Editor's message: The contract of employment forms the backbone of the employment relationship. There is no obligation on employers to put contracts in writing (although certain key employment terms must be set out in a written statement of employment particulars). However, oral or ambiguous terms have the potential to lead to disputes - so it is advisable to make sure your terms are clearly set out in writing, so that everyone understands what has been agreed.
While express contractual terms are those agreed between the organisation and the employee - or incorporated from, for example, a collective agreement or a staff handbook - terms may also be implied into the contract. Often this will be by custom or practice, or the parties' conduct, or because of what a court or tribunal deems must have been intended when the two parties entered into the contract.
One of the most important implied terms is the implied duty of mutual trust and confidence - employees claiming that they have been constructively dismissed often cite a breach of this implied term.
Clio Springer, senior employment law editor
Updated to include information on Tillman v Egon Zehnder Ltd, in which the Supreme Court considered if an unenforceable part of a post-termination restriction clause could be severed.
Updated to reflect that the Supreme Court allowed the appeal in Tillman v Egon Zehnder Ltd.
In Tillman v Egon Zehnder Ltd, the Supreme Court allowed the appeal and held that a six-month non-compete clause was enforceable because the unenforceable part of the clause was capable of being severed.
Updated to include information on East of England Ambulance Trust v Flowers, in which the Court of Appeal held that the calculation of holiday pay should include voluntary overtime.
A model contract clause for use where an employee is expected to create intellectual property, including inventions, patents and copyright, during the course of their employment.
A model contract clause for use where external contractors do work for your organisation that may result in intellectual property rights being created.
A model contract clause for use where an employee wishes to retain ownership of an invention or other intellectual property that they have made prior to commencing work for the organisation.
In Atherton v Bensons Vending Ltd, an employment tribunal held that a small employer fairly dismissed an employee who made a personal attack on the managing director on Facebook. However, the claimant's wrongful dismissal was upheld because the employer could not show that his behaviour was so serious that it was entitled to dismiss him without notice pay.
Updated to include information on Antuzis and others v DJ Houghton Catching Services Ltd and others, in which the High Court considered liability for the employer's statutory and contractual breaches.
HR and legal information and guidance relating to contracts of employment.