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Permanent job never confirmed in writing, now offering temp contract!

Permanent job never confirmed in writing now o...

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Hi Everyone, I started work for a company in Jan 2011 on a contract basis working 3 days per week. The contract ran out end March 2012. I was then VERBALLY offered the job on a permanent basis, and I accpeted. Although I asked several times, this was never confirmed in writing and I have not been given a contract of employment.

In August a colleague left, and instead of replacing her I was told I would increase my days to 4 per week and take over her role as well as my own - on a temporary contrct basis until 31 December. I wasn't even allowed to think it over but was pressured to accept the role there and then - which I did verbally. It was made clear I would be 'surplus to requirements' otherwise.

I want to leave, but I'm not sure if I should resign (no job seekers in that case) or if I can claim that my contract effectively ended back in March. What is the legal position is regarding whether I am permanent or temp? I have been given a temp contract but haven't signed it yet...

Thanks everyone

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By Taradaynes
05th Sep 2012 16:54

Legally, the employment contract is the agreement between the employer & the employee. It is a legal entitlement that the terms & conditions (or 'particulars') of that contract (job title, hours, salary, benefits etc. etc.) are confirmed in writing within 2 months of you starting, but this written statement of terms & conditions is not the contract itself (although it is often referred to as a contract, probably because that is quicker & easier to say!)

When your original  fixed term contract finished in March 2012, did you leave for a week or more? If not, then you have continuous service from your original start date - i.e. you are still on the same contract (even though the terms may have changed). If you had an unpaid break for a week or more, then you started a new contract, & they should have provided a written statement of the terms within 2 months. Regardless of whether they did or not though, the employment contract still exists, as you have been working & they have been paying you!

When they changed your days, & also made what was a permanent contract (as agreed verbally) to a fixed term one, they made a change to your terms & conditions of employment. Although they can do this, they can't do it unilaterally - i.e. without consultation & agreement with you. So if you feel that they did not give you sufficient opportunity to consider it or renegotiate the terms, you may have cause for a complaint.

However, if you have continued to come into work & do the job without raising this as an issue, you could be considered to have accepted the contract by your actions, regardless of whether you have signed the written statement of terms & conditions. (The written terms don't have to be signed by either party - this is good practice s it gives a clear record that you have read, understood & accepted it, but it doesn't actually make any difference as to whether the employment contract is valid or not.)

Even with a fixed-term contract, if you have 2 years' service when it ends, you are entitled to statutory redundancy pay. As you started in January 2011 & they intend to finish your contract in December 2013, this sounds suspiciously like a way of avoiding having to pay you a redundancy payment! You are entitled though to written reasons for your dismissal.

I would suggest that you raise these issues with your employer, informally at first, & make it clear that you are aware of your employment rights (even if they aren't!) If you don't feel that they have resolved this to your satisfaction, &/or are treating you unfairly, you can raise a formal grievance internally. You can go to a tribunal for any statutory entitlements that they have not honoured (such as the written statement) but you would need to exhaust your internal procedures first.

Good luck!

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