What are the terms of my contract?

Your contract of employment is made up of a number of terms, some written down, called 'express terms', some 'implied', and some brought into the contract because they are statutory entitlements, based on an Act of Parliament. Breach of contract could relate to any of these terms of the contract:

  • Express terms are those you agreed with your employer directly, either in writing or orally – for example, an agreement about paid overtime. Some express terms are included in the contract because of the need to obey statutory rules – for example, statutory rules about the safe use of display screen equipment (DSE), or statutory restrictions on working time.
  • An express term cannot take away any of the minimum rights given to you by statute.
  • An express term can be based on a collective agreement, as long as the term has been incorporated into your contract of employment. For example, your contract might state that wage increases are to be fixed in accordance with a particular collective agreement.
  • Implied terms are not directly agreed between you and your employer, but nonetheless they are part of your contract.
  • An implied term can arise through conduct, custom or practice. Where there is no express term, implied terms can be identified by looking at the surrounding circumstances to work out what the parties must have intended at the time the contract was entered into. In addition, implied terms can include terms which are so central to the contract that it could not exist without them – for example, the implied term that the employer will take reasonable care of your health and safety (including mental health), or the duty of mutual trust and confidence.
Note: This content is provided as general background information and should not be taken as legal advice or financial advice for your particular situation. Make sure to get individual advice on your case from your union, a source on our free help page or an independent financial advisor before taking any action.

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