Contracts and Policies

Getting the contracts and policies right from the start.

At Short Richardson and Forth we are able to combine both comprehensive advice and carefully tailored drafting to produce contracts, policies and procedures which truly reflect the commercial qualities of our clients’ businesses.

The contract of employment is the key document in the employment relationship. Not only does it create the employment relationship, it will also be relied on throughout the duration of the relationship in various circumstances, such as for calculating employee benefits, determining holiday entitlement or indicating when summary dismissal may be permitted.

Our team is experienced in both drafting and reviewing contracts of employment to ensure that they meet the requirements of the law and the needs of our clients. We draft bespoke documents for each of our clients as we appreciate that different businesses have different priorities and that what works for one will not necessarily work for all.

In relation to policies and procedures, we have particular expertise in preparing and implementing a wide range of documents which ensure that our clients not only comply with the law but also understand their policies and procedures and how to apply them. Putting in place a clear, workable set of policies and procedures is the first step which any business should take to ensure that workplace disputes are resolved correctly and timeously. They also play a hugely important role in defining the business and setting acceptable standards of employee behaviour and quality control.

The recent introduction of financial penalties ranging between £500 and £5,000 for employers who lose employment tribunal claims where there are “aggravating features” only reinforces the need to have and follow policies and procedures. This supplements the tribunal’s existing discretionary power to uplift awards in dismissal cases (other than for redundancy) by up to 25% where there has been an unreasonable failure to follow the ACAS Code of Practice on Disciplinary and Grievance Procedures.

Regardless of the effect on remedies, or perhaps explaining why the penalties are so aimed, employers who cannot rely on policies or procedures will be at a disadvantage before any evidence is heard in terms of convincing a tribunal that they acted reasonably and without discriminating. The net is swiftly closing on employers who do not have in place relevant employment documents.

It is also crucial to remember that employers have a duty to provide employees whose employment is to continue for more than one month with a written statement of their main terms of employment by no later than two months after the beginning of their employment.

Although breaching this duty will not in itself result in an employment tribunal claim for compensation, employees who succeed with any other claim – such as for unlawful deduction of wages – will be eligible for additional compensation of two or four weeks' pay (subject to a statutory cap).

The main terms of employment which employers must include within a written statement of particulars are set out on the following BIS webpage:

Please note that although they do not need to be included in the written statement, where they are not the statement must include a note informing the employee where they can access the employer’s sick pay, disciplinary and dismissal and grievance procedures. It is therefore a lawful requirement for employers to have in place at least these three procedures.

Contact us to see how we can assist your business or let us carry out a review of your existing contracts, policies or procedures if you have concerns regarding what you have and what you may be missing.

Alternatively, take a look at our Short Cover employment law advice package which includes an audit and update of your essential policies and procedures as part of the service.

The range of contract, policies and procedures we offer includes but is not limited to:

  • Contracts of employment
  • Contracts for services
  • Directors’ service agreements
  • Consultancy agreements
  • Secondment agreements
  • Settlement Agreements (formerly Compromise Agreements)
  • Restrictive covenants
  • Employee/staff handbooks
  • Disciplinary, Capability and Grievance procedures
  • Sickness absence, Equal opportunities, Communication and Anti-bribery policies

Contact the Employment team to get the most up to date advice on these critical ingredients.