Ensure Your Contracts of Employment are Legally Compliant for 2024

It’s the beginning of a new year making it a great opportunity to ensure all company documents are compliant and up to date. Among these, the employment contract stands out as a linchpin in protecting the business and ensuring employers are legally compliant. In this article, Operational HR Specialist Martina McAuley from HR Docs, emphasises the significance of well-crafted and comprehensive employment contracts in providing clarity on rights and responsibilities. 


Written Contracts vs. Oral Contracts

While oral contracts may convey terms swiftly, the superiority and legal importance of written contracts cannot be overstated. Martina McAuley highlights key reasons why a contract needs to be in writing:

Legal Compliance: It is mandatory that employees in all 3 jurisdictions (NI,Ireland and the UK) receive written terms and conditions of employment.

Outlining Responsibilities: Written contracts serve as a comprehensive guide, outlining an employee’s duties, benefits, and salary. This not only defines roles but also establishes transparent expectations.

Dispute Resolution: A written contract becomes a reference guide in disputes, outlining terms and workplace rules. It often includes dispute resolution procedures, mitigating the risk of protracted legal battles.

Litigation Prevention: A well-drafted contract significantly reduces the risk of legal claims, ensuring employees receive minimum entitlements mandated by employment legislation.


What to Include in an Employment Contract

Moving beyond minimum entitlements, employers should consider additional clauses based on industry and employment type. Essential terms encompass:

  • Hours of work
  • Job responsibilities and title
  • Conditions of offer (background check)
  • Temporary layoff clause
  • Termination clause and policy
  • Details of any Pension entitlements
  • Notice periods
  • Location of work
  • Remuneration
  • Annual leave provisions 
  • Data protection 


Key Areas for HR Compliance

Human Resource compliance covers a lot of aspects. You can simplify your HR compliance strategy by focusing on key areas that ensure legal adherence and smooth operations. Below is a summary of the key areas employers should be focused on to improve workplace practices, reduce liabilities and ensure legal compliance in 2024.

  1. Basic Legal Requirements: HR Policies 

Establish mandatory HR policies such as Disciplinary, Grievance, Dignity at Work, Equal Opportunities, Data Protection. Prioritise the creation of these policies to provide legal cover for your business. 

  1. Legal Employment Contracts and Employment Status

Draft legally compliant employment contracts, avoiding unreliable templates. Seek HR expert input to ensure contracts are robust and legally sound. Prioritise employment contracts before delving into the hiring process.

  1. Employee Handbook: The Central Hub for Policies

Develop a comprehensive employee handbook to house all policies. Regularly update the handbook for ongoing compliance. Enhance accessibility through your company portal or email distribution.

  1. Documenting Procedures: Building a Robust Foundation

Create templates and procedures for grievances, disciplinary actions, and more. Establish a central repository for templates, ensuring swift, consistent and efficient responses to issues.

  1. Bullet-Proof Hiring Process: Compliance at Every Step

Standardise the interview process with consolidated procedures and questions. Ensure compliance at the hiring stage by formalising offer letters and legal contracts.

  1. Wages and Salaries: Legal and Fair Compensation

Adhere to legal requirements, including paying at least the minimum wage. 

  1. Redundancy Processes: Understanding and Handling

Familiarise yourself with redundancy processes to navigate them smoothly. Comply with legal requirements and understand redundancy selection criteria.

  1. Probation and Notice Periods: Smooth Hiring Transitions

Establish clear probation periods for new hires. Define notice periods in employment contracts, considering varying roles and stakeholders.

  1. Handling Workplace Discrimination: Legal Safeguards

Implement procedures to identify and address discrimination based on any of the protected characteristics such as disability, age, race, gender etc.

  1. Day-to-Day HR Compliance: Ongoing Essentials

Regularly check and store employees’ Right to Work information. 


Drafting Employment Contracts: Essential Considerations

In drafting contracts, employers must consider key factors:

Legislative Variations: Employment law nuances across jurisdictions necessitate vigilance. Staying informed ensures compliance amid legislative updates.

Minimum Standards: Contracts must adhere to minimum terms set by employment legislation. Flexibility exists for additional benefits, but offering less than minimum entitlements is prohibited.

Smart HR Software: Streamlining contract creation is possible with HR Docs, a robust tool offering a library of reliable templates and guides. This ensures contracts align with legislative changes effortlessly.


Best Practices for 2024

In addition to the above considerations, employers should follow these best practices:

Clear, Detailed Language: Contracts should use clear and detailed language to avoid ambiguity and misinterpretation.

Document Attachments: Relevant documents, such as policies and procedures, should be attached to the employment contract for comprehensive understanding.

Pre-Work Commencement Signatures: Contracts should be signed before the first day of work to establish clarity and avoid any potential issues.

Regular Updates: Employers should proactively update employment contracts and policies to align with changing legislation and legal requirements.

Review Time for Employees: Employees should be provided with sufficient time to review the contract ensuring transparency and fairness.


Why You Should Care about HR Compliance

Understanding the importance of HR compliance might seem like unravelling a complex web, often accompanied by the perception of bureaucratic challenges. However, overlooking this crucial aspect can lead to future complications, impacting both your business and your team. Here are three compelling reasons why prioritising HR compliance is not just advisable but essential:

Preventing Legal Entanglements: By consistently adhering to employment laws and staying abreast of updates, you can steer clear of legal fees and potential entanglements in employment courts. Employment laws undergo regular revisions, underscoring the need to stay vigilant and implement necessary changes promptly.

Ensuring Smooth Business Operations: A commitment to HR compliance allows your business to operate seamlessly, providing you with the mental bandwidth to concentrate on growth initiatives. By adhering to established guidelines and regulations, you create a foundation for a well-organised and efficient business environment, reducing unnecessary stress.

Building Trust and Retaining Talent: Prioritising HR compliance demonstrates a dedication to the well-being of your team. This commitment contributes to fostering a positive employer brand, showcasing your business as one that prioritises employee protection. In turn, this builds trust among your team, increasing the likelihood that they will choose to stay with your company rather than seeking alternative employment opportunities.

In essence, investing time and resources in HR compliance is an investment in the long-term success, stability, and positive reputation of your business.


Leveraging HR Docs: Your Gateway to Compliance

HR Docs is here to ensure organisations have instant access to all the documentation required to stay legally compliant and boost people’s performance. Our online library provides instant access to meticulously drafted, legally watertight HR templates by leading experts. Tailored for Ireland, Northern Ireland, and Great Britain, HR Docs is the epitome of compliance at your fingertips. Here is how we add unparalleled value to employers:

Seamless Access: HR Docs offers online access to a complete library of compliance documents. From policies to scripts, contracts to clauses, it’s compliance as easy as a click.

Expert Guidance: Documents are drafted and updated by top HR and employment law consultants, guaranteeing reliability and legality.

Up-to-Date Assurance: HR Docs templates are updated to reflect the latest employment law changes.

As you embark on the journey of legal compliance in 2024, let HR Docs be your guide. Visit our website to explore the extensive library and ensure your contracts are not just compliant but exceptional. Empower your business with HR Docs – where compliance meets simplicity.