Check the terms of your employment contract

This advice applies to Wales. See advice for See advice for England, See advice for Northern Ireland, See advice for Scotland

Your employment contract is your legal agreement with your employer. It includes things like what your job is, how you’ll do your work and what your employer will pay you.

Your employer should give you an employment contract document called a 'written statement'. Your written statement will include some of the terms of your employment contract, but there might be other terms.

Terms will also be in your contract if:

  • they’re in other information your employer sends you - like an email or the job advert

  • you verbally agreed them with your employer

The law also says you have a number of employment rights called ‘statutory rights’. You have these rights even if they’re not mentioned in the contract.

Check your written statement

Your employer has to give you a written statement of the main terms of your employment contract. They should give you the written statement before you start work or on your first day. It might have ‘employment contract’ as the title.

You’re entitled to a written statement if you’re an employee or a worker - including an agency worker. You might be an employee or worker even if your contract says you’re self-employed. You won’t get a written statement if you run a business and you work for a client.

If you’re not sure if you’re an employee or a worker, check your employment status.

The written statement must include information like:

  • how much and how often you’ll be paid

  • where you’ll be working

  • the hours you have to work

  • how much holiday you’ll get

  • the rules about sick leave and sick pay

You can check the full details of what needs to be in the written statement on GOV.UK.

If your employer hasn’t given you a written statement, ask them to send you one.

Check other information your employer sent you

There might be contract terms that aren’t in your written statement but are in other documents, for example:

  • the job advert for the role

  • letters or emails sent to you before you started work

  • anything your employer has asked you to sign

  • an agreement between your employer and a trade union

If you don’t have a copy of any documents, ask your employer to send them to you.

It’s also worth checking documents like a staff handbook or your employer’s policies. The information in these documents might be contract terms or it might just be guidance. Talk to an adviser if you need to check if something in one of these documents is a contract term.

If you verbally agreed something with your employer

Something you’ve agreed verbally can be a term of your contract, but it’s difficult to prove it later.

If you make a verbal agreement with your employer, ask them to write it down, sign it and send you a copy.

If your employer won’t write it down, send them an email saying what you agreed - this will make it easier to prove that you didn’t make it up later.

Check your statutory rights

Your statutory rights depend on your situation, but they can include rights:

  • to get pay slips

  • to be paid at least the National Minimum Wage or National Living Wage

  • to take at least the minimum number of paid holiday days

  • to take maternity leave and other types of parental leave

You’re entitled to your statutory rights even if your employment contract says you aren’t. For example, your contract can give you more than the minimum number of paid holiday days, but it can’t give you less.

If you’re in a probation period

Check what your contract says about your rights during your probation period. For example, it might say that your employer can dismiss you without using their full dismissal procedure.

Your statutory rights aren’t any different during your probation period. For example your employer still needs to pay you at least the minimum number of paid holiday days.

If your employer breaches your contract

You should start by talking to your employer about the problem. If they’ve made a mistake they might be able to fix it. If that doesn’t work, you can raise a grievance.

You can also check what you can do if you have problems getting your pay.

If your employer has done something that seriously breaches your contract, you might be able to resign and make a claim to an employment tribunal. This is called ‘constructive dismissal’. Check the rules about constructive dismissal.

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Page last reviewed on 24 November 2022