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What is the status of employment benefits, where the details of these benefits are given via a "benefits guide" (and "offer letter") prior to signing the contract, but where these details are not specifically in the contract ?

In particular I have the following problem:

  • I was contacted by the CTO of a medium sized UK employer in October. The "job specification" mentioned "comprehensive private medical insurance" as a key benefit. This was one of the main reasons that I joined.
  • The CTO sent me the "benefits guide" along with the employment contract prior to signing. This guide states that the medical insurance benefit is provided from day 1. I signed the contract on 25 Nov, and started work on 13 Dec. The "offer letter" that accompanied the contract states:

Additionally, you will be enrolled into the company health care scheme and, if you pass [3 months] probation, the company share scheme.

  • Shortly after joining I asked the HR person about the insurance. About a week before Christmas they told me the cover was only available after the end of probation (3 months of employment). This is clearly not what the original benefit guide says, nor the offer letter
  • HR sent me an updated version of the guide, which does indeed say 3 months; but the one sent to me prior to joining clearly says "from day 1". So it seems that the CTO made a mistake by sending the wrong version. Of course I had no idea that it was the wrong version and had no reason to think that it was wrong, and I relied on the information in the offer letter and the version of the benefits guide that the CTO sent when I decided to join.

Note: There is no mention of the start date for the insurance in the employment contract. In fact the contract doesn't mention the insurance at all. It is only mentioned in the offer letter (with no mention of 3 months) and the benefits guide (the version of which they sent me prior to joining saying "from day 1")

I would like to know the legal position with respect to benefits like these, which are communicated in a benefits guide (and offer letter) prior to signing, but not specifically mentioned in the contract. It doesn't seem right that they can entice a prospective employee with certain benefits and then materially change those benefits after starting, even though it may have been a mistake to begin with. It wasn't my mistake and I had no way to know that a mistake had happened prior to joining.

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Why do you think it’s “not specifically mentioned in the contract”?

The insurance was explicitly mentioned in the contract and it can only be the insurance that was described in the “benefits guide” provided to you. If they provided a superseded version then too bad for them.

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  • Thank you. The "Employment Contract" document that I signed does not mention insurance, or any benefits apart from salary. It is only mentioned in the "offer letter" which I was not required to sign, and the "benefits guide". That's why I said it’s “not specifically mentioned in the contract” Jan 2 at 11:53

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