce.
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