Category Archives: 6 April 2012

Changes to Worker and Employee Contracts – 6 April 2020

From 6 April 2020 there will be a right to a basic written contract written as a section one statement that applies to workers and employees alike.  This is in accordance with the Employment Rights (Employment Particulars and Employed Annual Leave) (Amendment) Regulations 2018.  Up to this point employees have the right to receive written terms and conditions within eight weeks of starting employment and workers may not have received any employment documentation at all.

The right to a basic written contract takes effect from day one of employment so ideally should be issued before employment starts.  Genuine self employed contractors are not included.  Agency workers will receive their documentation from the employment business that is contracting them to work with a third party employer.   

A basic written contract as a section one statement should include the following as a minimum:

  • The names of the employer and employee
  • The date the employment starts and period of continuous employment
  • Details regarding probation period – duration and conditions
  • Pay (or method of calculating it) and interval of payment
  • Details of any additional remuneration eg bonus, commission
  • Hours of work (including if fixed or variable; if varied how)
  • Days of the week required to work (including if fixed or variable; if varied how)
  • Holiday entitlement and pay
  • The employee’s job title or a brief description of the work
  • Notice periods
  • Place of work
  • Details on sick pay and leave
  • Entitlement to additional pay ie maternity pay, paternity pay
  • Details regarding training entitlement including if mandatory and if the worker/employee must pay for this

The law provides that the issuing of certain other additional terms may be given within two months of beginning employment.  This may be in the form of a supplementary statement sent to the worker or employee.  In the alternative they may be signposted as to where they can find this documentation eg on an intranet or via a request to HR. This includes information on:

  • Pension and pension schemes
  • Collective agreements
  • Information on grievance and disciplinary procedures

However, it might be good practice to share that information via the issuing of just one document. 

With this new legislation holiday pay for workers will be referenced via 52 week period rather than the current 12 week period.

If any of the information changes the employer must notify the worker/employee within one month. Revised contracts/statements do not need to be provided to the worker/employee automatically.  However, if one is requested this must be provided within one month of the request.

Employers should review their existing processes to ensure they comply with the law.

Rise of the Unfair Dimissal Qualifying Period

On 6 April 2012 the qualifying period for unfair dismissal claims rises from one to two years. The change will only affect new employees whose employment starts on or after April 6 2012. Those employees already in employment will retain the current qualifying period of one year. The change will not affect automatic unfair dismissal claims.

The new timeframe to terminate employment of an employee, if they are not performing to standards, will be one year and 51 weeks.  For employees commencing employment before 6 April 2012 it remains before the 51 week mark.  This is because an employee is entitled to include their one weeks’ statutory notice period in their length of service, to obtain the requisite period of service to entitle them to bring an unfair dismissal claim.  However if an employment contract specifies longer notice than the statutory then termination should be considered many weeks, or months, beforehand.  For example if an employee employed after 6 April has one month’s notice specified in the contract, dismissal should be considered at the 22.5 month stage (or 10.5 months stage for those employed before 6 April). However, in my opinion an employer should not wait until the qualifying period is looming to terminate a badly performing new employee. 

Employers need to use probationary periods effectively to monitor and test new employees picking up quickly on any issues of poor performance providing an opportunity to improve.  Furthermore employers should diarise the cut-off points for continuous service to ensure employees do not attain the requisite qualifying period.  A fair procedure should be adopted when terminating employment including maintaining the paper trail.  Furthermore employers should be vigilant with how they manage employees to avoid possible discrimination as there is no qualifying period to bring an employment tribunal claim for that. 

The introduction of the higher qualifying period is part of the government’s drive to promote employment and to give employers the chance to try out new recruits without fear of unfair dismissal claim.  Time will tell whether this employment reform will assist businesses and boost economic recovery.