This entry is intended to provide employers with useful advice on current employment law. Employment law is a complex area and is a minefield for employers.
Business owners are often uncertain about, or even oblivious to, employment regulations and therefore can place themselves at risk from potential tribunal claims. Many employers end up paying huge amounts of unnecessary compensation owning to a lack of knowledge or effective handling of procedures.
Policies and procedures create fairness and clarity because employees know exactly what is expected of them, managers are more consistent in their approach, and management practice also tends to improve. My experience is that business owners usually find it a relief to resolve their people issues and to become more knowledgeable about their employment obligations.
I hope you find this brief guide useful.
- Provide your employees with a written statement of the main employment terms including disciplinary and grievance procedures within two months of the start of their employment. If you have more than five employees you will need to make available a written Health and Safety Policy and offer access to a stakeholder pension scheme.
- Do not change the terms and conditions of your contracts unilaterally. You will need a sound business reason for any proposed changes and you must consult and obtain agreement on any changes you wish to make. You are also required to give proper notice before any changes are to take effect.
- Check that all payments made to your workers comply with the latest level of the National Minimum Wage and that you comply with Statutory Sick Pay claims. Make sure you have a clear and fair pay system and issue an itemised payslip of gross and net pay and statutory deductions at the end of every pay period. Ensure you do not make unauthorised deductions from employees’ pay.
- You must comply with the Working Time Regulations by ensuring all workers receive the minimum annual leave (28 days per annum for full time workers), not let your workers exceed the maximum hours of work per week, unless they have agreed, and you must allow minimum weekly and daily rest breaks.
- You have an obligation to allow employees the correct period of leave for maternity, paternity or adoption, make minimum statutory payments and allow unpaid parental leave. In an emergency you must give your employees unpaid time off to meet dependants’ needs. You also have an obligation to consider flexible working for employees who have parental obligations for children up to the age of 16 and those who are carers of adults. Ensure you follow the correct statutory flexible working procedure.
- Prevent discrimination by ensuring you have policies and practices that do not discriminate on the grounds of gender, race, age, disability, religion or belief, sexual orientation, marital or civil partnership status, caring responsibilities or gender reassignment. You must not discriminate against part-time or fixed-term workers. Ensure you and your managers do not bully or harass workers. Make sure that your pay system, terms and conditions and access to recruitment, training and development are not discriminatory.
- Avoid unfair dismissal or constructive unfair dismissal (when an employee resigns due to actions by the employer). There are a number of reasons which are considered as automatically unfair if they are used as grounds for dismissal e.g. pregnancy and maternity, duties related to trade union activities, enforced retirement, on the transfer of an undertaking. Ensure you follow your disciplinary and grievance procedures. Follow a fair and proper procedure before dismissing any worker and ensure you consult with individuals and apply fair selection criteria before making redundancies. If you are not dismissing someone for gross misconduct, you should make sure you give your workers the correct notice under their contract.
We can protect your business from potential tribunal claims by ensuring you are meeting your responsibilities and implementing all of the above.