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9 things you need to know about employment law from the specialists

If you’re a UK employer then the way you run your business is governed by English employment law. Everything, from the way that you hire to dismissing people involves considering legislation to ensure that you’re acting in a compliant way. Staying on top of employment law can help to ensure you have a content and engaged workforce and that you minimise your risk of expensive claims against your business. So, what do you need to know?

  1. As soon as you meet the criteria for becoming an employer you need to register with HMRC. It’s important to set up a proper internal payroll system straight away - including issuing pay slips - and to start reporting your payroll information to HMRC electronically immediately. When you do this you’ll also need to factor in the need to start making tax and National Insurance payments.
  2. When you start employing people make sure you have an employment contract in place from the first day of the employee employment and check that they have the right to work in the UK.
  3. When you make a job offer to an employee you can make this conditional on completion of a successful probationary period. This will give you the opportunity to see whether the employee is right for the role so choose a time period between three and six months.  You have the option to extend this should you feel there’s a part of the role they’re not yet confident on.
  4. Make sure you understand the minimum wage as almost all employees are entitled to at least this (including part time and agency workers). If you are unsure about whether you are meeting these requirements, we would be happy to advise.
  5. Pensions are non-negotiable for employers today. As the employer you must offer a scheme that meets the Government criteria and make employers contributions. As soon as you have eligible workers you’ll need to auto-enrol them into a workplace pension scheme. If they decide to opt out of the pension scheme offered, they can.
  6. Basic entitlements to sick pay and holiday pay are non-negotiable for employees. Holiday entitlement is 5.6 weeks paid holiday per year, inclusive of public/bank holidays, which starts to accrue from the first day of employment. Statutory sick pay is £96.35 a week but you can choose to pay more than this.
  7. No matter how small your business you must clearly set out disciplinary procedures. It’s a good idea to become familiar with options for dismissal, such as gross misconduct, which is behaviour that is so bad it destroys the relationship with the employee and merits instant dismissal following a process.
  8. Flexible working is something that virtually all employees can request. As long as they have 26 weeks continuous service.
  9. Make sure you are on top of maternity, paternity and parental leave and issues, including:
    - Pregnant employees are entitled to time off for ante-natal care.
    - New and adoptive parents are legally entitled to statutory adoption leave or statutory maternity or paternity leave.
    - Each of these types of leave is usually paid at 90% of salary for the first six weeks and then £151.97 a week or 90% of the employee's average -       earnings if lower.
    - Maternity or adoption leave can be ended early by the employee and the remaining leave shared with an eligible partner.

Part of the responsibility of being an employer is ensuring your business is legally compliant - these are just some of the most essential pieces of employment law you need to know.

If you would like further guidance from our employment law specialists then get in touch to book a free consultation.

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