Contracts and Staff Handbooks
Contrary to popular belief, an employer doesn’t have to provide an employee with a contract of employment. However, they must provide an employee with a statement of their main terms and conditions within 2 months of the employment commencing (or within 1 month of any change).
Most employers do decide to issue contracts of employment as they can cover much more than the basic requirements of the mandatory statement of terms, for example, restrictive covenants.
When offering a role to a new employee or promoting an existing employee it’s essential to make sure you understand what the contract says – and to make sure that there aren’t any surprises.
Having a contract professionally drafted or reviewed before entering in to it can be very beneficial for you so that you can ensure that the contract is appropriate for the employee, bearing in mind their seniority and value to the business, and that it accurately reflects the agreement made between you and the employee.
Contracts & Staff Handbooks
As well as the contract of employment, many employers will decide to have a Staff or Company Handbook which sets out their working practices and any expectations that they have for their employees. A Staff or Company Handbook isn’t mandatory, but there are some policies and procedures that we would advise that every employer should have, including:
- A Disciplinary Procedure
- A Grievance Procedure
- An Equal Opportunities Policy
- A Bribery Policy
- A Smoking Policy
However, as there are many other aspects of working practice that an employer and their employees will want to know about, many employers will decide to have a Staff or Company Handbook to ensure that the business runs as effectively as possible, with managers and staff knowing what is expected of them, what happens when, and where to find information about a particular issue when they need it.
We can draft bespoke policies and Handbooks to suit your business and they way that you operate. We can help you implement the policies and procedures and can advise you on how you should be dealing with issues that arise under your policies. This arises most often in relation to cases where an employee is sick, or there is a disciplinary or grievance issue, or you want to undertake capability or performance management procedures. This includes being able to offer you a full HR service with a fully qualified HR specialist there to support you in your business when issues arise.
Frequently Asked Questions
You need to be able to justify if you are asking for certain levels of experience. Advertising for a bus driver who is safe and has had previous experience is one thing advertising for a bus driver with 10 years’ experience is another. The first option leaves your job advert open for all ages to apply. The second rules out individuals who may be in their early twenties.
Other points to consider when recruiting new employees:
- Ensure whoever is interviewing potential employee’s scores interviewees on their skills and competencies as opposed to their age.
- Although they are not discriminatory themselves consider removing any reference to age on your job application forms.
- Don’t ask a potential employee for a physical fitness test unless you require them.
Once you have selected an appropriate employee ensure managers and staff are trained to monitor and avoid any discriminatory behaviour. Also make sure it is clear within any policies you have that discrimination in any form is unacceptable. Ensure managers are fully trained in diversity issues and that they are able to deal with discriminatory issues that arise within the workplace.
Yes you need to be aware of these requirements if you employ anyone of any age. They affect every area of employment as well as the recruitment and selection process. The requirements not only make it unlawful to discriminate on the grounds of age but also harassment whether it be intentional or unintentional or to victimise an individual.
You need to worry not only about your own actions but also your fellow employees who must be discouraged from making offensive or unkind comments about age or anything in between.
As with other areas of discrimination if your employee can demonstrate that there has been a difference in treatment which is due to discrimination it is solely down to you the employer to show otherwise or for you to prove that you have done everything in your power to stop such discrimination. There are no limits to discrimination awards and often they include an aspect for suffering, failure to do so can be expensive.
When you are recruiting employees you need to ensure you are not discriminating for or against anyone due to their age. This means you cannot advertise specific age requirements in any of your job adverts unless you can justify them.
If you interview someone in their sixties and they turn out to be as good or even better than your current employees in their twenties you should not let their age be a determining factor as to whether you hire them or not. Since October 2006 it has been unlawful to reject anyone for an interview based on their age. There is not a lot employers can do to control the age of their workforce therefore you would potentially have to recruit someone in their sixties even if you have a younger workforce.
In 2011 legislation new legislation was introduced making it unlawful to treat anyone differently due to their age except if it could be justified or falls within one of the exemptions to the law. The retirement age of 65 has now been phased out meaning employers can now only forcibly retire workers if it can be justified.
The Employment Equality (Age) Regulations came into effect in October 2006. The retirement age of 65 was phased out between April 2011 and October 2011.
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