Employment Contracts

by Kate Russell

Common questions

  1. Do I have to give employees a contract?
  2. Do I have to give holiday pay to self-employed staff?
  3. Do I have to keep a job open for a woman on maternity leave?
  4. One of my employees keeps taking time off to sort out family problems. Do I have to pay him?
  5. What rights does a companion have?
  6. I have a self-employed individual who works only for me. Are there any risks in the arrangement?
  7. Can I insist that an employee opts out of the 48 hour rule?

 

1. Do I have to give each employee a contract?

Employees are entitled to receive a written statement of the main terms and conditions of their employment within eight weeks of taking up employment.

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2. Do I have to give holiday pay to self-employed staff?

If an individual is genuinely self-employed they are not entitled to holiday pay. If the individual is an employee or a worker (including a class of worker called a self-employed worker) he will be entitled to holiday pay.

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3. Do I have to keep her job open for a woman on maternity leave?

The general rule is that a woman on ordinary maternity leave has the right to return to the same job. A woman on additional maternity leave has the right to return to the same job or one substantially the same in terms of responsibility, authority and benefits. She should not suffer detriment because she has been on maternity leave.

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4. One of my employees keeps taking time off to sort out family problems. Do I have to pay him?

An employee has a statutory right to take reasonable unpaid time off for unforeseen circumstances involving dependants. A dependant is likely to be someone for whom the employee is the primary carer. The right to time off is ‘reasonable’. What is reasonable will depend on the nature of the emergency, the relationship between employee and dependant and the other resources available to the employee. The time off is all unpaid.

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5. What rights does a companion have?

A companion has the right to accompany a worker in a formal disciplinary or grievance meeting. The rights are to:

  • Help the employee prepare
  • Make notes and act as a witness
  • Ask questions
  • Make representations and summarise the worker’s case.
  • They don’t have the right to speak in the place of the employee.

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6. I have a self-employed individual who works only for me. Are there any risks in the arrangement?

If an individual is genuinely self-employed, his employment rights are fairly limited. If, however, he is described as self-employed, but in reality he is not running a genuine business of his own, you may find that he is entitled to certain additional rights. These will vary depending on whether he is found to be an employee or a worker.

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7. Can I insist that an employee opts out of the 48-hour rule?

No. It is entirely the employee’s choice. If he opts out it is always open to him to opt in again. He should not suffer detriment or dismissal because he has done so.

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8. When are the working hours of workers with no fixed place of work deemed to start and end?

As a general rule workers must not include time spent travelling to and from work as working time. However, where the worker does not have a fixed place of work, he will be deemed to be at his employer’s disposal (and therefore working) from the time he leaves home.

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