Once you have decided that you are going to employ somebody in your home it is very important that both parties understand and agree to what is expected from the working relationship. This should be established in a written contract of employment with stated terms and conditions that are signed and adhered to by employer and employee.
Below is a clear guide to establishing a secure contract that will protect both employer and employee.
Unsure if you need a contract?
All employees have a right to receive an employment contract within two months of their start date. Only workers who are exempt from employee status such as independent contractors - for example a self-employed cleaner - do not require a contract of employment.
What are the implications if there is no written contract in place?
The relationship between domestic employer and employee is often seen as a closer and more casual relationship than in a commercial employment setting and some people do not see a written contract as necessary. This can cause concern when a legal or contractual issue arises, such as holiday or sick pay or even salary agreements.
When there is no written contract in place the terms will be determined by evidence such as payslips, letters or written/emailed communication. An oral agreement can also be used but for obvious reasons this is hard to establish.
Employees, even without a binding contract are protected by the following statutory rights:
- Age appropriate minimum wage (currently £7.20 for over 25s, as at May 2016). This is unless the employee is a live-in employee where the employer pays full room and board. In this instance the minimum wage does not apply.
- Statutory minimum period of notice
- After two years of employment, redundancy and unfair dismissal rights
- The right to Statutory Sick Pay
- The right to maternity, paternity and shared parental leave/pay if employed for the appropriate amount of time
- Paid annual leave
- Protection from discrimination
- A safe place of work with breaks and rest periods. For nannies or personal carers/assistants where it would be impossible to have a break during working hours as they are looking after dependents the employer must pay for the full day work in lieu of breaks.
What does a contract need to include?
- The date the employment will commence alongside probationary and notice period. The notice period tends to be shorter for both parties in the first few months of employment and increases over the length of service.
- Hours of work
- A clear and concise description of the employees expected duties and tasks of employment
- Starting salary – we would always advise agreeing a gross salary with any employee
- The employer’s agreement to operate a PAYE scheme and pay the tax and NI due on the employee’s behalf
- Holiday entitlement (the statutory minimum for a full time employee is 28 days including bank holidays). The contract may also include a clause stipulating who chooses the holiday. The standard for domestic employees is that the employer picks 10 days and the employee picks 10 days + the 8 bank holidays.
- Sickness and maternity leave and any other leave that covers at least the statutory amounts
- Grievance and disciplinary procedure
- A contract may also cover privacy/confidentiality clauses regarding the employer and their family.
Stafftax provides free contract templates for all our clients. Employment law advice is provided by Stafftax Legal if you wish to adapt the contract for any terms of employment particular to your situation.