Once an offer of employment has been made and accepted a binding contract is formed, regardless of whether or not the terms of the offer have been put in writing. It is, of course, nevertheless important that all the key terms of the contract are presented in writing and, indeed there is a statutory obligation to provide certain information in written form (the 'written statement of particulars of employment') under the Employment Rights Act 1996. Further to changes made in April 2020, this statement must be provided no later than the first day of employment (some information can still be provided in instalments) though typically an employer will - in any event - provide details of terms and conditions ahead of the employee starting work, to ensure that he/she has had the opportunity to read and understand the information contained within it.
How the required information, plus any other additional contractual terms and conditions which the employer wishes to include, is presented to the employee is not prescribed. In practice it is often a mixture of an initial offer letter which sets out the main terms and conditions attached to the offer of employment and a subsequent more detailed document, either in the form of a 'written statement of particulars' or an employment contract (see our FAQs for the technical differences between the two).
For speed, it is often simpler to produce an offer letter soon after the verbal offer is made which details basic terms (usually job title, start date, salary, pay arrangements, hours of work and the nature of the contract (if temporary for example)) as well as the conditions attached to the offer, as candidates will often want evidence of the offer before tendering their resignation or withdrawing from any other interviews. Full terms can then be sent in due course when there has been time to draw these up.
Workers who are not deemed to be employees (e.g. casuals) are also now entitled to a written statement of particulars, further to a change to the law in April 2020.
In our guidance and information section you can find detailed advice documents on various contractual matters, such as drawing up contracts, matters relating to temporary and fixed-term contracts, secondments and job shares. In our templates and tools you can download a range of example offer letters, template contracts and contract change letters as well as example secondment and job share agreements. Our FAQs cover some commonly-asked questions on offers and contracts.
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