As an employer, providing your employees with clear and legally approved contracts of employment is critical, both to adhere to legal requirements and to set out what is expected from both parties during the term of employment. In addition, many employers also issue new hires with a staff handbook that shares expectations and processes that the company requires and adheres to.

Sometimes, these two documents can become blurred and cause confusion, so we’ve shared the differences between them so that you can ensure everyone always has access to the right information.

All About Employee Contracts

An employment contract is an agreement between an employee and an employer that is protected by UK Law. It outlines the terms and conditions of the employment relationship. It sets out the rights and responsibilities of both parties and includes important details such as the employee’s job duties, salary and benefits, the length of the employment, and any restrictions on the employee’s conduct or future employment.

All About Staff Handbooks

A staff handbook is a document given to employees by the employer which provides general guidelines, policies, and procedures of the company. It provides a reference on company culture, code of conduct, benefits, and other important information related to the employee’s work in the organization. It usually communicates the employer’s expectations of their employees and the standards of behaviour expected within the company.

The Main Differences Between Contracts and Handbooks

Even when you have a solid understanding of both types of documents, it’s a good idea to understand the main differences to ensure clarity for all:

  1. The Purpose – a staff handbook is generally home for all the business policies so that employees are aware of expectations, but it is not legally enforceable. An employee contract is a legally binding contract between the employer and the employee with legal protection for both sides.
  2. The Contents – a staff handbook provides employees with all the relevant policies they will need during their employment term. The employment contract will set out the terms of the employment that both parties will adhere to.
  3. Amendments – staff handbooks can be changed at any time without the need to consult with anyone. Changing an employee contract needs agreement from the employee and employer before it can happen.