Legal | Workers at this firm 'employed without contracts'

Workers at this firm 'employed without contracts'

When a new recruit joins a workforce, they are issued with a contract of employment - a legally binding agreement between an employer and their employee on the basis of their employment relationship.

The document should outline the names of the relevant parties, the employee’s start date, their job title and description, the place of work, contracted work hours, salary and many other crucial elements to prevent them from getting off on the wrong foot.

According to The Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service (Acas), it is not imperative that employment contracts are in writing, although it is preferable if they are for a paper trail - but they need to be legally valid. This employment contract will initiate as soon as the new recruit accepts their offer of employment.

While Acas stress the crucial importance of having a proper contract of employment, it has recently come to light that workers at a Scottish Amazon depot canteen were ‘employed without contracts’ – the Daily Record reports.

The trail of reporting was initiated by the Sunday Mail who revealed that workers at Amazon’s Scottish depot were employed on the minimum wage without a contract.

The story developed after a whistleblower at the e-commerce company’s Dunfermline base revealed the poor conditions in response to the Daily Record’s campaign to disgrace awful bosses.

The anonymous informer told the publication that Amazon’s sub-contractor Buckley Support Services, who is charged with operating the canteen at Amazon’s Scottish distribution centre, said that staff are often sent home without pay during quiet periods and are refused pay for two 15-minute breaks during eight-hour shifts.

She told the Daily Record: “You hear about people on zero-hours contracts – well, we don’t have any contract. I’ve worked in Dunfermline for years and I’ve never been provided with a written contract or terms and conditions.”

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The firm, who is reportedly headed by Tony Buckley, gives workers just two weeks’ paid holiday to night shift employees according to the whistleblower.

The source continued: “Tony Buckley has claimed he can’t afford to pay more and told us if we had contracts we’d only end up arguing with him.

“I’m disgusted with myself for allowing people to treat me like this, but I feel helpless because work is hard to find.

“The soul-destroying thing is when you turn up only to be told you aren’t needed. You have spent money on petrol to get there and then you’re going home empty-handed.”

The Daily Record contacted Buckley who denied that workers were sent home, claiming that workers were merely asked if they wanted to go home early.

But he did tell the publication: “Most of them don’t have contracts. However, I don’t treat them in any way disrespectfully – I don’t flout any laws”.

So, why are contracts of employment an important consideration for businesses?

According to, here are three key reasons that work contracts are important:

  • Having a work contract clearly maps out a new employee’s positions and required duties. It has information that specifically details their job description, salary and benefits. But, it also favours employers too. Having a signed contract means that the employee is on the same page.

  • It will also provide a good level of job security for employees by detailing how long they are contracted to stay with the company. It is important that the contract should specify what actions could warrant the termination of a contract.

  • The site said that it is a good idea to include information related to staff leave entitlements. Having information such as annual holidays, sick days, maternity and paternity leave or bereavement leave means that there is a consistent and legal procedure for all staff.

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Comments (1)

  • Brenda Clifford
    Brenda Clifford
    Mon, 18 Mar 2019 2:52pm GMT
    A lot of in a contract are also in a staff handbook. Also in the offer of employment letter. So it becomes repeative in all areas. Initially is offer letter for job to be accepted. Then a staff handbook which on last page a contract sheet to sign with basically money, title with a job description and location of work place and hours of work. This should be suffient. I have been testing this and no challenge as it is giving what is required but not so much paperwork as done by electronic process also.

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