Shocking “ignorance” of employee contracts

by Nicola Middlemiss24 Sep 2015
Only one worker in 166 reads their contact and fully understands its contents – at least that’s according to a new report which is shocking industry experts.

“We're stunned,” said spokesman Mark Hall, of – the employment law consulting service that commissioned the study.
“You would have thought that you would read through an important document before you put your name to it, but it appears that for most people that's simply not the case,” he added.

The report

The report asked 1,000 UK-based employees if they’d ever read their employment contract in full – to which only 0.6 per cent insisted they had.

Ninety-three claimed to have read part of the document but the vast majority – a startling 909 employees – admitted they had not read the contents or did not remember doing so.

The results indicate an acute lack of understanding – something which can all-too-often lead to internal disputes and unnecessary dismissals.

The top five problems which could have been avoided if contracts had been fully understood were also revealed:
  • “Moonlighting” for other companies
  • Bringing the company into disrepute
  • Timeliness
  • Workplace behaviour
  • Misuse of company cars
The solution

It’s simple, says one HR leader– literally.

“Many organisations have very detailed lengthy legal contracts designed not to provide clarity,” said Addaction HRD Guy Pink. “HR could help by simplifying the details, writing these in plain English so everyone in the company can understand what is being said.

“It’s about taking contracts back from lawyers and making them human,” he added.


  • by MM 24/09/2015 11:05:23 AM

    There was an article a little while ago in The Journal of Industrial Relations (the journal of the Australian Labour and Employment Relations Association) that was written by academics that said (in a very basic, summarised nutshell) that understanding conditions of employment helped reduce employee turnover.
    The Association for Payroll Specialists used that JIR paper as the basis of an article in their own Journal on how an organisation's Payroll Team could help employee's understand their pay.

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