Two recent cases have highlighted the importance of clear drafting in employment contracts. In Robert Bates Wrekin Landscapes v Knight the contract contained a provision allowing for summary dismissal for breach of a customer’s security rules. The EAT ruled that this clause should be construed as only applying where the breach of security rules was deliberate. Summary dismissal for minor or inadvertent breaches would only be lawful if the provision had expressly referred to this type of breach.
Where employees work flexi-hours, the contract should ideally place a limit on how many additional hours can be accumulated, and specify whether, on termination, the employer will pay for any extra hours worked and not taken off in lieu. The EAT held in Vision Events (UK) v Paterson that no term could be implied requiring payment on termination in the absence of an express term, but it is possible that another tribunal would have implied such a term on the ‘officious bystander’ basis (ie, the term is so obvious it goes without saying: both parties would have agreed this was their intention had the issue been raised). It is advisable to ensure that flexi-hours schemes are drafted to deal with this issue, to avoid such disputes.