A lack of awareness, incorrect assumptions and sometimes even a fear of the law can prevent you from taking action to protect your businesses and from dealing with staff problems that are hampering progress. There are basic protections you should have in place and the law does not require you to put up with underperforming, disruptive or unreliable employees – provided that you deal with it properly!
4 Top Tips for minimising the legal risks of employing people:
Use contracts of employment and staff policies / staff handbook.
- There is a legal requirement to have certain details contained within a ‘statement of written particulars’ for each employee. Beyond that, the details of an employment contract will come from either expressed or implied terms. In all cases, whether or not written down, a contract WILL exist. It is therefore advisable to write down all of the important terms in order to provide clarity on both sides and to help protect your position in the event of any disputes. Having a written contract and staff policies can save a lot of time, cost and emotional investment if things go wrong between employer and employee. Having them in place also helps you demonstrate to new staff that you are a professional business.
Make sure your documents are updated.
- Employment law has developed and changed at a rapid pace over the last few decades and continues to do so. Your arrangements therefore need periodic review in order to keep them up to date.
Protect yourself in particular from discrimination claims.
- One of the biggest risks you can face comes from discrimination legislation. Employees are now protected from discrimination on the grounds of Age, Disability, Gender Reassignment, Marriage and Civil Partnership, Pregnancy and Maternity, Race, Religion or Belief, Sex and Sexual Orientation. Employers are well advised to have clear policies on how they will treat employees in a way that will not contravene these protections. Having a policy, however, is ineffective unless it is communicated and people in the business are aware of the key implications. It is an area where, in particular, people in supervisory and management positions need to be aware of the do’s and don’ts.
Deal with staff absence, performance and disciplinary issues
- We often find that these issues are avoided because perhaps they are felt to be too difficult, or managers think that the employee has legal protection, or they are unsure of how to tackle it. However, these issues can and should be tackled because they have a financial drag on the business and can effect the morale of colleagues when they see issues going unaddressed. The keys to addressing these issues are to apply fair and consistent policies and procedures in accordance with legal precedent. This can be daunting, but once issues start to be tackled we find that this has an effect on the culture and there is less incidence of poor behaviour.
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Our Top Tips:
Minimise the legal risks associated with employing people
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