It has long been the case that when an employee is taken on for more than one month there is a legal requirement to provide them with a written statement of particulars of employment within the first two months of their employment. In practice, the information that an employer must include in that written statement forms part of a more comprehensive contract of employment.
From 6 April this year the law is changing…the ‘section 1 statement’, as it is also often called, must be given on the first day of employment rather than within two months (except for certain information in relation to pensions, any collective agreements and training rights, which can be given later and in instalments) and regardless of how long the employment is to last for.That said, generally, our advice would be to prepare your section 1 statement or more comprehensive contract of employment and send it to the candidate with your offer of employment rather than wait until they have started with you. That way, they are clear from the outset as to the terms of your offer and you will also have complied with the law.
The other significant change in this area is that the section 1 statement must now also be provided to workers who are engaged on or after 6 April 2020, as well as employees.
There is also a change to the information that is required to be included in the section 1 statement. Additionally, the following must also be included:
- in relation to hours of work, details of the days of the week the worker (or employee) is required to work and whether or not such hours or days may be variable and, if they may be, how they vary or how that variation is to be determined;
- any terms and conditions relating to any paid leave (other than holiday or sick leave);
- any other benefits not covered elsewhere in the written statement;
- details of any probationary period, including conditions applicable to it and its duration;
- details of any training entitlement provided by the employer;
- any part of that training entitlement which is compulsory; and
- particulars of any other compulsory training which the employer will not pay for.
So what about existing employees?
Generally, those already employed on 6 April 2020 can request an updated section 1 statement from their employer and the employer must provide one within one month. Note that this right does not extend to existing workers too.
What if I ignore this change?
We would never advocate this! A worker whose terms are unclear can apply to the employment tribunal for clarification. It is also possible in certain circumstances for a tribunal to award compensation for failure to provide a proper written section 1 statement.
What to do next?
If you are an employer you would be wise to start thinking about these changes now. Here are our 7 practical steps to help you be prepared:
- Carry out an audit of your workforce. This will involve identifying any workers as well as employees you engage.
- Check to see what documentation already exist for your staff and how this will need to be updated. It could be a good opportunity to review your current section 1 statements and contracts of employment to make sure they are complaint with any other changes in the law and best practice since they were first drafted.
- Consider whether you also need to update – or create – new policies and procedures. For example, policies to deal with training, employee benefits paid leave.
- Decide how you will approach the new requirements. Will you give all existing employees new section 1 statements (or new contracts of employment) too? If not, you will need to establish a process for dealing with any requests from existing employees for updated statements.
- If you are planning on recruiting new employees and/or workers, decide whether you will do this in advance of 6 April or afterwards. This may be more significant for those employers planning on taking on larger numbers of new staff.
- Ensure that those who have to deal with your recruitment of new staff and any requests from existing employees are fully aware of the new requirements in good time.
- Take advice early if you have concerns. For example, if you are unsure about whether someone is a worker or an employee or how much information to include in the section 1 statement or contract of employment.
Please get in touch if you would like to discuss any questions you may have and how to prepare for the changes: enquiries@jma-hrlegal,.co.uk / T: +44 (0)1252 821792