Employment Contracts

Statutory rights are protections and duties in the workplace which are set out in law; they are the legal minimum terms and conditions you can expect from your employer. An employer might ask you to agree to additional conditions or give you access to extra benefits, such as the length of notice you need to give them before you leave your job. The specific details or terms and conditions of your employment are part of your contract; these are called your ‘contractual rights’. A contract can give you extra rights, but cannot reduce your statutory rights.

A contract of employment is formed once you agree to work for an employer in return for pay. A contract is an agreement between yourself and your employer, which specifies the basic entitlements and obligations that you can expect from each other during your employment. By agreeing to accept a job, you are agreeing to the terms and conditions offered by the employer. You and your employer are then legally bound by the terms offered and accepted. However, it is important to remember that your contractual terms and conditions cannot override the legal minimum set out in your statutory rights.

Contracts can be oral, written or implied and they set out your legal rights and duties. Proving the exact terms and conditions can be a complex task, and establishing an absolute definition is normally a matter for an employment tribunal.

Written Statement of Particulars

The law states that certain express terms must be put in writing and given to you in a written statement within two months of you starting your employment. If you are taken on as an employee for a job that will last for one month or longer you are entitled to a written statement of particulars. This is a written document that details the main terms and conditions of your job; if you do not receive a written statement of particulars, then you can take your case to an employment tribunal, during your employment or within three months of leaving that employment.

A written statement of particulars is not the same as a contract of employment, but it will set out many of the key terms and conditions that are agreed in your contract. If you are ever involved in a dispute with your employer, then a statement of particulars can be used as important evidence of your agreed terms and conditions. The law states that a written statement must cover:

  • Your name and the name of your employer.
  • Your job title or a brief job description.
  • The date when the employment began.
  • How much and how often you will be paid.
  • Your hours of work and where you will be working.
  • How much paid holiday you are allowed to take.
  • Your right to take time off when you are sick.
  • How much money you will receive while you are on sick leave.
  • Details of pensions or pension schemes.
  • How much notice you will need to give to your employer if you want to leave your job and the minimum notice that your employer will give you if your employment is terminated.
  • Whether your job is permanent or fixed term, giving details of when your employment will end if relevant.
  • Other details relating to collective agreements that may affect you.
  • An explanation of the disciplinary and grievance procedures.

There are also other details that are required by law if you are asked to work abroad for more than one month. These include how long you will need to work abroad for and what currency you will be paid in, any additional benefits or pay and the terms surrounding your return to the UK.

Breach of Contract

If your employer breaks the agreed terms and conditions of your contract, for example if they pay you £10.50 per hour instead of £12 per hour which you had agreed at your interview, then this is known as a ‘breach of contract’. If you cannot resolve issues through informal or formal procedures internally, then you will need to go through an employment tribunal or the law courts.

You can only make a breach of contract claim to an employment tribunal if you are no longer working for your employer. If you are still working for your employer, you have to make a breach of contract claim to a court.

Some breach of contract claims, such as non-payment of wages, non-payment of holiday pay and non-payment of contractual sick pay, are also unlawful deduction from wages claims. In these cases, it may be better to make a claim for unlawful deduction from wages to an employment tribunal, rather than claiming breach of contract to a court.

There are charges to start claims in both the Employment Tribunal and the County Court, however it may be possible to apply for these to be remitted, so please contact the Students’ Union Advice Service so that this can be checked.

If you think that a term of your contract may have been breached, it is vital that you seek advice straight away. This is because the time limit for taking a case to an employment tribunal is very strict. Your case will normally be rejected unless it is received within three months of the alleged breach of contract.

What can the AberSU Advice Service do to help?

The AberSU Advice Service is independent from the University and provides a free, confidential, and impartial service to all Aberystwyth University students. 

The Advice Service can assist you in a range of ways, including:

  • Explain your rights in relation to employment legislation and signpost where appropriate to external advice services.
  • Review any draft statements that you prepare and offer suggestions.
  • Accompany you where appropriate to any meetings to provide support and representation.
  • Help you to collate appropriate evidence to support your case.

Contact an Advisor

Useful links

First Produced: September 2020

Reviewed: March 2023