Breach of Contract

A contract of employment is a legal agreement which comes into being when an employee agrees to work for you in return for pay.

There are two types of terms within the contract - express and implied.

Express terms are those which are expressed orally or actually written into the contract, the key terms of which you are legally obliged to include within a 'written statement of particulars' which your employee is entitled to within 8 weeks of the start of their employment. Details such as job title, rate of pay, holiday entitlement and pension schemes must be included.

Implied terms refer to those that are too obvious to mention or those which both you and your employee would assume to be incorporated into the contract, for example statutory rights such as equal pay, minimum wage, statutory sick pay and freedom from discrimination on the grounds of sex, race or disability. There is also an implied term of trust and confidence which applies to both you and your employee.

Contractual terms can only be amended with the employee’s consent. In addition, the law greatly restricts the changes that can be made to an employee's contract if they have transferred to a new employer and is subject to the TUPE (Transfer of an Undertaking Protection of Employee) Regulations. 

If you are seeking to make changes to your employee's contract of employment, you should consult with the employee regarding the proposed changes. Factors such as the employee’s length of service, how many employees are likely to be affected by the change and the timing of the consultation will impact on the approach that you take.

If you or your employee break either the express or implied terms of a contract of employment or any other contract connected with employment then a breach of contract occurs. If your employee suffers a loss as a result of any such breach, they may make a claim for breach of contract either in the employment tribunal or in the civil courts.

If your employee resigns as a result of a breach of contract on your part, they may also have a claim for constructive dismissal. The tribunal may award damages to an employee of up to £25,000 for their loss, for example an agreed bonus, or pay in lieu of notice. An employee has three months after the date of their termination of employment to bring a breach of contract claim to an employment tribunal, regardless of whether or not an internal grievance or appeals procedure is in progress.

You may make a counter-claim to the tribunal if you suffer a loss through the employee's failure to observe the terms of their contract of employment.

If you would like more detailed information about breach of contract issues, Ashby Cohen can help you. We specialise in employment law cases, and our years of experience as employment lawyers make us uniquely qualified to assist you with any breach of contract issues you may have. Please contact us for an initial free telephone consultation.

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