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Employment Contracts

Although you may not have anything in writing when you first start work a contract still exists. Your agreement to work for an employer and your employer’s agreement to pay you for that work is a legally binding contract which gives both you and your employer certain rights and obligations as soon as an offer of employment is accepted.

If you do not have a written contract containing all the terms and conditions of your employment, the minimum requirement for an employment contract lasting at least one month, is that your employer provide you with a written statement of the main terms and conditions of your employment. Your employer must do this within two calendar months of your starting work.

The written document your employer must give you is known as the “principle statement “and it must include:

  • Your name
  • The address of your place of work and employers address (or places of work if you are required to work in more than one location)
  • The date when your employment began
  • Your job title or a brief description of the work
  • Notice of whether a previous job counts towards a period of continuous employment and the date period when the period of continuous employment commenced
  • Your rate(s) of pay and how often you will be paid
  • Your hours of work and if you will have to work Sundays, nights or overtime
  • Your holiday entitlement and if that includes public holidays

As well as the principal statement, a written statement must also contain information about:

  • Pensions and pension schemes
  • The existence of any collective agreements which may affect the terms and conditions of your employment
  • Notice periods to terminate the contract for you and your employer
  • The period for which your employment is expected to continue if you are not a permanent employee or the date on which your employment will end if you are a fixed term worker

You should also be given details about where to find the following:

  • Information about entitlement to sick leave and sick pay
  • Information about disciplinary and dismissal procedures
  • Information about grievance procedures

There are only a few exceptions to the requirement to provide a statement. If your employer refuses to give you either a contract or a written statement containing the information listed above please contact an advisor for information on what to do next.

Minimum Wage

Almost all workers in the UK aged 16 years or over and working under a contract of employment are entitled to receive the national minimum wage.

Your contract of employment may entitle you to be paid more than the national minimum wage but your employer may not pay you less. This is because the national minimum wage is the lowest hourly rate of pay an employer may legally pay to a worker.

The national minimum wage regulations apply to contracts of employment that are written, verbal or implied. Where you work, the length of your contract, your occupation, whether you work full-time or part-time does not matter. You are entitled to the national minimum wage whether you are employed directly by an employer, employed as an agency worker, a home worker, casual or a temporary worker

There are three age related rates and an apprentice rate.

Currently as of 01.04.2016 the national minimum wage rate is:

  • £7.20 per hour for workers aged 25 and over 
  • £6.70 per hour for workers aged 21-24 years 
  • £5.30 per hour for workers aged 18 to 20 years
  • £3.87 per hour for workers aged under 18 years

The rate of national minimum wage is reviewed annually and changes on 1st October each year.

There are a few exceptions to the rules and so the national minimum wage regulations do not apply to any work experience, voluntary placements or internships you may do as part of your course.

HM Revenue and Customs is responsible for enforcing payment of the national minimum wage. Their briefing explains how they ensure that the national minimum wage is paid: Enforcing NMW – Issue briefing

If you think you are being paid less than the national minimum wage confidential help and advice is available from The Pay and Work Rights helpline. The helpline can handle calls in over 100 different languages.

Or contact a SUAC advisor about what to do next. 

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