A Practical Guide to Flexible Working Rights for Small Businesses

Request for flexible working

The statutory right to request flexible working is available to all employees who complete 26 weeks of continuous employment.

Whilst flexible working is certainly becoming a more common feature in the workplace, it could stand to become even more significant in 2019 as discussions continue around whether employers will be required to state whether positions can be worked flexibly in job advertisements.

In the meantime, here’s what every small business owner needs to know about flexible working rights, and how to handle flexible working requests from staff so that you don’t end up in front of an Employment Tribunal; (more…)

Becoming an Employer – Your Responsibilities When You Hire Staff

what you need to do when employing staff

No matter how successful your business has been with just you working in it, if you want to grow you’ll need to employ people.

There are innumerable benefits of having employees. The right people will ease the workload on you and allow you take holidays. Good staff keep your business running day to day, so you can focus on the most important part of your role as the leader: growing the business. (more…)

A Guide to Setting up and Managing Payroll for Employers

What new employers need to knoa to set up payroll

If you’re starting to employ people in your business, mastering payroll is going to become an essential part of your business. Get it wrong and you risk unhappy employees and potential penalties from HMRC.

There’s a lot more to it than simply paying staff money. So we’ve put together this guide to help you get it right and stay in line with what HMRC expects. (more…)

What can small employers do to improve gender equality in the workplace?

What small businesses can do to enure gender equality

The issue of gender equality in the workplace has garnered much publicity in recent months and is one of the biggest issues facing employers in 2018.

Most of the media attention has surrounded information on Gender Pay Gap Reporting (GPGR) which forces companies with 250+ employees to publish a report detailing aspects of staff pay and bonuses.

Whilst smaller employers are not caught by this requirement, it will be wise for all employers to take appropriate measures to address gender equality in their workplace. So what steps can you take to do this? (more…)

How small businesses can encourage mothers returning to work, and why this makes business sense

Over 99% of businesses in the UK are small and medium enterprises and, according to Wasp Barcode’s annual State of Small Business Report, 50% of small businesses say hiring new employees is the top challenge they face.

‘Parents’ represent a great pool of talent; however they seem to not be noticed by many small businesses.

In fact, in some cases they are avoided. According to the Guardian: 40% of managers avoid hiring younger women to get around the issue and costs of maternity leave. (more…)

Setting up an induction process for new employees

Developing an onboarding or inductoio process for new employees

Once the recruitment process has completed with your chosen candidate accepting your job offer and agreeing their starting date, this should not signal the end of your plans for the new recruit.

To give the new employee the best opportunity to flourish you should set up an induction process.

But what is an induction, or onboarding, process, and what should you do to help your new staff members settle in quickly? We asked Peter Done, Managing Director of employment specialists, Peninsula Business Services to explain. (more…)

A guide to carrying out a disciplinary investigation

Disciplinary inestigation

A disciplinary investigation is the first important step in carrying out a full and fair disciplinary process. It is one step that employers may find insignificant but, on the contrary, a proper investigation will generally lead to a smoother disciplinary rocedure.

An investigation is key as it is required by the Acas Code of Practice on Disciplinary and Grievance Procedures and will be taken in to account by an employment tribunal when deciding compensation awards. It is usually detailed in a company’s disciplinary policy and procedure which should be followed internally.

Here’s what every business owner needs to know about a disciplinary investigation; (more…)

How to tackle disputes in the workplace

How to deal with staff disputes informally and formally

It’s not uncommon that when an employee makes a complaint about a fellow colleague that employers wish to bury their heads in the sand and ignore the issue.

A getting on with business approach, however, is unlikely to solve the dispute and can cause the situation to spiral out of control. Employers who manage disputes and try to resolve these when raised will see the benefits of taking such an approach.

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Restrictive covenants and contracts of employment – Advice for employers

restrictive covenants

For most employers, setting in place rules and responsibilities for employees during their time with the company is their most important consideration. This can be achieved through having effective contracts of employment, alongside employee handbooks.

Employers should, however, be putting thought in to what happens once employment ends to ensure that they are protecting their business interests. After the employee has resigned, or been dismissed, they are no longer bound by their contractual terms.

Restrictive covenants are an effective tool for restricting damaging activity by the ex-employee but employers need to carefully construct these covenants to ensure they are enforceable. (more…)

Understanding fixed term employment contracts – what business owners need to know

Fixed term employment contracts are generally seen by employers as those which “plug the gap” when their normal, permanent employees are absent for a period of time.

Fixed term contracts are useful tools for businesses who need to employ staff to cover short term peaks in business demands. But before employing staff on a fixed term contract, employers need to be aware of the rights fixed term employees have to ensure they are not at risk of a tribunal claim.

So to help make sure you don’t get caught out, we asked employment law expert, Peter Done to explain the key points of fixed term contracts for small businesses; (more…)

5 Tips for small businesses setting up an auto enrolment pension scheme in 2017

auto enrolment pension 2017

Figures from The Pensions Regulator (TPR) reveal that more than 95 per cent of the small employers required to put their staff into a workplace pension by June 2016 had complied with the law.

To the end of September, almost 257,000 employers had completed their automatic enrolment duties and enrolled over 6.7 million workers on to an auto enrolment pension scheme.

During the first quarter of 2017, the automatic enrolment legislation will step up a gear as more than 1 million small businesses will need to meet their automatic enrolment duties. And so with a busy time ahead, we asked Caroline Bateman of Enrolsme to offer her tips on how small business can set up an auto enrolment pension scheme in 2017, ‘stress free’; (more…)

Statutory & Contractual Notice Periods: Advice for small businesses

Once a contract of employment is in place, notice has to be given by either party to the contract to end it. There are two types of notice periods; statutory notice and contractual notice.

As an employer, if you fail to give the correct notice when terminating an employment contract, you are in breach of contract. This could result in an appearance before the employment tribunal and you having to pay damages.

To help small business owners understand the law regarding notice periods, we asked HR expert, Peter Done of Peninsula Business Services to explain what employers’ need to know about giving notice to end an employment contract; (more…)

What are the compulsory fire safety regulations for UK businesses?

It is vitally important for business owners and managers to understand their duty to comply with UK fire safety regulations, as the consequences are potentially very serious.

All legislation regarding fire safety in business (non-domestic) premises in England and Wales are incorporated in The Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order, 2005. It provides clear guidance for those responsible for implementing safety precautions and procedures, including fire risk assessments and fire safety equipment.

Here, we look at who is ultimately responsible for fire safety on business premises, and lay out the steps that a ‘responsible person’ is obliged to take by law. (more…)

A small business guide to employee handbooks

Nearly all employers are aware of the legal requirement to give new employees a statement of their main terms once they start working for you.

For some small businesses this may be the only documentation they give staff, after all this meets their legal requirements. However, many employers can find that well-drafted and implemented employee handbooks are essential to safeguard their business.

To help you understand how an employee handbook can help both employers and employees, here’s what every small business owners needs to know about them; (more…)

A small business guide to carrying out effective staff appraisals

When staff appraisal or review time rolls around, many small business owners view this as a waste of their valuable time. This is not the case, however, and employers who spend the time and effort to make these meetings are a success will often get much more out of staff appraisals than they put into them.

In this guide, we look at staff appraisals and outline how smaller employers can reap the benefits of an effective employee appraisal scheme;

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Why being a good customer could drive your startup’s future success

Launching a startup is weird. You have a big idea driving you, with lots of small things to do to get going.

You don’t necessarily have lots of business coming in or staff on board yet, but still you have to run this fledgling business the way you are going to run your future super-successful business.

The way you behave, now, at the start, will set the scene for what your business will be like in the future. This is where being a good customer comes in. (more…)

Respecting equality and diversity in leadership

In years gone by, equality and diversity haven’t always been at the forefront of business owners’ minds. However, in recent years more and more business leaders are recognising that respecting equality and diversity make good business sense.

So, what makes equality and diversity increasingly vital when you are setting up and running a business? We asked entrepreneur and author, Jackie Arnold to explain; (more…)

How small business owners can tackle difficult conversations with employees

Having to carry out difficult conversations is an inevitable consequence of owning a business and being an employer. When most business owners start employing staff they often haven’t thought of the reality of becoming an employer and having to tackle workplace issues as they arise.

Employers often don’t have the confidence to successfully carry out difficult conversations but avoiding these, and leaving issues to fester, is likely to negatively impact the business and, whilst this may be avoided in a larger business, a lack of productivity, capability or incidents of misconduct can have a serious effect on the business as a whole.

As a small business employer, you can avoid this outcome by being prepared, and facing difficult conversations with confidence in your ability to come to a positive solution. Here’s how; (more…)

Health & Safety Plans for Startups – How to write one for your business

It’s safe to say that writing a health & safety plan isn’t one of the most exciting parts of starting a business. In fact, it’s something that many new business owners neglect to do.

A health and safety plan is a plan which outlines how health and safety protocol will work in your business. In an ideal world, it would be seen as something that goes alongside a business plan but, far too often, this is not the case and businesses end up neglecting it.

Planning for health and safety means more than just checking the law as you go to make sure you are following it. Rather, a health and safety plan is something that should be done in the early stages of business planning.
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Guide to Employment Contracts for Small Businesses

guide to employment contracts

When you start taking on employees you will be faced with a fair amount of legal responsibilities. It’s important you understand all your obligations as an employer as if you don’t comply with UK employment law you can easily find yourself in front of an employment tribunal.

As a small business owner, your legal responsibilities when taking on staff can be somewhat daunting but with a little help you can soon get your head around what’s needed. One of your first duties as a new employer is to ensure you comply with employment contract law. To help you understand your legal obligations, here’s a guide to employment contracts for small business owners; (more…)

Making sure staff know their position and purpose within your business

Red tape… compliance… ticking boxes… costly… time consuming… frustrating… not my job!

Be honest, when you think about HR (Human Resources) in your business, are these the kind of phrases that first spring to mind?

If you ask any small business owner what frustrates them in their company, most will include HR and talk about problems with their staff. They will tell you about people who fail to do what they are supposed to do or what they say they will do! They will bemoan the fact that people constantly ‘let them down’. This is what they relate HR with… and blame HR for!

However, HR does not have to be like this.

Imagine you could get people to do what they are supposed to do and to the standard you need – wouldn’t that make your life as a small business owner easier? Would that add value to your business? Would it free up your time so you could concentrate on other aspects of your business?

Well it is possible – not easy – but possible! (more…)

A Guide to calculating holiday pay

When you employ staff you must give them a certain amount of annual leave, and pay them during this time.

If your employees work a set amount of hours, and received a fixed salary, calculating their annual leave entitlement and holiday pay is straightforward. However, if staff have irregular hours, work overtime, or receive commissions or bonuses then calculating holiday pay can get quite tricky.

To help new business owners and employers understand the regulations on calculating holiday pay, we asked employment law expert, Peter Done to explain the key points for small businesses;
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First aid training at work: Why is it so important?

When it comes to first aid in the workplace, the same principles apply to small businesses with only a few employees, as they do to companies with a bigger workforce spread across multiple locations.

In both instances, there must be plans in place to ensure the day-to-day working operation complies with health and safety regulations, protecting employees from possible injuries and reacting to sudden illness.

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Why a healthier workplace is good for a small business, and simple ways to achieve it

Small businesses and start-ups are particularly vulnerable to staff health issues. If you’re a small business of five staff when suddenly one of the team is off sick with a chronic back complaint, then the business is trying to operate with only 80% of the workforce.

The increased workload this pushes on to other staff can soon create problems. The extra pressure can cause mistakes to be made, customers to be lost and staff to become stressed and a booming business can rapidly spiral into decline.

While it may not be top priority, there are several common sense health and wellbeing steps that will not only protect your small business but also pay significant dividends over time. If your staff are healthier, they’re going to have fewer days of sick leave and you could also see a boost in productivity.

With the value of workplace health being increasingly recognised, we asked Rosie Bambury of the Better Health at Work Alliance, to explain how small businesses can benefit from a bigger focus on employee health.

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A small business guide to annual leave entitlement for employees

As an employer you are required by law to give your employees a certain number of days holiday during the year. The amount of annual leave employees are entitled to depends on several factors.

This guide to leave entitlement for small business owners explains the amount of holiday you are required by UK law to give your employees, and how to calculate this for workers not working a normal working week.

Also covered are the laws regarding bank holidays, carrying over unused leave days, imposing a period of annual leave on staff e.g. over the festive season, and when you can refuse employees’ requests to take holiday;

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Making staff redundant – how to do it and stay on the right side of the law

Nobody goes into business to make staff redundant. However, it is a task that many business owners will need to undertake at some point

Redundancy is a potentially fair reason to dismiss an employee, but it is vital that you get this procedure right as failure to do so could result in an unfair dismissal claim at the employment tribunal.

Here’s a step by step guide to the redundancy process, and how to negotiate it safely.
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A Guide to the National Living Wage for small business owners

From 1st April, 2016 all employers will need to comply with the new National Minimum Wage regulations.

To help you understand exactly what the National Living Wage is, and what you need to do to comply with the new legislation, here’s a guide to the National Living Wage for small business owners;

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When should you outsource your payroll and what are the benefits of doing so?

One of the first things new business owners often say to me is how bewildering it can be getting their heads around all the different aspects of running a business.

From marketing and IT to tax and finance, it’s a case of having to quickly get up to speed on a huge range of things. For many small businesses the only way to make sure that everything gets done right is to outsource some of the tasks.

The type of functions that are frequently outsourced by small businesses are ones that either don’t add any value, or require specialist skills and knowledge that are not viable to employ someone to conduct in-house.

The administration of the company’s payroll is one such function. With a variety of outsourcing options available, from large established payroll providers to smaller competitors, outsourcing your payroll can offer a number of short-term and long-term benefits.

In this article, we look at some of the benefits of outsourcing your business’s payroll function and when is the best time to take the plunge. (more…)

How employers can help change attitudes to mental health in the workplace

A recent survey about mental resilience of almost 2,000 workers found that nearly a third of UK employees feel unsure about who to talk to or where to find help or support regarding mental health.

And, nearly 40% of people find it hard to talk to or open up about their mental health to anyone.

So how can businesses help to break down these barriers and help to address how we view and approach mental health in the workplace? We asked Fiona Lowe of Westfield Health to outline some ideas; (more…)

Landmark Supreme Court ruling could see businesses prosecuted for employees’ negligent behaviour

Businesses could be liable if an employee commits a negligent act while at work, the Supreme Court has ruled.

The landmark judgement, which was confirmed this week, will have considerable consequences on the way employers train and monitor their staff, according to North West law firm Kirwans, who say the judgement is “extremely significant” and one that could have far-reaching implications for businesses. (more…)

5 Ways you could be stifling staff, and 5 Steps to harnessing their full potential

It can be exasperating when staff don’t use their initiative, or they go about solving problems in a seemingly baffling way, but often workers donning their stupid hats as they clock-in can be because of how you act as their boss.

If you regularly find yourself cursing the stupidity of your employees, then you really need to take a look in the mirror because your actions and behaviour could well be the root cause of this. To help you understand more about how you could be inadvertently stifling your workforce, let’s look at five common reasons for staff not fulfilling their potential; (more…)

A guide to dealing with workplace bullying

Workplace bullying can take on different forms, including verbal or written, cyber bullying.

In a survey conducted by the charity Family Lives, almost three-quarters (73%) of those surveyed who had experienced bullying at work said that the bullying was verbal and included threats, while a similarly high proportion (60%) felt the bullying was social, for example being excluded, ignored and isolated. More than a third of employees who had experienced bullying said that it continued for over a year.

Dealing with all types of bullying behaviour quickly and effectively is key for employers to restore morale, productivity and attendance within their organisation and maintaining positive work relationships between employees and managers alike.

In this guide, Peter Done, MD of employment law specialists, Peninsula Business Services explains how to spot, and tackle any instances of bullying in your small business;

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7 ways employers’ spying on workers has backfired and destroyed staff motivation

The discovery of heat and movement sensors fixed to workers’ desks at The Daily Telegraph has led to accusations that employers care more about their bottom line than they do about having good workplace relations with their staff.

That’s the view of Protecting.co.uk, a nationwide workplace law consultancy, which says whatever reason given for placing the tracking devices on staff  desks, the lack of trust could be fatal for any organisation.

This is just one of many ham-fisted decisions made by bosses up and down the country that have proved toxic for employer-employee relations. (more…)

4 Steps to building your business by hiring ‘ugly ducklings’

Recruitment can be a tricky process for any business. Figuring out where to source candidates, considering what to include in the job ad, and trying to decide what salary bracket should be offered can make the process more delicate than you may initially think.

Here, Shweta Jhajharia, of The London Coaching Group takes a fresh approach to recruiting for your small business. It’s counter-intuitive, but she reveals how advertising a job with a lower salary can actually attract more applicants for your vacancies, and how you can use this approach to attract high-potential, ‘ugly ducklings’ to your team. (more…)

The ‘Fit for Work’ scheme – what it means for employers

Latest figures from the Government have shown that 131 million working days are lost to sickness absence very year in the UK, and over 1 million workers had sickness absences greater than one month.

The cost to employers, and to the country, in lost productivity, is considerable. Therefore, steps are now being taken to reduce longer term sickness absences by between 20% and 40% annually.

With the recent introduction of the ‘Fit for Work’ scheme, the Government is attempting to cut the cost of sick days, but how does the scheme work, and how can employers use it to lower the number of staff absences in their business? (more…)