If your business has grown to the stage that you’re able to hire employees, then you’re certainly on the path to high-flying success. While having a team of employees around you takes workload pressure off your shoulders, you still have the responsibility of making sure you are abiding by employment laws.
Before you can officially enroll staff members, it’s important to be aware of the key areas of employment law so you don’t make any serious slip-ups that may cause you to get sued.
If you require some help and advice on the basics of employment law, you’ve come to the right place. Here are five areas to be aware of before hiring your first employees.
While there is no legal obligation to provide a written contract for your employees, it would be an advisable move, so there is proof of the terms and conditions. If the contract is set to last longer than 4 weeks, employees have the right to see a physical copy. The contract must contain vital details, including:
• The employer’s name
• The name of the employee
• Job title
• Holiday entitlement
• Number of hours per week
• Hourly rate or salary
• Notice periods
It’s against the law to discriminate against any potential or current employees based on their characteristics, whether it be their age, race, gender, religion, or disabilities under the Americans with Disabilities Act
. While you may have your personal opinions on each of these attributes, you should never bring them into work or allow them to influence your decisions in hiring. Otherwise, you could be facing a lawsuit.
Never brush performance issues under the carpet. All organized businesses should be carrying out employee appraisals yearly. Appraisals should be given as and when necessary and pinpoint any aspects of the employee’s role that may need improvement. As an employer, it’s important you keep these meetings fair, i.e., don’t favor one employee over another.
Do be aware that employers who don’t document performance issues and then decide to fire the employee could end up in an Employment Tribunal as a result of unfair dismissal.
Generally, employees must have been working at the company for at least two years to face unfair dismissal– unless it is stated in the contract that they are on a trial period for several months. Therefore, employees have no right to fire difficult employees without a given reason before this time. Only after this duration can employers remove an employee for instances such as underperformance, redundancy, or misconduct.
Know the difference between an employee and an independent contractor
Many businesses fail to understand the difference between an employee and independent contractor, which can cause serious legal issues. Some companies prefer independent contractors because it can slash overhead costs, and they aren’t legally obliged to conform with the minimum wage entitlement or commit to a set number of hours per week. However, it’s not unusual for businesses to deliberately treat employees in the same way as independent contractors, which is, in fact, against the law.