A contract of employment is an agreement between an employee and employer, whereby the employee agrees to work for the employer and in turn the employer agrees to pay the employee for the work they do. It sets out employment rights, responsibilities and duties.
There is always a contract of employment between an employee and employer – regardless of whether there is a physically written document. The act of working for, and payment received – is the actual contract itself.
The employment contract is made as soon as you accept a job offer. If you start work it will show that you accepted the job on the terms offered by the employer, even if you don’t know what they are.
Having a written contract could cut out disputes with your employer at a later date, and will help you understand your employment rights.
Your employer is required to give you a written statement within two months of you starting work. The statement must contain certain terms and conditions. It is designed to set out the rights and obligations of each party – specifically detailing what your employer requires you to complete as part of your job and the fact that you are to be paid for this work.
Your contract terms (as detailed above) are in addition to the rights you have under law – which are called your statutory rights.
Nearly all workers (regardless of how many hours they work) are entitled to certain rights. Examples of statutory rights include:
- the right to be paid at least the minimum wage
- the right to an itemised wage slip
- the right to be paid for holiday leave
- the right to maternity leave
- the right not to be unfairly dismissed
You and your employer are bound to the employment contract until it ends (usually by giving notice) or until the terms are changed (usually in an agreement between you and your employer).
If you have concerns about your employment contract then more help and advice is available from the Citizens Advice Bureau.