A number of store staff have never received a contract of employment? Could I be taken to an employment tribunal for any breaches of employment law?

An employment contract sets out an employee’s rights, responsibilities and duties. While they do not need to be in writing to be legally valid, having things written down will reduce the likelihood of disagreements.

Rob Coward, employment partner at law firm Hill Dickinson, explains: “Employees who have been working for an employer for longer than one month have the right to receive a written statement containing the basic minimum particulars of employment required by section 1 of the Employment Rights Act 1996. This sets out an employee’s main employment terms, including the job description, pay, hours of work and any disciplinary or grievance procedures of the employer. This must be provided to an employee within two months of their starting. Where an employer does not give an employee a statement, the employee may refer the matter to an employment tribunal to assess what the terms should be.”

Coward adds that a contract can usually only be amended in accordance with its terms or with the agreement of the parties. However, not all changes to working practices require this. He says “flexibility clauses” can allow an employer to reserve the right to alter the existing contract of employment or agreement; plus “some working practices are not contractual and are ‘works rules’ and may be amended without consent.”

When a contractual change occurs “written notice of the changes need to be sent to the employee” within a month of the change.