Brand new research into the subject of workplace contracts has shown that a shocking number of employees are signing their names on the dotted line without reading the important T’s & C’s first. This lax approach is resulting in a widespread ignorance that is, in turn, leading to major disruption for many managers and dismissal for a worrying number of staff. We looked into the findings and offer our advice on putting a clear and concise contract together.
A vast majority of employees disregard their contracts
According to shocking new information provided by employment law consultancy Protecting.co.uk, a mere 1 in 166 UK workers are reading and understanding the content of their contracts before signing their names. The company ran a survey of 1,000 employees and found that nearly all of them admit to disregarding what is written in the important document despite it playing such a crucial part in the longevity of their employment.
When asked if they had read their contracts, 93 said that they had “part-read” or “skimmed” the document, while a whopping 909 of those surveyed revealed that they had never read their contracts or at least had no recollection of doing so. What was perhaps even more concerning than that was the 56% of workers who admitted that they actually have no idea where their contracts even are.
Mark Hall, a spokesperson for Protecting.co.uk, said: “You would have thought that you would read through an important document before you put your name to it, but it appears that for most people that’s simply not the case.
“This ignorance often only becomes an issue for employees when they enter into a dispute with their bosses.”
The boy who cried unfair dismissal
As we mentioned earlier, this negligent attitude that a majority of UK workers appear to be adopting is cultivating a sweeping ignorance that is causing much unnecessary disruption for the country’s businesses and dismissal of their employees. This is due to a growing number of contract breaches that have been committed by workers who aren’t actually aware they’re doing anything wrong.
Some of the most prominent breaches include unlawfully working for other companies (including competitors), unacceptable social media posts, poor time management and broken codes of dress. This sheer ignorance is causing an epidemic of ‘unfair dismissal’ claims off the back of employees unknowingly breaking these clearly specified clauses in their unread contracts.
However despite pleading incomprehension and claiming oblivion to the fact they are doing something wrong, contract ignorance can’t be considered a valid justification when it comes to staff disciplinary. As the saying goes, you can only take the horse to water, you can’t force it drink but we’ve put together a few tips to help you refine your approach when it comes to creating workplace contracts.
Top 3 tips to consider when creating a contract
Sticking to these simple rules should help minimise risk for your business in the event of a dispute and also help your employees understand the clauses more comprehensively. Once you have put all of these in place and delivered the contract, we would also advise setting aside some time to sit with each individual employee and go through the document with them personally so you know they are aware of their obligations and the various company requirements.
Refine your language – Good contract management can only be achieved once the language and terminology being used it clearly defined and understood by both parties. Misinterpretation of content is just as problematic as sheer ignorance so it’s paramount that you are as clear and transparent as possible in what you are trying to express.
Be consistent with tone of voice and the phrases you choose and ensure that all names, facts and figures are 100% accurate. Opt for layman’s terms as opposed to complex industry lingo in order to minimise confusion.
Use a template – When it comes to putting the contents of your contract together in some sort of working order, don’t be afraid to use a pre-constructed template for inspiration. There are plenty of places online to find available templates that can serve as a handy skeleton for your own company documents.
Then when you have refined the document and are happy with how it looks and reads, be sure to stockpile it somewhere safe and use it as a cookie cutter for other contracts that are created in the future. This will ensure accuracy and consistency as well as saving you a great deal of time and energy.
Seek the advice of a professional – Once you have completed the contract and triple-checked the document for yourself thoroughly, we advise seeking the guidance of a legal professional who can ensure that everything is present and correct that needs to be. Getting a qualified expert to oversee the contract writing process will allow you peace of mind that you are operating within your rights and in accordance with all of the necessary obligations.