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Contracts of Employment and Staff Handbooks

PUBLISHED: 16:51 30 October 2012 | UPDATED: 22:15 20 February 2013

Contracts of Employment and Staff Handbooks

Contracts of Employment and Staff Handbooks

Are your Contracts of Employment and Staff Handbooks robust and effective? Cathy O'Donoghue, HR Consultant at HR Champions shares some views regarding these key documents...

Contracts of Employment and Staff Handbooks

Are your Contracts of Employment and Staff Handbooks robust and effective? Cathy ODonoghue, HR Consultant at HR Champions shares some views regarding these key documents

One of the services we provide for businesses is the provision or review of Contracts of Employment and Staff Handbooks. Its not uncommon to come across a business that has been trading for a number of years with a wholly inadequate or outdated contract or handbook. Occasionally, we come across a company that has no written contracts in place whatsoever. A robust Employment Contract and Staff Handbook are crucial tools for managing staff effectively and for supporting disciplinary processes. Here are our primary considerations on the subject:




  • A contract exists as soon as you agree to pay someone in return for them undertaking or carrying out work for you; even if this agreement is verbal. You are required by law to issue a written contract within eight weeks of an employee starting work.




  • Failing to issue a written contract prevents you from specifying rules or conditions to which your employees must adhere whilst they work for you. In the event of a dispute or grievance you will only have statutory law or case law to hold employees to account.




  • You may also find that custom & practice takes precedent where no written contracts exist. So if youre staff tend to finish early on a Friday because Weve always finished early on a Friday, youll have poor grounds to argue a case should you start insisting that staff work their full hours and they refuse.




  • Your contracts should stipulate the working hours, holiday, pay and rules that are specific to each employee. Rules and conditions that cover everyone should be referred to in the Staff Handbook. So a driver may have a different contract from a cleaner in terms of pay and contracted hours, but they would both be subject to the same absence and sickness policies as laid out in the Staff Handbook.




  • Contracts of Employment and Staff Handbooks need to be looked at and updated regularly so that you are not exposed to any risks from changes in Employment Law. A good example of this is the abolition of the Default Retirement Age. Any clauses relating to a specific retirement age should be removed from Staff Handbooks as they are at best unenforceable, and at worst age discriminatory.




  • Try to update your handbooks as the law changes. HR Champions offer free Employment Law Update meetings every quarter which equip you with the information to keep your Staff Handbooks current (See our website for details). We recommend a full, professional review every three years.


43 Brunswick Road Gloucester GL1 1JS

Tel: 01452 331331

Fax: 01452 423239

www.hrchampions.co.uk


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