An employment contract details the terms and conditions of employment, as well as the responsibilities and rights of you and your employer. This document is required by law to be given to you no later than two months from the first day of employment, but ideally on your first day with an employer.

The Purpose

The purpose of an employment contract is to ensure that both you and your employer have a clear understanding of what is expected during the term of employment. This document can also serve to eliminate any disputes which may arise at a later date. It also helps you to understand what your rights are under the law.

Both you and your employer are bound to the employment contract until such time that it ends due to notice given or a change in terms by either party.

When Should an Employment Contract Be Used?

An employment contract can be used when terms for part-time, fixed employment or permanent full-time are needed. It can also be used when you’ve been hired by a human resources manager, recruitment officer or an employer.

What Can Cause your Employment Contract to Change?

There are a few instances which may warrant a change in the terms of your employment contract.

You can request a change in contract terms for a number of reasons. One of these is when you want more adequate pay (by the way, if you’re looking for a pay rise, you won’t automatically receive one unless this is stated in your employment contract). You may also request changes in your contract for desired improved working conditions, more holiday time or because you wish to have different or more flexible working hours.

Although changes don’t need to be in writing as long as you and your employer mutually agree on them, any alteration of the terms included in the written statement of employment particulars should be followed by a second written statement that reflects these changes. This new statement must be composed by your employer and delivered to you within one month of the date of the changes.

What if your Employer wants to change the Contract?

If contract changes are desired by your employer, yours (in the form of a union or the Human Resources department) or their representative should be consulted. During this consultation, the reasons for the change and alternative ideas should be discussed. Agreements on changes can be made verbally, or via a written agreement between your union and your employer.

If Changes are desired by You

If you wish to change your employment contract, the first step is to speak with your employer to explain the reasons you desire the changes. Remember, the only changes that can be made to an employment contract are those which are covered by a legal right, such as a change in your working hours.

What to Do If Personnel Changes

If the reason for a change in employment contract is because the person in your existing company designated as employer has changed along with your role, you are entitled to receive a new and complete written statement of employment particulars from the newly-appointed individual. However, a new written statement does not need to be given to you if your employer changes and there is no change to your role. As well, no new statement is required if the company changes its name but keeps the same person who hired you.

Any disputes with an employment contract should first be discussed with your employer if possible. If these discussions should fail, you are well within your rights to pursue legal action.

Tricia Hay

Tricia Hay is Owner, Director of First Base Employment Limited