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Recruitment: Employing New Staff

Whether you are a new or expanding business, it can be daunting having to deal with the prospect of having to employ individuals (new starters). The list of legal rights and responsibilities can seem endless and, if not followed correctly, can lead to a loss in profitability, cost you time and money, as well as leave you open to legal liability.

Although the legal framework of employment law may seem overwhelming and complicated, complying with the law can be made easier. At Howells, we strive to provide employers with the necessary tools they need to ensure that they are able to hire, manage and retain effective staff who will be able to help grow your business.

Howells are proud to offer companies a bespoke ‘New Starter Package’, tailored to your company’s needs, which aims to aid and ensure that you understand what you need to provide a new starter with.

What Does Our New Employee Starter Package Include?

Our ‘New Starter Package’ outlines the first steps you need to take to understand how employing new staff works. It is important that you are aware of an employee’s legal rights in respect of national minimum wage, working hours, discrimination, as well as the disciplinary and grievance procedure.

The package provides the following information:
  • Offer letter
  • Contract of Employment
  • DBS Check (if applicable) contracts
  • Probationary periods
  • Right to withdraw an offer of employment, and more
When looking at recruiting, it is important that you, as the employer, take into consideration the pros and cons and the processes which can be put in place to comply with the law and lower the risk of legal liability.

If you are a new or expanding business, needing guidance and advice on recruiting new starters and would like to know more about our New Starter Package, please contact us today.

Alternatively, if you require advice in respect of an employee’s rights and responsibilities we offer a HELP service, in addition to our New Starter Package. Get in touch with our team to learn more.

8 Things That Can Go Wrong When Employing Staff

1. Failure to give a statement of particulars of employment:

Employer’s must provide employees whose employment is to continue for more than one month with a written statement of certain terms of employment or, as an alternative, provide them with a contract of employment.

If the employer fails to provide the employee with a written statement of terms, an employee may be able to make a complaint to an employment tribunal that:
  • Their employer has failed to provide a section 1 statement
  • The employer has provided an inaccurate statement, or
  • They have provided an incomplete statement.
Where an employee has no other successful substantive claim under Schedule 5, their only remedy will be a declaration from the employment tribunal, either:
  • Confirming the particulars as they stand, or
  • Amending them or substituting other particulars it thinks appropriate.
However, where an employee successfully brings a substantive claim listed in Schedule 5 (i.e. unfair dismissal or unfair deduction of wages), and, at the time the claim was brought, the employer was still in breach of its duties to provide a written statement of particulars, the tribunal will make an award to the employee of 2 – 4 weeks’ pay for the breach. There is a statutory limit on a week’s pay of £525 (6 April 2019 – 5 April 2020).

2. Not checking the employee’s legal right to work in the UK:

If you knowingly employ an illegal worker and/or fail to check whether an employee has the legal right to work in the UK, you could be faced with both civil and criminal action.

If you do not conduct the correct checks or you have not conducted the checks properly, you can get fined up to £20,000 for each employee you employ illegally.

Furthermore, if you are found guilty of employing someone who you knew or had ‘reasonable cause to believe’ did not have the right to work in the UK. The employer may be sent to jail for 5 years and/or pay an unlimited fine.

3. Failing to pay National Minimum Wage (NMW):

It is against the law to pay eligible workers below the NMW and this can be enforced by HMRC in the following ways:
  • Serve a notice on the employer for the arrears
  • Fine the company for not paying NMW
  • “Name and shame” the employers who fail to pay NMW
If the employer refuses to pay the arrears, HMRC can take the employer to court on behalf of the worker.

Alternatively, a worker can make a claim to the employment tribunal for the following:
  • unlawful deduction of wages
  • breach of contract (in the county court or ET)
  • Unfair dismissal or detriment because of NMW
In certain circumstances, failure to pay NMW can amount to criminal investigation and penalties being enforced on the employer where they are persistently non-compliant and refuse to co-operate with compliance officers.

4. Failure to provide the correct notice periods and/or pay:

If you dismiss an employee without giving proper notice and/or fail to pay notice, the employee may bring a claim for wrongful dismissal or unlawful deductions.

The damages the employee will be entitled to recover are:
  • Wages
  • Other benefits which would have been earned or accrued during the proper notice period
It is always important to check that you provide the adequate amount of notice contained within the employee’s contract of employment or the statutory notice period.

It is also important that you do not breach the contract of employment by paying an employee payment in lieu of notice when there is no clause contained within the contract. This can then mean that other clauses within the contract become unenforceable as a result.

5. Working hours

Over 18-year olds are entitled to 3 types of break – rest breaks at work, daily rest, and weekly rest.

Rest Breaks at Work:
Workers have the right to one uninterrupted 10-minute rest break during their working day, if they work more than 6 hours a day. This break does not have to be paid.

Daily Rest:
Workers have the right to 11 hours rest between working days. For example, if an employee finishes work at 9pm, they shouldn’t start work again until 8am the next day.

Weekly Rest:
Workers have the right to either an uninterrupted 24 hours without any work each week, and, an uninterrupted 48 hours without any work each fortnight.

The employer must ensure they give an employee enough breaks to make sure their health and safety isn’t at risk.

Different restrictions apply to under-18-year olds.

6. Employer’s liability insurance:

You must get employer’s liability insurance as soon as you become an employer. If you don’t, you can be fined for the following:
  • You can be fined £2,500 every day you are not properly insured.
  • You can also be fined £1,000, if you do not display your employer’s liability certificate or refuse to make it available to inspectors when they ask.
7. Ensure you notify HMRC of employees:

If this is the first time you will employ staff, you must ensure that you have registered your business with HMRC, so you can pay tax and notional insurance for them.

HMRC penalises employers if the amount of PAYE the employer owes is not paid in full and/or on time.

Daily interest will continue to build up on all unpaid amounts from the due and payable date to the date of payment.

8. Unaware of what rights your employees have:

It is extremely important that you are aware of the rights that an employee has. For example, national minimum/living wage, health and safety, disciplinary and grievances, recruitment and termination. If you are not aware of them, this can lead to a multitude of issues arising.

Many employers may think that they can get rid of an employee within 2 years without any repercussions.

This is correct in relation to bringing an unfair or constructive dismissal claim. However, employees may be able to bring a wrongful dismissal, discrimination, whistleblowing or an automatic unfair dismissal claim instead.

It is important for you to fully-understand the rights and responsibilities that you, the employer, owe to your employees. At Howells, we can provide you with ongoing support during these situations on both an ad-hoc basis and as part of our HELP (Howells Employment Law Package) Service. Get in touch with our team today to learn more.

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