Do I have to give every employee an employment contract?

Answered by SME SolicitorsYou don’t ‘give’ an employee a contract — a contract will exist, whether you like it or not, as soon as someone accepts your job offer.

You are, however, legally required to give every employee a written statement covering specified terms and conditions, within two months of the employment beginning. If you fail to provide such a statement, the employee may (at present) refer the matter to an Employment Tribunal to decide what terms and conditions they are working under.

The penalty for non-compliance (ie failure to provide a written statement) is either two or four weeks’ pay (capped at the normal maximum of £450 per week), unless ‘there are exceptional circumstances which would make an award or increase unjust or inequitable’. This is not, however, a free-standing right to compensation. It is an increase in compensation if, and only if, a Tribunal finds in favour of the employee under another type of claim, eg unfair dismissal or underpayment of wages.

The contract should be checked to ensure that it is relevant to the employee otherwise there is a risk that an Employment Tribunal will infer terms and conditions, if a dispute should arise.

answered by Stallard, March & Edwards LLP

Answered by ACAS

A contract of employment is an agreement between an employer and employee and is the basis of the employment relationship.

Most employment contracts do not need to be in writing to be legally valid, but it is better if they are.

A contract ‘starts’ as soon as an offer of employment is accepted. Starting work proves that you accept the terms and conditions offered by the employer.

Most employees are legally entitled to a Written Statement of the main terms and conditions of employment within two calendar months of starting work. This should include details of things like payholidays and working hours. Download our word  Written Statement of Employment [53kb] template.

An existing contract of employment can be varied only with the agreement of both parties.

answered by ACAS

Please note: This is general information for educational purposes only and is not legal advice


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