When you start working for someone, be it an individual or a company, you automatically enter into an employment contract. As an employee, it is essential you are familiar with the terms and conditions you have agreed to, and what implications these have. If you do then encounter a dispute with your employer, you can be confident of your legal position.What is an Employment Contract?A contract of employment is an agreement between an employer and employee. This may either be a written, verbal or an implied understanding. Either way, the contract is intended to set out the particular terms of the rights, responsibilities and duties of both employer and employee.You enter into a contract as soon as commence work. The very fact you have started your job is enough to indicate that you agree with the terms of employment, even if you are not certain what these are. For the sake of clarity, it is a good idea to request a copy of your contract in writing – something you are entitled to within two months of being employed. Should you later face a dispute with your employer, your written contract could prove very useful.You are then bound to your employment contract until it comes to and end, either because you have been given notice, or because you and your employer have agreed to change the terms.Terms of an Employment Contract.The terms of an employment contract will differ in every case, and will be particularly dependent on whether you are working under a fixed term contract, part-time contract, in continuous employment or have flexible hours. However, if you do request a written document of your contract – known as a ‘principal statement’ – then this should at the very least contain:-* The legal name of both employer and employee;* The employee’s job title, with a brief description of duties;* The date employment commenced;* Details of pay, how this has been calculated and when it is to be paid;* Any entitlements – such as holiday leave and sick pay;* The address of the place of work.Contractual Disagreements.Should you face any contractual disagreements with your employer – for example, because your employer has failed to comply with the terms of the contract – then you should begin by trying to settle the matter internally. Speak to your employer and attempt to discuss your grievance. It may be that it was a simple misunderstanding, and the issue can be easily rectified. If you feel nervous doing so, you may want to seek support from a trade union representative first.If you are unable to resolve the disagreement between you, the next step is to contact Acas – the Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service. They will assist you with dispute resolution, often successfully helping conciliation.However, should this fail, you may then want to consider taking your grievance to an Employment Tribunal. Before you do so, it is important to obtain legal assistance.Seek Legal Advice.If you have any queries regarding an employment contract, speak to solicitor who specialises in employment law. They will be able discuss the terms of your employment contract with you, advising you on both yours and your employer’s legal responsibilities, and whether or not these have been breached.
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