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Employment contracts, policies and handbooks

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The importance of legal paperwork

For all employers, having a comprehensive collection of legal employment law contracts, policies and handbooks are essential – not just for legal compliance but also to ensure employer and employee alike understand what is required of them, right from the start of the relationship.

Employers are legally obliged to issue employment contracts on the first day of employment, and these should be read, signed and returned by the employee to be retained on file.

Without contracts and policies, employers might find themselves at risk of potential problems in the future – particularly if a disciplinary or grievance issue arises.

We can help you by providing employment law contracts, policies and handbooks that are comprehensive, easy to understand, and up-to-date with current legal requirements, to protect your organisation and reduce the risk of dispute. We can also help to revise and maintain your employment contracts, advising you of changes in legislation and trends – protecting your staff and business now and in the future. 

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Enquire now on 0203 667 5400

Our experts are waiting to talk with you and our aim is to respond to all enquiries within 2 hours.

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How Loch Law can help

We can offer expert legal advice on the terms of various employment documentation. With our support, you can be confident that all your employment law contracts, policies and handbooks are up-to-date and comply with UK employment law.

 With a comprehensive understanding of your business objectives and goals, we will work with you closely to draft your employment documentation to meet your needs. From drafting to implementing and reviewing employment documents, our lawyers and HR consultants will assist you through every step to make sure your documentation is fit for purpose.

Documents that we can assist with include:

  • Offer letters
  • Employment law contracts (including fixed term, zero hours etc) and directors’ service agreements
  • Independent contractor agreements – with individuals and through their service companies
  • Non-executive director (NED) agreements
  • Employee handbooks and policies
  • Bonuses schemes
  • Settlement agreements
  • Post termination restrictive covenants
  • Confidentiality agreements
Loch Law

Testimonials

Thank you so much for your advice. I really appreciate the fact that you were able to understand the nature of our company and tailor your advice accordingly. I think that ability is key in defining a good lawyer. Lawyers who cannot deviate from 100% security are of little use.

Loch Law Client

The expertise of Loch Law made me feel in very safe hands. Caroline was thorough in explaining the legal situation, giving clear advice and was committed to getting me a fair outcome

Senior Professional

Pam and her team are always on hand to expertly advise us on any employment law issues we have. The speed of their service levels combined with high-quality advice always exceeds our expectations and as a result, we have been a satisfied client of the firm for over 7 years. I would not hesitate to recommend Loch Law to any business.

Operations Director, Professional Services

The expertise of Loch Law made me feel in very safe hands. Caroline was thorough at explaining the legal situation, giving clear advice and was committed to getting me a fair outcome.

Senior Professional

The speed of their service levels combined with high quality advice always exceeds our expectations and as a result we have been a satisfied client of the firm for over 7 years. I would not hesitate to recommend Loch Law to any business.

Operations Director, Professional Services

I cannot recommend Joe Milner at the Tunbridge Wells office highly enough. He was extremely helpful and reassuring and settled my claim quickly and efficiently. What a delightful chap to do business with.

Loch Law Client

We have been incredibly thankful for having your support over the last few years and our clients have been very impressed with the help they have received from Pam Loch and the rest of the team. We cannot praise you highly enough.

Loch Law Client

I cannot recommend Joe Milner at the Tunbridge Wells office highly enough. He was extremely helpful and reassuring, and settled my claim quickly and efficiently. What a delightful chap to do business with.

Loch Law Client

It goes without saying my contacting you at the outset & getting your great advice gave me confidence through this upsetting episode.

Loch Law Client

Thank you so much for your work; it is greatly appreciated. I can’t wait to get this situation resolved! Thank you again. We would be lost without you.

Loch Law Client

I cannot tell you how much I appreciate your help and please let whoever helps you get this out of the door know that I appreciate theirs too!

Loch Law Client

Why have employment documentation?

The law requires that every employee is provided with a contract of employment when their employment begins and dictates essential items that need to be included. This includes the place of work, the title and nature of the position, remuneration and how the contract can be terminated. The terms in the contract of employment are legally binding and a breach of the terms may give rise to an Employment Tribunal claim. If an employer wants to change a term of the contract of employment, they may have to consult with employees.

A staff handbook, or employee manual, communicates the policies and guidelines that defines the culture and day-to-day operation of the employer. It is typical for a staff handbook to include HR policies, such as how to raise a grievance, how the employer will take disciplinary action, and sick leave. It should also be tailored to the industry and include instructions on issues such as a dress code, health and safety and probation. Staff handbooks are not legally binding and therefore can be changed.

Documentation setting out the employment relationship provides a written record of the relationship that may become important where difficulties arise between employers and employees. A contract of employment and staff handbook will set out the company procedures for example, disciplinary action and redundancy.

 

Should I put grievance AND disciplinary policies in the contract?

No. It is better to have a separate disciplinary policy contained in a Handbook. This will ensure that you can update the policy without needing to seek the employee’s agreement.

Also, if you include this in a contract and then you don’t follow it,, your employee might be able to sue you for breach of contract.

Are employment contracts the same for part-time employees?

Yes. Part-time employees have the same rights and are entitled to be treated no less favourably than full-time employees. For example, they have rights to the same benefits and terms of employment (pro rata if necessary) as similar full-time employees, unless the failure to provide this benefit can be objectively justified.

Flexi-Retainer

Our flexi-retainer provides access to commercial and bespoke HR and legal solutions. The benefits of a retainer package include:

 

  • An affordable way for businesses to access all of Loch Law’s services;
  • If the services aren’t needed for a month, the time allocation rolls over to the next;
  • Based on a fixed monthly fee, which allows you to manage finances, but also have the flexibility to buy in other services when you need them;
  • Pick a package which suits your needs now, and move onto another arrangement at any time.

Can I change the terms of an employment contract?

If you have reserved the right to amend the terms within the contract, the answer is yes, provided you are not acting in an arbitrary or unreasonable manner. If you have not reserved the right to amend the terms, the answer strictly speaking is no, unless it is with the employee's agreement or consent. The outcome, however, will depend partly on how significant the change is.

For example, a cut in pay rates would normally justify an employee resigning and claiming constructive dismissal - although they would probably raise a grievance first because, unreasonably failing to do so, would risk a reduction of up to 25% in any award made by the Employment Tribunal.

On the other hand, an increase in minimum paid holiday entitlement would not justify anyone resigning (although it is certainly a material change in the terms of the contract) and can be done without bothering to amend it, because it is to the benefit of those employees affected. (It does require a letter to inform the employees in question of their new entitlement.) If a change is introduced and the employees do not object, even if there is no formal agreement to the change, they may be taken to have agreed to it by carrying on working, particularly where the change has an immediate impact. But if they carry on working 'under protest', take advice because this can be problematic. Whatever the circumstances, the best approach is to discuss it with them. Explain why you want to make the change, and offer incentives if necessary.

Enquire now on 0203 667 5400

Our experts are waiting to talk with you and our aim is to respond to all enquiries within 2 hours.

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