Employment Contracts & Documentation

Beware the legal risks of drafting or amending employment contracts and documents.

Take advice to reduce risk exposure.

Employment contracts & documentation

Where you are looking to amend the terms of an employment contract, perhaps in response to structural or policy change within the organisation, careful handling will also be critical to ensure employees’ rights are met.

As part of your HR risk management efforts, documents should be reviewed regularly to help ensure that they continue to comply with the law and continue to reflect the obligations of the employee and the employer. This in turn can prevent workplace disputes and claims for breach of contract or employment law.

Conducting reviews however can be challenging for in-house teams given the extensive and varied nature of the documents, from the employee handbook to individual policies and specific forms for everyday procedural use.

Employment contracts & documentation support

Reviewing employment contracts and HR documentation on a regular and proactive basis is best practice to mitigate risk and avoid non-compliance in key areas including:

  • Policies – Organisational policies, such as a disciplinary and dismissal policy, grievance policy and health & safety policy, may be included within a staff handbook or act as separate policies. Additional policies may be necessary to cover additional areas of people and talent management, such as personal e-mail and internet usage, details of company benefits and workplace surveillance.
  • Amending contract terms – There could be many reasons why an organisation may be looking to vary contractual terms, from changing duties, hours, pay rate, job title or place of work to harmonising contract terms. Specialist advice is recommended particularly where an employee does not agree to the proposed new terms.
  • Types of contract – As different types of employment become commonplace, including fixed term contracts, and as flexible working agreements are fast becoming the norm, employers are exposed to greater risk in ensuring each contract of employment is legally compliant and provides sufficient clarity of terms and protection of the organisation’s interests.
  • Right to work – All UK employers must conduct specific document checks before employing an individuals. The checks are prescribed by the Home Office and must be conducted properly to verify that every new employee has valid permission to carry out the work being offered. This applies to all employees, regardless of nationality. Where the worker has time-limited right to work, the organisation must conduct further checks to confirm continued lawful status. Failure to meet these duties is costly, with fines for employers of up to £20,000 per illegal worker.
  • Record keeping – You are required to retain right to work document records for up to two years after an employee leaves your organisation. Concurrent to record keeping requirements are data protection duties. Under GDPR, organisations operate under strict rules for storing and using personal data. This applies to job candidates as well as employees. Having an effective privacy policy in place and training staff will help improve understanding of the rules and obligations and help to avoid ICO scrutiny and fines.

We can help

DavidsonMorris’ employment lawyers work with employers from across the UK to help ensure their HR contracts and documentation are compliant, supporting effective risk management and facilitating positive working relationships across the organisation.

We support at every stage of the employee lifecycle, from recruiting to onboarding and verifying right to work through to ongoing HR management terms and policies.

We can help:

  • Draft, review & update employment contracts and documentation including staff handbooks, performance management & appraisal documents, HR forms such as return to work and exit forms, and HR policies including absence, paternity & maternity, flexible working, grievance & disciplinary
  • Advice on varying or amending contractual terms
  • Guidance on consultation with employees or, if applicable, their trade union or other employee representatives, about changes in contract terms
  • Strategies to resolve issues where employees do not agree to proposed contractual changes

We can also help where there are issues relating to employment status, and determining whether an individual is employee, director, worker, consultant, freelancer, to ascertain their rights and your obligations.

Need advice?

Contact our experts:

020 7494 0118

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