By Steven Mather
If you’re taking on staff for the first time, or you’re a dab hand, it is important to get your head around some of the basics of employment law. Although ‘employment law’ covers a myriad of laws and acts such as discrimination, employee rights, health and safety etc, you don’t need to know it all to get by. In fact, there’s some important basics that you should get to grips with that will really help.
The law gives employees a number of statutory rights and you’ll need to ensure you comply with these as a bare minimum. These rights include:
- Right to a written contract
- Itemised pay slip
- Statutory sick pay
- To be paid at least the minimum wage
- To have at least 28 days holiday
- To have the option to have pension
- Things like maternity, paternity and adoption leave rights
Contracts of Employment
Since April 2020, the law obliges employers to provide workers (a phrase which means employees and non-employees who are on paye) with a single document in writing with a statement of particulars. This must include:
- the employer’s name
- the employee or worker’s name
- the start date (the day the employee or worker starts work)
- the date that ‘continuous employment’ (working for the same employer without a significant break) started for an employee
- job title, or a brief description of the job
- the employer’s address
- the places or addresses where the employee or worker will work
- pay, including how often and when (for example, £1,000 per month, paid on the last Friday of the calendar month)
- working hours, including which days the employee or worker must work and if and how their hours or days can change
- holiday and holiday pay, including an explanation of how its calculated if the employee or worker leaves
- the amount of sick leave and pay (if this information is not included in the document, the employer must state where to find it)
- any other paid leave (if this information is not included in the document, the employer must state where to find it)
- any other benefits, including non-contractual benefits such as childcare vouchers or company car schemes
- the notice period either side must give when employment ends
- how long the job is expected to last (if it’s temporary or fixed term)
- any probation period, including its conditions and how long it is
- if the employee will work abroad, and any terms that apply
- training that must be completed by the employee or worker, including training the employer does not pay for.
Employees are entitled to statutory sick pay commencing on the fourth consecutive day that they do not attend to work due to illness (please note as at May 2020, this is presently varied in respect of coronavirus).
A company can chose to pay more than statutory sick pay (SSP) if it wishes, and this is best dealt with in a policy in a staff handbook.
Since 2018, employers must automatically enrol workers onto a workplace pension scheme. Although employees can opt out, they cannot be encouraged to do so by the employer.
Health & Safety
Employers are responsible for their employees at work and this includes ensuring they are not discriminated against, but also that their workplace complies with Health and Safety Act . This means that you must carry out a thorough risk assessment, have a health and safety policy and ensure records are kept for things like injuries and accidents at work.
Linked to accidents is of course insurance. Employers by law must have employers liability insurance to cover injury to employees. They must also have public liability insurance to cover accidents and injury to third party visitors.
As mentioned above, generally speaking employment law is about having policies and procedures in place and then following them. We would suggest that you consider having a staff handbook containing a variety of policies. This helps the employee know what the policy is, and helps you as employer to enforce it and follow the procedure fairly and properly.
Employment Law is not a minefield despite what you may think. However, it is important that you have a basic grasp of it. The ACAS Website is a good starting point for all things employment law, but if you get stuck there is plenty of good quality advice services from HR advisors and solicitors to help you along the way.