The terms of a contract of employment

Most people will be familiar with the express terms of their contract of employment, as these are clearly written in the contract. The Employment Rights Act 1996 states which terms must be included. These include;

  • The names of the parties
  • Start date of employment
  • Job description
  • Rate of pay and intervals of pay
  • Holiday entitlement
  • Notice periods
  • Location of workplace (mobility clause)
  • A definition of what amounts to gross misconduct
  • Where to find policies and procedures
  • There may be other special terms such as a restraint of trade clause

However, people may be less familiar with the implied terms. These terms are not written in the contract of employment. They have been developed through common law precedent and they impose duties on both the employer and the employee.

Duties imposed on the employer include providing work, although if the employer is prepared to pay for the employees’ time, it does not matter if the employee has no work to do. The employer should take reasonable care for the safety of their employees. This includes providing a safe system of work, safe plant and machinery and safe fellow employees. Goold v McConnel has enforced the term that employers should deal with grievances promptly. Employers must also reimburse employees for expenses properly incurred during employment.

Common law duties imposed on the employee include being ready and willing to work. The employee must also use reasonable skill and care when carrying out the work. This has been enforced in Alidair Ltd v Taylor, when a commercial pilot was dismissed for making a faulty landing in good conditions and subsequently damaging the aircraft. An employee must obey reasonable and lawful orders and take reasonable care of the employers’ property. Employees must also act in good faith. This includes, being honest, not disclosing confidential information, not competing with the employer and not disrupting the employers’ business interests.

Finally, there is the implied term of mutual trust and confidence. This term is imposed on both the employer and employee. It includes not talking about each other in an offensive or derogatory manner. People often breach this term with the use of social media. Many employers now include a social media policy into the contract of employment to prevent any confusion over this term.

If you have any concerns over your contractual obligations, then please contact the Lawdit team.

By Samuel Killoran who is a Law Student at Solent University


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