Running a business means hiring employees. This is a minefield for employers who are new to all of this. There are all kinds of laws and regulations that you need to comply with if you want to stay out of trouble. This guide will tell you everything you need to know about complying with the relevant employment laws, so read on.
You need to make sure that when you hire someone, you follow the law on each step of the journey. First of all, don’t let any prejudices affect your decision when hiring people. It’s against the law to hire someone or not hire someone based on their ethnicity, religion, gender or sexuality. You must also not discriminate against people with disabilities. Focus on what the job requires and which individual is best placed to make a success of it. As long as you do this, any other issues that are not related to their abilities shouldn’t come into the decision-making process at all.
Preparing the Contract
When you hire someone, their contract will come into effect immediately. Preparing and drawing up this contract is an important step to take. Once the terms and conditions of the employee’s employment contract are in place, they won’t be able to be changed. That’s why it’s so important to be careful and make sure that you get it right the first time around. If you’re not sure what to do, it’s best to get help from a solicitor who knows what he or she is doing. It’s pretty easy to find employment law solicitors who can help you with this kind of thing, so take advantage of them. It makes sense for you and the employee.
Meet Laws on Hours, Wages and Leave
There are laws relating to how many hours an employee can work each week. This needs to be followed. If you try to pressure an employee working too many hours, you will be breaking the law and could face criminal proceedings. You also need to make sure you at least pay the minimum wage. Paying someone less than the minimum wage is a very serious offence and it will be punished. There are guidelines relating to paid leave that need to be followed at all times. These laws must all be taken seriously. They are not optional extras that you can pick and choose from, so don’t treat them as such.
Do Not Undermine Employees’ Rights
Every employee has rights and you need to recognise these. If you do not enforce and respect their rights, you could find your business gets in legal trouble. First of all, everyone has the right to be given a safe, secure and healthy working environment. You’re the one providing the place where employees work, so you have to make sure that it meets those standards. That’s just one example of the rights that all employees have. They should also be given privacy and be allowed to join trade unions if they want to. They are also entitled to a notice period if they are made redundant. If you respect all these rights, you shouldn’t have any problems.
Enforce a No Discrimination Policy
Discrimination has no place in the workplace nowadays. You need to have a strict policy in place that makes this clear to everyone. First of all, make sure that your business is not responsible for any discriminatory actions or behaviour. If you are guilty of any kind of discrimination, you will be breaking the law. You should also make sure that discrimination by other employees is not accepted in the office. If you find that other people are acting in this way, you should take immediate action to stamp it out. It’s the only way to make sure that this kind of behaviour doesn’t become a big problem for your business.
Be Careful with Disciplinary Procedures
Your business should have a disciplinary procedure in place. All your employees should understand the rules and guidelines. And then, if those rules are broken, they should also be aware of what the consequences will be. This just helps to make things clear for everyone in the workplace. Minor offences could get a warning. And bigger offences could lead to suspension or dismissal. And you should also make it clear what will happen if offences are repeated. Some companies have a three strike policy. This means that after an initial warning they get a written warning. And then, on the third occasion, they will be dismissed. If you have a policy like this in place, everyone knows where they stand.
Dismissing an Employee
Sometimes, as a boss, you feel the need to get rid of an employee. But you can’t just do this as and when you want. There are laws for you to follow and employees have rights. So, you need to think it through very carefully and follow all the right procedures. There has to be a valid reason for dismissing an employee. It can’t be based on any discriminatory reason either. If the employee has had several warnings and continues to break the rules or behave inappropriately, it’s ok to dismiss them. But you can’t sack someone because you decide that you don’t like them. This will just lead to them pursuing unfair dismissal proceedings.
Employees are entitled to maternity leave without losing their jobs. It’s an offence to sack someone for no other reason other than being pregnant. As long as the employee has completed 26 weeks of service for the company before the 15th week of the pregnancy, they’re entitled. This means that you will have to pay the statutory maternity pay while they’re on leave. If a woman is dismissed at any time during her maternity leave or pregnancy, she can take action. It would be classed as unfair dismissal, and it would also fall short of discrimination laws based on gender. So, make sure that you follow all the laws when it comes to maternity leave and maternity pay.