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A contract of employment is an agreement entered into by an employer and an employee under which they have certain mutual obligations.

If no contract of employment exists beforehand, one will come into existence as soon as an employee starts work and, by doing so, demonstrates that he or she accepts the job on the terms offered by the employer. The contract need not be in writing, unless it is a contract of apprenticeship (employers should note however that a contract of apprenticeship may be found by the courts to be implied even if it is not in writing). Its terms can be written, oral, implied or a mixture of all three.

Employed or self-employed?

Whether someone is an employee working under a contract of employment or a self-employed person working under a contract to provide services depends upon the true nature of the agreement entered into by the parties.

Where the employer has a duty to provide work, controls when and how it is done, supplies the tools or other equipment needed to do it and pays tax and national insurance contributions on the worker's behalf, then it is likely that the worker is an employee.

If, on the other hand, the worker can decide whether or not to accept work and how to carry it out, makes his or her own arrangements for holidays or sickness absences, pays his or her own tax and national insurance contributions and is free to do the same type of work for more than one employer at the same time, this points towards the person being self-employed.

The fact that a worker is described (either by himself or herself or by the employer) as being self-employed does not necessarily mean that this is actually so. Neither does the fact that the worker does the job on the employer's premises or from his or her own home determine the issue.

The important question is whether or not the worker is genuinely in business on his or her own account. If a dispute arises in which employment status is in doubt, this can be considered as a preliminary issue by the Employment Tribunal, taking into account all factors relevant to the case.

Written statement of employment particulars

All employees taken on for one month or more are entitled by law to be given, within two months of the date the employment starts, a written statement setting out the main particulars. This statement will not necessarily cover every aspect of the contract, but will constitute important evidence of the principal terms and conditions.

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Our Offices:

Leeds: Phoenix House, 3 South Parade, Leeds, LS1 5QX

Harrogate: 41 East Parade, Harrogate, HG1 5LQ

York: 1 Peckitt Street, Clifford's Tower, York, YO1 9SF

Leeds: 0113 2431714

Harrogate: 01423 704070

York: 01904 642727


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