Contracts of Employment

A contract of employment is an agreement entered into by an employer and an employee under which they have certain mutual obligations.

Contracts of employment may be oral or written. They may be of indefinite duration, or for fixed terms. They may be for training, apprenticeship or other purposes. In law, employees have a contract of employment as soon as they start work even where the written statement of employment particulars required by the legislation has not been given to the employee.

If no contract of employment exists beforehand, one will come into existence as soon as an employee starts work and, by doing so, demonstrates that he or she accepts the job on the terms offered by the employer. The contract need not be in writing, unless it is a contract of apprenticeship (employers should note however that a contract of apprenticeship may be found by the courts to be implied even if it is not in writing). Its terms can be written, oral, implied or a mixture of all three.

Implied terms might include those that are too obvious to be expressly agreed - for example, a term that the employee must accept reasonable instructions from the employer - those that are necessary to make the contract workable and those that are established by custom and practice in the particular organisation or industry concerned.