Do I Need an Employment Contract? Understanding Employment Contracts with Rebecca Reid

Rebecca Reid

06 January 2017

Expert employment solicitor Rebecca Reid answers questions and explains about employment contracts.

  • Do employees need an employment contract by law?
  • What can happen if the employee is not provided with a contract of employment?

What is a contract of employment?

All employees have an employment contract with their employer. A contract is an agreement that sets out an employee’s, whether it is in writing or not:

  • employment conditions

  • rights

  • responsibilities

  • duties

These are called the ‘terms’ of the contract.

Employees and employers must stick to a contract until it ends (eg by an employer or employee giving notice or an employee being dismissed) or until the terms are changed (usually by agreement between the employee and employer).

The key points

  • Most employment contracts do not need to be in writing to be legally valid, but it is better if they are.

  • A contract 'starts' as soon as an offer of employment is accepted. Starting work proves that you accept the terms and conditions offered by the employer.

  • Most employees are legally entitled to a Written Statement of the main terms and conditions of employment within two calendar months of starting work.

  • An existing contract of employment can be varied only with the agreement of both parties.


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