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Forming an employment contract


Employment law is founded on contract law. A contract of employment exists between two parties, the employer and the employee. The employee agrees to work for an employer and, in return the employer agrees to pay the employee. If either party breaches this agreement, the other party may make a claim for breach of contract. Contract law dictates that, in order to create a legally enforceable employment contract, the following elements must be present, an offer, an acceptance, an intention to create legal relations, a consideration, and certainty as to terms.

Key points

  • An employment contract is a special kind of contract, with additional rights and requirements attached to it not found in other forms of contract. 
  • This is to reflect the uneven distribution of power between employer and employee. 
  • The additional rights and requirements can be found in statute, and there are certain minimum terms that must be included in all employment contracts by the Employment Rights Act 1996, section 1. These form the 'statement of written particulars'. More information on this can be found in our dedicated resource Statement of written particulars | Employment Law.
  • Employment contracts may be offered on a conditional basis, and require certain things to be happen or proved before the contract is binding. These might include a satisfactory DBS check, proof of right to work in the UK, or the provision of satisfactory references.