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These FAQs set out the common questions and pitfalls faced by employers when dealing with contractual issues. The additional documents referred to are designed to assist you further. Please note that some documents are available to all readers whilst others are locked and only accessible to HR Protect clients. To become a retainer client or to find out further information please click here.

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.

How do I know what type of contract to use?

You will need to consider the employee’s seniority, whether their role is permanent, full-time or part-time, whole time or term time only, or whether their role is based on zero hours.  You will also need to consider how they will be engaged e.g. as an employee worker, apprentice or consultant and whether (although unlikely in the education sector) you require the staff member to be bound by any post-employment restrictions.

For a full list of the types of contracts see: C2: Which contract to use?

The full list of contracts which are available to HR Protect clients is available below:

C3: Contract of employment: standard

C4: Contract of employment: part time

C5: Contract of employment: fixed term

C6: Contract of employment: term time only

C7: Contract of employment: senior (with restrictions)

C8: Contract of employment: apprenticeship agreement (English approved standard)

C9: Contract of employment: apprenticeship agreement (Framework)

C10: Contract of employment: casual worker agreement (zero hours)

C11: Consultancy agreement (individual): for use where there are Group Companies

C11a: Consultancy agreement (individual): for use where there are no Group Companies

C12:  Consultancy agreement (limited company): for use where there are Group Companies

C12a: Consultancy agreement (limited company): for use where there are no Group Companies

C13: Contract Questionnaire

Can we still use zero hour contracts?

Yes, zero hour contracts are still permitted but since May 2015 exclusivity clauses i.e. clauses which prevent a worker from working for someone else, have been prohibited and rendered unenforceable.  A legally compliant zero hours contract can be found at:

C10: Contract of employment: casual worker agreement (zero hours)

How can I change an employee's terms and conditions?

Once the terms of employment have been agreed they are legally binding and can only be changed in limited circumstances.  Often the easiest way to change an employee’s terms is to get them to agree to the change.  Where the change is beneficial, for example, a pay increase, the employee will be happy to agree to the change.  However, sometimes a School may seek changes that the employee is not happy with.  In those circumstances, the School may be able to rely on the contract if it permits the change or if necessary, or it may have to go through a formal process of consultation, potentially on a collective basis with trade unions, or make a unilateral change. Both of these latter options bring risk and you should speak to your legal advisor in these circumstances.  For further information please see:

C1: How to Guide: Contracts of employment


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