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Mincoffs Solicitors LLP
5 Osborne Terrace
Newcastle upon Tyne
Telephone: 0191 281 6151
Fax: 0191 281 8069
DX Address: 62550 JESMOND
Employment law for SMEs
Lets not kid ourselves - Employment law is complex and difficult to handle. However it generally does not distinguish between employers of different sizes. This can be particularly difficult for employers in the SME market who as a rule may not have a specialist Human Resources Manager.
This can prove to be a real headache for SMEs to deal with as employers are sometimes unaware of what is required when having to deal for instance with a disciplinary matter; a request for flexible working or an employee seeking to take maternity or paternity leave. In fact the list is just about endless and can cause real difficulties for a SME to deal with.
This is often compounded by the fact that many areas of employment law require specific procedures to be followed in order to ensure that they are compliant with legislation. For a SME this can prove difficult to cope with in terms of setting aside the necessary time and resource in order to manage the respective procedures.
For example an employer is faced with having to deal with a disciplinary matter. Both the law and best practice dictates that disciplinary matters should be investigated and then dealt with at a hearing and with any decision subject to an appeal. Each stage of this process should be conducted on behalf of the employer by a different individual in order for the process to be as fair as possible. Quite often the best way to deal with this particular issue for a SME is to ask the company’s accountant to act as an appeal officer and deal with any appeal in a fair and impartial manner. However this is an example of how employment law is certainly not a case of “one size fits all”.
So whats the best way to deal with this? Whilst there is some understanding in the event any claims are issued at the Employment Tribunal of the size and resources of the employer the best way to deal with employment law from the perspective of a SME is to get employment policies and procedures in place and ensure they are up to date with current law on an annual basis.
If you are an employer of say less than 40 employees ensure that you have at least 3 individuals to deal with HR issues. Make sure these employees are trained on an annual basis and check if any grants or funding are available for such training.
The key in having policies in place for a SME is that they are followed correctly and that each decision is properly recorded at each stage of the procedure. By ensuring that SMEs follow these basic guidelines then even in these troubled economic times when employment tribunal applications have risen dramatically SMEs can try and minimise the risk of claims succeeding by dealing correctly with HR issues and ensuring that on an annual basis that these issues are always managed as a continuing priority.
By following these basic guidelines employers in this bracket can not only protect themselves from unnecessary tribunal applications but also help contribute significantly to the management and ultimately the success of their business.