A contract of employment is an agreement between an employer and an employee. Your rights and duties, and those of your employer, are called the 'terms' of the contract.
The contract doesn't have to be in writing, but you're entitled to a written statement of the main terms within two months of starting work.
The contract is made as soon as you accept a job offer, and both sides are then bound by its terms until it's properly ended (usually by giving notice) or until the terms are changed (usually by mutual agreement).
The employment rights you have will often depend on whether you are classed as an employee, worker or self-employed. This depends on the type of contract you have with your employer.
For more information, see our '' section.
If you are an employee, you must get a 'written statement of employment particulars' setting out some of your main terms. Your employer must give you this within two months of starting work. The statement will not amount to a contract of employment unless the parties agree to this and sign it to confirm that the stated terms are correct. The statement must include:
This is not an exhaustive list and the statement must include details of all the essential elements of the contract of employment.
If the terms of the contract change, your employer must give you the new information in writing within one month.
If you're an employee, you automatically have a contract of employment as soon as you accept a job offer. What you may not have is a 'written statement of employment particulars' setting out your terms of employment.
If you're not given this, or if it's wrong or unclear, or if you're dismissed for asking for it, you should first try to sort it out with your employer directly. If you have an employee representative (for example, a trade union official) they may be able to help. Ultimately you may be able to make a claim to an Employment Tribunal (or an Industrial Tribunal in Northern Ireland).
Being dismissed for asking for a written statement will be automatically unfair.