No Employment Contract

Generally, a contract of employment serves to protect both the employing company and the staff member, clearly establishing what is expected from either party. However, there are often cases where such a document does not exist and, in the UK, it is possible to find yourself working for a company without a written contract. Likewise, businesses often need to hire people quickly and don’t have a specific contract in place.

If you find yourself in such a situation and need legal help, Davies And Partners has plenty of experience in this potentially, complicated area of employment law.

Is It Legal?

In the UK, you can legally work for someone without signing a written contract. However, from a legal standpoint, it is assumed that some agreement is in place. The challenge will be working out the employment terms. After a month an employee has a right to a written contract or statement of terms which for example would confirm his or her work hours, tasks and rate of pay.  

A written statement details key particulars of your job. While this differs slightly from a legal contract, it does highlight the nature of an employee’s work and can be used as evidence during legal disputes.

Determining An Agreement

During any dispute without a written contract, the legal process looks to determine what the relevant terms are. In the case of verbal agreements, if both the employer and employee disagree on what these are, evidence will be needed to suggest otherwise.

Without a written statement, the courts may consider:

  • The original letter, e-mail or job offer, if something along these lines was sent. This often contains key information about a job and, assuming this was accepted and no further documents were created, it can be argued that these details have not changed.
  • Additional agreements between the employing company and any trade union that the member of staff belongs to can also be used. These agreements, whether local or national, can apply to all members of staff whether they are part of the union or not.  
  • In many cases, the company’s internal documents, such as staff rules, code of conduct and handbook, can also be used, depending on the nature of the claim. Often, companies have strict rules for all employees determining overtime, for instance.
  • If the original job advert states specific terms, this can also be used as a guide, assuming there are no later contracts, documents or evidence that suggests otherwise.

Statutory Laws And Rights

Even without a contract, any employee has the same legal rights, as determined by employment law. As such, so long as an employee can prove they are a member of staff, they can still make various claims, regardless of whether or not their rights are detailed in an existing contract. This includes the right to holidays, but this works both ways. Even without a contract, employees need to give minimal statutory notice.

When there are disputes, Davies And Partners can help by looking at all the available documentation, and apply internal company terms, policies and procedures or national employment law, to determine the best course of action.

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