“I had an employee who started with me but then left after 3 weeks. I never found the time to issue him with a contract of employment. He is now saying he will take me to an Employment Tribunal, is there a risk?”

An employer must give all employees a “Written Statement of Employment Particulars” if their employment lasts a month or more. This is a right under the Employment Rights Act 1996, contained in Section 1 of that Act and is sometimes called a “Section 1 Statement”. This document isn’t technically an employment contract, but includes all the main terms and conditions of employment. The law says that an employer must provide a Section 1 Statement within two months of the start of employment.

There are rights to bring claims at an Employment Tribunal if an employer is in breach. These can include clarification of the terms and an employee can also sometimes gain compensation (2-4 weeks’ pay). This claim cannot be brought in its own right and has to “piggy back” on another successful claim.

In the above scenario, as the employee only worked for 3 weeks, the obligation wasn’t triggered because the employment has to last for a month or more.

Interestingly, in a recent case, Govdata Limited v Denton the Employment Appeal Tribunal (EAT) has also given a decision that employers will welcome. The EAT clarified that, where an employer provides a written Statement of Terms and Conditions late, but before a case begins in the Employment Tribunal, then the employee cannot claim the additional compensation. The case, however, should not be used as a reason for employers not to issue Statements of Particulars as soon as possible, as it is generally good practice and helpful a clarification of the terms, should there be any dispute between the employer and employee.

A final point to note. Next year, the right to a Section 1 Particulars of Employment is to be extended. From April 2020 onwards, the right to a written Statement of Particulars of Employment will extend to all ‘workers’ (this is a broader category than just employees).

Motor Industry Legal Services

Motor Industry Legal Services (MILS Solicitors) provides fully comprehensive legal advice and representation to UK motor retailers for one annual fee. It is the only law firm in the UK which specialises in motor law and motor trade law. MILS currently advises over 1,000 individual businesses within the sector as well as the Retail Motor Industry Federation (RMI) and its members.