One of the fundamental employment rights in the UK is that employees and workers employed for more than one month must be provided with a written statement of employment particulars from the first day of employment.
Employers should be aware that dismissing an employee who has exercised their right to a written statement will be deemed unfair dismissal regardless of the length of time that the employee has been working for the employer.
In this guide, we explain what an employer has to do to meet this requirement.
What is a written statement of employment?
A written statement of employment, or a section 1 statement, is a document which sets out the key conditions of the working relationship between the employer and the employee or worker.
Employers are required by law to provide these written statements of the terms and conditions of employment to all employees and workers who are employed for more than one month.
Note that agency workers also have the same right to written terms as other workers and employees.
Those classed as workers employed prior to 6 April 2020 do not have the right to written terms.
The written statement comprises a ‘principal statement’ and a wider written statement. By law, the principal statement must be provided on the first day of employment, with the wider written statement provided within 2 months of the start of employment.
This means that employers will need to prepare the written statement during the recruitment and interview process or at the latest, as soon as the individual has accepted the job offer.
What is the difference between a written statement and a contract of employment?
A written statement of employment does not necessarily constitute a contract of employment or vice versa. Contracts of employment may simply be a verbal agreement between the parties and in this situation, while in other cases, the contract may be more extensive in the terms it covers than the written statement. In this situation, and provided that the written contract incorporates the requirements of the written particulars of employment and is given to the employee within the requisite timeframe, it will also constitute the written statement.
In the event that a written statement of terms and conditions of employment and a contract are provided, the contract will be considered the prevailing document.
What to include in the principal statement
As a minimum, the principal statement should include the following details:
- Name and address of the employer
- Name of the employee
- Job title or job description
- Employee’s start date and the date that their continuous employment with that employer began
- Details about pay, including the amount and how often and when it will be paid
- Place of work or any relocation requirements
- Details about holiday entitlement, including holiday pay and whether bank holidays are included
- Details about hours of work, including whether the employee is obliged to work nights, overtime and/or on a Sunday
- Details regarding any probationary period, including its length and any conditions
- Other benefits, whether contractual or non-contractual
- Any training required to be undertaken by the individual, including any that will not be paid for by the employer
- Any terms regarding working outside of the UK if this will be for more than one month.
- End date of a temporary or fixed-term contract
On the first day of employment the employer must also provide the employee or worker with information about:
- Details of sick pay and procedures
- Rights to paid leave, for example, maternity leave
- Notice provisions
The employer can choose whether to include this information in the principal statement or provide it in a separate document. If they provide it in a separate document, this must be something that the employee or worker has reasonable access to, such as on the employer’s intranet.
What to include in the wider written statement
Employers must give employees and workers a wider written statement within 2 months of the start of employment. This must include information about:
- Pension details
- Details of any applicable collective agreements
- Details of any non-compulsory training provided by the employer
- Details of the person to contact in the event of a grievance
- How to complain about a grievance or disciplinary procedure
If the employer and employee agree to change any of the terms, confirmation of the changes must be given in writing by the employer to the relevant employee within one month of their taking place.
Failing to comply with the requirements
Employers who fail to comply with the rules governing written statements of employment particulars, either by not providing them pursuant to the legislation or not including the requisite information, could face a grievance from an affected employee. It could even lead to an employment tribunal claim against the employer, although compensation will only be granted to the employee if they successfully bring another claim at the same time, for example, unfair dismissal. The amount of compensation awarded to an employee can vary from two to four weeks’ pay and is capped at a prescribed amount. If no additional claim is brought or the employee is not successful in any additional claim, the employment tribunal may, instead, made a declaration regarding the non-compliance.
Employees entitled to receive a written statement can also make a subject access request for the information on the basis that individuals are able to request organisations which hold personal information about them to provide it. If the employer does not comply with the request, the employee could make a complaint to the Information Commissioner’s Office, which may then intervene.
Based on the above, failing to provide the written statement of employment particulars or not including the correct information in the written statement, is unlikely to result in draconian legal consequences (unless a large number of claims are brought from many employees), but compliance is advised in order to create certainty and ensure that the employer and employee are each fully aware of the key terms of the employment relationship. In addition, non-compliance by an employer could have an adverse effect on employees’ morale and, if complaints are made, on the employer’s reputation.
Are you compliant?
Employers are advised to begin preparing for these changes if they are not already doing so.
- Review any template written statements that are used for your workforce and ensure that they comply with the new requirements. It is crucial that these are seriously considered and amended appropriately to avoid the risk of any non-contractual benefits, such as a discretionary bonus, being deemed to be a contractual benefit; careful drafting will be required.
- Bear in mind the timing and requirements for any individuals who are being hired in the near future.
- Consider carefully whether your workforce is made up of workers or employees or a combination of the two. Ensure that two separate templates for the written statements are drawn up, one for employees and one for workers. Workers do not have the same rights as employees but providing them (for example, through the terms of the written statement) could give a worker employee-status.
- Consider providing any current workers who do not have their engagement terms in writing with a written statement once the changes have come into force. This will ensure consistency across the workforce, certainty as to their terms of engagement and reduce the risk of potential grievances being raised.
As employment law specialists, we can assist if you have any queries relating to disciplinaries in the workplace, such as when and how to issue a written warning. Speak to our experts today for advice.
Written statement of employment letter FAQs
What is a written statement of employment?
UK employers are required to give all new employees with a contract of one month or longer a written document outlining key terms of their employment.
What a written statement must include
The written statement of employment has to include specific information about the employee's role, conditions of employment, their rights and entitlements.
Is a written statement of employment the same as a contract?
An employment contract is not the same as a written statement of employment particulars. A contract may for example be verbal.
Last updated: 25 August 2022