As an employer, regardless of how many employees you have, you need robust, carefully drafted contracts of employment in place. Such contracts will contribute to the smooth running of your workforce, and should reduce the risk of conflicts arising.
It is also good practice for you to have in place separate workplace policies and procedures, for example covering disciplinary, grievance, absence management, equal opportunities, health and safety, and IT and social media. These policies and procedures contain certain rules and standards which employees and workers need to follow, and are helpful in informing employees of your expectations and standards within the workplace.
Employment law changes regularly, so it is important that you review employment contracts and policies on a regular basis to ensure they are still up to date and compliant. Similarly, contracts may need to be amended as your business grows and its requirements change. This can be fairly complicated, particularly in cases where your employees are reluctant to accept the changes being proposed.
A contract of employment is an agreement between an employer and an employee which sets out the rights and obligations of each party during (and following the termination of) the employment relationship.
The content of the contract of employment will depend upon the nature of the business and the role of the employee. However, there are certain employment terms that must be given to the employee in writing, and these would usually be found in the contract of employment. Some of these terms include:
- The date on which the employee’s period of continuous employment began
- Pay (or method of calculating it) and interval of payment
- Hours of work
- Holiday entitlement and holiday pay
- Job title (or a brief description of the work)
- Place of work, and
- Notice periods for termination of employment
In addition to the contract of employment, it is good practice for employers to have written policies and procedures in place. These should be non-contractual ‘rules’ which set out the standards expected of the workers, and reduce the risk of an employment dispute by ensuring that workers and managers understand their rights and responsibilities.
Some policies are fundamental, and are required by all businesses. These can include policies on equality, disciplinary and grievances, health and safety, sickness and capability, IT and communications. Other policies are optional and depend upon the type of business and its needs, such as an adverse weather policy.
Policies and procedures in the workplace should be clear, user-friendly and easy to understand for your employees. They should be drafted to suit your organisation’s own circumstances. Whilst there is no requirement to agree or consult with your staff over the content of policies and procedures, it is good practice to do so in some circumstances. For example, ACAS recommends that staff are involved in the development of disciplinary and grievance rules and procedures.
Whether you are a small business or a large national organisation, our experienced Employment Law Solicitors can help you by putting in place contracts of employment for new and existing employees, covering all types of working arrangements (including fixed-term, casual hours, and other atypical working patterns). We can also review your existing contracts, ensuring that your terms and conditions of employment are fully compliant with UK employment law, including national minimum wage legislation and the Working Time Regulations.
In addition, we can prepare policies and procedures for use in your workplace which are tailored to suit your organisation, and which are fully compliant with ACAS codes and guidance and currently legislation including the Equality Act 2010. We can then advise you in the effective use of these policies, guiding you through the procedures and helping you to ensure that you are acting fairly and reasonably when managing your staff.
We can also provide advice and support in changing your terms and conditions of employment when your business needs require you to do so, particularly in situations where your employees are resistant to the change.
In most employment situations taking legal advice early on can often stop the situation from escalating and will save you time and money later. With our proactive advice, Thorntons Employment Law team can help find the right solution for you over employee management issues, including contracts, policies and procedures. Give one of our team a call on 03330 430 350 , or complete our online enquiry form and we will contact you.