Employment Law for Employers
Employment law is constantly evolving and becoming more complex. As a business, it is important to stay compliant and ensure that you have robust contracts and policies in place to avoid disputes arising. If you do experience difficulties with employees, seeking legal advice early on is generally the best way to ensure a situation does not deteriorate.
At Symes Bains Broomer, we can advise you on all aspects of employment law, from taking on employees to redundancy. We have an excellent understanding of the commercial needs of businesses and can advise you on how to balance these with ensuring you have a sound legal framework in place in respect of your relationship with your employees.
It is a legal requirement for all employers to provide a statement of terms of employment, which has to include certain mandatory details, to all employees before or at the commencement of employment. It is also a legal requirement for all employers to have a written disciplinary and grievance procedure. We can help to ensure you meet this requirement promptly and in full compliance with the law.
If you would like to have an initial no-obligation conversation, please call us on 01724 281 616.
What our employment law solicitors can do for your business
As an employer, you will need a number of documents in place to govern all aspects of your relationship with your employees. Ensuring these are clear and comprehensive will go a long way to avoiding legal issues arising.
Our employment law team can work with your business to ensure that you have the advice and support you need as well as a foundation of robust documentation, including in the following areas:
Contracts of Employment
The contracts of employment that you have in place for your employees should clearly set out the rights and responsibilities of both parties as well as procedures for issues such as grievance and disciplinary proceedings.
A well-drafted contract will ensure that your employees know exactly what is expected of them right from the start and will reduce the scope for misunderstandings and disputes.
Policies and procedures
The employment contract can also refer to employee handbooks and policies or procedures that you have put in place to cover certain aspects of your relationship with your workers.
Issues that can be covered in staff handbooks and employment policies include how holidays and absences will be dealt with, health and safety, data protection, social media, harassment, whistleblowing, bullying and family policies, as well as a business’s stance on issues such as equal opportunities.
You should have a formal grievance procedure in place that your employees can follow should they wish to raise an issue with you. This should follow the Acas Code of Practice on disciplinary and grievance procedures and be easily available to all of your employees. Should an issue ever end up before an employment tribunal, the tribunal will look at the procedure you have followed to see whether it complies with the Acas Code.
A settlement agreement is a legally binding contract made between an employer and employee, usually at the end of a period of employment. It can be used to make a clean break when an employee has raised a grievance or in the case of voluntary redundancy.
The agreement will include a lump sum payment, in return for which the employee will generally waive some of their rights, including the right to bring most types of legal action against the employer.
It is important that a settlement agreement is carefully worded to ensure your position as an employer is protected as far as possible. It is a legal requirement that your employee will need to take independent legal advice before signing.
Dealing with an employment tribunal claim can be disruptive and time-consuming. At Symes Bains Broomer, we can step in to try and resolve issues without the need for a tribunal hearing. We are generally able to do this; however, if the claim against you does proceed, we can prepare the strongest possible case on your behalf and ensure that you have expert representation.
Common questions about employment law for employers
Who is an employee under employment law?
The distinction between employee, worker and self-employed individual can sometimes be crucial in employment law. It is important to ensure you do not inadvertently give someone employee status as they could be entitled to rights that you had not intended them to have.
An employee will work under the terms of an employment contract. This does not have to be a written document.
To be classed as an employee, the individual must need to do the work themselves rather than be able to send someone else on their behalf. The employer is obliged to pay their tax and National Insurance and to provide work, which the employee is obliged to accept. The employer will also need to have some control over how the work is carried out.
What key rights do employees have?
Employees are entitled to a wide range of rights, including the following:
- A written statement of the particulars of their employment
- National minimum wage
- Paid holiday
- A payslip
- Protection against unlawful discrimination
- Protection against unfair dismissal
- Protection against unlawful deduction from wages
- Protection as a whistleblower
- Not to be treated less favourably as a part-time worker
- The right to join a trade union
- Statutory sick pay
- A minimum notice period in the event of dismissal
- Statutory redundancy pay
When do you have to consult employees about changes to their working conditions?
Unless an employment contract allows for variation of working conditions, an employer will need to obtain the agreement of the employee to changes. You will need to meet with the affected employee and explain your proposals.
They may agree to the changes, and the contract should be varied to reflect this. You will also need to provide some consideration for the change if it is to their detriment, for example, a pay rise or other benefit.
It may be possible to make some alterations to policies that are separate from the employment contract; however, it is important to seek legal advice before doing this, as the changes you seek to make may be contractual, even if they are not contained within the employment contract itself.
Do employees have the right to work from home?
Employees have the right to ask for flexible working arrangements, which includes working from home as well as a range of other alternatives such as part-time working and job-sharing.
As an employer, you have to seriously and fairly consider any application which is made, and you can only say no if there are good business reasons for doing so. If you are declining the request, you should discuss the issue with the employee and also consider whether there are any other options you could offer. Acas have a code of practice on flexible working requests that should be followed.
Acceptable reasons for refusing a request to work include:
- It will be too expensive
- The work cannot be done by other workers
- More staff cannot be taken on
- Performance or quality of work will suffer
- Customer demand will not be met
- You plan to restructure the business, and working from home will not fit with the new arrangements
Our business employment law advice fees
We offer a range of flexible pricing options, including fixed fees, to suit your business needs.
Our employment law solicitors will provide an estimate of the likely costs before they start work and will keep you updated throughout.
Contact us about business employment law
If you have questions about employment law and you would like to speak to one of our business employment lawyers, please call us on 01724 281 616, email us at email@example.com or fill in our Enquiry Form and we will be happy to discuss your options with you.