The importance of a good contract and handbook

12 August 2021 
2 minutes

If you approach any good legal advisor with an employment issue regarding one of your employees, one of the first things you will likely be asked for is the employee’s contract and any handbook. These documents are so important however unfortunately it is often something businesses don’t consider until they have an issue.

Often we find a business might not have got round to implementing any documents at all(!), or they have old drafts which are in bad need of updating, and on some occasions the drafts that a business are relying on are full of issues and leave them exposed to legal problems.

A good contract and handbook drafted bespoke to your business, will be the cornerstone to your Human Resources management.

The key things you want to look out for in your existing documents which may indicate they are in need of a refresh are;

  1. Vintage: unlike fine wine, these documents don’t get better with age. Employment law is evolving and changing all the time. If your drafts are more than 2 years old, we would recommend getting them updated or refreshed.
  1. Protections: if you have some high-level employees who are integral to your business and their contracts appear short and /or there is no section entitled “Restrictive Covenants” or “Post Termination Obligations” Then these documents may not have enough business protection in them and you will want to have those updated;
  1. Relevant Law: if your employees are based in Northern Ireland then your contracts should reference Northern Irish law. It seems like an obvious one, but we’ve seen a lot of situations over the years where businesses have unknowingly used English precedents. Due to some key differences that exist in the two jurisdictions issues can arise if a business is following an English contract or handbook for a Northern Irish employee.

If you have concerns on any of the above, it makes sense to take good advice now. After all a stitch in time… saves nine!

We are currently offering bespoke drafting services to business clients for contracts and handbooks, if you are interested, please contact Laura Turley our Legal Executive on who can provide all the information and fee information you will need.

If you have any other employment law queries, please do not hesitate to get in touch with the Employment Law team at MKB Law.

This article is for general guidance only and should not be regarded as a substitute for professional legal advice.

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