Legal advice for golf clubs: employment contracts

Tania Longmire
By Tania Longmire February 21, 2020 15:29 Updated

In its latest article offering legal advice to golf clubs, the National Golf Clubs’ Advisory Association (NGCAA) details what is required to go into employment contracts, what is advisable and how they can be examined by an expert to provide as much protection to both parties as possible.

Golf clubs will invariably have staff who work under different forms of contractual arrangements: some will be self-employed, some fall into a hybrid ‘worker’ category and others will be employees. Here, we examine some of the legal issues around employees, with particular reference to contracts of employment, as well as what the NGCAA can do to assist golf clubs on this topic.

For there to be a binding contract there must be an offer of employment, ideally in writing (for example by letter enclosing a copy of the contract of employment). There must also be an acceptance of that offer. When offering employment, it is recommended that written records of the offer and acceptance are kept by the club. Sometimes, there will be no accurate written records, either as a result of documents being lost or becoming out of date over time such as when promotions or agreed changes are not recorded in writing.

Employees should be given written contracts of employment setting out all matters relating to their employment. As a minimum, it is a legal requirement that employees must be provided with a written statement of certain specified terms of employment (often known as a statement of employment or written particulars of employment) within two months of starting employment. These can be included within a contract of employment. If these terms are not provided an employee could make a claim at an employment tribunal.


The following terms must be provided to the employee:

  • Name of the employer and employee.
  • The date employment starts and the date that the employee’s continuous employment started.
  • Job location / place of work.
  • Pay (or method of calculating it) and whether it is paid weekly, monthly and so on.
  • Working hours.
  • Holiday entitlement and holiday pay.
  • Job title and brief description of the work.
  • Terms relating to incapacity absence and sick pay.
  • Notice periods for termination of employment by the club and employee.
  • Terms relating to pensions and pension schemes.
  • Details of disciplinary and grievance procedures including the appeals procedure under the disciplinary and grievance procedures.
  • Terms related to work outside the UK for a period of more than one month.
  • Terms relating to length of temporary or fixed-term work.
  • Details of any collective agreements directly affecting the employment.

Beyond these minimum requirements, it can often be sensible to have some additional clauses for certain employees. Examples might include terms relating to accommodation provided as part of the job, terms relating to vehicle usage and any post termination restrictions.

In circumstances where there is no written record or an insufficient record of terms, it is important to note that terms may still be expressly agreed if they are done so verbally and those terms could still have a binding effect. The trouble is, there is likely to be uncertainty after time lapses, personnel change and memories fade.

Additionally, terms may be implied into a contract or inferred from the conduct of the parties. Instances when terms may be implied include:

  • when they are too obvious to mention;
  • when both parties assumed that they would be included;
  • from the conduct of the parties;
  • because they are necessary to make the contract work; or
  • because they are part of the custom and practice of the employer’s business.

Standard terms which are implied into all contracts of employment include:

  • the employee’s duty to serve his employer with good faith and fidelity, obey lawful and reasonable orders and exercise reasonable care and skill;
  • the employer’s duty to pay wages, provide work, provide a suitable and safe working environment and redress grievances; and
  • the mutual duty of trust and confidence, which prevents an employer conducting itself in a manner calculated and likely to destroy or seriously damage the relationship of trust and confidence between employer and employee.


Where a club realises that an employment contract has not been issued, or it has but does not include all of the express terms, it should seek to issue a contract or an updated version, for the employee’s agreement. Provided this contract reflects the agreed terms under which the employee works then there is little risk of any legal issue. However, great care must be taken if a club wishes to issue contracts containing new or different terms to existing employees because such a step can amount to a dismissal and result in unfair or constructive unfair dismissal claims in the employment tribunal. Such changes to an employee’s terms during their employment should only be done by agreement with the employee.

Changes made without agreement may have serious legal consequences and liabilities, so a club should take early legal advice before taking such action.

Once any change to the terms in a contract or statement of employment is agreed, the club must give the employee a written statement containing details of the change at the earliest opportunity, and no later than one month after the change. If considering changes to terms and conditions, it is recommended that early advice be obtained from the NGCAA.

Clubs often have non-contractual provisions relating to employment, such as policies and procedures.

It is important to keep such provisions in documents separate to contracts of employment, such as staff handbooks, and to make it clear that such provisions do not form part of the contract of employment. This will help the club have more flexibility and possible scope to change such provisions without first obtaining the agreement of the employee.

The NGCAA can provide template contracts of employment to help clubs comply with the law; we have standard contracts, zero hours contracts and a variety of additional clauses that can be tailored to a club’s needs. We also have a large number of policy and procedure documents to form a staff handbook. The NGCAA can review existing contracts and policy documents as part of a club’s standard membership fee, in addition to including all associated advice about them.

For more advice on contracts of employment or any other golf club legal matter, please do not hesitate to contact Alistair Smith on or 01886 812943.

The National Golf Clubs’ Advisory Association (NGCAA)

The Media Centre, Emirates Riverside,

Chester-le-Street, County Durham, DH3 3QR

Tel: 01886 812943



Tania Longmire
By Tania Longmire February 21, 2020 15:29 Updated
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