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Employment Contracts & Staff Handbooks

Whether you are currently drawing up employment contracts, amending existing policies and/or producing a staff handbook, we can assist you in amending these or drafting them from scratch.

Employment Contracts & Staff Handbook Policies

Join the hundreds of businesses that trust Peach for their unrivalled legal support.

Providing our clients with flexible specialist employment law expertise in Manchester and beyond.

We provide a free review of your current employment contracts. If the documents that you have in place require changing we can provide you with a fixed fee quote to get them bang up to date, ensuring that they are legally compliant with all relevant legislation. We also offer an annual update service to ensure that all documentation that your business has in place remains up to date and meets your business’ needs.

If you require new documentation putting into place our Employment Lawyers will work with you to create a bespoke and high-quality set of documentation that is specific to your business/industry needs.

Contracts of Employment should always be drafted by qualified and experienced Lawyers, not HR Consultants, Peach Law can guarantee this will take place.

Yes, you must provide staff with a ‘written statement of main terms’ from the first day they start work. However, we always advise to provide a full employment contract. The minimum document an employer has to provide is known as a section 1 statement.

A section 1 statement is not necessarily a contract of employment in itself; it is a legal minimum requirement but we do not advise on providing the minimum only. In our view, a contract should be provided from day one, to protect the business as much as possible.

A contract protects the business in a number of ways, including but not limited to:

• Protecting intellectual property;

• Disciplinary and grievance procedures;

• Allowing lawful deductions form wages (for example, if someone leaves and has taken more than their holiday accrual at the point of termination, the company can reimburse themselves from the final pay check);

• Setting out the position on leaving;

• The return of company property;

• Garden Leave and paying in lieu of notice;

• Expectations of the role and duties;

• Obligations on termination;

• Confidential information;

• Protecting against the solicitation of staff, working for competitors, poaching clients and suppliers etc;

• Sickness absence;

• Pensions;

• Data protection;

• Notices; and

• Termination without notice (i.e. what happens if a worker commits an act of gross misconduct).

Practically, if you only provide a section 1 statement, with the view to provide a full contract further down the line, it is easy to get carried away with business matters and forget about the contract, which could provide vital protection and help the business long term.

You may, for example, want to rely on post termination restrictions (restrictive covenants) when someone leaves the organisation, to protect the business and its running. You can only do this if such restrictions are included in the contract of employment, are drafted correctly, go no further than protecting the legitimate business interests and the contract has been signed by the employee.

Not having a contract in place could be detrimental to a business.

Further, if you don’t give your staff at least a section 1 statement, they could raise a grievance against the business and even submit a claim to a Tribunal (see our Tribunal section for more information).

There are many different types of worker, requiring different levels of protection within the employment contract. For example, to name just a few,:

• Director's service agreement.

• Senior Employment contract.

• Junior Employment contract.

• Employment contract for a salaried partner.

The above examples are not a ‘one fit for all’ and care and legal advice should be taken when deciding which clauses may have to be tailored, omitted or implemented into employment contracts, depending on the specific scenario at hand.

Care is needed when it comes to the distinction between "senior" and "junior" employees. By way of example, restrictive covenants may be necessary in respect of someone who is in a position of influence with clients, even if they are not managerial or highly paid (i.e. even if they are not senior as such). Further, an intellectual property clause may be appropriate for a junior employee in a creative role in order that they cannot take ideas with them to new roles without any repercussion.

The above types of contract may be adapted to reflect the fact that the worker is, for example, fixed-term, part-time or casual. Such as:

• Fixed-term clauses.

• Part-time clauses.

• Casual worker contract.

Unless you provide for this in the contract of employment, you can’t really (or, it’s very difficult to…unless it is a criminal offence)!

You can include post-termination restrictions (restrictive covenants) in the contract of employment, which, by signing the contract, your worker agrees, for example, not to work for competitors, not deal with your clients, or not solicit your staff for a fixed amount of time after their employment ends. Care needs to be taken as to the length of time applied to such restrictions and legal advice needs to be sought to ensure they are going to be enforceable.

If your ex-employee breaches any restrictions, you could apply to Court for an injunction and/or damages. However, restrictive covenants must be reasonable and they must not go any further than protecting legitimate business interests.

You are free to agree notice periods with your workers and this should be explained in the contract of employment, however, you must comply with the statutory minimum notice. The statutory minimum notice periods are as follows:

• After one month: a minimum of one week’s notice; and

• After two years: one week’s notice for each complete year worked, up to a maximum of 12 weeks.

You can either place them on “Garden Leave”, provided that you have a Garden Leave clause in the contract of employment, or you can “Pay in Lieu of Notice” (PILON), provided there is a PILON clause in the contract of employment.

Many businesses choose to have PILON and/or Garden Leave clauses so that when someone leaves, or is dismissed, the employer is not required to keep them in the business for the duration of their notice period. PILON clauses allow notice to be paid, and the termination date to be, for example, on the day notice is given, whereas Garden Leave clauses mean someone is still employed by the business until the end of their notice period but not required to work or attend premises.

Garden Leave clauses can be particularly useful for staff members who are in a position of influence with clients, who are in creative roles or if the business is concerned that they might become aware of important sensitive information before they leave. Garden Leave clauses also mean that person cannot start other employment until the period of Garden Leave is over. Care and legal advice should be sought to ensure any PILON or Garden Leave clause is correct, fit for purpose and achieves what the business wants it to.

Yes - Under regulation 4(1) of the Working Time Regulations 1998 a worker's average working time, including overtime, must not exceed 48 hours a week in any 17 week reference period unless the worker has previously agreed otherwise in writing.

There are different rules for workers under 18 and legal advice should always be sought.

Under regulation 4(1) of the Working Time Regulations 1998 a worker's average working time, including overtime, must not exceed 48 hours a week unless the worker has previously agreed otherwise in writing.

If you need your staff to work more than 48 hours per week you should ask them to sign an opt-out letter. This should be a separate 48 hour opt-out letter, signed by the staff member, before you ask them to work 48 hours or more. We would always recommend having a 48 hour opt-out letter drafted at the same time as the contract of employment and it should be attached to the contract as a schedule.

However, workers are always entitled to opt back in again, with 3 months’ notice.

Young workers (those under the age of 18 years) cannot work more than 40 hours in any week, and cannot sign an opt-out agreement.

Apprentices are different and the type of contract or agreement required depends on what Apprenticeship is being undertaken. Special care needs to be taken and legal advice should always be sought.

Further, depending on the age of the apprentice, it may not be possible to ask them to sign a 48 hour opt-out letter. Young workers (those under the age of 18 years) cannot work more than 40 hours in any week, and cannot sign an opt-out agreement.

A worker may agree in writing to opt out of the 48-hour average limit. The opt-out should ideally not be contained in the employment contract itself, but in a separate letter or agreement. Although an opt-out in an employment contract is legally valid, the European Commission is concerned about abuse, and would like to put a stop to this.

Employers must keep up-to-date records of all opted-out workers. In practice this means that employers simply need to keep a copy of all opt-out letters or a current list of opted-out workers in a secure file.

Young workers (those under the age of 18 years) cannot work more than 40 hours in any week, and cannot sign an opt-out agreement.

Workers cannot opt out of night work limits and this sort of letter is not appropriate for certain mobile workers in road, air or sea transport, who are covered by separate regulations.

Following the UK's decision to leave the EU (Brexit), there will be a legislative review process to determine which elements of the Working Time Regulations, if any, should be retained. It is possible that the maximum limit on weekly working time will be removed altogether following Brexit. We are still awaiting the government’s position on this.

If you are looking to employ a new staff member or need help with existing staff contracts, please arrange a call back with one of our employment contract experts using the button below:

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