Contracts of employment, by definition, are legally binding agreements between an employer and an employee. They consist of express terms written into the employment contract and implied terms which are not expressly stated. Although employment contracts are governed by contract law, there are many statutory rules which affect employment contracts too.

This factsheet focuses on the contract of service, rather than a contract for services which might apply to a subcontractor or freelance worker. The factsheet provides introductory guidance on employment contracts and examines the items included in the written statement of particulars and their legal context. It also provides advice on drafting or amending contracts and varying the contractual terms.

CIPD viewpoint

What is a contract of employment?

The legal position

Types of contract

The written statement of particulars

Varying the contract of employment

Useful contacts and further reading

This factsheet was last updated by Lisa Ayling solicitor and employment law specialist, and by Jonny Gifford.

Jonny Gifford

Jonny Gifford: Organisational Behaviour Adviser

Jonny is the CIPD’s Adviser for Organisational Behaviour. He has had a varied career in researching employment and people management issues, working at the Institute for Employment Studies and Roffey Park Institute before joining the CIPD in 2012. A central focus in his work is applying behavioural science insights to core aspects of people management. Recently he has led programmes of work doing this in the areas of recruitment, reward and performance management. 

Jonny is also committed to helping HR practitioners make better use of evidence to make better decisions. He runs the CIPD Applied Research Conference, which exists to strengthen links between academic research and HR practice. 


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