Employment Law: Navigating the minefield

Employment law. Something that touches many different parts of your business. And, if you fail to meet these legal requirements, it’s something that can have far reaching and serious consequences for your business as well. But how much do you actually know about employment law? And why do many organisations find themselves less equipped to deal with it than they might like to admit?

Luckily, you don’t need a law degree to get your head around it all. We spoke with HiViz Safety to talk about some of the employment law pitfalls and ways in which you can avoid them. Below are some useful tips to help you navigate the minefield and stay on top of your responsibilities.

Working in harmony

Getting your legal framework right means peace of mind for your employees. For the business owner too. A working environment where employment policies are clear, transparent and viable is a happy one. A workplace where a failure could easily lead to a professional or industrial tribunal? Not so much…

At its most basic level, getting your policies in place helps build a good relationship with your staff. Harmony. Everyone singing from the same song sheet. And everyone happy to play by the same rules. So why wouldn’t you want to make sure your employment policies are correct?

Don’t be that business

There are many reasons why an organisation might overlook their responsibilities. Some companies outgrow themselves—they’re busy growing the business but they don’t grow their infrastructure. They overlook or de-prioritise the need to keep their policies in line with their growth.

Some companies think they’ll get away with it, which is a risky stance to take. Others may just be unaware of the fact that they need to do certain things. And that’s not just the ‘bad’ companies who might be expected to give employee rights short shrift. It applies to those businesses who are diligent about—and care for—their employees. But they just aren’t aware of exactly what it is they need to provide.

The absolute essentials

Every business needs to provide certain things. As an absolute minimum you should provide every member of staff with:

  • Written statement of terms. (NB these should be issued within eight weeks of commencing employment. Whilst policies, procedures, and staff handbooks can be amended unilaterally, employment contracts can’t)
  • Disciplinary and Grievance policy
  • Equal opportunities policy

And all businesses need to make sure they comply with the Working Time Regulations (1998).

What else?

You should also take the time to think about what else your business needs. Do you have part-time workers and need a policy to cover them? Is your age discrimination policy in place and robust enough? What’s your tribunal process? There will inevitably be other essential documents and guidance that you will need and they’ll vary from business to business. You should work out what’s important to your company and put the relevant processes in place. You can find a handy checklist here.

Create a custom-made staff handbook

Many businesses will almost certainly benefit from creating a ‘loose leaf’ staff handbook. Having it in a format that allows for amendments, without the need to reprint a complete new copy, will undoubtedly make things easier. When writing your first staff handbook and the accompanying notes, you should include comprehensive and relevant information on each topic. Some of the things you should consider include policies on paternity and maternity leave, sickness and absence, and your email and internet policies. You can find a comprehensive checklist here.

Let your employees know what you expect of them

You should design company procedures which minimise risk. This helps to reduce misunderstanding and to cover your business in every eventuality. You should identify all that is expected of your employees so that you reduce the risks. You may wish to craft a Drivers’ Handbook for any individual driving a vehicle on behalf of your company, or document your alcohol and drugs policy.

Maintain detailed company records

Whenever you reach a key decision on company policies and contracts, you should log it, date it, and keep detailed records of everything regarding relevant employment law. This will act as a significant source of reference should you ever need it in future.

So spend time getting the policies and procedures your business needs in place. It will lead to a more harmonious place to work. And it will mean you’ll have one less thing to worry about as you continue to grow and develop.


About HiViz Safety

HiViz Safety is an easy to use system to cover your Health & Safety and Employment Law needs. You can use it to access and download various employment policy and procedure templates. You can then tailor them to your individual needs, upload them securely to the cloud, and then use the tool as your central records library.