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Time for some spring cleaning

If the thought of updating employment contracts and staff handbooks fills you with dread, perhaps its time you thought about having an Employment Law Health Check?

It is a constant challenge keeping up to date with the changes in employment law, especially at a time when employers are navigating their way out of the pandemic and its own unique set of challenges.

At such a busy time, it is all too easy to overlook more routine matters such as updating employment contracts and staff handbooks. Whilst these documents might seem mundane, they are both vitally important and useful for employers. Not only do they form the overall basis of the employment relationship, but they can also help to resolve a potential dispute or avoid a protracted grievance.

What changes should you know about?

Firstly, new employees and workers employed on or after 6 April 2020 are entitled to a written statement of terms from day one of their employment. Previously this was within two months of commencement of employment.

In addition, mandatory information that should be included in the written statement of terms has been extended to include details of any probationary period and details of paid leave entitlements. For staff working variable hours or days, details of how they vary should be included. Details of benefits should also be included, if none, this needs to be stated as well as any training which is to be provided.

What if you do not provide a written statement of terms?

If you do not provide an appropriate written statement of terms, an employee may add a claim for failure to provide a written statement onto other successful claims. It is not a standalone claim. Depending on the circumstances, compensation for a successful claim could be up to four weeks’ basic pay, subject to the statutory cap.

The absence of a written statement or signed statement is unlikely to succeed when using the defence that the employee was not employed. In these cases, the employment tribunal would look at what is happening in practice.

Why should you spring clean your contracts and handbooks?

Most businesses will already have contracts and staff handbooks in place and it may be the case that these were put in place during the infancy of your business. It is also highly likely that your organisation has grown, changed and evolved since then, but that this is not necessarily reflected in your current set of documents.

It is a very good idea to review your contracts and staff handbooks, a review of these policies can minimise the risk of protracted disputes with employees and workers and can save you time and money.

Best practice for employers

Your review should ensure that contracts are legally compliant. And subject to any legal restrictions, it is also advisable to update and align contractual terms to create business uniformity and improve clarity.

Best practice also recommends separate contracts for junior and senior managers. With senior managers having more specific clauses included which protect confidential information, business relationships with key clients, exit terms and non-compete clauses if appropriate within your industry.

Job descriptions should be updated to reflect any changes to duties and tasks as the role has evolved as well as any changes to pay and staffing structure.

You should also review HR policies in your non-contractual handbook. Contracts should refer staff to disciplinary and grievance policies contained within the staff handbook. This allows the business to adapt and update or review policies without the need for staff agreement. This would be required if they were set out in contracts, as this would make them contractual.


As you will see, spring cleaning your employment contracts and handbooks is undoubtedly time well spent. With employment law changes being constantly introduced, you must ensure that contracts and policies are legally compliant. Also, that staff handbooks and job descriptions accurately reflect your policies and it is recommended that best practice is followed.

But if this all fills you with dread, don’t worry help is at hand. Something that I offer many of my clients is an Employment Law Health Check. This provides a comprehensive review of your employment contracts and policies and includes the provision of updated contracts and policies if necessary. The review will be carried out personally by me as your employment law expert and is charged from as little as £450, or if new contracts and policies are provided from as little as £650, both plus vat. We are delighted to give you a no-obligation quote depending on the size of your organisation and the specific work needed.

However, there is the option with both our Premium and Platinum Packages to add in a comprehensive Employment Law Health Check at no extra cost.

However, you choose to work with Borders Employment Law is entirely up to you and your individual business, but by investing in expert advice and protection up front like this, you have the reassurance that everything is in order and that it will save you a considerable amount of time and money in the future.


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