On most occasions the first port of call for an Employment Tribunal is the contract of employment. An Employment Tribunal will often ask - did the employer have the right to take the action? The contract of employment will be extremely helpful in determining the answer.
Without the contractual right you cannot make deductions from employees' wages. If an employee was to cause loss/damage to your business by reason of their negligence you could not recover the money from their wages unless the contract of employment provided for the deduction.
You cannot lawfully lay staff off or place them on short-time working without the contractual right. These practices can be extremely helpful especially where there is an unexpected downturn in work.
Properly drafted contracts of employment are an extremely useful aid to your business. They enable you to do things that you would not otherwise, lawfully, be permitted to do. Contracts of employment help to legitimise the actions you take in respect of staff. The contract also confirms to employees the standards expected from them - they will struggle to argue that they did not know what you expected of them if it is set out in their contract of employment.
It should also be noted that Employment Tribunals take a dim view of employers who do not provide contracts of employment - failing to provide a contract of employment is certainly a good way of getting off on the wrong foot at an Employment Tribunal hearing!!
You are obliged by law, to provide an employee with a statement of the main terms of employment within eight weeks of the commencement of employment. The Employment Tribunal can award up to four weeks gross pay to an employee if you fail to provide such particulars.
Our team can draft bespoke contracts of employment together with policies and procedures that are appropriate for your business so you can use them as an effective management tool. We recognise one size does not fits all - so we visit your premises to observe and discuss how your business operates on a day to day basis. We then record in writing your already existing policies and discuss other policies and procedures that may be beneficial to your business.
If you have existing contracts of employment and policies and procedures in place our experienced team can review them to ensure that they are up to date with recent changes to employment legislation. Equally important we can discuss with you the effect of your existing documentation to ensure that your policies have the legal effect you wish - i.e. is the discretionary bonus policy really discretionary or does it convey a contractual right?