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Workers Failing to Read Employment Contracts

New research from Which? Legal Service has revealed that at least 5.1 million Brits fail to read their employment contracts properly.

Which? Surveyed over 4,000 members of the British public, 26% of those asked only skim read their employment contracts, whilst 6% admitted to not having read them at all.

Seven out of ten employees did not receive their contract before starting a job, and 9% didn't get a contract until they had been in the position for six months or more.

Which? believes that at least 2 million British workers do not have any form of employment contract.

As a minimum all employers are required to provide each member of staff with a written statement of certain terms of employment.

The document should include the following:

•    Job title and duties;
•    Hours of work;
•    Salary;
•    Pensions and benefits;
•    Expenses and deductions;
•    Holiday entitlements;
•    Absence and sick pay;
•    Confidentiality;
•    Termination;
•    Disciplinary and grievance procedures;
•    Health and safety; and
•    Data protection.

Many employees rely on what they are told in an interview or offer letter, as many details including salary, which is one of the biggest concerns, would probably be stated at this point.  However, such apparent employee apathy towards the small print of a contract could cause workers a surprise if they are unaware of the wider rules of a company, further down the line.

Which? Chief Executive, Peter Vicary-Smith, stressed the importance of reading employment-related documents thoroughly:

"Our research shows that many people fail to take the time to read their employment contracts properly, which means they have no idea what they've signed up to and could be in for a shock in the future.

"Always read your contract before signing it and check that the terms – such as salary, holiday entitlement, notice period and redundancy procedure – are in line with what your employer agreed at your interview.  Dotting the 'i's and crossing the 't's could pay dividends in the long-term."