Top tips – how to build an employment law compliant HR framework (for smaller business

HR spotlight – our smaller business top tips for painlessly building an employment law compliant HR system for your business. Building in compliance with employment law isn’t as onerous as you might think. Follow our top tips and you’ll be up and running in a couple of hours.

As you may imagine at myhrdept we spend a lot of time talking to employers of all shapes and sizes, from schools to software firms, pubs to publishing houses. And what do they all share? A fear of employment law, for which we’re sad to say a quick search on google has not revealed a well-known label!

But need it be as scary as all that? For smaller businesses an ‘HR framework’ need only have a couple of core elements – your HR policy file and your contracts of employment. As HR policies are generally pretty standard we can give you our first top tip:

TOP TIP 1: Don’t waste your time researching HR policies on the internet. Find a good quality HR company and download the complete lot in under a minute. You can access our 2014 HR policy pack (there’s more than 20 plus dozens of accompanying forms) by clicking here, or better still buy an annual subscription which includes unlimited access to all of our documents for a whole year via our unique document generator (to give you simple guidance for your particular document requirements) for only £299, or £599 if you want to bolt on a little bit of HR advice.

But, a dusty file in the corner does not on its own make a complaint HR system.

TOP TIP 2: Let your employees know that you have HR policies and where they are, and require them to sign to say they have seen and read the key ones. Our HR policy pack handily comes with such a form, signed copies of which should be placed on employee personnel files.

It’s also important to have in place effective contracts of employment. To do so is a legal requirement and there are financial penalties for not having these – up to £1800 per employee. But it isn’t just about having a ‘legal’ contract – your contracts can and should support your business objectives, and to do so will inevitably require some careful drafting. The contract should define the level of flexibility you actually need (today and if possible in the future). It should also provide due diligence defense protection against the potentially costly attention of UK legislative enforcers – the UK Border Agency, Equality & Human Rights Commission, HMRC and the Information Commissioner. Just as importantly it should enforce your key standards and rules with respect to how you conduct and how you expect your employees to conduct your business.

TOP TIP 3: Consider commissioning a bespoke employment contract that reflects your business. myhrdept charges from £250 to write contracts for you, or you can use our document generator to build your own for only £45 (full guidance included, but do allow an hour at least and remember to save your work regularly). Whilst there are free contract templates available from government websites etc. these tend to be very general and won’t necessarily afford employers the flexibility they can require.

Once built your HR framework will help you;

    • demonstrate you are compliant with UK employment laws; and
    • show you take your responsibilities seriously by having clear and transparent policies e.g. Equal Opportunities, Bullying and Harassment etc; and
    • have clear and easy to follow procedures in place to help employees and managers deal with typical employment events; and
    • provide protection for your organisation in the case of misconduct, poor performance or unexpected events (remember the snow?) and
    • protect your organisation’s intellectual property, confidential information and customer base (if an employee leaves);
    • place contractual requirements on employees that are legally enforceable and are genuinely reflective of your business needs; and
    • select terms and conditions and develop working practices that are appropriate for your industry’s needs.

Almost all HR issues can be managed by reference to one or more elements of the HR System. It’s possible to construct an off the shelf HR system but your organisation is unique, and so your HR system should be too.

TOP TIP 4: employee handbooks – Lastly (and perhaps for slightly larger employers) you might consider adding an employee handbook to your HR framework. Handbooks often contain summaries of HR policies and spell out local rules and procedures. They can also be used to describe the organisation’s values and provide some history and other useful or interesting information.

Keeping your HR system effective

It’s important that your HR system is kept up to date with changes in legislation and changes to your business.

TOP TIP 5: Staying up to date – Make a diary note to review your HR framework once a year. Does it reflect current employment law and the current needs of your business? For myhrdept Premium Plus customers we will review your HR documentation at least annually but also when you tell us you need to change; perhaps because of an acquisition or a change of location etc. You can manage your own HR framework with an annual subscription to myhrdept for only £299 plus vat for a year – or £599 with a bit of occasional advice bolted on.

If you’re thinking of outsourcing your HR why not contact myhrdept.co.uk. With full service packages for medium sized companies typically from only a few hundred per month (and from only £100 per month for smaller companies and start-ups) we believe we offer the best combination of quality and price available in the UK. Call us on 01628 820515 to discuss your requirements or email us here and we’ll call you back.

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