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Not all individuals who perform work for others are employees. The difference is important as only employees are entitled to redundancy payments or to present a claim for unfair dismissal. Employee is defined as someone who works under a contract of employment. Most people, unless expressly told, will be employees.
THE CONTRACT OF EMPLOYMENT
Parties to an employment relationship will usually put the terms and conditions that govern the relationship into writing; however, there is no legal obligation to do this and it can be oral.
If there is no written contract of employment, then employers must provide a written statement of terms to their employees. This written statement sets out minimum details about the terms governing the employment relationship such as date employment began, hours of work, job title and so forth.
Where terms have been agreed, they cannot be changed without both parties agreeing to the changes. Therefore employers cannot unilaterally change the terms and conditions of a contract.
TERMS IMPLIED BY COMMON LAW
Some terms of an employment contract are implied by statute law such as working time regulations and minimum wage. However, terms can be implied into a contract by common law (derived from other cases).
This includes such duties from the employer such as;
- Duty to pay wages and provide work
- Duty to take reasonable care of the employeeâs safety and working conditions
- Duty of mutual trust and confidence.
Furthermore, employees duties can be implied by common law and include factors such as:
- Duty to obey reasonable orders
- Duty of good faith
- Duty towards trade secrets.
It is advisable for the avoidance of doubt and to avoid disputes, for a written employment contract to be created. Here at Law For Life, we can provide employers with template employment contracts or personalised if required.
There are many rules and procedures that should be followed within a written employment contract to ensure that it is up to date with the law and that it will be used confidently if there is a dispute.
PROTECTION OF WAGES
If an employer fails to pay remuneration due under the employment contract, the employee can rely on protection of wages legislation.
If an employer wishes to make deductions to wages, they cannot unless it is authorised by statute (such as NI payments), authorised by employment contract or the employee has previously agreed in writing.
There are some exceptions to this which include if they employer has mistakenly overpaid wages to the employee. This overpayment cannot be recovered if the employer led employee to think money was his or if the employee changes his position (spends the money).
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