Employment Law

4 tips to make your contracts of employment work for your employees

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Employers are under a legal obligation to provide all employees with a contract of employment within the first 8 weeks of employment. Instead of treating this obligation as a “box ticking exercise”, employers will benefit from remembering that the drafting and issuing of a contract of employment is the first step in ensuring that their business interests are adequately protected during the course of the employment relationship.
As well as protecting business interests, is also important that a contract of employment accurately reflects the intention of the employer and here are four things that all employers can consider to make their contracts of employment work for their business.

  1. Probationary Periods

Although subjecting an employee to a contractual probationary period doesn’t provide an employer with any additional or “special” rights to dismiss an employee who isn’t up to the mark, it certainly helps an employer to understand if someone is a good fit before making a definite commitment to them. Employees whose employment ends as a result of a failed probation are much more likely to understand and therefore accept, the termination as those who are dismissed in the early stages on grounds of performance, for example. Probationary periods work most effectively when managed alongside a robust induction and onboarding programme.

  1. Overtime and TOIL

Overtime and the payment of overtime or, the taking of TOIL can be a source of contention particularly where the contract of employment fails to define the employer’s intentions with regards to overtime. Employers who fail to properly outline their position in respect of overtime or TOIL can face an uphill battle if faced with an Employment Tribunal claim for Breach of Contract or Unpaid Wages on the basis of unpaid overtime. Whatever your intention is regarding overtime and/or TOIL ensure that your contract accurately reflects this. If no overtime is payable: make sure the contract says this; if TOIL needs to be used within a certain amount of time: make sure the contract says this.

  1. Termination

Employers are under a legal obligation to provide their employees with a minimum amount of notice should they wish to terminate employment for anything other than gross misconduct however, employers are entirely free to stipulate how much notice they want their employees to give if they want to resign. Careful consideration should be given to how quickly an employer would want an employee to leave in the event of a resignation. If the employer would prefer a clean break then perhaps a short notice period of week would be sufficient however, if the employer would need a handover period or, time to recruit into the role then a longer notice period of several months could be beneficial.

  1. Training Fees

Often, employers will want to invest in their employees for the benefit of both themselves and the individual and on occasion this may involve an investment in training or education. Employers need to ensure that they have a return on that investment and whilst the hope would be that the employee would continue in their employment following completion of any training course or education this is not always the case and the employer can be left without an employee and out of pocket as a result of training fees. Employers are able to put employees under a requirement to repay training fees should they leave their employment within a certain amount of time following completion of the course however, any arrangement needs to be in a written and agreed form to be valid. If there is the possibility training could be something that an employee may undertake during their tenure with you then it would be prudent to ensure that the ability to recover any fees or costs associated with the training is present in the contract.
Want more advice or guidance on getting the most out of your contracts of employment or, more information on any of the points above? Email charlotte@howarths-uk.com or call 01274 864999.

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