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Are written statements the same as contracts of employment?

Most employees who have been working in Great Britain for more than one month are entitled to receive a written statement of terms and conditions of employment from their employer.

Written statements contain the main terms and conditions of employment, but they differ from employment contracts in important ways.

Statutory requirement, but...

It may be a statutory requirement for employers to issue a written statement to employees within two months of starting work, but the statement itself is not the same as a contract of employment.

A statement must set out key information, such as:

  • names of employer and employee
  • date employment and continuous employment started
  • job location
  • pay details
  • working hours
  • holiday entitlement
  • job description or title
  • details of collective agreements affecting conditions of employment.

It can also contain other useful information, such as sick leave entitlements, pension details, what to do in a dispute, and information on appeals procedures - although these could be provided elsewhere, for example, in employee handbooks or on staff intranet sites.

...not the same as a contract

As written statements contain many of the same details as a contract, it can often constitute good evidence of what has been negotiated or agreed between employer and employee.

However, the statement could be viewed as the employer's version of the agreement and as such it could be challenged at an employment tribunal if an employee considers it to be incorrect, incomplete or inaccurate.

Employers can also refer written statements to a tribunal in the event of a dispute over what a term means.

If an employer fails to supply a statement when required, or gives faulty information, an employment tribunal can determine what should have been included in it.

Acas publications and services

Acas has detailed help on Contracts of employment and Written statements of terms and conditions of employment.

There's also a step-by-step guide on how to establish a New employee's contract, and Useful templates for letters, forms and checklists, including a word icon Written Statement of Employment [53kb] template.

Acas experts can visit your organisation and develop terms and conditions of employment and help you minimise the potential for disputes. See Contracts and hours: how Acas can help for more information.

Related practical training is available on Contracts and terms and conditions, and for new employers, Employing People - A Practical Introduction.

For free, impartial advice and guidance visit Acas Helpline Online.

Visit the Acas Training Courses, Workshops and Projects area for more information.

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