Legal

Changes to written employment contracts

27 Apr 2020 By Gary Henderson and Jessica Joel

On 6 April the right to receive a statement of particulars was extended to workers. Gary Henderson and Jessica Joel explain the implications for businesses

Employees (whose employment is continuing for more than one month) have a statutory entitlement to a written statement of particulars that broadly sets out certain key information about the employee’s employment. In practice, the required information is usually included in the contract of employment. From 6 April 2020, this right was extended to workers and there is no longer an exemption in respect of employees employed for less than one month. 

While previously the written statement of employment particulars had to be provided to employees within two months of the start of their employment, since 6 April the majority of particulars need to be provided to employees and workers on or before the beginning of their employment or engagement.

What must the statement include?

The statement previously set out certain key information relating to the individual’s employment, such as the name of the employer, the employment start date, hours of work, pay, job title, holiday and termination provisions, among others.

Since 6 April, certain additional information also needs to be provided, notably:

  • whether there is a probationary period and, if so, its conditions and duration;
  • the days of the week the employee or worker is required to work and whether their working hours or days may be variable and, if so, details of how they may vary;
  • details of any training provided by the employer that the worker is required to complete, and details of any other required training for which the employer will not bear the cost; 
  • details of any other benefits (including non-contractual benefits) not covered elsewhere in the statement; and
  • terms and conditions relating to paid leave (other than holiday or sick leave); for example, family leave, paid study leave and compassionate leave. 

What form must the statement take?

The majority of information that is required to be provided to an employee or worker must be provided to them in a single document. There are certain exceptions; some information, for example in relation to sick pay and procedures, disciplinary and grievance procedures, details of paid leave (other than holiday and sick leave) and training entitlement, can instead be included in another reasonably accessible document (for example, a staff handbook/intranet), provided the statement sets out where the information can be found. 

Notably, however, the information on benefits must be included in the written statement with no option in the revised legislation to refer staff to details available elsewhere. In practice, this conflicts with many employers’ practice of referring to more detailed information held on a benefits portal or in a staff handbook. This will also create difficulties where benefits choices, their terms and providers are regularly changed – in practice meaning staff will need to be provided with a revised statement on each occasion these are revised. Many employers may take a risk-based approach and opt to be in technical breach of the statutory requirements by continuing with their current practice.

Preparing for the changes

  • Review template employment contracts and offer letters, to ensure they include the information required by the new rules. 
  • Identify workers and consider which information should be provided to them as part of their written statement. 
  • Consider putting processes in place during the recruitment process to ensure the written particulars are provided on or before day one of employment or engagement.

Gary Henderson is an employment partner and Jessica Joel an associate at CMS

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