Employment law can be a minefield
THE Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) is the largest business support organisation in the UK, with almost 5,000 members in Greater Manchester.
Regional chairman Simon Edmondson offers its latest help and advice...
A week on from a rather nasty snow event here in Greater Manchester, many small business owners may want to take stock of certain employment issues that arose as a consequence.
For instance, how many heard one of the following from employees last week: ‘can I work from home?’
‘I can’t get in today because of the weather, what shall I do?’
Or: ‘Can I leave early to avoid the disruption?’
And the old classic: ‘My child’s school has closed due to the weather, can I go?’
So which should you agree to? Just one, perhaps two, maybe all of them?
Or should you just dismiss such requests out of hand?
The truth is, I’m not sure, and frankly, I doubt most small business owners would be either.
I wonder how many, put in that position, would just say ‘yes’ to all, fearful of getting it wrong?
Conversely, how many say ‘no’ to all such requests?
However, as the old saying goes, ignorance of the law is no excuse, and employment law is no different.
Unfortunately for most small firms without a staffed HR team, the business owner usually is the HR department, as well as chief cook and bottle washer.
Yet for businesses, employment law is a minefield, and one that’s constantly changing, albeit totally unforgiving for the unwary business owner who falls foul of it.
Were you one of those employers faced with a question last week from a member of staff owing to the wintry weather?
Did you know how to handle it?
When it comes to employment law, the issues are far and wide though and cover all topics.
Businesses may face questions from proposed extra bank holidays to the Equality Act, from the phasing out of the default retirement age, to the national minimum wage, agency worker holidays, and the latest rules on maternity/paternity leave. Sound familiar? Drawing up documents such as terms and conditions of employment, staff contracts and other legal agreements can also take up a disproportionate amount of the small business owner’s time and of course the paperwork must be legally sound.
It’s essential that small businesses protect themselves, and should always have professional legal support on standby.
The FSB, like other business support organisations, offers various types of legal protection, from simple 24/7 advice line assistance from solicitors, dozens of legal template letters, and even to legal representations in employment tribunals and similar situations, should the worst happen.
In this day and age, no cover is senseless.
Whatever business you’re in, it’s not worth going it alone when it comes to matters of law.
FSB chairman Simon Edmondson