Why Employers Need To Make New Year's Resolutions
I really enjoy my work. It has so many variations that in one day I can be advising an employer on a disciplinary process, drafting a defence, meeting an individual with a settlement agreement or preparing detailed service agreements.
If variety is the spice of life then employment law must be a vindaloo! So what can you do this year to ensure you are setting off in the right direction from an employment law perspective?
One item which is often pushed around with little progress within businesses is the preparation of either a new or a revised employment contract. This can sit for many a dark month either in draft format or awaiting roll out on a manager’s desk. It is very often the one job which nobody really wants as it is seen as laborious, time consuming, and not very interesting and discussions about sorting these out are usually met with a collective groan at board level! Sadly, on many occasions, we will see a client who has received an unfair dismissal claim against them and when we ask for the employees employment contract we get a look of resignation usually followed by eye rolling from the business owners as they haven’t “got round” to sorting out their contracts. This is usually met with a huge apology but by this time, that need has passed.
So why should you make sure that you have your contracts implemented and policies and procedures either set out or reviewed? The reasons are manifold. However, here are a few reasons why having a contractual review with an employment lawyer will always be in your business’s best interests.
Employment Law Changes
Thankfully it doesn’t change all of the time and it has certainly calmed down in recent years, but things do change in employment law. Legislation comes in at least twice a year some of which will have a direct effect on your relationship with your employees. If you are caught out then you could end up being subject to litigation from employees who are not being given their basic employment rights.
Your Company Has Changed
It might be that you have grown considerably since you initially issued the contract or it could be that the agreements are as old as the business itself! Being handed a typed, written contract of employment full of legalese usually means that the contracts have not been touched for at least 25 years and will in fact be obsolete. Other things that can change are that as your business is growing your terms and conditions for your employees have become more generous. It is always wise to reflect in your terms of any arrangements that you have in place with staff and so revisiting them can be quite helpful to check that you are comparable with other market leaders operating in your particular business area. Failure to do so may mean that you lose staff for basic terms and conditions.
Your Employees Have Changed
Some employees might work within the business under their original apprenticeship contracts. Obviously the terms and conditions for an apprentice are considerably different to senior managers but in many cases no one has bothered to update the employee’s contract. This might mean that one of your more senior employees can then walk into a brand new role taking with them valuable confidential information which they can freely access and without any potential post termination restrictions whatsoever. Obviously reviewing the position with these employees can be a good idea and most employees enticed into new roles with better terms and conditions and a higher salary are more likely to accept any new restrictions which are imposed, so change with them.
You Want Greater Clarity
You may find that the same issues keep coming up within your organisation. This is probably due to a lack of communication or something between you and the employee being unclear. If there is any question of clarity in an employment contract then this will be construed against the business and not the employee. It is not worth taking that risk and so ensuring clarity can be very useful for business.
It’s Not A Priority
Contracts are not everyone’s cup of tea. What you really need is a professional person reviewing these contracts who does this on a regular basis and who can spot any inconsistencies a mile off. That way, the update needn’t sit under a pile of other documents on someone’s vast to do list and you can get this out of the way and get started in a New Year with compliant employment contracts.
Employees Are Entitled To One
Employees are entitled to a statement of terms and conditions (effectively a contract of employment) and a failure to supply this can increase compensation if an employee pursues a claim. Not having any contract can be extremely dangerous. The employment tribunal will infer the terms from the conduct of the parties which is guaranteed to be different to your understanding of the position!
Tilly Bailey and Irvine are offering a free employment contract review so that you can start 2016 confident that this will be your best year in business yet and that your contracts are suitable for your business and your staff, offering you the protection you need.
If you would like to take advantage of this offer then please do not hesitate to contact me.
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