Your employees have statutory rights, which are set out in law to ensure equal and fair treatment. There can be slight variations to some statutory rights, depending on what’s contained in their contract. So, your employees’ entitlements will be a combination of statutory and contract rights.
Statutory employee rights
Some of your statutory responsibilities include:
- Paying 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
- Giving notice of dismissal where your employee has worked with you for at least one month
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. A full-time employee normally works 35 hours. However, the number of hours that amount to full-time and part-time isn’t set in stone.
Here are some 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:
- Annual leave
- Career development opportunities
- Career breaks
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.
Changing an employment contract
You’ll usually need to get the agreement of your employee before changing their employment contract. But you can require a contractual change if you’re legally entitled to do so.
Before changing an employment contract, you should do the following:
- Have a discussion with the employee or their representative
- Give details about why the change is necessary
- Take into account ideas about how things can be done differently
Your employees can ask to make changes to their contract. They can also demand a change if it’s a statutory right.
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 at different locations. Flexibility clauses need to be applied fairly.
How to make employment contract changes
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)
If you want to make updating contracts or other documents as easy as possible, try using BrightHR’s Employee Hub. You can manage your employees’ records in one convenient place. Your employees will also have access to review their contracts, your staff handbook and any other documents where changes are recorded.
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