Contracts & Policies

Under today’s employment laws it is a requirement that all employers supply employees with written information about their employment terms. Usually, this information will be outlined in an employment contract as well as in the company’s associated procedures and policies. These documents not only give workers the legally required information, but also legal protection for the employer when properly drafted.

Employers are obliged to stay up to date with all the latest legislation regarding contracts and policies in order to ensure the organisation is operating according to fair practices of employment and staying within full legal compliance. No matter how many people are employed by a company, employees retain virtually identical rights and therefore the employer’s obligations also almost the same. Employers within the voluntary, public and private sector are also all subject to identical employment laws.

Employment Contracts – The Basic Terms

Employment contracts are legally binding agreements which are formed between the employee and employer. Drawn up once the employer has made an offer of work to the employee which has then been accepted, employment contracts have several components in their make-up including:

  • Implied Terms – these include all terms which do not need to be mentioned since they are obvious and all terms which are essential in order to allow the contract to work as well as all terms which are practice and custom of the concerned industry.
  • Express terms – these are terms which have been agreed and which are clearly outlined within the contract.
  • Incorporated terms – these are terms which have been included in the contract via a reference to some other document, for example, the staff handbook.
  • Legal terms – these are terms which are required or imposed by law.

Do All Elements of a Contract need to be Written?

Although not every aspect of a contract has to be written, it is recommended that everything is put down in writing in order to avoid disputes at a later time. Employers have a legal requirement to provide their employees with written statements outlining the contract’s main particulars within a two month period of starting work. However, even if a fully written contract has not been drawn up, this does not mean that there is no contract between the two parties as a contract is deemed to be in existence from the moment that employment has been agreed in return for monetary remuneration.

What About Organisational Policies?

Organisation policies are written formal documents which outline the various processes used by the organisation to run smoothly. These policies impact on all staff, the boundaries that they work within and the conditions in which they work. Here are some key points which should be included in the main policies of any organisation:

  • Health & Safety – a health and safety policy outlines all safety requirements, working conditions and safety procedures including elements such as whether or not the company buildings have a no-smoking policy.
  • Equal opportunities– all staff must have a clear understanding of the way in which equal opportunities impact on their employment, especially if their job description involves working with minority groups and the public in general.
  • Grievance and Disciplinary– problems and disputes between the organisation and its employees are dealt with using the company’s grievance and disciplinary policies. The company’s disciplinary procedure should outline all steps taken by the company should a complaint be raised against a worker or in the event of an employee’s poor performance. The company’s grievance procedure will outline the procedures which would be put in practice of one of the employees raised an issue to do with their employment.
  • Expenses and allowances– an expenses and allowances policy outlines the expenses which have been incurred due to their employment that an employee is permitted to claim back from the company. The amounts which can be claimed should be clearly stated as well as the precise items which can be claimed for such as transport and meals.
  • Redundancy – a redundancy policy should cover the systems which the organisation would implement should the need for redundancy arise amongst the company’s staff. If the company must make some staff redundant, measures could be taken that go beyond the legal basic requirements.

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