Every employer should, as a minimum, have an employment contract in place. In addition we recommend that employers have a staff handbook outlining the policies and procedures that the employer and employee alike are required to follow.
Having written policies gives both parties certainty and can be the difference between a simple matter of referring to a contract for the answer to a dispute, or drawn out and expensive litigation trying to determine whether there has been a breach of an employees’ rights.
It is important that any person who has employees has at least a basic contract of employment outlining each party’s obligations to the other. Not only is failing to provide a contract a breach of an employees’ rights, it can cause significant problems if there is ever a dispute.
These documents also need reviewing regularly to take into account the regular changes to employment legislation and the development of your business and its workforce.
Each employment contract should, where possible, be tailored to the individual and their job role rather than simply applying the same contract to everyone. This can help to cut the risks of future disputes, and some clauses such as post-employment restrictive covenants will only apply to some staff. An employer also needs to be sure that such covenants are reasonable and enforceable.
If the role of a member of staff changes, perhaps as a result of promotion or the introduction of flexible working arrangements, their contract should be amended to reflect their altered role, responsibilities and duties.
Our specialist employment law solicitors work with businesses of all sizes, putting in place robust contracts for staff at all levels. These documents are key to protecting the employers’ rights regarding commercially sensitive and confidential information both during and after the employment relationship has ended.
Mergers, Acquisitions, Disposals & TUPE
Any organisational restructure involving employees – whether it is the result of a re-organisation, merger, acquisition or disposal – will require careful consideration of the employees’ rights and involves a number of key employment issues.
Our employment solicitors specialise in advising clients on issues such as collective consultation, multiple redundancies, the relevance of TUPE and any employment issues connected with insolvency. In addition to the traditional business transfer the TUPE regulations also apply in cases of out-sourcing contracts, including re-tendering, and taking services back in-house.
Staff handbooks should set out all the information that employees need to know about a company’s rules, policies and procedures. Issues covered can include the company dress code; equal opportunities; claiming expenses; disciplinary procedures; homeworking; health and safety; maternity, paternity, parental and bereavement leave; data protection; absence from work and whistleblowing.
A clearly-drafted staff handbook can be a useful tool in staff management including dealing with any issues regarding poor performance or conduct.
Policies & Procedures
Clear, well-communicated policies, consistently applied, are a key factor in ensuring you have a happy and productive workforce and can be the first step in avoiding disruptive and potentially costly employment tribunals.
Policies and procedures should be regularly updated in line with the changing needs of your business and also to ensure that you are fully compliant and up to date with your statutory requirements.
We can help businesses of all sizes to be sure that their policies and procedures are appropriate to the work they do and the people they employ, and that they reflect all recent developments in employment law.
Making Changes To Employment Contracts
If you need to change an employee’s terms and conditions of employment you need to consult with them and secure their agreement in writing. If contracts are changed without following the correct procedure and getting your employee’s agreement you risk claims for breach of contract and constructive unfair dismissal which are likely to be expensive both in time, damages awards and fees.
We have experience of working proactively with businesses to try to prevent employment disputes in circumstances where changes to employment terms are necessary. Where employees object to changes we will work with you to do all we can to help you solve the issue in a way that best suits your business needs.
To protect your business, you sometimes need to ask employees to agree that they will do, or not do, certain things after leaving your employment. You can include terms in an employment contract, or sometimes as a separate agreement to achieve that aim. These terms can restrict employees who may want to set up a rival business or join one of your competitors and make use of your confidential information for a certain period of time after the termination of their employment as long as it protects a legitimate business interest.
Our employment law specialists can draft covenants that are individual to your business and drafted to ensure they are enforceable should the worst happen.
Else Solicitors can help you reduce the risk of future disputes, protect your business interests and give you far greater control over your employees’ actions both during, and after employment. We can review your existing contracts, handbooks and policies and where required draft new/updated versions which properly protect your business.
To speak to a solicitor who specialises in employment contracts, policies and procedures, please contact the HR and employment team on 01283 526200, alternatively you can send us a message and we will get in touch at a time that suits you.