What is an employment contract?
An employment contract (also known as an employment agreement, contract of employment, or employee contract) sets out the employment conditions and the rights, responsibilities, and duties of the employer and the employee as agreed between them.
What should be included in an employment agreement?
Employee and employer relationships are regulated in two ways: through contractual terms and by statutory law.
Employment rights and responsibilities
Statutory law provides the minimum level of employment rights guaranteed to each employee.
These include, amongst others: the right to be granted the National Minimum Wage, breaks during working hours, annual leave, statutory sick pay, holiday pay, maternity leave, maternity pay, a maximum working week, right to disconnect and equal treatment and safety at workplace).
If any term of the employee contract reduces the right granted to the employee by statutory law, that term will not be enforceable by a court or Workplace Relations Commission (e.g. if the employee contract grants a wage lesser than the National Minimum Wage or does not grant statutory sick pay to the employee).
However, the employer can grant further rights if the employer desires to do so (such as a greater annual leave pay).
Therefore, it is pertinent for employers and employees both to know what an employee contract can and cannot cover.
Note: The Organisation of Working Time Act 1997 states that the maximum average working week for many employees cannot exceed 48 hours. This does not mean that a working week can never exceed 48 hours, it means that your average weekly hours over a 4-month period should not exceed 48 hours. For more information, please visit Citizen's Information
Statement of terms of employment
To be compliant with the Employment (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 2018, an employer must provide a written statement of five core terms within 5 days of starting the job (also known as statement of terms and conditions) to all new hires.
This document serves to make the new employee aware of certain important employment terms including:
the full names of employer and employee
the address of the employer
the duration of the contract (temporary or fixed)
the probationary period (if any)
the rate or method of calculation of the employee’s renumeration
the pay reference period for the purposes of National Minimum Wage Act 2000
the number of hours which the employer expects the employee to work
the pay period (how often the employee will be paid)
how overtime pay is calculated
the termination date (for fixed term contracts)
The employer must provide a written statement of the remaining express terms of employment within 2 months of starting work, in accordance with the Terms of Employment (Information) Acts 1994.
These include information on applicable employment laws, trade union membership, collective agreements and work pensions, and are often placed in an employee handbook (see below).
Organisational policies and procedures
Other policies and procedures that are not required to be provided in a written statement of particulars (such as data protection and disciplinary and grievance procedures) could be included in the employee's contract.
However, especially when you have many employees, changing each contract (and ensuring consistency between employees) every time a new law changes can be time consuming and difficult.
Therefore, it is usual to place all procedures and policies common to all staff (including such things as general holiday entitlement, notice periods for paid leave, pension scheme membership and grievance procedures) in an employee handbook and refer to the handbook in the employee contract.
Each Net Lawman document is a complete contract, covering the terms required to comply with the law and also provisions to further protect your business that many employee contract templates do not contain.
Using one, you'll be able to create your own employment contract for your own business without needing to navigate extensive employment law.
When you download your employment contract template, it will be in Microsoft Word format. So you will have no trouble editing the document to fit your needs.
Further terms in our employee contract templates protect your business from, for example: purposeful or accidental intellectual property theft; and that reduce the likelihood of ever being called to court by disgruntled employees.
Comply with current law and recommended practices
Our employee contract templates are completely up-to-date with the latest law (the governing law being that of the Republic of Ireland).
We also follow current best practice recommendations by the Workplace Relations Commission and other employment bodies.
Easy to understand and edit
We use plain English and modern language throughout our templates.
Doing so makes clear your expectations for your employee without reducing the legal effect of a document. It has the additional advantage of making editing easy.
Details such as the employee's job title, employee duties and training provisions can be added in our employee contract templates if required, either within the existing text, or by reference to a job description.
You can amend employment terms in our documents to cater to a change in circumstances, provided the written consent of both parties is available.
Suitable for all businesses and organisations
Our employee contract templates can be used by any type of organisation (including companies, charities, trusts, partnerships, and governmental organisations) of any size and in any industry.
They are suitable for use when:
hiring any new employee
updating existing contracts that do not comply with the latest law
any level of employee (we provide fuller contracts for senior staff)
permanent employees (full or part time employee) and temporary employees (such as casual or seasonal workers)
Why is it important to have a written employment agreement?
Providing written terms of employment is a legal requirement.
An employment contract, written or verbal is made as soon as the employee accepts a job offer.
To minimise future misunderstandings, we recommend providing a written contract with the offer letter so that the new employee can return an acceptance letter with a signed copy of the employee contract.
Different types of employment contracts
There are several different employment types. Each requires a slightly different document.
A permanent employee can be either part or full-time. A permanent employees’ employment continues for an indefinite duration unless the employee contract is terminated by either party. If you want to hire a permanent employee, you can use our standard employment agreement.
Fixed term employee
A fixed-term employee is a person whose contract is due to end when a specified event does or does not happen or when a specified task has been completed. For hiring fixed term employees, use our fixed term agreement.
Causal employees are hired by employers on an ad hoc basis without any guarantee of continuous employment or a certain number of work hours. If you require a causal worker, use our casual employment contract template.