By: Simon B
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Accepting the contract
Employers usually decide which applicant they want to employ and phone up with a job offer later that day. From the minute that offer is made and accepted by you, a contract exists, even if the offer isn’t in writing. A good employer will follow up the phone call with a letter setting out the main terms and conditions, such as pay, holiday entitlement, hours, place of work, job title, and starting date. You are then entitled to a Written Statement of Employment Particulars within eight weeks of starting your job. That statement should have all the previous details, plus:
- Your job description
- Details, or where to find details, of disciplinary and grievance procedures
- Information about the pension scheme
- Information on what happens if you’re sick
- Information on how much notice either side has to give the other if the employment contract is ending
- The procedure that occurs if staff have to be made redundant
- The retirement age in the firm Any work that will have to be done outside the UK Any collective bargains that have been agreed to with a recognised union about something like pay or holidays
- The length of the contract, if the job isn’t permanent
Not all the details have to be in the written statement – the employer may point you to where you can find the details written down, such as in a staff handbook or in a computer document. Of course, the written statement or the firm’s handbook can have all sorts of other details, such as the health and safety policy, the smoking policy, the dress code, and guidance for sending and receiving private e-mails, using the Internet, and making private phone calls. The terms discussed by you and your employer or written down are express terms of the contract. But other terms may not be written down and may not have been mentioned but still form part of the contract by implication. The employer is entitled to expect you to do a good job and to obey instructions. You’re entitled to be paid and to be given work to do so that you can be paid. There has to be trust and confidence between you. It’s implied in your contract that you won’t do anything to damage your employer’s business, such as working for competitors, and that you’ll keep information about the business confidential. You have the right to expect that your boss will take care of you by giving you a safe and healthy place to work. In addition, other terms and conditions may be implied in your contract simply because they have become custom and practice in the workplace – everyone may go home early on Friday simply because over a period of time, they’ve got into the habit of going home early on Friday, and the employer has never stopped the practice.
The terms and conditions in your contract, either expressed or implied, are what your employer has to deliver. If an employer changes any of those terms and conditions without your agreement, the employer will be in breach of contract, and you may be able to make a claim against the company. Your employer shouldn’t make deductions from your pay that you haven’t already agreed to, or the deduction is unlawful. Your boss can’t change your working hours without your agreement or give you fewer holidays than it says in the contract. And don’t forget the laws that protect you, such as the Health and Safety at Work Act, The Equal Pay Act 1970 or the Working Time Regulations under the European Working Time Directive.