Recruitment laws small business owners should be aware of

Taking on new staff can be a risky business, particularly if you’ve never done it before. Discrimination laws are tighter than ever, and there are plenty of other rules besides those, all of which you should take into account when placing a new employee into a role at your firm.

Listing the Vacancy

When it comes to advertising a job vacancy, you need to word your listing very carefully.

On the one hand, you can’t be discriminatory – so you cannot impose arbitrary age limits, gender requirements, and so on.

The only exception to this is if there is a legitimate reason not to consider certain candidates – for instance, if your new recruit will be working in a sensitive and gender-specific environment where privacy is needed, such as toilets or changing rooms.

You should also make sure the particulars of the role you advertise comply with rules such as the European Union Working Time Directives and the current minimum wage – don’t offer a rate of pay that doesn’t meet the minimum legal requirement.

Interviewing the Applicants

Just as in your advertisement, you should not ask any potentially discriminatory questions in the interview, so it’s wise to plan your questions ahead of time.

For instance, you’ll need to be careful that, if you ask how many years of experience a candidate has in a given profession, you’re not unwittingly discovering their age.

Similar concerns relate to gender, ethnic background – including both skin colour and country of birth – and disability.

If a foreign candidate has the legal right to work in the UK, you shouldn’t turn them down based solely on their country of origin.

Likewise, don’t reject a candidate with a disability, without fairly considering whether they could do the job, even if it means making some minor adjustments to the working environment.

Filling the Role

Make sure that your chosen applicant is not only suitable for the job, but that they are also legally allowed to take on the role as advertised.

This might mean going so far as to carry out a Criminal Records Bureau background check (usually just called a ‘CRB check‘) if the role involves working in a position of trust.

However, it should also involve checking the person’s right to work in the UK – even if that simply means confirming that they were born in an EU member state.

Protecting your Interests

There are a couple of things you should do to make sure you are meeting your legal obligations regarding your new employee, and that you and your business are protected against any malicious act they may carry out or disagreement about their role.

In terms of finance, you should make sure you understand what you are required to do regarding their Pay As You Earn deductions and National Insurance contributions, both of which should be taken from their regular pay cheque.

On the legal side of things, make sure you provide your new employee with a contract to sign, and a statement of their particulars of employment – the hours they work, their holiday entitlements, their rate of pay, and so on.

If they raise a grievance later on, having this in place could prove a crucial way of defending yourself against any claim of unfair treatment.

You should always seek professional advice from a qualified person before taking on employees. Don’t rely purely on information contained in this article.

Bytestart Limited info@ByteStart.co.uk

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