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The written statement and contract of employment

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Although it is not strictly correct in the law, the terms ‘written statement’ and ‘contract of employment’ are often used interchangeably in workplaces.

The written statement of terms and conditions of employment is the principal document that gives evidence of the contractual agreement between an employer and an employee.

While the written statement is the main evidence of the contract of employment, contractual agreements can be made in other ways. The contract of employment, in legal terms, is defined more broadly than the written statement. For example, a verbal promise of a pay rise in 6 months’ time might be deemed as part of an employee’s contract.             

Section 1 of the Employment Rights Act 1996 (ERA) says that a written statement must be given to all employees who will be employed for more than one month. The written statement must be given within two months of the employee joining the organisation, but you are advised to provide the statement at an earlier stage when offering the job, or at the latest, on the person’s first day at work. This helps avoid confusion and misunderstanding.

Model written statement

The ERA says that the written statement must contain certain clauses. These clauses are included in the model written statement.

The model written statement can be adopted for different types of contractual arrangements, such as full time, part time, permanent, temporary or fixed term.

Please note that the model written statement is for your guidance and use. However, since the written statement is such a key employment document, and since employment law may change, you are advised to seek human resources or legal advice before finalising your written statement.

The ERA says that some information may be given by reference in the written statement to some other document. For example, you must make a reference in the written statement to your disciplinary procedure, but you do not need to include the whole procedure in your written statement. Where the law allows you to make a reference, this is indicated by a * in the model written statement.

Download the model written statement (Word, 40KB)

As an alternative to the written statement, you can download a statement from the Acas website.

Consultancy contracts

Sometimes, you may have a specific and short-term task, such as the setting up of a new computer network or a need for advice on an issue affecting your charity.

For such cases, you will probably need a self-employed person rather than an employee.

A self-employed person does not have any ongoing obligation to work with you, beyond the specific piece of work they are contracted for. A self-employed person is responsible for their tax and national insurance, so you do not need to pay them via your payroll.

The arrangements you have agreed should be put into a written contract. This could be drawn up by you, by the consultant, or jointly.

Download an example agreement (Word, 30KB) for engaging a self-employed consultant

It is important that you are clear when you may need a consultancy agreement/contract for services and when you may need a contract of employment. Don’t be tempted to take someone on as a consultant, when they are doing the job of an employee for you, as there could be unanticipated legal and tax implications. See GOV.UK for further information about determining employed or self-employed status.

Casual worker contracts

There is one further category of contract that you may wish to use.

In some cases, you may require someone to work on a flexible and casual basis. In this circumstance, you could employ someone as a ‘worker’.

If you wish to use workers, the most likely use is for casual work. Casual workers:

  • generally supply a short-term or specific need
  • typically, will have periods of work with breaks in between where no work is performed
  • are offered and accept work ‘as and when required’
  • are not under an obligation to accept the work
  • have no agreement on the particular number of hours of work.

Such an arrangement may suit individuals who want the flexibility to take work as and when it suits them. The arrangement may suit employers, to fill short term needs, such as to cover shifts in a care home or to deal with occasional peaks in administrative workload.

Workers have some rights under employment law, but not as many as those who are also employees. For example, they do not have the right to claim unfair dismissal, notice pay or redundancy pay.

Workers do, however, have the following core employment rights:

  • To receive the national minimum wage
  • Not to suffer unlawful deductions from wages
  • To receive a minimum of 5.6 weeks’ holiday per year
  • Not to be discriminated against.

As workers are not considered to be genuinely self-employed, in most cases, they should be paid via the payroll. You still need to take references, check their right to live and work in the UK and, if appropriate to the role, seek a Disclosure (criminal record check) on them from the DBS.

You do not need to make a contractual written agreement with a casual worker, but it is good practice and it avoids misunderstandings if you do. This is different from a written statement of terms and conditions that you will issue to an employee.

You could include clauses such as:

  • the intention that they are a worker not an employee
  • the hourly rate of pay
  • the fact that there is no obligation on either side to accept or to offer work
  • that if work is accepted, they must do the work
  • their entitlement to annual leave and how it will be paid
  • that they may join your stakeholder pension scheme if they wish.

Further information about workers

Volunteers

Volunteers are not employees. They should not be given a contract of employment but a volunteer agreement. See Volunteer agreements.

Interns

Internships are not a separate category of contract in employment law terms. You should consider carefully the work that they are doing and whether they should be employees or should be contracted as volunteers and provided with a volunteer agreement. Further information about volunteer agreements.

NCVO has produced guidance on volunteer interns.

Further resources

Page last edited Jun 28, 2018

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