Worried About Taking On Staff?

You may find you need taking on staff so that your business can continue to grow. Whilst the success of your business is obviously good news, there are a number of things to consider when taking on additional staff. The Commercial Team at Gardner Croft are on hand to provide legal and practical advice.

DO YOU NEED TO EMPLOY ANYONE?
Many people assume that new staff means taking on full-time permanent staff. There are a number of other options which should be considered.

Firstly, you should consider whether you need to employ anyone at all. These days it is quite possible to set up virtual offices where someone will act as your receptionist, taking telephone calls and putting them through to you without your needing to employ anyone or indeed have business premises of your own. Secretarial work can be outsourced, again avoiding the need to employ someone. In both these cases, it is important to ensure that the proper standards are maintained by the organisation you use and that they use your branding otherwise you may end up projecting the wrong image to your customers.

Secondly, you could employ someone part-time. If you choose to take this route, it is important that you treat your part-time employees in the same way as your full-timers.

If the need for more staff is likely to be temporary, you may want to consider fixed-term contracts or using temporary staff. Temporary staff are usually self-employed and offer their services for hire through an employment agency. Your contract is normally with the agency which can have several advantages. Agency staff potentially offer more flexibility than permanent or fixed-term staff as you can normally hire and fire temporary staff a lot more easily. However, this can be a minefield as there have been a number of cases where it has been held that what were thought to be temporary agency staff were in fact employed by the business that had hired their services. You should therefore seek expert advice before entering into any such arrangement.

MOTIVATING YOUR STAFF
Before taking on new staff, you may want to consider ways of trying to ensure that your staff are just as interested in the success of your business as you are. What you can do to some extent depends on your business structure.

As a sole trader or partnership, you are essentially limited to granting perks such as increased time off or financial bonuses. These are not necessarily the best way of rewarding your staff. As a Limited Company, there are tax-efficient share incentive schemes where you can grant shares in your company to your staff or give them the option of purchasing shares at a reduced rate. Allowing your employees to become co-owners is a powerful way of motivating them.

WHAT’S INVOLVED WHEN BECOMING AN EMPLOYER?
Apart from the various tax and reporting obligations mentioned in the previous article, you will need to get Employer’s Liability insurance and will also have to provide employees with certain basic information starting with a written statement of their terms of employment. This can be a very brief document setting out the basic details such as hours and place of work, salary, holiday entitlement, etc. Whilst this can be perfectly adequate, you may want a more comprehensive written contract of employment. This allows you to build-in additional terms.

For example, you may need to move premises. You should have a mobility clause in your staff’s contracts that gives you the flexibility to do this. Otherwise, you may find that they are entitled to refuse to move and you have no option but to make them redundant with redundancy pay.

PROTECTING YOUR BUSINESS
One area of concern for employers is the risk that members of staff may leave and try to compete with you or poach other members of staff. It is possible to insert a term in an employee’s contract limiting their ability to do this. These must be worded carefully as the courts will not allow unnecessary interference with your former employee’s freedom to make a living. It is vital for your business that you obtain properly qualified advice.

WRITTEN POLICIES
It is also a good idea to have written policies and procedures. You must follow minimum policies on

• Maternity/paternity (including adoption)
• Pay
• Leave
• Working hours
• Equal opportunities and preventing discrimination
• Health & Safety
• Dealing with bullying
• Conduct & disciplinary matters

but these should be tailored to fit your business. You may also wish to have policies to cover matters such as

• Dress code
• Smoking
• Rewards for staff
• Email, internet & telephone use

It is worth having your policies written or at least checked by a solicitor. The time and money spent on these issues now will repay itself by reducing the amount of your valuable time you have to spend dealing with any disputes or disagreements in the future. Having these policies in place will also help to meet quality benchmarks such as ISO which in turn help to reduce the risk of something going wrong and to win work!

It is a good idea to have these policies collected in an Office Manual so that all the information is in one document. So long as your employees are aware of where to find the manual, can access it easily and are informed of any updates, the manual can be stored on computer.