Drawing up an employment contract - checklist

An HR manager checks all the terms and conditions on a draft employment contract

Our step-by-step guide to drawing up an employment contract, from thinking up the basic terms to include to agreeing and signing with your employee.

  • Look for samples of written statements and contracts: contact Acas or your trade association, or ask similar businesses you know.
  • Decide the basic terms for the written statement: for example, pay, working hours, holidays and notice periods.
  • Decide whether the job is permanent and whether you want to include a probationary period.
  • Consider which areas may need flexibility: for example, the employee's job title and role, and place of work.
  • Clarify any areas which you want to be non-contractual, such as discretionary bonuses.
  • Draw up the written statement; ensure that you have included all the legally required information.
  • Ensure that any other documents you refer to in the written statement are readily accessible (eg disciplinary and grievance procedures and information on company pension schemes).
  • Review the job and any problems you have experienced with employees and ex-employees in the past.
  • Decide whether there are any requirements for the employee (eg to hold or achieve a professional qualification or a driving licence).
  • Identify any other concerns: for example, confidentiality, intellectual property or the potential for ex-employees to compete with you.
  • Draw up a clear contract; include the written statement and extra clauses to cover the additional contractual elements you want to include.
  • Ensure that the contract is not discriminatory, does not override employees' statutory rights and is legally enforceable.
  • Take legal advice as necessary, particularly if the contract attempts to restrict employees after they leave your employment.
  • Give each employee their written statement of employment particualrs on or before the first day of work and employment contract within two months of commencing their employment.
  • Explain the contract and its significance to the employee; agree the contract, and ask the employee to sign a copy.

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