Written Contracts: Above and Beyond Employment Terms

Picture of a Written Contract

The law requires employers to provide employees with a written 'statement of terms' that explains the terms of employment. However, such a statement is the bare minimum. As an HR adviser and someone who specialises in HR administration training, I suggest going beyond the bare minimum to create a written contract for every employee.

Technically speaking, the establishment of employment creates an implied contract between employer and employee. The employee agrees to perform certain work while the employer agrees to pay for that work. This contract exists from day one, even if an employer waits until the last day of the allowable two month-period to furnish a statement of terms.

With that said, the informal contract does very little to protect the rights of either party. Likewise, a statement of terms does not offer a lot of protection either. A written contract is by far the much better option.

What an Employment Contract Should Include

An HR adviser offering employee contract help may suggest dozens of things to include in an employment contract. There is no limit to what should be included given that every business has its own unique needs. There are, however, some standard components that should be in every contract:

Legal names of all parties involved

Job title and description

Job location and regular working hours

Start date and probationary period dates (if applicable)

Salary, wages, and benefits.

These five items combine to form the basis for the employer-employee relationship. None of them should be left to oral agreements. Otherwise, potential legal problems could arise should there be any disputes between employer and employee in the future.

In addition to the items listed above, a company might also choose to include:

Holiday, sickness, and disability policies

Employee payroll deductions

Assessment policies

Expense and reimbursement policies

Restrictive covenants

Termination, dismissal, and notice policies

Grievance and disciplinary policies

Retirement and pension policies.

Employee Contract Help

It should be clear from all the above items that writing employee contracts can be difficult. There is so much to cover that is nearly impossible to get it right without the help of a professional. As an HR adviser, I can assist you in drawing up contracts that are appropriate for each of your employees.

It must be made clear that employment contracts are as important to the protection of your business as they are to guaranteeing employee rights. Formal contracts spell out the rights and responsibilities of all parties to the extent that the documents provide the legal framework for settling potential disputes.

In the absence of a well-written contract, disputes can wind up in litigation. This is never a good thing even when the employer prevails. Litigation is costly, it can damage a company's reputation, and it stirs up unnecessary trouble among other staff members.

If your company needs help with employment contracts, reach out to me at your earliest convenience. I can help you with contracts that protect both you and your employees.

Send HR Compliance an Email
Profile picture of Karen Willard

Author: Karen Willard

Hello, I am passionate about the contribution good HR interventions can make to the success of a business and through delivering innovative and pragmatic HR and learning and development solutions I can help you meet your business needs