Q&A: Statements of employment

Woman reading an employment contract - Q&A: Statements of employmentMarie Cox, employment law solicitor at Tollers LLP, answers key questions about written statements of employment

I have few staff, why must I bother with written statements of employment?

All employees are entitled to a written statement of employment - regardless of business size or number of employees - which sets out the main terms and conditions of their employment.

And what about a contract of employment?

That exists as soon as an employee starts work, which proves they accept the terms and conditions you offer. You're both bound by the terms of the employment contract. Sometimes a contract is agreed verbally. However, employees are entitled by law to be given a written statement of employment within two months of their start to work for your business.

Every staff member?

Yes, all employees who have been employed for one month or more. You should do this no later than two months after their start date. Many employers include one with a job offer letter. An employee can request one and your refusal to issue one is unlawful, which means the employee can take the matter further.

Are there any exemptions?

People whose employment began before 30 November 1993 are only entitled to a written statement if they request one. Independent contractors, freelancers and agency workers are not entitled to one, nor are employees in particular categories such as crown servants.

What should a written statement of employment include?

Name of employer and employee; job title; main duties; place of work; start date; period of employment, if job is not permanent; salary; hours of work and times; holiday entitlement; sickness absence policy and sick pay entitlement; pension information; notice required; whether collective agreements apply; and summary of your grievance and disciplinary procedures. If your employee is required to work outside the UK, further particulars need to be included.

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Do I have to include information about dismissal and my D&G procedures?

Yes, you must include: the name or job title of the person responsible for dealing with the grievance and what steps the employee should take; the name or job title of the person who will deal with appeals to disciplinary decisions or dismissals, and how this application should be made. Other details can be set out in the written statement or referred to in another document, such as a staff handbook. These are: any disciplinary or dismissal rules/procedures; and any further steps that follow an application to resolve a grievance or appeal.

What if I employ people to work overseas?

Any requirement to work abroad for at least a month must be included in the written statement. It should specify: how long the employee is expected to work overseas; currency in which their wages will be paid; any additional payment/benefits; terms and conditions of employment on their return to the UK. The employee should be provided with this before they go overseas. If the employee will be working wholly or mainly overseas, they will be exempt from the requirement to receive a written statement of employment.

And if I don't give my employees a written statement of employment?

An employee could bring a claim to an Employment Tribunal if they have not received a written statement of employment or if information within the statement is inaccurate. The tribunal can then determine what information the employee should have been given. If your employee succeeds in another unrelated employment claim - a claim for failure to provide a statement is not a claim that can be brought by itself, the tribunal can also award the employee compensation for your failure to give them a written statement or one that is accurate. Compensation will be between two and four weeks' full pay.

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