Contracts of employment should meet business needs


Contracts have been a hot topic lately. Several clients have taken on new staff, which is great news, and we’ve been helping them with the recruitment process and selection interviews. We’re also reviewing and advising on changes to employment contracts to ensure they are up-to-date and that the necessary procedures for new starters are in place.

Deciding on the right contractual terms can be a challenge as they need to meet, not only legal requirements, but current and future business needs too. It’s important that contracts set out the employee’s rights and what the company expects from its staff – not to mention clauses to protect each party, for example, in relation to:

  • Restrictive covenants
  • Mobility clauses
  • Notice periods and requirements
  • ‘Right to work’ documentation
  • Family friendly and flexible working rights
  • Statutory holiday and pay
  • Pensions auto-enrolment
  • Data protection
  • and so on …

The danger is that this can result in very legalistic documents that staff don’t fully understand (or care about). But there’s no reason why your contracts, terms and conditions can’t be written in plain English and reflect how you want your relationship with staff to be. We can help you with this.

In any case, you should avoid using off-the-shelf, standard documents that don’t suit your business needs and, due to their one-size-fits-all approach, may not protect your business either.

When did you last check your contracts?

It’s worth reviewing your contracts (in fact, all terms and conditions whether contractual or not) and asking:

  • Does the style and content reflect your company brand and values?
  • Do they still meet your business needs?
  • What do they say about your company culture?
  • Have you considered how much has changed since they were first issued?
  • Do they need updating in line with current legislation?
  • Do they reflect how your company has changed over time?
  • Are they consistent, or are there several versions?

Beware ‘breach of contract’ claims

If you do want to amend or change people’s contracts (or any contractual terms and conditions) you need to go about it the right way to avoid any ‘breach of contract’ or other legal claims.  Even if, in your view, you are enhancing the terms.  A contract can only be ‘varied’ or amended with the agreement of both parties, that is, the employer and employee.

As with much of HR, it’s not that it can’t be done, it just needs to be done the right way.

We can help you review and update your employment contracts, terms and conditions to ensure they are legally compliant and, most importantly, meet the needs of your business now and in the future.

Contact us to find out more.