Andreja Okamgba, HR Consultant at Carter Backer Winter (CBW), reviews the changes to the statement of employment particulars and how this could impact you and your business.
Under section 1 of the Employment Rights Act 1996 (ERA) all employees are entitled to receive written particulars of employment and most employers satisfy this requirement by providing employees with a contract of employment and issuing other documentation such as an employee handbook that contains further details. Currently, this must be provided within two months of the employee starting work if they are employed for more than one month. The requirement is reasonably flexible and allows the employer to provide the required information in several documents which don’t all have to be provided at the same time. However, the rules are changing and some of this flexibility will be removed from April 2020.
The main changes to be aware of
1. Day one right
In practice, most employees have always expected to receive their contract of employment prior to starting work or on their first day and now this will become a statutory right from 6 April 2020 (regardless of how long the job is for). All employees, as well as workers, will be entitled to receive their written particulars from day one of the contract.
This change is a very positive step as it will mean that both parties will get full details of the terms and conditions and all details will be transparent and agreed from the outset, avoiding potential misunderstandings leading to disagreements later down the line. It does however mean that employers, especially small and new employers, will need to have the required paperwork ready ahead of a new joiner starting.
2. More information must be included in the principal statement
Some details which can currently be provided in a separate document (most commonly in the employee handbook or separate policies), will now have to be provided within the main statement; these are:
- Notice of termination provisions
- Details relating to sickness absence and sick pay
- Details of the length of any fixed term or temporary work
- Terms related to working outside of the UK for more than one month
3. Additional requirements
Additional requirements for the contents for the statement have been introduced and these must be contained in a single document. In addition to details that already have to be provided (names of the employer and employee, the date employment commences and the date of any period of continuous employment, hours of work and pay and the interval of payment as well as holiday entitlement and holiday pay), the new statement will also have to contain:
- The days of the week the individual is required to work and whether the days and times may be variable, with details of the variation
- Any entitlement to paid leave including maternity, paternity and shared parental leave entitlement
- Other remuneration benefits provided
- Duration of the probationary period and any conditions attached to it
- Any training the employee must undertake
It is worth pointing out that adding some of the newly required detail in the employment contracts carries the risk of these provision becoming a contractual benefit and careful drafting will be necessary to avoid creating unintended contractual obligations with potentially costly long-term consequences.
4. Applies to employees and workers
The new rules will apply to employees as well as workers. This does raise some important questions regarding introducing unintended contractual obligations for workers and indeed inadvertently affording them the status of an employee. For example, the requirement to include details of disciplinary and grievance process which normally only applies to employees could suggest your workers are in fact your employees (although other factors would also be considered). Further guidance on this is expected.
5. New style statement
There is no requirement to issue new statements to existing employees. The above changes will directly impact only new joiners after 6 April 2020, however, all employees will be entitled to ask for a new style statement on or after 6 April 2020. If requested this will need to be provided within one month.
What should you do?
- We recommend that you carry out contract reviews ahead of April 2020 to ensure that you are prepared for the changes coming into force
- You should also carefully review the employee/worker status distinctions and ensure you understand who in your organisation will be entitled to receive the statement going forward
- Even though existing employees don’t require a new style statement to be issued, employers should be prepared with an easily amendable draft version that can easily be provided within one month’s timeframe should a request be made
If you would like to get started on any of the above recommended actions, or have any questions on the topic of this article, please get in touch with one of our HR Consultants.