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  • Writer's pictureSundeep Bhatia

Congratulations on your new business by Sundeep Bhatia

Well done!You are finally taking the plunge.

I remember setting out on my own 15 years ago . I recall the terror of leaving a 9 to 5 job and renouncing the promise of a steady monthly salary.

I also remember the exhilaration as the business prospered and grew. I was my own boss and a master of my destiny.

I took on staff and soon learnt that they are your greatest asset. I also learnt that they are also,potentially,your greatest liability.

You would therefore do well to heed the following advice ,which I give you,both as a business owner and as a Solicitor specialising in Employment Law.

You need to make sure,from day one,that your staff have a “roadmap.”

Their contracts of employment need to be clearly drafted and comprehensive. This is good business practice.It is also an offence not to provide specified particulars of employment to an employee within two months of that employee starting to work for your business.

A well drafted contract also avoids uncertainty and lessens the possibility of contractual disputes arising at a later point in time.

Your staff should know what standards of behaviour and performance are expected of them.

They need to know what will happen if their performance falls short and the steps,and procedures , which you will then use in an attempt to improve their performance.

The capability procedure should also state what you will do if an employee’s performance does not improve once those steps are taken.

In the case of misbehaviour your employees also need to know what constitutes misconduct and gross misconduct.

They also need to know the procedures you will follow in order to investigate that misbehaviour and,if necessary, the disciplinary action you might take following a finding of guilt (after conducting a fair disciplinary procedure including a right of appeal.)

It is therefore vital to have detailed written disciplinary and capability procedures in place which are drafted for the needs of your business.

The procedures will vary, in both length and complexity depending on the size of your business. The procedures for a small business will look very different to those for a multi national multi million pound business.

It makes good business sense to have such procedures in place . It also makes good financial sense to have such procedures in place.

It costs relatively little to draft them but, if they are not present,or if they are not followed,then the cost,to your business, could potentially be tens of thousand of pounds in the event that a successful Employment tribunal claim is brought against your business by a disgruntled employee.

The same is true of a grievance procedure.

Your employees must have a safety valve,allowing them to complain,if they are unhappy with something at work.

A grievance procedure tells your employees how to make a complaint and how their complaint will be dealt with once it is made.

If an employee has no means of complaining then the end result could be a successful claim ,for unfair dismissal,at an Employment Tribunal .

The other thing to bear in mind is that tribunals may award increased damages to an ex employee in the event that a grievance,capability or disciplinary procedure is not followed by an employer.

It may also award an employee 25% less in damages if he or she does not follow the grievance procedure before bringing a claim.

Why not make sure that the employment contracts of your staff and the procedures of your business are properly drafted ?

Then you will have one less thing to worry about which will enable you to sleep better at night and leave you to concentrate on making a profit using a happy and motivated workforce.

I wish you all the luck in the world.

Do let me know if I can be of any assistance to you!

Sundeep Bhatia is an Employment Law Solicitor of Beaumonde Law Practice. He is also a member of The Employment Law Committee of England and Wales.

Beaumonde Law Practice Audit House 260 Field End Road Eastcote Middlesex HA4 9LT

02088681614 07803727534

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