Five Employment Contract Problems

Employment contract issues are one of the biggest problems and headaches for businesses.

They can use up valuable resources when trying to sort them out. Invariably, the money invested in having good employment contracts, and staff handbooks in place, is far less expensive than sorting out the issues which poor contracts create.

Here are five ways in which businesses get things wrong.

Re-using old contracts.

It may be tempting just to re-issue an existing contract. After all, you have probably paid to have it drafted by a solicitor. But maybe that was some time ago. Perhaps it has been amended by internal HR staff or managers. And that is where there may be problems. It could be out of date. It could be specific to one or two employees and by copying it over, you have inadvertently made it a problematic contract for new employees.

Not Checking the Clauses One by One.

Checking clauses one by one requires a certain diligence. Not everyone likes or has the ability to pore over a legal text, scrutinising the words to ensure it is appropriate. Maybe you have not checked every clause or worse still, have not noticed that some clauses are missing.

Are you using the correct legal terms?

It sometimes seems as though solicitors use more words than necessary because they get paid for using words. This is not true. The key to a good contract is not that is long or is in legalese, but that it contains the right clauses, written clearly in an understandable way. After all, it is important that an employee understands to what they are agreeing and that they understand the terms of employment. That is the best way of avoiding any disputes. They read the contract, they understand it, and they sign it to say they understand it.

Delaying issuing the contract.

You may employ someone but feel unsure if it will work out. They are on probation in any event. You may not think it is necessary to issue a contract of employment quite yet. This could be a big mistake. The law says that you must give employees a written statement of particulars within two months of their start date. That is why it is simply not in your interests to delay. From April 2020 you will have to provide key details of work when employment starts. Get on top of this now and you won’t be playing catch up.

Templates have a place but not if you’re serious about avoiding issues

It might be tempting to trust a template employment contract, but that might not suit your business. For example, many templates do not contain have clauses about confidentiality. Others do not have clauses which deal with paying back overpayments. The only way to obtain a bespoke contract of employment is by using a specialist who can really understand what your business is about and what you want your employees to do, coupled with a knowledge of all the changing employment laws. That is a full-time job. That is why a solicitor can handle it better than you…that is our full-time job.


We prepare employment contracts, so you can get on running your business.  If you are looking to make an employment contract or need to obtain advice in relation to this area then please do not hesitate to contact Justin Sadler, one of our solicitors in Litigation Department on 01189589711 or by email

Further reading

Are you breaking employment laws? 10 common mistakes that businesses make

Employment Law Testimonials

The importance of your employment status

Employment Law

Employment Tribunal fees scrapped after Supreme Court ruling

Beware of the Restrictive Covenants in your Employment Contract!

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