Contracts of Employment 

Unless you are running a very small pub totally on your own, you will be employing staff. Accordingly you will need to have a contract with them that clearly states their rights and responsibilities in a statement of their Terms and Conditions of Employment.

According to ACAS a contract of employment is an agreement between an employer and employee and is the basis of the employment relationship. A contract is made when an offer of employment is accepted. A number of rights and duties, enforceable through the courts, arise as soon as this happens. It is not uncommon that offers of employment may be subject to conditions such as obtaining satisfactory references.

Most employment contracts do not need to be in writing to be legally valid, but writing down the terms and conditions of the contract will help if disagreements arise later on. The Employment Rights Act requires employers to provide most employees with a written statement of the main terms and conditions of employment within two calendar months of starting work. Many employers include an introduction to terms and conditions as part of the induction program for new starters. This will give the employees a chance to ask questions and for the employer to test the understanding of the employment contract.

Not all terms are explicitly agreed in writing (express terms). The courts have established that all employment contracts have the following terms included whether express or implied:

  • to maintain trust and confidence through co-operation
  • to act in good faith towards each other
  • to take reasonable care to ensure health and safety in the workplace

Some implied terms can become part of the contract because of the employer and employee’s behaviour, through custom and practice over time, or through a firm’s rules.

Who isn’t entitled to a written statement?

Anyone who is not an employee, for example an independent contractor or freelancer, plus certain mariners and employees who ordinarily work outside Great Britain, so basically everyone you are likely to employ in your pub.

What should be included in a written statement?

The following information should be included in one single document known as the principle statement:

  • name of employer and employee
  • date employment and continuous employment started
  • job location
  • pay and whether it weekly, monthly pay etc
  • working hours
  • holiday entitlement
  • job description / job title
  • details of any collective agreements that directly affect the employee’s conditions of employment.

Additional information can be provided in other documents such as staff handbooks, intranet sites:

  • sick leave and pay entitlements
  • pensions and pension schemes
  • disciplinary and grievance procedures
  • appeals procedure under the disciplinary and grievance procedures.

What are implied and express terms in a contract of employment?

Express terms are terms that have been specifically mentioned, either in writing or orally, and have been agreed by both employer and employee.

Implied terms are terms that are not set out in writing or agreed orally, but may be too obvious to need to be recorded. An example of this may be that the employee will not steal from the employer.

Do fixed term employees have the same rights as permanent colleagues?

The Fixed Term Employee Regulations aim to ensure that employees on fixed-term contracts are treated no less favourably than comparable permanent employees. Under the regulations these employees have the right to the same terms and conditions of employment as comparable permanent employees unless the employer can justify less favourable treatment.

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