Employment Contracts FAQs

Age discrimination: can an employer not hire because of age?
It's not lawful to discriminate on the grounds of age. Since 1 October 2006 there has been legal protection against age discrimination.
Are there any emergency procedures that I, as an employer, must follow?
You must undertake a risk assessment of your business premises and identify any significant health and safety risks which may arise. These may include, for example, the potential for a major escalating fire, explosion, building collapse, pollution incident and/or bomb threat. Once these major risks which may result in serious and or imminent danger have been identified, a formal emergency procedure must be produced.

The emergency procedure should set out the role, identity and responsibilities of the competent persons nominated to implement the action. The emergency procedure should normally be written down, clearly setting out the limits of action to be taken by all employees. In particular, work shouldn't be resumed after an emergency if serious danger remains.

Can an employer include Bank Holidays as part of their employees' holiday allowance?
Yes, they can be counted as part of the statutory 28 days' holiday.
Can my husband and I both take adoption leave?
You can't both get Shared Parental Leave (SPL) and Statutory Shared Parental Pay (ShPP) but it can be shared if parents meet certain criteria.
Can verbal promises made by an employer during a job interview, or during employment, be taken as forming a part of a contract of employment?
The terms of an employment contract can be written or verbal. 

The difficulty with relying on verbal promises as contractual terms is that they are very much more difficult to prove; it will often be your word against your employee's. This can be particularly difficult if a period of time has passed, or if the relevant manager who made the verbal promise has left. Therefore, if a verbal promise has been made and you wish to rely on this as a contractual term, it's wise to incorporate it into your employment contract.

Do I have to use an employment contract for every employee?
Not necessarily. However, a written statement with terms and conditions must be provided if you employ people, within 2 months of them starting work.
Do the disability discrimination laws apply in our small business office of six people?
Yes, they apply to all employers.
Does my business need insurance cover for employees who work abroad?
Employer's liability insurance isn't required to cover employees who are based abroad. However, do check the law in the country where they are based and find out if it requires you to take out insurance or carry out any other measures to protect your employees. If any employee is normally based abroad but spends more than 14 days continuously in Great Britain or more than seven days on an offshore installation, then employer's liability insurance will be required under English law.
I have asked my employees to start work an hour earlier. Do they have to under employment law?
Generally, no they don't, as they agreed to your working hours in their employment contract. However, if your employment contract or staff handbook says that your employees hours of work may be changed, then they would have to start an hour earlier.
Is an employment tribunal the only way to settle an employment dispute?
No, you can try conciliation through ACAS or formally agree to compromise.
Is there a time limit for making a discrimination claim in an employment tribunal?
Yes, three months minus one day from the date of the first act(s) you are complaining about.
My partner is about to have a baby; can I get paid leave?
If you have worked continuously for your employer for 26 weeks up to any day in the 15th week (the 'qualifying week') before the expected week of childbirth, you can take either one week or two consecutive weeks' paternity leave (not odd days). During this period, your employer is required to pay statutory paternity pay at the current rate of ££151.20 per week, even if you don't intend to work after the child is born. To be eligible for statutory paternity pay, you must: be earning an average of at least £120 a week (before tax).
Paternity leave is for dads, right?
Not always. A woman who is the long-term partner of a child's mother can also qualify.
What are Stakeholder Pensions?
Stakeholder Pensions were introduced in 2001 as a low-cost private pension initiative. Employers with five or more employees must offer their staff access to a Stakeholder Pension scheme where there is no other form of company pension already in place that they would otherwise be eligible to join.
What are the maximum sums of money that can be awarded for unfair dismissal?
A basic unfair dismissal award of up to £16,140 (2020 figure) plus a compensatory award of up to £88,519, depending on the circumstances.
What compensation is there for redundancy?
If an employee is made redundant and they have two years' service, they are entitled to Statutory Redundancy Payment from their employer as a minimum.
Constructive dismissal is when an employee resigns because their employer's conduct fundamentally breaches your contract.
Constructive dismissal is when an employee resigns because their employer's conduct fundamentally breaches your contract.
What is the Working Time Directive?
The Working Time Regulations provide that: 1. Workers don't work more than 48 hours a week; 2. Night workers don't work more than eight hours a night and are offered regular health assessments;

3. Workers have a rest period of 11 consecutive hours between each working day;

4. Workers have at least 24 days' paid leave each year.

Only in the case of the 48-hour week may individual workers choose to agree to ignore the regulations and work more than 48 hours. If they do, the agreement must be in writing and must allow the worker to bring the agreement to an end. You can use our Working Time Regulations 48-Hour Opt-Out Agreement download to get the agreement in writing.

What pension schemes are available for the self-employed?
If you are self-employed, while you will be paying into your state pension by means of your National Insurance contributions (assuming you are paying them) you won't have any other pension scheme available unless you are paying into one. You are strongly advised to consult an independent financial adviser to set you up with a scheme most suitable for you.
What should I do if I have a grievance with my employer?
There are certain procedures that must be followed when an employee has a grievance with the company or an employer wishes to discipline or dimiss an employee and these are called 'statutory dispute resolution procedures'.

Before you can take your grievance to an employment tribunal, you must first take certain steps to try to resolve the situation with your employer by initiating the statutory grievance procedure. If your employer is also unhappy with your actions and is contemplating dismissing you or taking disciplinary action other than giving a warning (e.g. demotion or transferring you to work in a different department) it must follow the standard dismissal and disciplinary procedure.

If your employer dismisses you without following the procedure, it will be automatically unfair and you may get compensation.

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