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Does a contract of employment need to be in writing?

Does a contract of employment need to be in writing?

No, but all employees and workers must be given a statement of their terms and conditions on or before the employee’s first day of work.    This statement, also known as a ‘section 1 statement’, must contain the information specified by section 1 of the Employment Rights Act 1996, including the names of the parties, the date the employment started etc. Further details of what needs to be included in the statement can be found at:

Failure to provide a complete and accurate section 1 statement can permit an employee to ask a tribunal to determine what the appropriate term and conditions and, in some circumstances, permit an employee to issue a claim worth up to 4 weeks’ wages.

We recommend that the section 1 statement is provided by way of a written contract of employment as the contract can include additional terms.  These terms can provide clarity for the parties and provide additional rights and responsibilities which are relevant to the particular role.  For example, a contract for a senior employee would be different to a junior employee as it may contain a company car clause, post-employment restrictions etc. which are less likely to be needed for a junior employee.

An important consideration for Schools is whether the section 1 statement or contract of employment should incorporate collective agreements (such as the Burgundy Book and School Teachers Pay and Conditions documents for teaching staff and the Green Book for support staff).

Commonly these collective agreements are incorporated and should therefore be taken in to account when considering the contractual rights of school staff.

For further guidance on contracts of employment see:

C1: How to Guide: Contracts of employment.