Do we really need to give our staff contracts?

Yes you do!
Not only do you have to provide a contract by law within the first 2 months of employment, it protects your business too.

There are basic things that you need to cover like hours of work, holidays, pay and benefits and place of work. You can buy templates covering these elements off the internet for less than £100 but a well drafted contract will provide much more than that.

You need to think about what could go wrong and what you can do to protect your business now before it does go wrong because it is too late then!

What if your best employee tells you that they are leaving to go and work for your biggest competitor and they haven’t got a contract of employment with you? They can leave immediately without giving you any notice whatsoever. There is no express obligation to keep your information confidential. They can poach your customers or clients – and your other employees. They may try to take your intellectual property as well. Yikes! Without contractual rights to do so, you can’t monitor email communications or Internet usage.

What have they been saying about you on Twitter using your IT network? You can’t search bags and cars if you suspect that someone has stolen from you without consent. That consent could be included in a contract. You can’t make deductions from an employee’s pay when you’ve overpaid them. The employee can state that they have spent the money and will pay you back at a pound a week for the next xx weeks. We include a right to make deductions from pay.

Without a contract, you technically can’t put employees on garden leave or pay them in lieu of notice. There will be question marks hanging over rights and benefits during any period of notice too do they have to return their company car, laptop, and phone or can they keep it during their notice period? You can’t require them to take their accrued holidays during their notice period. Both parties should know the terms of the relationship from the outset so my top tip is to issue a contract when you offer someone a new job.

Ask them to sign and return it in order to accept the job. If you plan to do it after they’ve started, it will sit at the bottom of your priority list and if you do finally get around to offering one, the employee will not be in any hurry to sign it and give it back to you.

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