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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 is the principal document that gives evidence of the contractual agreement. Employers are under a legal obligation to issue employees and workers with a written statement.

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 six months’ time might be deemed as part of an employee’s contract.             

As of 6 April 2020, employers must provide new-form written statements for new employees and workers from the first day of employment/engagement.

Revised requirements for the written statement (effective 6 April 2020)

The Employment Rights Act 1996 (as amended) differentiates between information which must be provided in a single document and information which can be in a supplementary statement (to which the ‘principal’ written statement refers).

From 6 April 2020, the requirements below will apply both to employees and ‘workers’, eg casual workers. Employers will need to produce different statements for employees and casual workers, so that the arrangements for each are clear.

Information which must be provided in a single document

  • Names of employer and worker
  • Date employment or engagement begins
  • For employees only: date of continuous employment
  • Rate of pay and frequency (weekly, monthly etc) of payment
  • Hours of work (including normal working hours, days of week and whether hours/days are variable (and, if so, how they vary))
  • Entitlement to holidays (including public holidays) and holiday pay
  • Any other benefits (including non-contractual benefits)
  • Length of notice of termination required from employer and worker
  • Job title or brief description of work
  • If applicable: Details of non-permanent employment or engagement (eg period of fixed-term contract)
  • Any probationary period which starts at the beginning of the engagement, including conditions and duration
  • Place of work and address of employer
  • If the worker is required to work outside the UK for over a month: arrangements for working outside the UK (including period, currency of pay, additional pay and benefits and return terms)
  • Any part of any training entitlement which the employer requires the worker to complete
  • Any training which the employer requires but does not pay for

Information which can (if preferred) be provided in a separate document

  • Sick leave and pay
  • Any other paid leave
  • Pensions and pension schemes (this can be provided within two months)
  • Details of any collective agreements directly affecting terms (this can be provided within two months)
  • Any other training entitlement (this can be provided within two months)
  • Disciplinary and grievance procedures (this can be provided within two months)

Model written statement (for employees)

The model written statement for employees 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, you are advised to seek human resources or legal advice before finalising your written statement.

Download the model written statement for employees (Word, 40KB)

See Acas guidance on what must be in a written statement.

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 have a written statement of terms and conditions. This is a right that takes effect for workers engaged from 6 April 2020 – see above. The written statement for workers should not be the same as that for employees, but tailored to what you require workers to do
  • To receive the national minimum wage
  • Not to suffer unlawful deductions from wages
  • To receive itemised payslips 
  • 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.

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 Apr 06, 2020

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