Employment contracts

Your new employment contract exists the moment your new private practice employee unconditionally accepts your job offer.

What is an employment contract?

An employment contract must be written. The terms of the contract represent the rights and duties of both you and your employee. These are contained in your original job advert, the job description, any written or oral agreements between you and the employee, and the written statement (see below).

Certain terms (such as responsibility for health and safety) are also set out in legislation - these are also enforceable whether or not they are included in writing.

What is a written statement?

The written statement must be provided within two months of your employee’s start date. It can be one or more documents, which, together, set out the terms and conditions of employment. It MUST contain the following:

  • the names of the employer (your private practice) and the employee
  • the address of the place of work
  • the job title and a brief job description
  • the date the employment began
  • the employee’s pay, and when it will be paid (eg weekly or monthly)
  • the employee’s hours of work
  • holiday entitlement (including bank holidays) and holiday pay
  • entitlement to sick pay
  • whether you provide any pension benefits or not
  • how much notice is required for both you and your employee to terminate the employment
  • details of grievance and dismissal procedure

Should you issue a written contract?

You don’t have to, as long as you issue a written statement. If you do decide to provide a written contract, you don’t have to issue a separate written statement as well, as long as all of the required information is within the contract.

Changes to the contract

If you want to make changes to the terms and conditions of employment (for example make a change to your employee’s job title or holiday allowance) make sure you get their agreement first. If those changes are to elements specified in the written statement, you must also tell them in writing. If you don’t do this, the employee may be able to:

  • sue for breach or contract or...
  • resign, and claim constructive dismissal

Don’t let this worry you too much - as long as you receive the employee’s permission and get everything in writing, you should be covered.

Find out more

There is plenty of advice online about employment contracts. You can find out more at the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (www.bis.gov.uk) or Business Link (www.businesslink.gov.uk)

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