Employing staff should be a good thing. It should be a sign that now your business has grown to the extent where you have to take on new people to manage the workload. And, as a small business that’s employing people, you’re actually providing an incredible service to the rest of society.
But employing people can be a minefield. If you thought government regulation was a burden before you employed any people, you certainly will afterward. That’s why I’ve put together a list of essentials that you should know before you employ new staff.
Choose The Right Employee Contract For Your Business
One of the problems with onerous employment laws is that they discourage full- and part-time contracts. But you may find that you really depend on having people that know the ins and outs of your business. As a result, you may want to consider offering full- and part-time contracts to any new staff.
Full- and part-time contracts come with a lot of extra baggage that as an employer you must address. First, you need to draw up a statement of employment or contract. It’s probably best to have a legal professional look over this. But, if the job is quite similar to other jobs out there, you may be able to find a contract template online.
You also have to give employees a fixed amount of holiday pay each year, statutory sick pay and maternity and paternity pay and leave. In other words, full- and part-time contracts can prove to be very expensive to your business.
The alternative route you can go down is to hire freelancers, consultants or other contractors. This gives you more flexibility, but at the cost that freelance contracts are less binding. In other words, freelancers are likely to move on if they find more lucrative contracts elsewhere. With freelancers you don’t have to bear any of the additional costs associated with full- or part-time contracts. You do still have to pay at least the minimum wage. And you have to make sure that they’re safe if they work on your premises. Other than that, they’re pretty much on their own, including filing their own taxes and national insurance.
Lastly, you might consider a zero hours contract. Zero hours contracts are usually for a piece of work or a single “gig” like being an on-call interpreter.
This is a far more flexible arrangement for the employer. It means that you don’t have to give employees work. However, it also means that they don’t have to work when asked. Zero hour workers, like everybody else, are still subject to statutory leave. And like other contracts, they still must be paid the minimum wage.
Employing Foreign Nationals
If your business is based in the EU, you can employ a foreign national as though they were a domestic citizen. This right was laid down in the EC Treaty in 1957.
However, if you are not in the EU and employing somebody from outside your country then it may be worth consulting with an immigration attorney. In the US companies are responsible for ensuring that they only employ authorized foreign nationals. This is because the US government says that US firms that create jobs are a magnet for immigration. As a result, companies themselves are responsible for enforcing immigration laws.
Employers are compelled to put workers into one of four categories. Either they’re a US citizen, a noncitizen national, a lawful permanent resident, or an alien that can work. What’s more, you cannot discriminate based on the legal status of any of the people applying to work at your business. To do so is breaking the law.
Health And Safety
As a business owner, you’re responsible for the fire safety at your place of work. You’re known as the “responsible person” and have to do certain things to make sure that your business is not a fire risk. One is to carry out a fire risk assessment to find out what areas of your business are potentially at risk from fire. This includes identifying the hazards in your workplace and identifying the people most at risk. It also means that you update the risk assessment regularly. Other responsibilities include telling staff what fire risks you’ve found and planning for emergencies. Having a clear evacuation plan is all part of the job.
When it comes to dismissing staff the law is quite vague. The idea is that you have been to “fair” when dismissing staff, and have to act in a “reasonable” manner, however, neither of these words are defined in law. If an employee simply isn’t able to carry out their job, this may be a fair dismissal. But in order for a tribunal to find the dismissal to be fair, you also need to act in a reasonable way during the dismissal process. Again, this is not well-defined, but I think it’s best to use a bit of common sense. For example, it might be fair to employee a member of staff to cover maternity leave if you made it clear that their role was temporary.
Acting reasonable means that you followed the relevant procedure. You told the employee why they were being considered for dismissal and gave the employee a chance to appeal.
Sometimes it’s necessary to dismiss an employee on the spot. These dismissals are called summary dismissals. Dismissing an employee in this way has to be for very good reasons. For example, you can dismiss an employee for violence, fraud or theft. However, until you have thoroughly reviewed the circumstances of their dismissal, you have to suspend them on full pay. Then, just follow the procedure as you would any other disciplinary matter.
Unfair dismissals tend to be better defined by the law. For example, you can’t dismiss somebody for being pregnant, leaving for other family matters or acting as a trade union rep. Also, any dismissal based on discrimination, for example, age, gender or race, will also be considered unfair. By now, all of this should be well known.
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