Contracts of Employment and Staff Handbooks

Maintaining up-to-date, accurate, and compliant employment policies and company handbooks is crucial for preventing and managing employment disputes. Ensuring that both your HR team and employees are familiar with these documents helps in addressing issues early.

As a minimum, a contract of employment must include the following:
  • The name of the employer and employee.
  • The job title and its description.
  • The employment start date and, if relevant, an end date if it is a fixed-term contract.
  • The probationary period if relevant and any extension.
  • The hours expected to work and if overtime is payable if additional hours are worked.
  • The place of work and if the employer can change the employee’s place of work if the business requires the worker to move to a different location.
  • The confidentiality of the employer’s information.
  • Notice periods.
  • Pay.
  • Benefits.
  • Pension.
  • Holidays.
  • Sick Pay provisions.
  • Training.
  • Restrictive covenants if the employee leaves their employment.

We can help you by preparing, reviewing and updating your organisation’s contracts of employment, helping to ensure that they are up to date with Employment legislation, regulations and best HR and employment practices.

Staff Handbooks

A staff handbook sets out the company policies and procedures an employee is expected to follow. Some start-up companies question the need for a handbook but, however large or small your company, a handbook is an essential tool. It is a useful defence against Employment claims, helps to show that you are a responsible employer, showcases your benefits assisting with employee retention, puts in place policies, systems and procedures to support employees and assists with ensuring their good conduct.

It is important to seek legal advice and guidance when drafting a staff handbook because a badly drafted handbook could:

  • Fail to comply with current legislation.
  • Cause confusion for employees.
  • Create feelings of ill-will in employees.
  • Discourage employees from using the staff handbook.
  • Highlight inconsistencies in procedures.

A staff handbook should be tailored to the specific needs of your business, the nature of the employer and employee relationship, and be capable of being followed by all. That means simplicity, consistency and use of plain language.

A staff handbook should contain policies on:

  • Anti-bullying and harassment
  • Anti-discrimination
  • Appraisal process
  • Benefits available, such as long-service holiday entitlement or season ticket loans
  • Bereavement Leave
  • Car policies – if the company provides company cars
  • Compassionate and bereavement leave
  • Data protection and handling of confidential information
  • Disciplinary investigations
  • Equal opportunities
  • Expenses policies and when expenses can be claimed
  • Flexible and home working policies
  • Grievance handling
  • Holidays
  • Maternity, paternity and adoption policies
  • Overtime claims
  • Parental leave
  • Promotion and recruitment
  • Right to work checks and procedures
  • Sick leave
  • Staff uniform and dress code
  • Social media usage
  • Time off for dependents
  • Training
  • Whistleblowing
How Often Should a Staff Handbook be Updated?

How often your staff handbook should be updated depends on your changing business and employment practices and if there have been any developments in Employment Law or recognised HR best practice. Typically, an employer should review its staff handbook every 6 to 12 months or if a HR matter or employment issue shows that the handbook should be updated to avoid a similar issue or problem occurring.

For more information on Contracts of Employment and Staff Handbooks or to discuss your business’s requirements, please contact us.