by Malcolm Martin
These are a starting point, and often referred to as "Contracts of employment". But in practice it is the agreement between two parties, even a handshake perhaps, that is the contract itself.
- Consult books or internet sources for a list of what needs to be included. There are lists in Personnel Practice and the Employment Law Pocketbook, for example. More detail can be found if you subscribe to reference books.
- Put your employees into groups. Salaried, hourly paid, and sales employees may all need slightly different terms, so it is useful to prepare a limited number of "templates", one for each group.
- Research and document what you actually do. Hours of work and rates of pay inevitably require particular attention. These are likely areas for dispute and are sometimes complex, where there is a rota, for example. Employees should be able to plan their lives, within reason, and be able to check their payslip to see that they have been paid correctly.
- You may prefer to take assistance from a solicitor or human resource adviser at this point, to ensure that any expression of what is effectively a contractual term is enforceable. If you want the authority to make deductions from wages, restrain the employee from trading against you or have other potentially contentious points then this would be most advisable.
- Cover each of the points in the list (1 above) and provide employees with a written copy. A personal touch here goes a long way. You can explain that the law requires written particulars primarily to protect the employee. If the employee has any queries they should be encouraged to ask and you should deal with the queries.
- Ask the employee to sign to say that they have read and understood the particulars. This is not a legal requirement but valuable if there is a dispute.
Employee Handbooks expert: Malcolm Martin
Malcolm Martin is the Managing Director of Employee Solutions Ltd, co-author of the best seller Personnel Practice, and the Employment Law Pocketbook and his company is supported by links with Lancaster University.
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(c) 2006 Malcolm Martin