Breach of Employment Contract Advice for Employers
As an employer, your employees place a massive amount of trust in you and expect to be treated fairly. If you breach their contract of employment, the implications for you are potentially very serious.
Depending on the nature and cause of the breach, at the worst case it could result in a claim for Constructive Dismissal and possibly an Employment Tribunal.
Our specialist team provides Employment Law advice in different languages, including advice on breaches of employment contracts. Call them on 0208 1111 911 to discuss your circumstances.
How does a breach of employment contract arise?
Your employees should all have a written contract of employment. This will typically be a standard wording which is issued to everybody, but key employees may have their own bespoke contract with slight variations in the terms of their employment.
You may also have a staff handbook which you issue to all staff, to explain your internal procedures in more detail. Any variations to an employee’s contract (such as wage increases or changes to place of work or hours for example) may be formalised through an ad-hoc letter to be retained on their HR file.
Broadly speaking there are two types of breach that can arise in an employment contract:
- A breach of an express term, which means failing to comply with something written into the contract of employment. For example, you may discipline someone without following your disciplinary procedure properly.
- A breach of an implied term, which is not written into the contract but should be a reasonable expectation from employees, or is a statutory right. For example, they may suffer discrimination or be affected by health and safety failings.
If your employee is aware of the breach, or has it brought to their attention by their own legal adviser, this could be a potential legal problem for you.
What could the implications of a breach of contract be?
It is possible that a breach of contract could happen quite innocently, with neither the employee nor the employer becoming aware of it, in which case it wouldn’t become a problem. For example, you may have a written policy that all job vacancies will be advertised internally and forget to do so before appointing an external candidate.
Any employee looking to take action against you for a breach of contract must demonstrate that they have suffered in some way as a result of the breach, such as a financial loss, loss of reputation or significant distress. If they are able to prove this, some of the possible outcomes are:
- A Constructive Dismissal claim if the employee feels that they have no alternative but to resign after unfair treatment.
- Wrongful or Unfair Dismissal if you fail to follow procedures correctly in the dismissal of an employee, or they can demonstrate that they experienced discrimination in the workplace.
- An Employment Tribunal if either of the above are proven.
If you have any reason to believe that you may have breached the contract of one or more employees – especially if it has been brought to your attention by an employee – we strongly recommend that you seek Employment Law advice.
What other legal services might I need?
If you think you have breached an employee’s contracts it’s highly likely that you would benefit from some general Employment Law advice, to ensure that your employment contracts and employment procedures are fit for purpose. This can help you anticipate and avoid any further breaches and employment issues. Problems can arise when procedures are not carefully drafted and reviewed regularly.
We can also advise on a wide range of other Business Law matters, including Dispute Resolution, Debt Recovery, Commercial Property and more.
How do I get advice on breaching an employee’s contract of employment?
Call us on 0208 1111 911 or contact us through the website and we’ll discuss your circumstances with you. Then we’ll recommend the best course of action. The initial call is free and we’ll advise you of our fees before you decide to instruct us.