Employment contract solicitors in London
No one wants to waste time on employment documentation. But, it is a necessity for running a stable workforce. Off the shelf templates are attractive, although often prove to be a false economy when you come to rely on them. We put in place the basics you can rely upon.
We are always happy to provide suggestions and a quote – please do get in touch.
We cover off obligations at all stages from:
- Commencement of employment;
- Flexibility for effective management during employment;
- Restrictions designed to prevent anti competitive behaviour;
- Special provisions needed for directors;
- Drafting and calculation of bonus payments; and
- Obligations upon termination of employment.
Matters not automatically implied
Some really important clauses employers need are not automatically implied into employment contracts or director’s service agreements. If the employer is to have any protection specific wording is needed. Core clauses where the employer will be at risk include:
Employee duty of confidentiality
- Special protection needs to be included in the employment documentation to protect trade secrets, know how, customer and supplier details.
No automatic protection for IP and trade secrets
- There is no protection for the intellectual property used in the business such as the database, clients, products, designs and copyright without specific contractual agreement. The company’s exit will be jeopardised if it does not have suitably drafted agreements with enforceable technology IP protection clauses.
Anti competition provisions not automatic
- There is a balance to be drawn between the right of an employee or a director to earn a living and the right of the employer to protect itself from unfair competition when the individual leaves. Employment documentation which does not hit the fine balance may be unenforceable. This is a fast moving area of employment law.
Monitoring of employees
- Employers cannot access emails automatically even if the emails are on the work system. Employees have privacy rights. However, a line in the employment documentation notifying the employees that the employer will be monitoring then gives employers much more power.
Termination of employment
We review what will happen if you need to terminate the relationship and add this to your employment documentation.
Garden leave clauses can be handy. A garden leave clause means you can exclude the employee from the business without risking breaching the restrictive covenants. Enforcement of restrictive covenants will be easier with garden leave clauses.
Do you want to be able to end the contract quickly
In this case we will draft a payment in lieu of notice (PILON) clause. A PILON clause provides flexibility for employers. Employers can use the PILON to keep the employee out of the market and stop him joining a competitor for the length of the non compete. This assumes that the non-compete is enforceable. However, it does mean notice payments will be taxable.
We prepare employment policies appropriate for your business. These are usually contained in staff handbooks or other reasonably accessible documents. All types of employers need policies including partnerships.
Our suggested policies will set out the standards expected of employees. Experience shows that employment policies educate the staff which in turn improves performance.
Certain employment policies are required by law
There are certain policies are required by law such as disciplinary rules and procedures. There are also policy areas that, although not compulsory, can bring significant protections for employers such as data protection and bribery.
Should the employment policy be contractually binding?
We will carve out certain policies from being contractually binding. The reason is to avoid creating more onerous conditions for employers than is necessary.
We recommend which policies should form a binding contractual commitment which employers must stick to, and which policies are best left as non-contractual to build in flexibility for the employer.
Review of employment policies
We review or prepare employment policies ranging from the disciplinary and grievance policy through to policies relating to equal opportunities, employee monitoring, anti-bribery and corruption, whistle blowing and health and safety to name a few.
You may have no protection as an employer once an employee has left. The risks include derogatory comments particularly on social media, poaching staff, customers and exploitation of intellectual property to name just a few. Employers can protect themselves under a settlement agreement, a form of employment documentation.
Refresh of key clauses
Often the employer uses employment documentation such as a settlement agreement to secure obligations from an employee not included in the original employment agreement. For example if the confidential information clauses are not up to scratch or the post termination restrictions are out of date they can be re-stated in the settlement agreement.
Tax on settlement payments
If you are making a payment for various types of losses and claims the layout of the settlement agreement will be important for tax. If you do not operate the tax on the termination payment correctly you run the risk of HMRC assessing the employer to further tax, interest and penalties for making an incorrect return to HMRC. Different types of payments carry different basis of taxation.
Up to £30,000 can still be paid tax free on termination of employment. We will review to ensure you fall within the framework required to qualify for making a tax free payment.