With all the coronavirus uproar during spring and summer 2020, employers could be forgiven if they overlooked an important legal change to recruitment practice, relating to the timely issue of employment contracts, which came into force in April 2020 during full “lockdown” say employment lawyers at Constantine Law.
In particular, the law relating to the provision of written contracts of employment (section 1 ERA 1996 statements of initial employment particulars) was expanded significantly in two important respects with effect from 6 April 2020:
- All new starters must be issued with their section 1 statements on or before their first day of work. If the worker is employed or engaged via an agency, the responsibility to provide the statement falls on the agency. This is a day one employment right – no minimum service criteria apply. Only a limited amount of information may be provided after day one and must in any event be provided within two months of the employee or worker’s start date;
- The statutory requirements for the content of the section one statements also changed -with employers having to provide written details of any applicable probation periods, benefits, training entitlements and obligations and details of any applicable special or other paid leave arrangements.
Will Clayton, Employment Partner at Constantine Law says that this is important now, especially given the rise of employment related claims caused by the fall out of Covid-19, as seen by latest figures in the Employment Tribunal.
“Some employers will need reminding that any employee or worker who is not provided with their section one statement in a way that meets the new legal requirements may make an application to an Employment Tribunal for this to be remedied and, depending on the circumstances, may also be able to claim compensation of up to four weeks’ pay.”
He adds, “When most businesses can ill-afford to leak cash unnecessarily at the moment, it could prove very timely indeed to have their template section one statements, and employment contracts checked over and brought up to date.”