• With the news headlines currently dominated by reports of acute labour shortages in the food and agriculture industries, more farm businesses are looking to take on staff to fill the gaps during the run up to Christmas.

    Often, workers are taken on verbal contracts and it can be tempting to do so to bring people onboard quickly. However, having a written contract in place is always recommended, particularly to avoid disputes or ambiguity over what has been agreed. Since 6 April 2020 it is a legal requirement for a written statement of terms of employment (also known as a Section 1 Statement) to be given to workers as well as employees, which may leave some businesses exposed to a risk of Tribunal claims.

    Who is entitled to the Statement?

    Employees have long been entitled to receive a written statement of employment particulars, under Section 1 of the Employment Rights Act 1996.

    Since 6 April 2020, this entitlement has been extended to any worker commencing work after that date. This is a day one right, with no minimum service requirement.

    This information is usually provided to employees or workers in a contract of employment, although it can be provided separately.

    What needs to be in a Section 1 Statement?

    There are certain particulars which need to be included in the same document (also known as the principal statement) in order to be legally compliant.

    For workers, these particulars are:

    • Name of the employer and the worker
    • The employer’s address
    • The date the employment or engagement began
    • The scale or rate of pay, or the method for calculating it
    • The interval at which renumeration is paid
    • The terms and conditions relating to hours of work, including: Normal working hours; the days of the week the worker is required to work; and whether or not such hours or days may be variable and if so, how they vary or how that variation is determined
    • The terms and conditions relating to holiday entitlement including public holidays and how holiday pay is calculated
    • The amount of sick leave and pay (or where this information can be found)
    • Whether the worker is entitled to any other paid leave (or where this information can be found)
    • The length of notice required by either party to terminate the contract
    • The job title or brief description of the job
    • The expected end date, if the engagement is not permanent
    • Any conditions around probation periods including their length
    • The place of work
    • Whether the workers are required to work outside the UK for more than a month (and if so, what terms will apply)
    • Details of any mandatory training or mandatory training which the employer will not pay for
    • Any benefits provided by the employer which are not covered elsewhere (or a statement that none apply).

    Some terms can be provided at a later date, and do not need to be included in the principal statement. These include:

    • Information, or where to find information, regarding pension arrangements
    • Details of any collective agreements
    • Details of, or where to find details of, any training provided by the employer which is not compulsory
    • Disciplinary rules and disciplinary and grievance procedures.

    When does the principal statement need to be given?

    The principal statement needs to be given on or before the first day of employment. The information that can follow at a later date must be given no later than two months after the employment begins.

    What are the consequences for non-compliance?

    If a Section 1 Statement is not provided, is inaccurate or incomplete, an employee or worker can complain to an Employment Tribunal. The Tribunal will then determine what particulars should have been included, in order for the Statement to be legally compliant.

    If an individual is bringing another claim against the employer at the same time, they may also be entitled to compensation of up to four weeks’ pay.

    Ensuring compliance with the requirements around the Section 1 Statement should be a priority for any employer. If you are unsure of your responsibilities in regards to taking on seasonal workers, or on determining an individual’s employment status, it is best to seek legal advice to avoid potential disputes.

    This article was first published in the November 2021 edition of South East Farmer.

    This content is correct at time of publication

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