Coping with employment law

A recent survey by Business Link has highlighted how difficult it is for a small business owner to cope with employment legislation. The results revealed that two thirds of small businesses fail to implement employment law properly.

The findings were:

  • A quarter didn’t think it was their job to implement the law.
  • A fifth weren’t sure how to do it.
  • A third simply didn’t know what their legal obligations as an employer were.

 

What law is there?

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From the initial recruitment process through to people leaving your business, the entire employment cycle is governed by legislation. For example, there are employment laws concerning:

  • Pre-employment residency and police checks.
  • Discrimination, from the wording of your job advertisement through to employment practices.
  • Grievance procedures, if an employee has a complaint.
  • Retirement and redundancy.

Yes, this is a lot to think about and unfortunately simply being unaware of your human resources responsibilities is no defence. In fact failing to comply with the law can have serious consequences for your business:

  • Employment tribunals which can be time consuming and stressful.
  • Paying out fines and compensation, causing a financial burden on your business.
  • A damaged business reputation that can result in lost customers.

So what can you do to stay on top of employment law?

A lot of businesses are concerned that staying legally compliant is too time consuming and holds them back from managing and growing their business. Of course all business owners have a lot to deal with, but it is important to find time to put the correct procedures in place now, making it easier for you to implement the regulations, and protecting your business for the future.

For a start, consider if you have documented processes around:

  • Confirming employee’s entitlement to work in the UK, by checking and copying certain original documents.
  • Providing compliant contracts of employment, no later than two months after the employee starts work.
  • Adhering to the national minimum wage, the minimum level of pay allowed by law to most workers over the age of 16.
  • Creating and distributing your staff handbook, providing your employees with valuable policies and procedures.
  • Providing equal opportunity recruitment, by objectively matching the criteria of the job specification to the competencies, qualifications and skills of each applicant.
  • Successfully managing poor performers legally, fairly and consistently, by having a structured process in place.
  • Sensitively handling grievances, providing structured informal and formal avenues of communication.
  • Having a clear retirement policy to provide consistency and clarity to leavers.
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