A quick checklist for busy business owners
At Wright People HR, we’re all about helping ambitious businesses to scale through their people. We believe that people are any business’s most important asset and, if they grow, your business will also grow
At the very heart of this is getting the foundations right. We know it’s a bit boring – but ensuring you’re compliant in meeting all relevant employment legislation is key.
It means that you can then get on with doing all the positive and fun stuff in developing your people, and, in turn, your business. You can stop worrying about not being compliant, and the potential serious consequences of such.
Achieve your dreams; don’t have nightmares!
What is the purpose of Employment Law in the UK?
If you have employees, it’s absolutely vital you stay on top of – and adhere to – employment law. But what does that actually mean?
Simply put, employment law provides legislation on all of the areas that affect both employers and employees. This covers things like dismissal, discrimination, pay and even holidays.
It’s designed to protect both parties; looking after employee rights and safeguarding employers’ interests. Employment Law keeps and maintains a fair relationship between the two.
And with 4 million limited companies in the UK employing around 21 million full time employees, it’s really important. UK Employment Law details what should be covered in a contract of employment (we’re talking disciplinaries, notice periods, holiday entitlements etc.) and it protects employers by ensuring that everyone has a clear record of the agreement.
It also works to protect employees by making sure they benefit from fair hiring procedures, pay, and by setting out what is expected of them.
Some big events have recently affected employment contracts.
- New staff employed on or after 6 April 2020 are entitled to a written statement of terms from day one of their employment (previously this was within two months of commencement of employment).
- Following Covid, if you now have hybrid workers continuing some home working on a permanent arrangement, this should be updated in their contract. Otherwise, the location of work won’t be accurate.
Simply put, employment law is a huge area of the legal system and covers every part of the employer/ employee relationship.
Why do I need to review if I’m compliant?
From the moment a candidate applies for a job, they are covered by employment law. It keeps them safe from discrimination based on a set of 9 protected characteristics (as outlined in the Equality Act 2010). When they move on to employment, they are then also protected by health and safety laws too (as per the Health & Safety at Work Act 1974).
It’s likely that your organisation has grown, changed, evolved, and become more agile over time. These developments are not necessarily reflected in your suite of documents.
Of serious note, you may be surprised to learn that many businesses don’t currently have all of the right policies in place to stay protected. And there are more still, who have policies that haven’t been updated since they were written.
The problem with this is that if a situation arises where that policy is required, no one knows where they stand. And that can cause even more problems for both parties. You don’t want to be in a situation where you’re writing policies in reaction to an event.
You would be forgiven for feeling overwhelmed by the task of getting your business up to date with employment law. It can be complicated and it’s constantly evolving. But it’s worth always keeping in mind that these laws are in place to protect businesses, outline their obligations to their employees, and advise about the protections you have as business owners.
What should I be reviewing?
Don’t worry, we’ve created a checklist for you. This checklist covers some of the most important areas your business needs to be aware of. It will help you take the right actions to abide by rules and regulations, and make sure your people are doing the same.
- Do you have up to date job descriptions for all roles within the business?
- Is there a selection and recruitment policy in place?
- Are you up to date on discrimination law?
- Do you have a suitable interview structure?
- Who in the business is responsible for checking references?
- Do all your candidates have a legal right to work in the UK?
- Are you aware of standard probation periods?
- Do you understand current Working Time Regulations?
- Do all employees have a signed contract of employment?
- Does everyone have access to your company handbook?
- Are employee records kept secure and up to date?
- Have all employees been properly inducted and onboarded?
- Is all training completed (or ongoing) and up to date?
- Are your employees aware of reporting procedures for sickness, maternity and paternity pay, and annual leave?
- Do you have the correct policies in place for new and expectant mothers, as well as employees on paternity leave?
- Do your policies cover adoption leave, parental leave, emergency leave, and other types of leave, such as jury service or training?
- Is your flexible working policy available to everyone from 26 weeks of service, and those with children under the age of 6, or disabled children?
- Have you updated your employment contracts to reflect any new remote or hybrid permanent working arrangements, post-Covid?
- Are you compliant with Health and Safety regulations?
- Do you have processes in place to comply with data protection and GDPR?
- Are there procedures in place to correctly maintain employee records and files?
Policies & Procedures
- Do you have a code of conduct that is available to all employees?
- Is there an equality and diversity policy in place?
- Is there an anti-bullying policy in place?
- Is there a harassment policy in place?
- Is there an anti-discrimination policy in place?
- Do you have grievance and disciplinary procedures?
- Are the correct managers and/or employees aware of and trained in these policies and procedures?
- Do you have a social media policy in place?
- Are all employees paid at least minimum wage?
- Do you set review dates for and monitor pay?
- Do your managers conduct and document regular appraisals?
- Do you have systems in place to help manage long-term sickness and absence patterns?
- Are there procedures in place for employees that are leaving?
- Do you conduct exit interviews?
- Do you limit employees’ post-termination actions with restrictive covenants?
If you find your business falls short on some of these areas, or you think it’s time for a professional review of your policies and procedures, we’d love to help you get up to date. Just give us a call to start a discussion.