Your staff members have employment statutory rights, which are set out in law to ensure equal and fair treatment.
There can be variations to some, depending on what’s contained in each employment contract. So, your employees’ entitlements are a combination of statutory and contract rights.
In this article, we explain what you need to keep in mind to ensure legality and fairness when dealing with your staff members.
Statutory employment rights
There are a range of rights you’ll need to consider when hiring—they apply to your entire workforce. Some of your responsibilities include:
- Paying at least the national minimum wage.
- Providing a written statement of terms and conditions within two months of your employee starting work.
- Ensuring there’s no discrimination in the workplace.
- Providing notice of dismissal where your employee has worked with you for at least one month.
You’ll also need to provide each employee with an employment contract.
In that, you can explain your company policies along with the start date for your employee, wage, and other essential details.
Contractual employee rights
The terms and conditions in your employment contracts will give employees rights and responsibilities specific to your business.
The contract may also give your employees rights above and beyond their statutory entitlement.
You can only add to statutory rights when providing a contract. You’re not allowed to offer fewer rights than your employees are legally entitled to.
That being said, your employees can consent to some of their rights being limited. For example if they agree in writing to work more than an average of 48 hours a week.
Part-time employee contract rights
A part-time employee works fewer hours than full-time staff. But the exact amount each would work isn’t set in stone.
Here are a few types of part-time work:
- Casual work.
- Job share.
- Evening work.
- Weekend work.
Your part-time employees should have the same contractual rights as your full-time employees in relation to:
You’ll need to calculate entitlements, like annual leave, on a pro rata basis. It’s not compulsory to pay part-time employees for overtime until they’ve worked more hours than a full-time employee.
You can treat part-time employees differently from full-time employees in some situations. You have to demonstrate “objective justification”, which is a good reason for the different treatment.
An example is where part-time employees want health insurance but this would cost much more than the benefits they’re entitled to.
You can explore a middle ground in this situation by asking your part-time employee to contribute money to cover the additional cost.
Making a change of employment contract
You can make changes to a staff member’s existing employment contract if you need to. For example, if you’re planning on changing terms and conditions of employment or changing contracted hours then you do have the right to do so.
But there are some laws you’ll need to follow to make a change of contract at work.
First, remember that varying a contract of employment can’t happen unless the employee consents to it—you must provide a good business reason for making any adjustments.
So, before changing an employment contract, you should do the following:
- Have a discussion with the employee or their representative.
- Provide details about why the change is necessary.
- Take into account ideas about how things can be done differently.
You can adapt a contract by:
- Again, agreement with your staff member.
- Reaching an agreement with a trade union.
- Using a flexibility clause in the employment contract.
- But once you have agreed changes, you can send the staff member a change of contract letter that explains the discussions held and what is being adjusted in their contract.
Remember that changing a contract without agreement is against the law.
Remember there’s 90 days’ notice for a change of contract you must follow—that’s British law. So you should send your employee a contract change notice if you’re intending to update anything.
Provide notice after trying to reach an agreement on the change. Staff can expect one week of notice for every year with you, up to 12 weeks’ notice on a change of contract.
What you need to remember is it’s against the law to change a contract without consent. But you could look to dismiss the staff member and then re-hire them on new terms.
If you do that, you have to provide them the right amount of notice.
You can include flexibility clauses in the contract to notify your employees that you have the right to vary some provisions in their contract.
For example, you could require your employees to work in different locations. Flexibility clauses need to be applied fairly.
Changing terms and conditions of employment
When you agree on changes with your employees, you should ensure that you do the following:
- Update their written statement of employment
- Write to them within one month of the amendment (detailing what has changed).
- Tell your employees where to find information about the changes (if the updates aren’t recorded in their contract).
How to offer extra employee support
If you want to make updating contracts or other documents as easy as possible, you can use our employee support software.
It allows you to manage your employees’ records in one place and offer your staff members services such as confidential advice lines and face-to-face counselling.
Your employees will also have access to review their contracts, your staff handbook and any other documents where changes are recorded.
Need more help?
We can help you understand employment law and change of contract details. We can resolve any issues you have. Get in touch with us today: 0800 783 2806.