Working Schedules and Contracts of Employment

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An employment contract contains the terms and conditions, both implicit and explicit, of the nature of the relationship between an employer and an employee.

To reach a common ground on contractual conversations, it is vital that calm, reasoned and rational negotiations taken place, if necessary with trade union officials. If the employee wishes to change the nature of employment, he must get an agreement from the employer, and listen to any alternative suggestions and use them to reach an agreement.

Unless your request is covered by statutory labour regulations i.e. religious objections to working on a Sunday, you cannot suggest an alteration of an employment contract without first reaching out to your employer and explaining why you have requested the change. Once any changes are accepted by all parties, they should be confirmed in a new written contract.

New contractual situations necessitate two things: a newly updated ‘written statement of employment’ and, within a month of commencement of the changes, a letter is to be sent explaining the new contract of employment and its implications for both parties.

The company guide, a notice board, company Intranet etc are all possible places to advertise information regarding contract changes that aren’t in written statements e.g. maternity leave, sick leave etc. Any terms and conditions not found in the written statement should be publicly available.

Employers are duty bound to inform their employee’s about alterations to collective agreements with trade unions or any other type of staff associations. If any contractual changes affect the terms and conditions of the written statements of any employee, whether they be the wages or working hours, then the employee must be informed.

As with life, situations can become problematic if one side tries to change the contractual situation without consensus; re-employing someone with a new contractual agreement or a breach of contract occurs. If the terms of the contract are disavowed, then problems will arise: i.e. non payment of wages for employers or refusing to commit to agreed working hours for employees.

Arbitration services are available when contract disputes occur: they can be trade union representatives, citizen’s advice bureaus, ACAS (Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service) etc. Friendly mediation between both parties can resolve a conflict whilst reducing any last reputational damage. If an employee feels wrongly serviced by their employer, they can seek this mediation through the above options.

If both of the following apply, then an employee is subject to the terms of a fixed-term contract: they are hired for a specific purpose e.g. construction, or they are hired for a specified time period and a specific end date.

Individuals partaking in education programmes, assigned to work experience schemes or members of the military services are those on non fixed-term employment contracts. Also, if an individual works for a recruitment agency, rather than working for the employer for which the agency recruits, they are on a non fixed-term contract.

Casual seasonal staff and those covering maternity or sick leave, or someone hired for a specialist task on a construction project are sometimes tasked as fixed-term employees.

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