Very often the contracts of employment put in place for workers employed in traditionally rural jobs are basic and will do no more than comply with the statutory minimum requirements. For “agricultural workers” this will often be the style contract that comes with the Agricultural Workers Order Guide for Workers and Employers which is published annually when the wage increases take effect. For non agricultural workers a basic statement of particulars is often all that is issued. But is this enough?
If all you want to do is meet the minimum legal requirements placed on an employer the answer is yes. But employment contracts can be used for so much more. In times of farm diversification and competition, it is an oversight not to use these documents to provide protection for the business.
For example, any business that employs a driver to deliver goods is effectively giving that driver access to a customer list. It may not be a list in written form, but it is information which an employee can take on to a future employer. If that employee is handling invoices then he also knows the cost at which the business is supplying the product to the customer – a combination of information which would be valuable to any competitor. The contract of employment can be used in circumstances such as these to protect that information from being passed to a new employer/competitor. Restrictions can be put into a contract preventing the employee in question from working for a competitor within an appropriate geographical area for a period of time, thus protecting the information.
Contractual obligations on confidentiality can also be included which will continue past the date of termination of the contract.
So it is worth taking a bit of time to consider which employees carry this type of risk to the business, because putting post-termination restrictions into contracts can be a low cost way of preventing a potentially high cost problem.