Can my staff work without a contract of employment?

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Employment law, with its constantly changing rules and regulations, is one of the trickiest areas of law to stay on top of. However, making a mistake in this area can lead to unexpected and costly disputes from employees, so it’s important to do your research and check in with your solicitor on what is required of you as a business owner before you make any decisions relating to your employees, or any other aspect of your business. 

In an effort to help with making things a little bit clearer, we’ve put together this short blog post for those looking for answers regarding employment contracts for both temporary and permanent employees. 


Can an employee start work without a contract? 

Yes, although it is not advisable to welcome a new member of staff on board without first having an employment contract in place for them. 

Whilst it is not a legal requirement for an employee to have a written contract of employment, not doing so could not only cause confusion between you and your employee, but it could leave you vulnerable to potential claims or disputes later down the line. 

It is best practice to have a thorough contract of employment drafted before an employee’s start date, so that you can both know what is expected of each of you from the first day of employment. 


Is it illegal for someone to work without a contract of employment? 

No, it is not illegal for someone to work without a contract of employment in place, whether they are a temporary or a permanent member of staff. However, it may leave both the employee and the employer at risk of entering into a dispute if the terms of the employment are not outlined at an early stage. 


How to write an employment contract 

Drafting contracts of employment can be difficult, especially if you’re just starting up your business and have little experience in hiring or managing people. 

Whilst some contracts will have different terms and benefits depending on the industry, employer, and the level of the role (i.e. entry-level, associate, executive, etc.), most contracts of employment will feature the following details; 

  • The name of the employee and the employer 
  • The employee’s start date 
  • The employee’s job title and a description of the role 
  • Details regarding the rate of pay/annual salary 
  • The address for the normal place of work (if remote/hybrid working is permitted, this should be outlined) 
  • The method via which the employee will be paid (i.e. monthly via BACS transfer) 
  • Terms relating to expected working hours
  • An outline of the employee’s holiday entitlement 
  • Details relating to public holidays and holiday pay 
  • Information on the company’s policy for sick pay, sickness leave and bereavement leave 
  • Information on the company’s maternity/paternity leave policy 
  • Any details relating to pension schemes
  • The duration of notice required by the company terminate the contract of employment, or vice versa 
  • If beginning with a probationary period, the date on which this will be complete 
  • An outline of the disciplinary procedure 
  • Any benefits that are relevant to the role 


Help with writing a contract of employment 

At DRN, our expert team of employment law solicitors are on hand to complete, review and advise on your employment contracts to ensure they’re detailed, thorough, and that they cover all of the key aspects they need to. 

Our comprehensive range of services is offered on a fixed-fee or retainer basis for all of our business clients, providing you with on-demand support as and when you need it. By signing up for a retainer package with DRN, for a fixed monthly fee, our team of employment law experts will provide you with unlimited, on-demand support and legal advice that you can trust. Get in touch with our team to find out more!