What is a Contract of Employment, and What Do You Need to Know About Yours?

Whenever you start a job you will be given a contract of employment, but what is it and what does it mean? As a company who offer employment law advice, we know that some employment contracts can be quite lengthy and packed full of jargon which means that many people don’t have any idea what they actually mean. Part of our work as a HR Advisor in Manchester, means that we are committed to helping people understand their contract and what is contained in it. Thus, in this article, we will try to pass on some of that knowledge.

Contract of employment

Your Rights

Your employment contract will set out your duties, rights and responsibilities and those of your employer. Any rights that you have under your contract of employment are in addition to those rights that are set out in law, for example, medical insurance. However, some employment contracts may seek to limit certain rights you have by law, and so it is important to know what these are. Legal rights for workers include, the right to be paid National Minimum Wage, paid holidays and the employers obligation to enrol you in a pension scheme.

Your Contract

As a HR consultant, we are aware that most contracts of employment are written, but oral contracts are not unheard of. Obviously, an oral contract is harder to prove even though it is just as binding as a written one, so ensuring you have a written contract will give you more peace of mind, and can help you if you need to resolve any disputes with your employer in the future. If you haven’t been given a written contract, you are entitled to a written statement of your main employment terms within two months of you starting work. This statement should include details such as, your start date, job title, pay details, hours of work, holiday entitlement and holiday pay, sick pay and notice period.


A contract of employment usually covers two areas – express terms and implied terms.

Express terms are those elements of your employment contract that have been mentioned in writing or agreed orally by both yourself and your employer. These can include pay, hours of work (including overtime), holiday pay and entitlement, sick pay, redundancy pay, and notice period. These terms can also sometimes be found in the job advert, any letter you receive from an employer and any other employment documents you were asked to sign such as your work handbook or manual.

Implied terms are terms that are not written, but can be implied from most contracts of employment, such as you not giving away confidential information or stealing from your employer. They also cover things such as your employer providing you with a safe environment to work in and not asking you to do anything illegal. Therefore, an employment contract really covers the mutual trust between an employer and employee.

Employment Status

Your employment status will also affect your employment contract as there are different legal rights that are dependent on your status. The three statuses are worker, employee or self-employed.

A worker only has the basic legal rights such as, minimum wage, rest breaks, sick pay and maternity leave. Workers are usually casual, but the employer still has to deduct tax and national insurance from their pay. Employees are the next step up from workers and have more rights and responsibilities such as, a requirement to give notice when they want to leave. This is where an employment contract comes into play.

Self-employed workers are those people who decide when and where they want to work, make their own sickness and holiday arrangements and pay their own tax and national insurance. They will have a contract, but it will be a contract for services rather than an employment contract.

For more information about employment contracts or if you need help or advice, please contact our specialist employment law advice team on 0161 300 1214 or email lisa@triplethreesolutions.co.uk