Most people’s first port of call when we want to know something is generally Google.
For many things it is a fountain of knowledge.
When trying to navigate the tricky waters of HR and Employment Law, you have probably found countless websites offering information and guides and even free downloadable Contracts of Employment and Employee Handbooks.
You may think there is nothing wrong with that.
But the big problem with downloading free contracts or reading up on guides on how to carry out X procedure is that most of them are very generic and do not take into account your individual business needs and objectives.
Don’t download generic contracts
Contrary to popular belief, there is no bog standard contract that fits all. Here’s why:
If, for example, you are a hair salon and are looking to hiring an apprentice, there are a number of things that need to be included in the contract otherwise the apprentice may end up with enhanced protections. It is strongly recommended to seek legal advice when taking on apprentices to ensure that the contract you are using complies with the relevant law and you do not face nasty surprises if you do wish to dismiss them.
Equally if you are a charity and are looking to rely on the help on volunteers, you may draw up a volunteer agreement. When drafting your agreement, you need to take great care that it could not be regarded as creating a contractual relationship. If a dispute reaches an Employment Tribunal and the Tribunal assesses the relationship and believes that you have treated the volunteer as an employee, you may find yourself in breach of a number of employment law rights.
Perhaps you need to hire a temporary worker to work on the shop floor while an employee is on maternity leave. To avoid potential claims, it is important to make it clear from the start that the position is temporary and draft into the contract that the employment relationship will terminate on a specific date or on a specific act occurring, for example when the employee on maternity leave returns to work.
You need your contracts to be drafted by legally qualified experts. They will have in-depth knowledge of your sector, the way your business work and your business demands and goals. They will not only give you advice that is legally sound, but look at the big picture and ensure that the advice is tailored to suits your best interests.
Procedures need to be tailored
An uncountable amount of websites may tell you the law but you need more than Google to meet your business objectives.
For example, you may have an employee who is on long-term sick leave. You want to dismiss them, but from reading material online it seems that this is not possible. In fact it is. No generic guide will be able to take into account your individual circumstances and tell you how best to handle the situation. You need to speak to a legally qualified adviser to explore what is best for your business and what is the best course of action to reduce the possibility of claims.
The cost barrier
You may be worried thinking the cost of getting all your contracts, handbooks, policies, letters and other documents drafted by a solicitor is just too much.
But this is far from the truth. A fixed fee HR and Employment Law service gives you high quality advice for the fraction of the cost of the hourly rates used by law firms.
With a fixed fee service, you can call as much as you like, get answers to your questions, get guidance on how to carry out disciplinary, grievance, capability and redundancy procedures and know that you are being guided by legally qualified advisers who know how to apply the law in a way that supports your business objectives.
Don’t rely on generic advice – get tailored advice that meets your wider business needs.