An employment contract is an agreement between you and your employer that sets out your employment rights, responsibilities and duties (called particulars or terms).
The terms of your contract can be both written and verbal and by starting work, you accept them. You and your employer are bound to the contract until it ends (usually by giving
) or the terms are changed.
What is a written statement?
In most cases you’re legally entitled to a written statement of your main employment terms. Your employer must give you this within two months of starting work, even if you’re employed for less than two months.
What are the terms of my contract?
Your contract or employment terms are your main employment rights, responsibilities and duties. If either side breaks a term of the contract, the other can sue for breach of contract. Terms can be:
- Verbally agreed
- In a written contract or written statement
- In an employee handbook or on a company notice board
- In your offer letter
Required by law
- Collective agreements (agreements negotiated by your trade union or association)
- Implied terms
- If there are any terms in your contract you don’t understand, ask your employer or HR to explain them.
What are implied terms?
Implied terms won't appear in writing but they're still very much a part of your contract. They can be established through custom and practice or they might be necessary or obvious; take the implied "duty of mutual trust and confidence" which means you and your employer expect each other to be honest and respectful.
Can a contract be altered?
Either you or your employer can change your contract: your employer might wish to change working hours, while you might want better pay. Neither of you can normally do so without mutual agreement, either directly between you and your employer or by collective agreement (negotiated between your employer and trade union or association).
If a collective agreement makes a change to employment contracts, this will apply to you even if you’re not a member of the union or association.
Do changes have to be in writing?
Agreed changes don't necessarily have to be in writing. However, if the terms in your written statement alter, your employer must give you an updated statement within a month of the change.
What can I do if I have a problem?
If you have a problem you should first discuss it with your line manager. Should your line manager be unhelpful, go to HR who can escalate the matter. If you have an employee representative, such as a trade union official, they may be able to help too. For further help contact Acas or the Citizens Advice Bureau.
Citizens Advice Bureau
The information on these pages is provided for your information and reference only. Before making any important decisions regarding your employment or any legal matter, you should consult a qualified professional adviser who can provide specific advice based on your individual position.