Legal Aid Questions and Answers

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We desperately need to take somebody on to help out, but I am daunted by the prospect of becoming an employer – are my fears well founded?

No. Whilst it is fundamental to recognise that compliance with employment law needs to be your number one priority, employing people is not a science. The challenge of your new role needn’t be overwhelming, being a good employer is easily achieved if can be fair, organised, proactive and a good communicator. The threat of tribunal claims and under-performing, troublesome employees exist wherever poor management means staff are unfairly or wrongly treated. Simply contact us for all the help, support and advice you need to successful employ staff.

Even if an employee has accepted an offer of employment can I change my mind and withdraw the offer?

No. As soon as there has been an unconditional offer of employment and an unconditional acceptance a binding contract of employment, (albeit only an oral one in many cases) is formed. Any withdrawal at this stage will entitle the prospective employee to sue you for damages. The only way in which a job offer can be legitimately withdrawn would be when the offer is made on a conditional basis, for example subject to satisfactory references and the condition is not met.

Why are written contracts of employment so important?

In the event of a dispute concerning an employee’s terms and conditions of employment, without a contract, the tribunal will either impose a term based on your conduct or workplace / industry custom or will decide with whichever party has the most probable argument! This is a precarious and totally unnecessary situation for any employer to find themselves in. A clear well-drafted contract of employment will enable you to settle disagreements quickly and easily, without any need for costly, disruptive, and time-consuming tribunal proceedings. Employment contracts and free information

When should I give my employee their contract of employment?

By law, within two months of a new employee starting work you must provide a written statement which sets out the key terms of their employment. However, it is imperative to ensure your new employee fully appreciates the terms and conditions upon which the position is offered and a contract should thus be provided when you make a formal offer of employment.

I took on a part-time secretary just over a year ago but never provided a contract of employment – is it now too late?

No, but you must not put off the issue any longer. You need to contact us right away so we can help you clarify their terms and conditions of employment. If you continue to ignore the matter and a problem was to arise which escalated into a tribunal claim, you would be forced to pay additional compensation for your failure to provide a written, accurate and up-to-date statement setting out the key terms of their employment.

Do I need a staff handbook?

Yes. A staff handbook is one of the most valuable tools any employer can have – it will help make the day-to-day management of staff far easier and less stressful. Through a range of carefully prepared policies all brought together in one resource, we can help you effortlessly communicate your expected standards of conduct and performance. The handbook will aid your employees’ understanding of company rules whilst also providing information on statutory entitlements – for example how long an employee must have worked for you before they can take parental leave, so you are not constantly harassed with standard enquiries.

I employ just a couple of people and we all get on really well – is it necessary for me to introduce formal disciplinary and grievance procedures?

Yes. All employers are under a statutory obligation to have written dismissal, disciplinary and grievance procedures. Whilst you may have a fantastic relationship with staff, unfortunately even the smallest problem could spiral out of control and conclude with an employee bringing a very costly claim against you. In an unfair dismissal case, if you failed to comply with the three step disciplinary procedure, the tribunal will automatically rule against you and force you to compensate the disgruntled employee. Whilst written procedures will not grant you immunity from claims, they will ensure you know how to discipline staff without running the risk of being hauled up before a tribunal.