Employees claiming to have not read their employment contract is no defence when it comes to problems with the employer, and only 1% of workers in the UK claim to have ever read their employment contract and understand its terms.
Ignorance of the employment contract can lead to disciplinary action and result in dismissal. In fact, the majority of disciplinary cases are as a direct result of a worker breaking a clause that was written in the contract, and therefore one that they should be familiar with if they had took the time to read and understand their employment contract.
The most frequent areas of dispute arising from not reading the employment contract include:
- Good time management. An employment contract usually states the hours of work and whether flexible time is an option. However it is not always the case that employees stick to the contracted hours of work.
- Social media misuse. Employment contracts and handbooks should set out the company policy of expected behaviour when employees are using social media, including rules around what they can post and what will bring the company into disrepute.
- Workplace behaviour. The employment contract should set out rules around expected behaviour of employees as well as dress code.
Some companies have tried to cleverly navigate around the issue of employees not reading their contracts by issuing a brief summary of expectations in the hope that the worker is more likely to read the abridged version that significantly reduces contract complexity into understandable bullet points.
This is an innovative method of improving employee/employer relations; however a summary sheet is not legally binding and we would strongly advise employers concerned with this issue to contact a specialist like Avensure to discuss the most appropriate form of contracts.