Select country
Membership information
0800 561 9000
Dentolegal advice
0800 561 1010
Refine my search

Employment contracts and documentation

Post date: 08/04/2022 | Time to read article: 4 mins

The information within this article was correct at the time of publishing. Last updated 08/04/2022

Medical Protection, in partnership with Croner, detail the essential features of UK employment contracts for practice principals to include.

It’s essential that your employees fully understand what you expect from them in their role.

It’s just as important they understand what you will do for them. This is why contracts of employment exist.

Providing an employment contract is a legal requirement, but not necessarily required in writing, this is a verbal employment contract. This makes the area a bit vague for both employer and employee.

Managing your business is time-consuming enough before you consider the various contracts of employment laws you need to follow. You can face unfair dismissal claims on the termination of employment contracts if you poorly drafted them or commit a breach of employment contract. Here, we outline what employees need from a contract of employment so you don’t have to worry in the future.

Employment contract law

More complex topics receive coverage to help you understand the likes of fixed-term contracts and what you’ll need to do in the event of a change of employment contract.
You don’t need to present the contents of this contract as a formal written document for it to be considered legally valid.

In terms of physical documentation, employers are legally required to give all of their
employees a written ‘statement of main terms’.

By law, the statement of main terms must include the following pieces of information:

1. Name of employer and employee.
2. Start date.
3. Place of work.
4. Details about pay.
5. Holiday entitlement.
6. Pension entitlement.
7. Does an employee have to sign a contract of employment?

As there is no obligation for a written contract to be produced by you, there is also no legal requirement for an employee to sign anything. Even if you offer a written contract.

In any case, it is best practice to have the employee sign and date the contract and return it back to you. This is mainly for two main reasons:

1. It proves you are complying with your legal obligation to provide an employee with a written statement of particulars.

2. Clarifies what terms and conditions were agreed between the parties in case a dispute arises in the future.

You should keep a copy for your records and then provide them with a copy for their own records.

Changing an employment contract

Contracts are not set in stone and you can make changes, or ‘variations.’ However, unless there are clauses in place, you can’t do this without express permission from the employee.

If you don’t get permission, you can force a new contract on employees, although this should be a last resort and could lead to legal action.

As a rule of thumb, when making changes to employment contracts, you should always:

1. Consult or negotiate with employees or their representatives (for example, from a
trade union or staff association).

2. Explain the reasons for changes.

3. Listen to alternative ideas from employees.

What should be included in contracts of employment in the UK?

There are certain terms of the employment contracts that are present in every contract and statement of employment. Whether they are written or verbal. These are:

1. Basic job information: key information relating to the role, including job title, department, department head, etc.

Pay and benefits: What’s the employee's pay and benefits package? Including annual salary, raises, bonuses, incentives, and any additional benefits.

Holiday: How many days is the employee entitled to? Include information on sick leave, family emergencies, unpaid leave, flexible hours (if applicable).

Employment type: What is the employee’s employment status? Define whether they are: an employee, a worker, a contractor, self-employed.

Employment period: Are they permanently employed, or for a set period? Include the amount of hours expected to work, working from home, working outside the office, working weekends/nights.

Privacy policy: If your workplace uses email, then it needs a privacy policy. Outline dos and don’ts of social media and email usage in the office.

Termination: Finally, what do you (as an employer), and they (as an employee) have to do to end employment? Include how much notice do you require and how to
serve notice.

Other terms or clauses

1. Restrictive covenants: a clause in a contract prohibiting an employee from going to
work for a competitor in their next role. There are several types of restrictive
covenants in employment contracts.

2. Implied terms: terms of the employment contract that are not set out in writing or
verbally, but will form part of the agreement between the employer and employee.
There will always be some implied terms in employment contracts.

3. Variation clause: a section of an employment contract that allows you to make
changes if there is a good reason. Use this if you foresee variation of employment
contracts. A legitimate reason might be that the business is struggling financially.

4. Mobility clause:
a contractual provision that on the face of it allows an employer to
require an employee to move their place of work to a different location on either a
temporary or permanent basis, such as moving office.

5. Maternity leave clause:
in your contract of employment, you should explain how a
member of staff can claim the 52 weeks they have available to them.

6. Lay off clause: employees take a period of leave, sometimes unpaid or on reduced
pay. Having a lay off clause means you do not have to negotiate unpaid leave with

Different types of employment contract

The UK Government lists the possible types of standard employment contracts on its
website as:

1. Full-time contracts.
2. Part-time employment contracts.
3. Permanent employment contracts.
4. Fixed-term contracts.
5. Agency staff.
6. Freelancers, consultants, contractors.
7. Zero hour contracts.
8. Flexible employment contracts.
9. Temporary employment contract.
10. Apprentice employment contract.

Expert support on contracts and documentation with Croner

You can find a range of other helpful features to assist you with this matter:

Our contracts and documentation services are legally binding and help your business get the best from employees.

Some guides we have included a sample contract of employment, general employment contract advice, and a break of an employment contract.

There are also insights into zero-hours contracts in the UK, which have become increasingly widespread.

To find out more about our business documentation services you can call us for immediate guidance on 0844 561 8133 and quote 35810.


Share this article

New site feature tour

Introducing an improved
online experience

You'll notice a few things have changed on our website. After asking our members what they want in an online platform, we've made it easier to access our membership benefits and created a more personalised user experience.

Why not take our quick 60-second tour? We'll show you how it all works and it should only take a minute.

Take the tour Continue to site

Dentolegal advice
0800 561 1010
Membership information
0800 561 9000

Key contact details

Should you need to contact us, our phone numbers are always visible.

Personalise your search

We'll save your profession in the "I am a..." dropdown filter for next time.

Tour completed

Now you've seen all of the updated features, it's time for you to try them out.

Continue to site
Take again