union for life

Individual contracts

Individual/personal contracts

Every employee has an individual contract of employment which describes most of their terms and conditions.

members guide to individual contractsThat contract does not have to be in writing, but for most Prospect members it is. The contract may also refer to several sources, which together amount to the full employment terms.

The content of most members' contracts is based on agreements reac­­hed with Prospect after collective bargaining with their employer: we consult, negotiate and reach agreements on pay, benefits and other employment matters.

However, some members work for employers that do not recognise Prospect for collective bargaining, and their terms and conditions of employment are decided on an individual basis.

personal contract recruitment leafletSome employers describe these arrangements as ‘personal contracts,' implying that each contract is tailored through individual discussions between employer and employee. That may sometimes be the case. But it is our experience that the majority of contract terms are usually standard, and the only variation between employees is the rate of pay.

Personal contracts are something of a fiction, as the phrase often masks the employer's desire to decide employment conditions rather than reach a negotiated outcome. Members employed on contracts where there is no collective bargaining require particular advice and are often vulnerable to unilateral changes to their terms of employment.

What can Prospect do for you?

Staff on personal contracts face different and often greater challenges than permanent staff as they have to negotiate one-to-one with their employer. Prospect recognises this and has developed a range of services for staff on personal contracts.

Our package of support includes:

  • access to officers experienced in negotiations at work and a specialist legal team
  • up-to-date pay and conditions information to help you assess your personal contract against market standards
  • a members' guide to individual contracts
  • email advice on the enforceability of confidentiality and non-competition clauses in contracts. 

Advice service

The email service goes direct to Prospect's legal team at the union's London headquarters. We can offer advice on employment law and all aspects of an individual contract of employment. Where necessary, we can arrange follow-up advice and representation.

Where Prospect is recognised by an employer for collective bargaining purposes, the first point of contact is normally the Prospect local representative or the full-time negotiator responsible for the member's branch. They are in the best position to advise members covered by collective agreements as they were responsible for their negotiation and already have a relationship with the employer.

Contracts for service

Increasingly, members are employed on a self-employed basis. Parts of their contract may be ‘contracts for service' rather than a contract of employment. Where the provisions of the contract are similar to that of an employment contract, Prospect can provide advice and support. But Prospect does not advise on contracts for the genuinely self-employed.

Members - log in to find out how to access this service and to download all the documents listed below.

Downloadable resources


Leaflet/booklet: Personal contract-holders - make sure you're protected   info
This leaflet outlines the benefits of becoming a Prospect member if you're on an individual or personal contract. No longer in use: replaced in June 2010 by http://library.prospect.org.uk/id/2010/00848
 14 May 2009