You know that employees are entitled to a statement of particulars of employment and that you've 2 months to provide this statement. As a rule, you use the whole 2 months – after all, their employment might not last that long, in which case it would have a been a wasted effort. Is that sensible?

We'd suggest you provide the statement as soon as possible. Although the legislation gives you 2 months to provide the statement, the right arises after just one month. Accordingly, if the employment does end early, you could find yourself in breach of the legislation.

In a recent claim, a hotel employed some waiters and treated them dreadfully – in particular, they underpaid them, repeatedly swore at them and then summarily dismissed them when they complained. The hotel hadn't given them a written statement summarising the main terms and conditions of employment, as required by section 1 of the Employment Act 2002. One of the waiters had been employed for only 6 weeks.

The waiters brought a number of claims, including unlawful deductions from wages, holiday pay and race discrimination (they were Polish). In addition, they brought claims for failure to provide statements of terms and conditions of employment. This last claim cannot be brought by itself, but only as an additional claim if other claims are brought. In that situation, if the employer is found not to have provided the statement of terms and conditions by the time that their Employment Tribunal claim is issued, the employee is normally entitled to additional compensation of 2 or 4 weeks' pay. (For this purpose, weekly pay is capped like it is for many employment claims – currently, it's £508.)

The Employment Tribunal didn't make the award for failure to provide the statement to the claimant who'd been employed for only 6 weeks. However, it turned out they'd overlooked one of the sections of the Employment Act 2002: it must be provided even if employment ends before 2 months (but not if it ends before one month). The Employment Appeal Tribunal corrected the original tribunal's error and also said that it's best practice to provide the statement as soon as possible.

What this means for you

It's advisable to provide the statement as soon as you can after employment begins. This statement, which is often referred to as a 'section 1 statement', must summarise the main elements of the employment relationship – the Employment Act 2002 defines what must be in it.

Don't confuse this statement with the employment contract. The contract is the agreement that the parties have reached about their respective rights and obligations. Normally that will be recorded in writing before the employment begins, and it normally includes everything required by a section 1 statement plus more.

If the contract does include everything required by the section 1 statement, you won't have to provide an additional section 1 statement. If there is any conflict between the contract and the statement, the contract overrides the statement – potentially even if the contract wasn't written down.

How we can help

Our Employment agreement contains everything required by a section 1 statement, as well as many other options to help define the employment. Alternatively, if you only need something simpler, our Employment statement will meet the section 1 requirements.