By Eve Clennell
I run a small company with only 6 employees, I have no HR of any kind in place, what do I need to do to comply with the law?
Firstly, within 2 months of an employee starting to work for you must issue valid terms and conditions of employment. These terms should contain, at least, the following information:
A contract of employment may be oral or written and, in law, employees have a contract of employment as soon as they start work even where the written statement of employment particulars required by the legislation has not been given to the employee. Its terms can be written, oral, implied or a mixture of all three.
If you have not issued written contracts then it will usually be considered that your employees are working under ‘implied terms’. This means that the hours they have been working and the benefits that they have been receiving for that work will be considered to be the terms of the contract. In such cases, if you want to issue a contract you will need to undertake a consultation process and gain the consent of the employees to be bound by the new, written, contract of employment.
As you employ 5 or more people you must also have a written health and safety policy, conduct written risk assessments and you must offer your employees a stakeholder pension scheme.
Up until the 5 April 2009 it is required that you have a written disciplinary and grievance policy, however this requirement is being repealed and as of 6 April 2009 it will no longer be law to have such policies. However, legislation in this area is, as yet, untested at Tribunal.
With this being the case I would strongly recommend that, even though it is very shortly not going to be a legal requirement you put in place a standard 3 step disciplinary policy and also a standard 3 step grievance policy. With the new legislation an uplift of 25% can be added to a successful claim for not following the ACAS code of practice, but more importantly the change in legislation for not following best practice does not automatically render a dismissal unfair.
All this may sound somewhat daunting if you have never tackled HR in anyway but in reality it is more a case of making the time to sit down and actually make a start on such a project.
In respect of issuing or revising contracts of employment I would advocate caution and suggest you seek professional advice on this matter.