SME Employment Law Pitfalls

SMEs – Employment Law Pitfalls

The Forum of Private Business recently warned businesses of the risk of ignoring employment law issues.

Small to medium sized businesses face the following problems on a regular basis -

·         How to deal with employees who are not performing

·         How to deal with employees on long term sick leave

·         How to restructure the workforce by way of redundancy

What are the current issues facing SME?

(1)    Flexible working & shared leave –

Flexible working has progressed from requesting flexible leave from women returning from maternity leave to a formal right to request flexible working for working parents and carers. This will be further extended to cover all employees (effective from 30th June 2014).

Shared parental leave will take effect in April 2015 allowing parents to share up to 52 weeks leave between them when a child is born or adopted.

Employment law is procedurally driven and demands a paper trail. Always keep records and seek legal advice before taking action.

(2)    Mental Health & Disability –

SMEs have difficulty in dealing with the following issues –

·         How can affected employees be assisted?

·         What is the business expected to do?

·         What level of tolerance is needed if behaviour or absence is below the acceptable standard?

Again, procedures need to be followed and contemporaneous records should be kept.

(3)    Tribunals

The government have introduced tribunal fees for litigants which have resulted in an initial drop in claims of 79%. Undoubtedly this will level out. There has been in an increase in the qualifying service to bring an unfair dismissal claim from 1 to 2 years. There is also now a cap on the maximum claim for compensation for unfair dismissal which is either the lower of one year’s basic pay or the statutory maximum of £76,574.

So, how  can SMEs deal with their employees effectively?

SMEs should seek good value legal advice to arm them with the basic tools in relation to

·         Disciplinary & grievance hearings

·         Contracts and staff handbooks

·         Employee training

What  should SMEs do to ensure that they are compliant?

SMEs should –

·         Review policies and procedures

·         Address training need in respect of flexible working rights and other areas for managers

·         Review how to armour the business against claims from leavers.”

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