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Ask The Legal Expert The Farm Business and Contracts of Employment.

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This month Paul Shuttleworth, Head of Employment & HR advises a farmer on his work contracts.

I run a farm and I use a number of casual workers during busy periods – often for six months at a time. What are my obligations regarding giving them contracts?

This is a common issue in the farming community partly because of the seasonal nature of the work and because there are so many external factors which can have an impact upon the output of a farming business.

Many farming employers take on staff on a fairly casual basis but all employees have basic employment rights which must be met. Once these are formalised it puts both employee and employer on a more stable footing.

As an employer you are obliged to provide any staff who are set to work for you for more than a month with a written statement of certain terms of their employment (the required statutory particulars) (section 1 Employment Rights Act 1996 (ERA 1996)).
This written statement containing the required statutory particulars is often referred to as the section 1 statement. It must be given to employees no later than two months after their employment begins. Particulars may be given at different times provided they are all given by the end of the two-month period.
The section 1 may be given as a statement, as a letter of engagement, or as a contract of employment. This can be provided either before or after employment starts, or in more than one document. However, certain key particulars must be given in a single principle statement document. They are: the names of the employer and employee, job title, place of work, a brief description of the work, the employee’s start date and the date the employee's period of continuous employment began, the pay, or the method of calculating pay, working hours, holiday entitlement and holiday pay.

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