Contracts that are fit for purpose

Man holding umberella to stop paperwork flooding him like rain

Feels like you are getting buried


Most bosses know, the paperwork between them and the people they pay is important .   But the psychological contract is just as important as the legal one. The ‘small print’ should support the both   If they are out of sync your relationships will be full of conflict.


The ’employment allowance’ is removing some costs associated with employment and it is time to look at which options are really appropriate for you.


Low commitment means low loyalty and unpleasant surprises

These ‘low emotion’ options fulfil a role, but they are unlikely to generate high value from the worker.   There can also be hidden time bombs for your budgets, since tribunals and the revenue can look behind the face of the paperwork and decide  there are employment or tax liabilities that you thought you had sidestepped.

Casual, freelance and zero hours contracts need careful management

Managers need to know when the lines of ‘worker’ and ’employee’ are blurred, and when they are at risk of being crossed.  You need to assess how appropriate these relationships are in terms of  your organisation’s own goals, and make sure these ‘low emotion’ contracts are only used appropriately.

Changing the type of people you recruit

The ‘sound bite’ generation has arguably been replaced by the ‘mini bite’ generation. Faced with the tremendous upheaval in the workplace, they may be reluctant to commit to ‘safe’ jobs, having seen long-term promises such as pension arrangements broken when they were too expensive to keep.

Maybe the dog didn’t just eat their homework but the whole economy!

They are unlikely to want to contract to spend their entire working time with one organisation. They may work part-time for several organisations at a time. These are not necessarily low skill workers, many will be knowledge workers with valuable skills to offer.

They will spend their lives being ‘TUPEd’ in and out of organisations or working as freelancers.  They may work with integrity but view their employer as one of several key customers, and not a sole source of income.

They may be ‘tribal’, and view themselves as part of an IT tribe, a legal tribe, a sales tribe, a high-flying executive tribe.  This tribe will move around geographically and virtually.  Many people will be part of several tribes at once.

Cafeteria contracts?

The old style ‘standard contract’ is  drifting so far away from how people actually work.  Getting a ‘standard’ is just going to increase the gap between the paperwork you issue and what is really going on.

In the modern workplace we have people working on teams where  each person has a different arrangements with us:-

  • our employees working next to freelancers
  • our employees working next to agency temps
  • office workers and home workers working on virtual teams
  • mobile workers who rarely visit our main workspace at all
  • outsourced workers (in the UK or globally)

Social enterprise and value driven organisations

Many organisations have values that are so important (fair trade, ecology, fair employment, etc) that they contract with their suppliers to uphold them.  Some of your clients  and funders will not work with you if you don’t have the ‘right’ policies in place.

If you are not careful you can end up with bewildering and complex documents and policies that hardly anyone reads of understands.

Keep it simple

The people we pay are not lawyers or HR policy writers.  They are ordinary people, who increasingly get their information from TV and YouTube.   They are not up for reading long and complicated documents.

Yet a simple set of clear freelance/employment contracts can set up the framework for a clear and workable relationship (and protect the business at the same time).

Why not join one of our regular free ‘KoffeeKlatch’  conversations and explore which options are right for you.  For more information  and registration click here

Annabel Kaye is Managing Director of Irenicon Ltd, a specialist employment law consultancy. Tel: 08452 303050 Fax: 08452 303060


Filed under contract, employment law, flexible working, free stuff, Freelance Workers

2 responses to “Contracts that are fit for purpose

  1. Pingback: Contracts that are fit for purpose | Employment...

  2. Pingback: Contracts that are fit for purpose | Talents be...

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