Employing people seems like a fairly simple process - hire them, then set them to work…but is it really that easy? We round up our top tips for employers when it comes to employment law and legal practices in the workplace.
Many employers find the list of employment rights and legal responsibilities intimidating. But conforming to employer's legal obligations and looking after your workplace will ultimately make you and your business more efficient and profitable.
Here are our top tips for employers to make their working practices and the employing of staff that little bit easier.
There is no legal requirement for an employee to have a contract of employment. Section 1 of the Employment Right Act requires an employee to be given a statement of certain specified terms within two months of starting employment.
Usually, an employer will issue a contract of employment which includes the information required under Section 1 together with additional clauses dealing with confidentiality, post-termination obligations etc. Regardless as to how comprehensive the contract of employment is, it is important that employees sign the contract of employment and that the same is kept in the employee's personnel files. With all new starters, ideally they should sign the contract of employment before they commence or shortly thereafter, and if they do not, then consideration should be given to dismissing that individual.
Being able to refer to a signed contract of employment should the employment relationship turns sour is clear evidence of the terms of employment agreed between the parties.
It is not uncommon for employers to have a very detailed staff handbook with 25+ policies and procedures. Human nature dictates that the longer and more detailed a document is, the less likely that the same is read or followed.
It is worth reviewing your policies and procedures and discarding the ones that are outdated and are not followed. You should consider having the following key policies in place:
It is advisable for yearly appraisals to be carried out. If your organisation doesn't, then you should consider implementing them.
Appraisals should give praise where necessary, highlight developmental requirements and deal with any other issues arising. As an employer, it is important that you are both firm and fair when carrying out appraisals. You shouldn't admit to any flaws within the business; employers should be aware that failure to document performance issues at the time is likely to be used against the employer should the matter end up in an Employment Tribunal.
Most employers have been faced with a grievance from an aggrieved employee at some point. Deal with them promptly and don't hope that it will go away.
There is substantive case law to indicate that a failure to deal with a grievance promptly amounts to a breach of the implied term of mutual trust and confidence and could give rise to a claim for constructive dismissal.
Further, an Employment Tribunal has the power to increase compensation payable to the Employee where there has been a failure to comply with the ACAS Code of Practice.
The quicker the grievance is dealt with, the quicker both parties can move on.
An employee has a statutory right to be accompanied to a grievance/disciplinary meeting by a Trade Union Representative or a workplace colleague.
We are often asked by our clients whether the employee may, at their request, bring their spouse/partner or another family member. Unless there are exceptional circumstances, this should be avoided.
For expert legal employment advice for employers, Pinney Talfourd solicitors in Essex and London are able to assist. We have an experienced and dedicated team of specialist employment lawyers based in offices in Brentwood, Hornchurch, Upminster and office facilities in Leigh-On-Sea and Canary Wharf.
We have late night and Saturday appointments available and offer a free initial telephone consultation for all new employment law enquiries. You can book your free initial employment consultation using our online booking form or by calling your local office. This telephone appointment will allow you to explain the situation with an expert lawyer and discuss the best steps to minimise stress and delays.