Small business owners must get advice on employment law

As a small business owner struggling through these tough economic times, the chances are you feel you have enough on your plate without trying to keep abreast of the complex subject of employment law.  It can be something of a minefield, given that legislation changes every six months, in April and October.  The changes can be anything from minor amendments to existing laws to the introduction of major new ones, but whatever the changes, the onus falls on you as employer to make sure you’re aware of any new developments.  You must ensure that company documentation is amended in line with the latest changes, so that you and your business are protected.  In an age where disputes in the workplace have become commonplace, it’s never been more important to make sure you have everything in place to guard against litigation claims.

Here are some of the things you’ll need to consider.

Recruitment

It is illegal to discriminate on the grounds such as race, sex, age, disability, sexual orientation or religion.  When hiring, focus on the requirements of the job.  Once an offer is made, the contract will be governed by written terms and conditions and can be conditional on the potential employee providing evidence of suitability.  A written statement will detail specifics including, pay, hours and holiday.

Hours, leave and pay

There are statutory requirements on working hours and leave to which you must comply.  You’ll need to be aware of minimum rest periods, maternity and paternity leave and leave for family reasons.  Employees have the right to the national minimum wage and you’ll need to familiarise yourself with National Insurance contributions.

Employee rights

This is a complex area and you should be aware of your numerous obligations, which include providing pay statements and a safe and healthy working environment.  Search online for Riverview health and safety law and you’ll have access to a library of free resources designed to help you implement all the necessary procedures.

Discrimination

Be aware of potential issues such as indirect discrimination, victimisation and employing people with disabilities.  As an employer, you are responsible for any discrimination which you and your employees practice.

Sickness

You must pay statutory sick pay to qualifying employees for up to 28 weeks but many employers pay higher than this.  If an employee’s continued absence is creating problems, you may end their employment but with the risk of being taken to a tribunal you must be able to account for your actions.

Disciplinary Issues

Your discipline and grievance procedures must conform to the Acas Code of Practice and employees must be clear on what warrants unacceptable behaviour.  If you dismiss an employee you must prove that you acted reasonably, otherwise you’ll be facing a tribunal for unfair or unlawful dismissal.  Redundancy may be valid but processes and timescales must be strictly adhered to.

It’s worth consulting a specialist about your employment policies and procedures to ensure that you’re legally compliant.  Begin online with a search for Riverview employment law.  You should consider employment law as soon as you start your business – getting it right from the start will be much easier and less costly in the long run.