Guidance on the legal issues surrounding the terms and conditions of employment
Discusses the reasons for having a written contract of employment and the employment law governing terms and conditions of employment. Then sets out the terms and conditions that need to be provided to employees in writing under the Terms of Employment (Information) Acts 1994-2014. Finally compares employment contracts and employee handbooks and warns that terms set out in staff handbooks are often treated as part of the employee contract especially when they concern grievance procedures.
There is no legal requirement that an employment contract has to be in writing although see the section on the Terms of Employment (Information) Acts 1994-2014 below. The advantage of having a contract in writing is that it sets out the terms agreed between the employer and the employee providing a level of certainty in the relationship.
Over the years, some legislation has specified minimum terms which apply in the absence of a contractual agreement and other legislation has specified minimum standards of employment which cannot be varied by contract or otherwise. Examples of such legislation include:
- The Organisation of Working Time Act 1997 and the regulations made under it impose a maximum working week which applies to most employees.
- The Minimum Notice and Terms of Employment Acts 1973 to 2005 impose minimum notice periods which apply to termination of employment in the absence of any contractual agreement.
- Other legislation, such as the Employment Equality Acts 1998-2015, the Maternity Protection Acts 1994 and 2004, the Adoptive Leave Acts 1995 and 2005 and the Parental Leave Acts 1998 and 2006, gives employees rights, even if these rights are not specifically stated in their contracts.
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