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More work needed to help employees understand their terms and conditions.

Published 23 September 2015

The majority of workers are oblivious of the terms and conditions contained in their employment contract.

More than 90 per cent of employees quizzed for a survey admitted they had not read the document, or could not remember ever having done so.

The findings in the poll conducted by also revealed that 56 per cent, of the one thousand people who took part, had no idea what they had done with their employment contract or where it was.

Despite signing on the dotted line and agreeing to the key terms – job title, pay and benefits, holiday entitlement, hours and place of work – it appears the importance of what they are putting their name to is lost on many employees.

It is unclear if people feel pressured to sign or do not want to appear too distrusting by meticulously scrutinising, and therefore appearing to question every aspect of the document before signing.

So it raises the question as to if employers should be doing a lot more to ensure employees are aware of, and fully understand the terms and conditions of employment. The suggestion is that a bullet-point style list at the start reflecting the contract’s main contents would be helpful.

Typically problems occur when an employee breaches any of the terms of the contract, which can cover a wide range of things such as: the use of social media and bringing the company into disrepute; working for another employer; and the private use of company vehicles

For any employer having to deal with a member of its staff in such circumstances, ignorance of the terms and conditions of employment is not a credible defence.

A study earlier this year found more than 60 per cent of construction workers who took part admitted that they did not have an employment contract - and a further 20 per cent said that they were not sure whether they had a contract or not.

While contracts do not have to be in writing, it is advisable to do so in order to prevent any potential misunderstandings. Disputes about what is or is not in an employment contract are described by Acas as one of the main causes of employment tribunal claims.


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