What Are the Most Common Breaches of Employment Contracts?


An employment contract is a legally binding contract between an employer and an employee. It details the terms and conditions of the employment, such as the duties and rights of both parties.

Unless the existing contract is renegotiated and a new contract is signed, the original terms and conditions remain in place until the employment ends. The employment may be terminated by either party by resignation or dismissal.

Contracts are generally written so that both parties can refer back to it if there are any disagreements. If an employer or employee decides to file a breach of contract lawsuit, the written and signed contract can be used to resolve the issue.

What is Employment Breach of Contract?

If an employer or employee fails to meet the terms and conditions laid out by the legally binding contract, it refers to a breach of contract. When one party breaks the previously agreed, legal action may need to be taken if the two parties can’t come to an agreement.

However, it’s not always this simple. Sometimes, verbal agreements have been made between the two parties. Sometimes, terms and conditions are implied and not explicitly stated.

Although many terms are expressed and fixed, such as employment hours, the notice period, and annual salary, some terms are implied. Unlike expressed terms, implied terms are agreed at the time of the contract because they made sense to include but are not mandatory by law.

Every employment contract will have both expressed and implied terms. All implied terms are contractually binding, despite not always being written down.

What Are the Most Common Examples of Employment Breach of Contract?

There are many different examples of employment breach of contract but some are more common than others.

Here are some of the most common examples of employer breach of contract:

  • Withdrawing an unconditional job offer after the candidate has already signed the contract
  • Reduction in pay that was not stated in the contract or discussed at the time of the contract signing
  • Wrongful termination of contract
  • Changes to working hours or shift patterns without the employee’s approval
  • Refusal to pay statutory sick pay or holiday entitlement

Examples of employee breach of contract are:

  • Leaving a job without providing adequate notice
  • Gross misconduct
  • Breaching restrictive covenants

A breach of employment contract is a failure to meet the terms of the contract, whether expressed or implied. The grey areas around implied terms and unwritten agreements can be difficult to navigate between the employer and employee.

If both parties are unable to come to an agreement after a dispute over contract terms and conditions, an employment lawyer might need to get involved. Either party can hire an employment lawyer to work through the issue and determine who is breaching the terms of the contract.

There are also employment laws that have been put in place to prevent employers or employees from taking advantage of implied contract terms. When the contract terms are based on a spoken mutual agreement, it’s often down to the employment lawyers (and the court if it gets to this point) to determine the outcome of the dispute.