Comparative Guides
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Results: 4 Answers
Labour and Employment
Legal framework
Are there statutory sources of labour and employment law?
A number of integral employment rights and protections are enshrined in statute, including the following:

  • Right not to be unfairly dismissed: An employee who has two years’ service may be dismissed only for one of five potentially fair reasons (conduct, capability, redundancy, statutory restriction or some other substantial reason), and only after a fair process (which varies depending on the reason for dismissal) has been followed.
  • Right not to be discriminated against: Employers must not directly or indirectly discriminate, harass or victimise job applicants or employees on the grounds of age, disability, gender reassignment, marriage or civil partnership, pregnancy or maternity, race, religion or belief, sex or sexual orientation.
  • Whistleblowers who report malpractice by their employer or a third party: Workers who disclose a relevant type of wrongdoing to an appropriate person in the reasonable belief that their disclosure is in the public interest have the right not to be dismissed or subjected to any other detriment because of their disclosure.
  • Working time protections: Workers are entitled to daily and weekly rest breaks, limits on weekly working hours (subject to an opt-out) and 5.6 weeks’ paid annual leave.
  • Right to receive a minimum wage: There are five different bands of national minimum wage (apprentice rate, young workers rate, development rate, standard rate and national living wage), and workers are entitled to be paid the rate applicable to them.
  • Collective consultation obligations: Where an employer proposes to dismiss as redundant 20 or more employees at one establishment within a period of 90 days, the employer must consult on its proposal with representatives of the affected employees and notify the relevant government department.
  • Protections on the transfer of an undertaking: On a business transfer or a service provision change (eg, outsourcing, insourcing), the employees assigned to the relevant business or service will automatically transfer to the buyer or incoming service provider. In addition, various information and consultation obligations arise on such a transfer, and employees are protected against changes to their terms and conditions and dismissals connected with the transfer.

Employees also benefit from statutory protections relating to health and safety, data protection and human rights. There are also additional statutory rights for atypical workers, as outlined in question 2.5.

For more information about this answer please contact: Alex Lock from DAC Beachcroft LLP
Is there a contractual system that operates in parallel, or in addition to, the statutory sources?
Yes – in addition to the statutory framework, employees and employers benefit from and are subject to the express and implied terms of the employment contract. The employment contract is principally governed by contract law, with certain modifications to reflect the personal nature of the employment contract – for example, that the court will not usually order specific performance of the contract.

For more information about this answer please contact: Alex Lock from DAC Beachcroft LLP
Are employment contracts commonly used at all levels? If so, what types of contracts are used and how are they created? Must they be in writing must they include specific information? Are implied clauses allowed?
There are no formalities for creating an employment contract beyond meeting the basic contract law requirements for the formation of a contract. In particular, there is no requirement that the contract be in writing. However, employees must be given a written statement of certain specified terms within two months of starting employment (from April 2020, this will need to be provided by no later than the first day of employment). This include details such as how much the employee is to be paid, his or her job title or a brief description of the role and holiday entitlement.

It is therefore common for written employment contracts to be used at all levels of employment in order to comply with the aforementioned requirement, to provide certainty as to terms and to provide additional protections in relation to the employer’s confidential information and business interests.

The parties are free to decide what terms to include in the contract, and the form and content of the contract will vary depending on the seniority of the employee and/or the type of employment (eg, whether the employee works on a full-time or part-time basis and whether the contract is for a fixed or indefinite period). The only limitations on the express terms that may be agreed between the parties are any minimum entitlements conferred by statute (eg, in relation to holiday entitlement or minimum wage).

In addition, certain terms may be implied into the employment contract. The key term that is implied into every contract of employment is the implied term of mutual trust and confidence. This imposes a general obligation on the employer not to act in an unreasonable manner in its dealings with employees. If the employer breaches this term, the employee will be entitled to resign and claim that he or she has been constructively dismissed and bring a claim for unfair dismissal.

For more information about this answer please contact: Alex Lock from DAC Beachcroft LLP