Whilst many will be starting 2019 with personal goals such as losing weight or quitting smoking, the New Year presents an ideal opportunity for employers to reflect and take stock of employment related issues, resolving to improve them during the year ahead.
Here, Christine Hart has fleshed out five resolutions that will get any employer, large or small, off to a good start in 2019.
1. Review your employment contracts and service agreements
It is worth assessing whether your employment contracts provide all of the information required by section 1 of the Employment Rights Act 1996. If this is not the case, an employee who pursues a claim in an Employment Tribunal could be entitled to an additional financial award due to this failure.
Additionally, many employers are yet to update their documents to take into account the implementation of GDPR.
2. Ensure your staff handbook is up to date
Recent years have seen many changes in employment law, which directly impact upon the policies that are often found in any staff handbook. This includes the introduction of shared parental leave and the relaxation in flexible working legislation. Many employers have not considered the impact this has upon the handbook policies, rendering them now out of date.
If you do not have a staff handbook in place at all, it is worth considering the benefits this can have, both in terms of clarity and the potential defenses open to an employer should a claim be pursued.
3. Deal with poor performance in a timely fashion
No employer enjoys the time and energy it takes to engage in a poor performance capability process. However, it is important that issues are dealt with quickly, either to increase the chance of the employee’s performance improving, or if not to ensure that a fair and compliant dismissal can take place as soon as possible.
4. Ensure your business is protected from leaving employees
In many cases, employees who have risen through the ranks to a senior position are not provided with a contract of employment which reflects their importance within the business. As a result, if they leave the business, there is a risk that many of your clients or customers could follow him/her.
Well drafted restrictive covenants can prevent a former employee from attempting to solicit or deal with your clients or customers. In some circumstances, the former employee can even be prevented from acting in competition with your business for a period of time.
Complex case law applies to restrictions of this nature and we strongly recommend that professional advice is taken to ensure that they are deemed enforceable by the Courts.
5. Consider the training needs of your business
In some circumstances, a strong training programme can be used to form the basis of a defence to claims or prosecutions. For example, when faced with a claim for discrimination or harassment, an employer could plead that they had taken all reasonable steps to prevent the inappropriate behaviour, and as a result should not be culpable. Equal opportunity or anti-bullying harassment training can assist greatly with this argument.
Additionally, many employers make reference to training in their staff handbooks, but never actually follow through with this in practice. A Tribunal may take a dim view of this should a claim be pursued.
Should you have any concerns about your current employment documentation, or wish to find out more about the training options Brabners provide, please contact Christine Hart on 01772 229 832 or firstname.lastname@example.org