The employment law team at Pinsent Curtis Biddle answer questions on workplace issues
Statement of terms and conditions
Q: I have heard of a case relating to the statement of terms and conditions of the employee. We use them to set out the contractual terms for our employees - should we?
A: No. We advise clients that they should additionally use comprehensive contracts of employment issued at the stage of offer and acceptance of the job.
The case is Lovett v Wigan Metropolitan Council. The Court of Appeal held that the terms and conditions discussed during an employee's interview and covered in a subsequent letter formed a contract of employment. Contrary to the employer's arguments, the statutory written particulars and appended documents that were issued following commencement of the employment relationship were held to not form part of the contract.
An employee has the right to receive a written statement of the substantive terms and conditions from the employer within two months of starting work but this is not intended to carry contractual force. In Lovett it was found that there was no evidence that the employee had it properly made clear to him that his career progression depended on "he needs of the department". Although this condition was contained in the statutory written particulars, it was not in line with what had been agreed orally and confirmed in the offer letter and therefore could not form part of the contract.
Lovett does not mean that there is new law for employers to grapple with, but it is a reminder of how the courts regard the statement of particulars - as a statutory obligation and not a contractual document.
Q: Is it true that it is going to be more difficult to rely on a compromise agreement in the future?
A: In one sense, yes. The decision in BCCI (In compulsory liquidation) concerned the interpretation of compromise agreements signed by ex-staff of the bank, via Acas. In consideration for one month's salary and after an interview with an Acas official, the employees signed an agreement stating that the payment was:
"...in full and final settlement of all or any claims whether under statute, common law or in equity of whatsoever nature that exis