The standard type of employment contract in the UK is an “open-ended” contract which can be terminated on notice (subject to the protection which the law provides on unfair dismissal). An employment contract need not be in writing and may be partly written and partly oral. However, some basic terms of the employment must be confirmed to employees in writing within two months of their start date (e.g. their rate of pay and hours of work). From April 2020, the employer will need to do this on or before the employee’s first day, and also include some extra information as part of this.
The most common employment relationship is that of full time permanent employment, but an increasing number of staff have flexible working arrangements. This may include working part time, through fixed term contracts or through an agency. UK law gives special protection for these types of workers. From April 2020, agency workers will also be entitled to a Key Facts Page which must include certain basic information about the terms and conditions on which they work.
Workers may be contracted to work for a fixed period only or to perform a particular task with the contract terminating at the end of this period or on the completion of the task. There is no requirement for fixed-term contracts to specify the reason why it is a fixed-term, although a job title should be included in the contract to comply with the employer’s statutory requirements on the written statement of particulars of employment.
Employment contracts often provide that the employee will undergo a trial or probationary period at the start of their employment, during which the employer has the opportunity to assess the employee’s suitability for the position. The trial period will typically last between three and six months. During this time, the employee may not be entitled to certain benefits.
Employees have a statutory right to receive a minimum period of notice from employers once they have been employed for one month.