Your business success depends on the people you employ to carry out the day to day work. For this reason, it is essential that you have the best and most effective workforce on board.
A clear, concise recruitment policy will help you to attract the right people. Solid induction processes will ensure that employees become effective in the shortest possible time. Attractive incentive packages will also help attract talent.
Organisations should be aware however that they have a legal responsibility not to discriminate in their recruitment and selection process on the ground of race, sex, disability, age, sexual orientation and religion or belief, pregnancy, maternity, marriage and civil partnership and also gender reassignment.
Our Employment team can provide advice and help you put together robust recruitment policies. Get in touch to find out more.
Acquiring a new business and inheriting staff
Generally speaking, you will acquire a business either by an asset purchase or a share sale.
If you acquire a business by a share sale, the legal entity which employs staff does not change. Because of this, there will be very little change to the employer/employee relationship.
If you acquire a business by an asset purchase, it is likely that the Transfer of Undertakings (the Protection of the Employment) 2006 applies. This means that you normally step into the shoes of the purchaser and that you inherit most obligations and liabilities from the seller. In this situation, you are generally very limited as to what you can do in terms of changing the terms and conditions of employment of those staff which you have acquired (with a limited number of exceptions).
If you have won a new contract, the Transfer of Undertakings (Protection of Employment) Regulations 2006 are likely to apply also. Again, you are likely to acquire those staff employed on the contract you have won on the same terms and conditions of employment and you will have limited ability to change those terms. You will also acquire any obligations and liabilities from the business that has lost the contract automatically by law (with a limited number of exceptions).
If you are acquiring a business, you would be advised to seek help in relation to warranties and indemnities. You should think about protecting yourself against any liability that you may inherit from the seller or the business that has lost a contract to you.
What legal entitlements do employees have?
The legal entitlement of your staff during their time with your business depends on whether they are classed as an employee, a worker, self employed or agency staff.
Self employed staff have limited employment rights. They are likely however to have protection under the discrimination legislation in relation to your engagement of them.
Agency staff are not normally your employees. If anything, they will have no employer or the agency business which provided them will be their legal employer. That said, there are agency worker regulations which protect agency staff on discrimination when compared to employees in your business. Agency staff gain certain rights from day one of their engagement by you and other (more important rights such as the right to the same basic terms and conditions of employment as comparable employees such as key elements of pay, annual leave and rest breaks) from twelve weeks. Agency workers also have protection under the discrimination legislation.
Employees have the most protection at work as well as the greatest number of rights. For example, employees are entitled to holiday pay, national minimum wage, the right to a statement of their basic terms and conditions of employment within two months of starting work, maternity, adoption and parternity leave and pay, a minimum period of notice, the right to request flexible working, sick pay and the right not to be unfairly dismissed.
Incentivising and rewarding staff
Many employers incentivise staff in order to reduce turnover and improve productivity. Incentivisation is not just about salary. It could include more holiday, a flexible benefits package or performance bonuses.
If you are introducing bonuses into your business, you need to make sure they are properly drafted. A poorly drafted bonus clause in a contract of employment or side agreement, could be challenged by disgruntled employees. You could end up paying more than you intended or lose your discretion when to pay bonuses.
Alternatively, it might be appropriate to put in place a share option scheme (some of which are highly tax efficient).
We can help you introduce properly thought through and implemented incentive and reward schemes in your business.
Consulting with staff
If you are considering making changes to your business that will affect the jobs your staff do, you must nearly always consult with them about the changes before they are implemented. This type of change normally include changes to terms and conditions of employment, reorganisations, redundancies, the sale of a business and the transfer of a service provision.
The type of change to be implemented will dictate exactly what type of consultation is undertaken and how that consultation should be handled. Broadly speaking however, the consultation should be started with the intention of seeking ways to minimise the affect of the changes planned or to avoid them altogether. This consultation may need you to consult with unions if any staff are union members.
If you don't consult properly, your business is exposed to Employment Tribunal claims of unfair dismissal and/or failure to follow proper consultation procedures. The financial liability for your business can be significant, especially if there are a lot of staff involved.
Well thought through and carefully implemented development plans for individual staff are a key part of any successful business. Not only can they help staff achieve goals (which could lead to additional financial comensation) but they also reduce staff turnover and aid promotion of talent in yor business.
We can help you devise and implement development plans tailored to your business.
You may need to exit individuals or groups of staff for a number of different reasons. A downturn in work could mean you need to make redundancies. A member of staff may not be performing, or you may think they are guilty of misconduct. Whatever the reason, we can help.
We regularly advise companies on implementing correct redundancy procedures. These include advice on consulting with staff (and possibly Unions), both collectively and individually, as welll as how to run an election process to appoint staff representaives.
If a senior executive leaves, we can advise you on manging their exit and minimising any disruption or risk to your business. This is often done via a settlement agreement. We can also advise on any financial entitlements an employee may have such as share entitlments and notice pay, as well as how to protect the business if the employee has signed restrictive covenants.
We can also help you deal with internal and external announcements to staff and third parties including clients and suppliers.
If an employee is guilty of misconduct it may be possible to dismiss them. You will almost always need to go through a proper procedure before you dimiss though. If you don't, you run the risk of an unfair dismissal claim.