UK: Contracts Of Employment

Last Updated: 5 November 2009
Article by Karl Limpert

Employers are often confused about contracts of employment – what needs to be issued & when; what these should contain; and whether a contract even exists. There's a myth often held by small employers: their staff do not have contracts of employment.

The truth is that employers don't put key details (a Statement of Particulars) of the contract in writing, despite the law requiring this within two months of an employee starting work. But without exception, every employer has a contract of employment with their employee(s); this contract is formed the moment an offer of employment is made & accepted. There may be nothing in writing, let alone signed, and many of the details of the contract may not be known, but a contract will nonetheless exist.

The legal minimum

Employers are obliged by law to issue all new employees with a Statement of Particulars within two months of them commencing work. (A failure to provide just this simple information can result in an employment tribunal claim against the employer, where the details may be determined & then become binding on the employer.)

Providing there are basic employment policies available (i.e. a Disciplinary & Grievance Procedure) a Written Statement of Particulars is a relatively straightforward document to complete, and small employers should get into the habit of issuing these as soon as possible after the recruitment of a new employee.

The Principal Statement

The Statement of Particulars can be provided in instalments, and may refer to other documents that are readily available to employees, but there is a minimum that must be provided in one document, commonly referred to as a Principal Statement.

The Principal Statement must include:

  • the legal name of the employer (it is good practice to include any trading name too);
  • the name of the employee (it is good practice to include the address too, at least to ensure this information is held by the employer);
  • the date employment commenced (including, where appropriate, the date continuous employment began);
  • the rates of pay, how this is calculated, and the frequency of payments (weekly, monthly, or other specified intervals);
  • any conditions relating to hours of work, including the normal hours of work and where this may vary;
  • holiday entitlements, including public holidays & holiday pay (this information needs to be sufficiently detailed to allow calculations to be made on accrued entitlements);
  • the job title, or brief description of the work ( it is good practice to give a clear description of work that employees could occasionally but regularly be required to complete, to ensure they cannot later suggest a task was not part of their duties and decline to complete this);
  • the normal place of work, or where the employee is required or permitted to work at various places, an indication of that and of the address of the employer.

This information must be provided in the form of one document; this could be a letter of appointment, with the details attached, or be provided in a single document shortly after the employment commences.

Other details that need to be provided to an employee can be provided in more convenient ways – some details need to be directly provided to the employee, while other policies can simply be referred to (where these are easily accesible by the employee).

The further details that must be provided to all employees (in a note or other document, but not necessarily with the Principal Statement) are:

  • details of the name or position of the person an employee should apply to in order to resolve a grievance, or if they are not happy with any disciplinary decision - including the form this should be presented in;
  • length of the contract, or the date when it is to end, where this is not intended to be permanent;
  • details of any collective agreements that directly affect the terms & conditions;
  • details relating to employment to be worked outside the UK;
  • whether a contracting-out certificate under the Pensions Schemes Act 1993 is in force for the employment.

And finally, details that need to be provided to the employee, but can simply advise the employee where the information is available (as long as the policies are readily & easily accessible to the employee):

  • terms & conditions relating to sickness, including terms & conditions for sick pay;
  • notice periods – the length of notice the parties should give to end the contract;
  • terms relating to pensions;
  • the companies disciplinary & grievance procedures (although details of who an employee should raise a grievance or appeal with must be provided in writing to the employee).

In any instance where there are no particulars – for example, if there is no pension scheme – the Written Statement must also specify this to be so.

The Statement of Particulars has to be provided to an employee even if the employment ends before the end of the period in which it was due - as necessary, this should be sent to the employee.

Where changes are made to any particulars, the employer must provide the employee with details of these changes within one month. This does not require the employer to produce a new Statement of Particulars in full: a document that states what changes are being made & the effective date of these changes will suffice, although it should be noted that changes cannot be made to a Contract of Employment (including the Statement of Particulars) without the prior consent of the employee.

Preparing a Statement of Particulars

Employers may feel that preparing a statement of particulars requires a professional, and is a task that will increase the costs of running a business. If employers wish to have these documents completed for them, the Employment Law Clinic is ready to take care of the legal stuff, and will produce documents specific to your needs.

However, if an employer can spare 25 minutes, there is a free tool available on the Government's Business Link website; once you've prepared documents, the Employment Law Clinic will even check your documents are suitable & correctly completed.

Staff Handbooks

While not strictly part of the contract of employment, a staff handbook can help influence or determine the contract: guidance in the staff handbook will generally reflect what is expected of an employee, and a failure to follow or abide this may mean the contract is being breached - in which case the employer may have grounds to take disciplinary action against the employee.

There is no legal obligation for Staff Handbooks, although employers should consider having these in place to help promote the business & the expected behaviour of staff. These are also less formal than a Statement of Particulars, making them more easily understood by staff, and will normally be more extensive, covering company policies & the general standards required.

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.

To print this article, all you need is to be registered on

Click to Login as an existing user or Register so you can print this article.

In association with
Related Video
Up-coming Events Search
Font Size:
Mondaq on Twitter
Register for Access and our Free Biweekly Alert for
This service is completely free. Access 250,000 archived articles from 100+ countries and get a personalised email twice a week covering developments (and yes, our lawyers like to think you’ve read our Disclaimer).
Email Address
Company Name
Confirm Password
Mondaq Topics -- Select your Interests
 Law Performance
 Law Practice
 Media & IT
 Real Estate
 Wealth Mgt
Asia Pacific
European Union
Latin America
Middle East
United States
Worldwide Updates
Check to state you have read and
agree to our Terms and Conditions

Terms & Conditions and Privacy Statement (the Website) is owned and managed by Mondaq Ltd and as a user you are granted a non-exclusive, revocable license to access the Website under its terms and conditions of use. Your use of the Website constitutes your agreement to the following terms and conditions of use. Mondaq Ltd may terminate your use of the Website if you are in breach of these terms and conditions or if Mondaq Ltd decides to terminate your license of use for whatever reason.

Use of

You may use the Website but are required to register as a user if you wish to read the full text of the content and articles available (the Content). You may not modify, publish, transmit, transfer or sell, reproduce, create derivative works from, distribute, perform, link, display, or in any way exploit any of the Content, in whole or in part, except as expressly permitted in these terms & conditions or with the prior written consent of Mondaq Ltd. You may not use electronic or other means to extract details or information about’s content, users or contributors in order to offer them any services or products which compete directly or indirectly with Mondaq Ltd’s services and products.


Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers make no representations about the suitability of the information contained in the documents and related graphics published on this server for any purpose. All such documents and related graphics are provided "as is" without warranty of any kind. Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers hereby disclaim all warranties and conditions with regard to this information, including all implied warranties and conditions of merchantability, fitness for a particular purpose, title and non-infringement. In no event shall Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers be liable for any special, indirect or consequential damages or any damages whatsoever resulting from loss of use, data or profits, whether in an action of contract, negligence or other tortious action, arising out of or in connection with the use or performance of information available from this server.

The documents and related graphics published on this server could include technical inaccuracies or typographical errors. Changes are periodically added to the information herein. Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers may make improvements and/or changes in the product(s) and/or the program(s) described herein at any time.


Mondaq Ltd requires you to register and provide information that personally identifies you, including what sort of information you are interested in, for three primary purposes:

  • To allow you to personalize the Mondaq websites you are visiting.
  • To enable features such as password reminder, newsletter alerts, email a colleague, and linking from Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) to your website.
  • To produce demographic feedback for our information providers who provide information free for your use.

Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) do not sell or provide your details to third parties other than information providers. The reason we provide our information providers with this information is so that they can measure the response their articles are receiving and provide you with information about their products and services.

If you do not want us to provide your name and email address you may opt out by clicking here .

If you do not wish to receive any future announcements of products and services offered by Mondaq by clicking here .

Information Collection and Use

We require site users to register with Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) to view the free information on the site. We also collect information from our users at several different points on the websites: this is so that we can customise the sites according to individual usage, provide 'session-aware' functionality, and ensure that content is acquired and developed appropriately. This gives us an overall picture of our user profiles, which in turn shows to our Editorial Contributors the type of person they are reaching by posting articles on Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) – meaning more free content for registered users.

We are only able to provide the material on the Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) site free to site visitors because we can pass on information about the pages that users are viewing and the personal information users provide to us (e.g. email addresses) to reputable contributing firms such as law firms who author those pages. We do not sell or rent information to anyone else other than the authors of those pages, who may change from time to time. Should you wish us not to disclose your details to any of these parties, please tick the box above or tick the box marked "Opt out of Registration Information Disclosure" on the Your Profile page. We and our author organisations may only contact you via email or other means if you allow us to do so. Users can opt out of contact when they register on the site, or send an email to with “no disclosure” in the subject heading

Mondaq News Alerts

In order to receive Mondaq News Alerts, users have to complete a separate registration form. This is a personalised service where users choose regions and topics of interest and we send it only to those users who have requested it. Users can stop receiving these Alerts by going to the Mondaq News Alerts page and deselecting all interest areas. In the same way users can amend their personal preferences to add or remove subject areas.


A cookie is a small text file written to a user’s hard drive that contains an identifying user number. The cookies do not contain any personal information about users. We use the cookie so users do not have to log in every time they use the service and the cookie will automatically expire if you do not visit the Mondaq website (or its affiliate sites) for 12 months. We also use the cookie to personalise a user's experience of the site (for example to show information specific to a user's region). As the Mondaq sites are fully personalised and cookies are essential to its core technology the site will function unpredictably with browsers that do not support cookies - or where cookies are disabled (in these circumstances we advise you to attempt to locate the information you require elsewhere on the web). However if you are concerned about the presence of a Mondaq cookie on your machine you can also choose to expire the cookie immediately (remove it) by selecting the 'Log Off' menu option as the last thing you do when you use the site.

Some of our business partners may use cookies on our site (for example, advertisers). However, we have no access to or control over these cookies and we are not aware of any at present that do so.

Log Files

We use IP addresses to analyse trends, administer the site, track movement, and gather broad demographic information for aggregate use. IP addresses are not linked to personally identifiable information.


This web site contains links to other sites. Please be aware that Mondaq (or its affiliate sites) are not responsible for the privacy practices of such other sites. We encourage our users to be aware when they leave our site and to read the privacy statements of these third party sites. This privacy statement applies solely to information collected by this Web site.

Surveys & Contests

From time-to-time our site requests information from users via surveys or contests. Participation in these surveys or contests is completely voluntary and the user therefore has a choice whether or not to disclose any information requested. Information requested may include contact information (such as name and delivery address), and demographic information (such as postcode, age level). Contact information will be used to notify the winners and award prizes. Survey information will be used for purposes of monitoring or improving the functionality of the site.


If a user elects to use our referral service for informing a friend about our site, we ask them for the friend’s name and email address. Mondaq stores this information and may contact the friend to invite them to register with Mondaq, but they will not be contacted more than once. The friend may contact Mondaq to request the removal of this information from our database.


This website takes every reasonable precaution to protect our users’ information. When users submit sensitive information via the website, your information is protected using firewalls and other security technology. If you have any questions about the security at our website, you can send an email to

Correcting/Updating Personal Information

If a user’s personally identifiable information changes (such as postcode), or if a user no longer desires our service, we will endeavour to provide a way to correct, update or remove that user’s personal data provided to us. This can usually be done at the “Your Profile” page or by sending an email to

Notification of Changes

If we decide to change our Terms & Conditions or Privacy Policy, we will post those changes on our site so our users are always aware of what information we collect, how we use it, and under what circumstances, if any, we disclose it. If at any point we decide to use personally identifiable information in a manner different from that stated at the time it was collected, we will notify users by way of an email. Users will have a choice as to whether or not we use their information in this different manner. We will use information in accordance with the privacy policy under which the information was collected.

How to contact Mondaq

You can contact us with comments or queries at

If for some reason you believe Mondaq Ltd. has not adhered to these principles, please notify us by e-mail at and we will use commercially reasonable efforts to determine and correct the problem promptly.