Written Statements of Employment Particulars – and why they matter?
The recent case of Stefanko and others v Maritime Hotel Ltd in the Employment Appeal Tribunal prompted me to write this short article to remind employers about the importance of issuing employees with (at the very least) with a ‘written statement of employment particulars’ within the legally required timeframe.
In simple terms, an employer must give employees a ‘written statement of employment particulars’ (also known as a ‘section 1 statement’ as it is referred to in section 1 of the Employment Rights Act 1996) if their employment contract lasts at least a month or more. The employer must provide the written statement within 2 months of the start of employment.
Oddly, there is no legal requirement for an employee to have a written contract of employment. Therefore, the written statement is not itself a contract of employment but is often evidence of the terms agreed between the employer and the employee in a contract of employment.
What a written statement must include
A written statement can be made up of more than one document (if the employer gives employees different sections of their statement at different times). If this does happen, one of the documents (called the ‘principal statement’) must include at least:
- the employer’s name
- the employee’s name, job title or a description of work and the employee’s start date and the date their continuous employment started
- pay and whether it’s weekly, monthly etc
- working hours
- where an employee will be working and whether they might have to relocate
- if an employee works in different places, where these will be and what the employer’s address is
As well as the principal statement, a written statement must also contain information about:
- notice periods
- collective agreements
- who to go to with a grievance
- how to complain about how a grievance is handled
- how to complain about a disciplinary or dismissal decision
What a written statement does not need to include
The written statement does not need to include the following (but it must say where the information can be found):
- sick pay and procedures
- disciplinary and dismissal procedures
- grievance procedures
Why does it matter?
An employee can make a complaint to an employment tribunal where their employer either fails to provide them with a written statement or if the written statement is either inaccurate or incomplete. An employment tribunal can decide what the employment particulars in the statement should have been.
Where the employee also has a successful claim against the employer for another reason, for example unfair dismissal or discrimination, they can also be awarded compensation for the failure of the employer to provide them with a written statement and the employment tribunal could award compensation of between 2 and 4 weeks’ pay (albeit that the amount of a weeks’ pay is currently capped at £508).
A change on the horizon
Currently, as mentioned above, there is an exception to the right to receive a written statement for employees who work for less than 1 month. That is due to be repealed by The Employment Rights (Employment Particulars and Paid Annual Leave) (Amendment) Regulations 2018 with effect from 6th April 2020. From then every new employee will have the right to receive a written statement from day one.