The Employment Laws Your Business Needs to Abide By

Starting up your business is an overwhelming experience.

While you may be consumed by the excitement of being your own boss, when it comes to being someone else’s boss you need to ensure that you’ve got the right employment contracts and regulations in place.

However, if you’ve only ever been on the receiving end of signing a contract rather than the one drawing up the terms, knowing where to start can be a bit of a minefield.

It’s certainly always advisable you get a legal expert to ensure you’ve dotted all the I’s and crossed the T’s, but to help you get started this guide should give you some insight into what you should include in your policies.

Statutory Rights

You must include the statutory rights that an employee is entitled to by law in the employment contract. Statutory rights are something you as an employer have to abide by and are the bare minimum standards you should be meeting.

Statutory rights relate to everything from the right to a written statement of terms, pay slip, paid holiday, paid maternity and paternity leave and even the right to ask for flexible working.

They also encompass the right to claim redundancy pay and look for a new job if you are being made redundant. As an employee, it can also be worth knowing the rights you’re entitled to so that you can check these are stated in your contract.

Disciplinary and Grievance Procedure

It’s not something you want to have to think about when you’re beginning to get your team together, but it is essential that you include a disciplinary and grievance procedure in your employment policy to reduce the risk of you ending up at an employment tribunal.

To make sure your procedure meets the minimum requirements you should follow the ACAS Code of Practice which provides guidance for how a workplace should handle such issues in the office. You’ll need to decide which issues or behaviours are classed as inappropriate and what constitutes gross misconduct resulting in instant dismissal.

Flexible Working

Flexible working is becoming increasingly popular, but if you aren’t already offering it then legally you should consider all reasonable requests which come from employees with 26 weeks or more service at your company. Flexible working requests may include temporary or permanent changes, compressed hours to allow the same hours to be worked over fewer days or a flexitime agreement.

Applications must be made in writing and as an employer you are only able to refuse based on one of the eight reasons set out in the legislation. This includes the inability to meet customer demand, increased cost, work unable to be reorganised between employees and effect of quality and performance amongst other reasons.

Employee Rights

As an employer you are also responsible for a wide-ranging spectrum of employee rights. This means you agree to provide a healthy and safe working environment for all employees no matter their role or pay, ensure pregnant women are given rights to time off before and after birth, and protect employees against discrimination.

There are many more rights which employees are entitled to under your employment, but above are some of the basics you should be thinking about when you begin recruiting and employing your first team members.

Written and Verbal Contracts

It’s always best to ensure that contracts are agreed in writing rather than verbally. However, there may be times when something is agreed verbally, which isn’t detailed in the terms of employment previously set out, but still forms a binding contract.

This forms part of the ‘custom and practice’ agreement and is based on how things are ‘usually done in the workplace’ rather than something which is formally agreed upon in the contract. Trade unions can also negotiate an agreement with an employer, which whilst not detailed, will still form part of the contract.

These are just some of the things your business should abide by when it comes to employment laws. Make sure you do your research thoroughly, and if in doubt always get a legal perspective to ensure you aren’t doing both your business and employees a disservice.

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