The BVA’s Young Vet Network (YVN) is launching a campaign to raise awareness about theimportance of written contracts of employment which set out employmentrights, responsibilities and duties.

The YVN campaign was launched with the help of the RCVS, VPMA and SPVS, following a survey of its young graduate members.

Of the 266 respondents to the online survey, only 76 per cent had a contract of employment, leaving many exposed and less able to defend themselves should a problem arise during their employment.

The survey also found that over 40 per cent of recent graduates had been in a job for over six months without a written contract in place; 38 per cent of those had asked for a contract but their employer did not address the issue, while 14 per cent did not even ask for a contract knowing that their employer would do nothing about it.

Louisa Rance Louisa Rance, senior graduate representative on BVA Council, said: “Evidence was coming through on the YVN forum that a significant proportion of YVN members did not have written contracts of employment in place. We wanted to do something positive with this information and, through the BVA, are able to run an information campaign promoting the benefits for both the employee and employer of having written contracts in place. This is not a finger pointing exercise, but a concerted effort with a number of other veterinary organisations to improve the situation for all parties.”

An information leaflet is at the centre of the campaign giving:

  • an outline of what a contract of employment should contain
  • when to expect one
  • how not having one will leave both employer and employee exposed
  • what to do if they don’t have one

Employers have a duty to provide a written statement of their main employment terms within two months of starting work.

BVA President Nicky Paull said: “As employers, sorting out contracts can sometimes make you feel remote from the people you work with. That is why I like to get written contracts out to a new employee as soon as they have accepted the job offer. At that point we are happy to talk through any issues of concern or queries they may have on the contract, so that by the time they start work both the employer and the employee know exactly where they stand.”

The campaign coincides with the re-drafting of the contract of employment template which BVA members can download from the BVA website . Members can also call the free legal advice line.

YVN contracts leaflet RCVS president Jill Nute said she would urge all new and recent graduates to ask about contracts at the earliest opportunity as having proper contracts benefits both employee and employer.

Sarah Hibbert, senior vice president of the VPMA, agreed. She said: “Employment contracts form the basis of a solid working relationship and are of equal importance to both the employee and employer. It is also good management to ensure that the issue of such documentation is made promptly and with lines of communication clearly open.”

For details of the Young Vet Network visit www.bva.co.uk/youngvetnetwork

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