- Most employee rights run from the date of engagement. Others accrue with length of service. Be conversant with basic employment law and ensure that you have ready access to a competent employment law adviser for the more complex or atypical situations.
- Employment recruitment is subject to the laws of discrimination regarding sex, race, disability, sexual orientation, religious/ philosophical belief or age. The only exceptions to such rules are the ‘genuine occupational qualifications’ (GOQs).
- Part-time employees should be treated no less favourably for an unjustified reason than full-time employees.
- Draw up grievance procedures, and guidelines for notification and treatment of absences, to be made known to all employees.
- Ensure that you have written disciplinary procedures that comply with statutory standards and ACAS codes of practice. Such procedures will minimise the risk of successful employment tribunal claims by dismissed employees.
- Take professional advice in court proceedings arising from employment tribunal claims. When you terminate employment, a written compromise agreement signed by the employee will prevent a later claim. Failure to take professional advice early on is often a false economy.
- In the early stages of your business keep staff recruitment to a minimum. When advertising for a position, state basic details including a salary indicator.
- Use a standard application form when you expect a heavy advertisement response. When interviewing, be sure to ask many open-ended questions demanding more than a ‘Yes’ or ‘No’ answer.
- A job offer forms part of the contract of employment. Include most of the employment particulars (principal statement) required by law for all employees after one month’s service. Require the employee to sign a copy of the job offer. Have the complete principal statement signed formally as a contract by both parties. An additional, more formal contract is not usually necessary. Make an initial offer conditional.
- Keep benefits to a minimum at the early stages (maybe medical and death in service insurance), and consider making any benefits discretionary at first. Limit pension activity to statutory minimum stakeholder pensions.
- Profit-related incentives are preferable to bonuses, which can become taken for granted benefits. Delay option schemes and share ownership plans until your business matures and the future shape of your company becomes clearer.
If you need any employment law advice, please contact our employment lawyer Pam Loch via email@example.com. As outlined above, areas in which you may need such advice are as follows:
– the law on discrimination;
– grievance and disciplinary procedures, and the law relating to dismissal of employees;
– taxation issues;
– claims being made against you in the employment tribunal.
Checklist Source: Start Up & Run Your Own Business: The Essential Guide to Planning, Funding & Growing your New Enterprise by Jonathan Reuvid (Kogan Page; 8th edition 2011)