Five reasons why keeping employment contracts up to date is essential

Five reasons why keeping employment contracts up to date is essential

How do I ensure our employment contracts are fit for purpose?  

On or before the first day of employment you must provide your new employee with a document stating the main conditions of employment.  

In this article, we will talk you through some simple steps to ensure your statements of terms are robust to support your legally binding employment contracts. In turn, this provides transparency for your employees and protection for your company.  

There is no one-size-fits-all approach to employment contracts. It depends solely on the employment relationship and may look different from one employee to the next. However, below we have listed the most common forms of employment contract which may be suitable for many of your employees:  

Permanent/Full Time

This is a very common type of employment contract. It is suitable for your employees who work on a full time, permanent basis.  

Permanent/Part Time

Permanent employees can also be hired on a part time basis, working fewer hours than your full-time employees. A part time contract specifies the hours and days of the week expected of your part time employees, as well as the corresponding renumeration and benefits.   

Fixed Term

Fixed term contracts are usually for a specified period of time with a defined start and end date. They are typically used for temporary work (e.g. to cover a period of maternity) or for project-based work.  

Zero Hours

With a zero hours contract, there is no guaranteed minimum number of hours that the employee will work. Hours will be offered as and when necessary, by the employer. The employee has no obligation to accept the hours offered and the employer has no obligation to offer work. This is a key distinction between this type of contract and a more permanent contract type.  

Keeping up to date  

Now that we have established different contract types, let’s explore why it is important to ensure your employment contracts are up to date and fit for purpose.  

Transparency and certainty

An employment contract ensures both employer and employee are aware of their duties and obligations towards one another. This reduces ambiguity and allows for a more harmonious working relationship.   

Compliance with employment law

It is crucial to ensure your employment contracts are compliant with current legal requirements to protect both the business and your employees.  

Data Protection

Your contract is likely to contain information regarding confidentiality. This protects both parties to the contract. You should confirm how you commit to keeping the employee’s data safe. Similarly, you may stipulate some confidentiality provisions for the employee to adhere to during or even after the course of their employment with your company.  

Changes to terms & conditions

You should specify in your contract that the business may, from time to time, make appropriate changes to an employee’s terms and conditions. This could be minor modifications to job roles, responsibilities, compensation and benefits. It allows your business some flexibility without having to go through a time-consuming process. However, not all changes will be seen as ‘minor’ and many still do need consultation. Please seek advice before making any modifications to an employee’s contract.  

Conflict resolution

Sadly, it is not uncommon for disputes to arise throughout the employment relationship, which may relate to an employee’s terms and conditions with their employer. A well-drafted and up to date employment contract can be essential in mitigating a dispute from escalating and provides a clear reference point for resolving conflicts more effectively and transparently.  

It is essential to regularly review the content of your contracts to check that they are fit for purpose for both the business and the employee. We would recommend carrying out an audit once a year and particularly at times when the legal landscape is changing due to employment law updates. Similarly, a review would be required where your internal business landscape changes, due to circumstances such as restructures or a review of salaries or reward packages.

Carly Anderson-Riley - HR Consultant at Sue Willmott HR and Careers ConsultancyCarly Anderson-Riley
– HR Consultant for Sue Willmott HR & Careers Consultancy.

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