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Member’s Tip: Contracts of Employment

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Kam Bains explains the legal meaning of an employment contract and whether verbal agreements can over rule the paper document.



The contract of employment in the legal sense means the totality of the terms of employment – express, implied and statutory.

The paper document normally called the contract is merely indicative of those terms, but it does not constitute the legal contract.

If a wage increase is paid as a matter of fact but not recorded in writing, the legal contract is amended nonetheless.

If the paper contract is out of date in some of its terms, that does not mean the whole of it is invalid i.e. it can still be relied upon if needs be to establish particular terms.

As to how often you should review / update paper contracts, there is no particular rule on this. It is sensible to review periodically and update if required because of legal or contractual changes.

The common practice is to notify routine changes by way of an addendum to contract in the form of a memo or letter rather then reissue the whole document.

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Updating contracts of employment

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See more Member’s Tips:

  • Breaking into HR

  • Strategies for handling age discrimination laws

  • Time off for child related issues

  • Withdrawing a job offer

  • Recruiting a UK-based worker for employment overseas

  • Open recruitment obligations

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