Advice Column: Problems at Work

Monday 3 October 2016

As part of the Citizens Advice Exeter and The Express and Echo weekly advice column this week we focus on contracts of employment.

I started a new job about three months ago and still haven’t had a contract of employment. I asked my line manager about this when I started, but I still haven’t received it. What are my rights?

All employees, regardless of the number of hours they work per week, are entitled to receive a written statement from their employer within two months of starting work. The statement should describe the main terms of the contract of employment. So far this year we have seen a 15% increase in enquiries about employment problems, including contracts of employment.

Employees are entitled to the statement even if their job finishes before the initial two months, as long as the job was supposed to last for more than one month and the employee worked for at least a month.

An employee who wants a written statement may request one verbally or in writing. It is usually best to request the statement in writing and keep a copy of the letter, so that you can prove you asked for the statement.

The written statement must include by law:

• the names of you and your employer
• the date you started work
• the amount of pay and how often you will be paid, for example, weekly or monthly
• the hours of work
• your holiday entitlement, including how many days off you are entitled to and any paid holiday entitlement
• how much notice you are entitled to if you are dismissed and how much notice you must give the employer if you want to leave the job
• the title of the job
• where the job is based, for example, whether you will have to work in more than one location
• what the disciplinary, dismissal and grievance procedures are in the workplace
• what sick pay you are entitled to
• whether you can join the employer’s occupational pension scheme, if there is one.

The above information does not have to be included in the written statement of terms and conditions. For example, it can be given in a staff handbook which all the employees can have access to.

There are special rules about employees who are on fixed term employment contracts, which means the contract contains a date when it will end.

Most employees have called statutory rights in law. They are in addition to any rights you have under your employment contract. Statutory rights which you may have include:

• the right to be paid at least the national minimum wage
• a right to a written statement of the terms of employment
• a right to an itemised pay statement
• a right to maternity leave
• a right to pay in compensation for being made redundant
• a right not to be unfairly dismissed.

See our website – – for a full list of statutory rights.

Generally, you and your employer can agree any terms in the employment contract. However, you cannot agree to a contractual term which gives you fewer rights than your statutory rights. If you have agreed to a contractual term that gives you fewer rights than your statutory rights, for example, you have agreed that you will not take maternity leave, your employer will not be able to enforce the contractual term. You will still have a legal right to maternity leave.

If you think that your employer may dismiss you if you ask for a written statement of terms and conditions, or you are on a fixed term contract, you should get advice.

For more information and advice go to or telephone Citizens Advice Exeter on 03444 111 444.

Look out for our column next week when we focus on Loan Sharks.

The information contained in these articles does not constitute advice. Citizens Advice Exeter and The Express and Echo accept no liability for the information published. Citizens Advice Exeter is unable to respond to individual requests for advice through these columns. Copyright Citizens Advice. For the most up-to-date information, please visit