Does an employee have any rights without a written contract?

Does an employee have any rights without a written contract?

Short answer, yes.

Every employee has a minimum standard of rights under employment law. Even if they do not have a written contract of employment.


Implied terms of employment without a written employment contract

The law implies certain terms into the contract of employment, even if they have no written employment contract.  These terms are established by case law and will be “read –in” to their contract by a tribunal or court if necessary.

Implied terms impose obligations on both employers and employees.  Some significant implied terms which apply to employers are:

  • to provide a safe place for people to work
  • not to ask staff to do anything illegal
  • to deal with any grievance employees raise in a timely manner

As an employee, the implied terms in their verbal contract mean they have an obligation to:

  • comply with any reasonable instructions from the employer
  • co-operate with you the employer
  • not disclose confidential information
  • not compete in business against the employer while still working for them

Statutory rights without a written contract of employment

You and your staff can agree almost any express terms you like but neither of you can agree to a term that leaves the employee worse off than is provided for by the law (statute). In other words, any contract of employment has to comply with an employee’s statutory rights.

That means employees always have the right to:

  • a minimum amount of paid holiday
  • minimum rest breaks
  • at least the National Minimum Wage
  • itemised pay statements (electronic or paper)
  • equal pay in comparison to someone of the opposite gender doing the same job
  • minimum pension contributions
  • maternity and other parental leave
  • redundancy pay
  • not to be unfairly dismissed (over two years’ service)
  • protection against discrimination and harassment


If you want any help with employment contracts, notice periods, and any employment or HR issues, Gap HR are here to help.

Give us a call on 01491 598 600 or drop us a line at and we can discuss.

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    If you are an employee and feel that you have been treated badly, then we strongly advise you to contact ACAS:

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    Simply get in touch and they'll provide you with clear and confidential guidance about any kind of dispute or query that you have about relationship issues within the workplace.

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