Employment law for businesses is there to put the relationship between employers and their employees on a firm footing. It is the framework that states what employees have a right to expect from their employer, and what employers can ask their employees to do. Employment law for businesses covers a whole range of areas, from what’s expected when recruiting staff to grievance and dismissal procedures.
It’s a highly complex area, and large and small businesses alike will benefit from advice from an employment law specialist to ensure they don’t fall foul of the law in any respect.
Why Understanding Employment Law Is Essential
If you run a business and have employees, it’s in your interests to make sure they’re treated well. People are at the heart of your business and as a nation, we spend a significant amount of our waking time in the workplace. Creating a safe, happy, and fair place to work is therefore essential. If your employees are content, they are more likely to be motivated and productive, and that translates to a thriving, high-performing business.
Most employers understand this instinctively and do their best to act fairly and in the best interests of their employees. But particularly for small- to medium-sized companies, which make up 90% of all businesses in the UK, there are challenges in getting to grips with the intricacies of employment law. These firms may have little or no in-house HR support, and without clear knowledge of the prevailing employment laws for businesses, they often inadvertently take action or make changes with the best of intentions, but then find themselves vulnerable to challenges at a later date.
And the repercussions of getting it wrong when it comes to employment law can be huge. Employees who feel they have been mistreated can make a claim against the business with the benefit of their own legal advice, and it can cost an employer a significant amount of time and money – not to mention stress and reputational issues – in either appearing at a tribunal or having to pay out a settlement to forestall legal action.
What Areas Does Employment Law Cover?
In short, employment law covers every aspect of the employer-employee relationship. That includes recruitment procedures, terms, and conditions of employment, disputes while individuals are working for the business, and terminating employment for whatever reason. It governs what your staff are paid, what hours they work, and their entitlements to time off. It also lays down standards for health and safety, and protects against discrimination.
What’s The Solution?
Whether you’re a budding entrepreneur or an experienced director of a company, chances are you set up your business to do business. As you’ve expanded, you have employed talented individuals to take on some of the workload. You’re an expert in your particular field, and you hire others that have their own expertise, whether that’s in engineering, marketing, or finance, for instance, to make sure your business runs smoothly.
In the same way, it’s well worth looking for expertise from an employment law consultant to help ensure your employment practices are up to scratch. But don’t just do this when a problematic issue emerges, like conduct, ill-health, or the performance of an employee. By the time matters get to this stage, dealing with the fall-out is likely to be emotive, stressful, and far more complex. Speak to an employment lawyer at an early stage: when you first begin to take on employees, when your company is growing, or when you’re planning on making changes to terms and conditions, for instance.
Then, with specialist advice on employment law, you have a better chance of understanding the parameters. You can make more certain from the outset that there are policies and procedures put in place to protect you and your employees in the future. And you’ll be better prepared to spot potential issues at an early stage so they can be addressed before they escalate and cause you, your business, and your staff more harm than they need to.
Speak To An Employment Specialist At OGR Stock Denton
Here at OGR Stock Denton LLP, we have been advising businesses on a range of legal issues, including employment law, for over 50 years. Like most areas of the law, employment law rarely stands still, and we understand that it can be hard for employers to keep abreast of their responsibilities. That’s where we come in.
We pride ourselves on our pragmatic approach and believe it’s important that you, as the client, understand what your rights and duties are, so we make every effort to deal with cases as quickly and efficiently as possible, aiming for the best possible outcomes and explaining matters in clear language while avoiding technical jargon.
We’ll support you on day-to-day employment issues including reviewing your existing policies, procedures, and employment contracts or drafting new ones. We can also assist when things go wrong, with grievances and disciplinary cases; or claims brought on the grounds of discrimination, whistleblowing, or unfair dismissal. We can advise on redundancy exercises, help prepare and draft exit packages and settlement agreements, and protect your firm against former employees who are competing for your business.
We can also help with employment issues if you’re selling your business or merging with another; or when dealing with Trade Unions. And if the worst comes to the worst, a colleague from OGR Stock Denton LLP can represent you at employment tribunals or in court.
Our experience covers employment issues in small, medium, and large companies in a range of industries, not limited to family-run businesses, care homes, charities, and IT companies, as well as retail and professional services. Finally, we have worked with clients operating overseas to ensure they understand how the legislation works.
Whatever stage your business is at, if you employ staff, you want to make sure the relationship is on a firm footing and well-managed to avoid costly litigation. You can find out more information on what we do and how throughout this website. Alternatively, call today on 020 8349 0321 to make an appointment to discuss employment matters at your business with an experienced and expert employment law specialist at OGR Stock Denton LLP.
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
What is employment law?
Employment law protects workers and employers. Its objective is to ensure the work environment is fair for all. For workers, it outlines the minimum standards they can expect from employers. For employers, it safeguards rights to dismiss employees under relevant circumstances. The labour code for firms covers employment contracts, working hours, time off, health and safety, discrimination, and data protection.
What are the major kinds of employment in the UK?
There are three kinds of employment status in UK law: employee, someone employed under an employment contract; worker, someone who’s contracted to provide services; and self-employed, someone who owns a company, is a freelancer or a contractor. All three types of workers are protected to some extent by employment laws, but what aspects apply depend on your employment status.
What areas are covered by employment law?
The main areas covered by employment law are contracts of employment; working hours and holidays; time off and pay arrangements when sick; health and safety; anti-discrimination on the basis of gender, religion, race, disability, and sexual orientation; and data protection. Hire experienced employment contract solicitors to keep you on the right side of the law.
Why is employment law important for a business?
Employment law in the UK regulates the relationship between businesses and their employees. By complying with relevant legislation, employers can ensure that their processes for hiring and dismissing workers correctly, as well as providing a fair workplace for every individual. This avoids unwanted litigation which can be expensive, time-consuming, and damage the company’s reputation.
What are the main employment laws in the UK?
These are the main laws governing the employer-employee relationship:
- Health and Safety At Work Act 1974;
- Employment Rights Act 1996, as amended;
- National Minimum Wage Act 1998
- Employment Relations Act 1999;
- Maternity and Parental Leave etc. Regulations 1999;
- Part-Time Workers Regulations 2000;
- Transfer of Undertakings (Protection of Employment) Regulations 2006;
- The Equality Act 2010; and
- Agency Workers Regulations 2010.
What are the rights of workers?
Workers have various rights including being paid at least the National Minimum Wage and protection against unfair reductions in their wages. They have a right to paid holiday and to rest breaks while at work. Their health and safety must be protected and they must not work more than 48 hours per week. There are also rights against discrimination.
How are employees protected by law?
Employees are protected by the Employment Rights Act 1996, as amended. This complex legislation covers many of the responsibilities and rights of both employees and employers, including contracts of employment, the right to pay, time off work for holidays or sickness, when and how employment can be terminated, what constitutes unfair dismissal, and rights when made redundant.
Why is it important to have employment rights and responsibilities?
Your rights regulate your relationship with your employees to ensure fairness. They lay down expectations on employers in terms of health and safety; equal opportunities; pay; working hours; and so on. Responsibilities are the actions you must take to fulfil your role. Either the employer or the employee can take action if the other party is in breach of contract.
How is employment law enforced in the UK?
Most UK labour laws for companies are classified as civil or private law. That means employee rights are enforceable in a civil court, usually when one party (the claimant) sues another party (the respondent) for compensation or some other form of remedy. In practice, individual workers and trade unions play the main role in enforcing employment rights provided by Parliament.
What are your rights as an employee under employment law?
If you’re an employee, your rights include having a ‘written state of employment particulars’ under employment contract law – a document laying out the rights and responsibilities of your role; entitlement to pay for holiday, sick days, and parental leave; and the right to claim redundancy and unfair dismissal after you’ve worked in the role for two years.
Top Employment Law Facts You Need To Know
- You must register with HMRC as an employer; report whenever employees are paid; and pay relevant tax and National Insurance. You must check all employees are legally allowed to work in the UK.
- Employees and workers must have a written statement of employment terms; and subsequent changes must be agreed upon prior to implementation.
- All employees are entitled to the national minimum wage, which varies by age; and to work 48 hours or less a week, unless they opt out.
- Employees are entitled to holidays, sick pay, and a workplace pension; statutory maternity, paternity, and adoption leave where applicable.
- The employer is responsible for health and safety, even if employees work from home.
- All employers must have written disciplinary rules and procedures in place.
A Comprehensive List of Employment Legislation in the UK
- Employment Rights Act 1996 covers dismissal, unfair dismissal, paternity leave, maternity leave, and redundancy.
- National Minimum Wage Act 1998 sets out the NMW for employees and employers across the UK.
- Employment Relations Act 1999 establishes rights at work for trade union recognition, derecognition, and industrial action.
- The Maternity and Parental Leave etc. Regulations 1999 governs employees’ rights for time off work when becoming parents.
- Part-Time Workers (Prevention of Less Favourable Treatment) Regulations 2000 protects employees on part-time contracts.
- Transfer of Undertakings (Protection of Employment) Regulations 2006 protects employees’ rights when a company merges or is taken over.
- The Equality Act 2010 prevents discrimination in recruitment and the workplace.
- Agency Workers Regulations 2010 prevents discrimination of people working for employment agencies.
Employment Law – The Impact of Legislation on Businesses
Labour legislation for companies protects employees from exploitation and ensures they’re treated fairly in the workplace, but also gives employers a framework within which to work when recruiting staff and managing the employer-employee relationship.
While abiding by employment law may impose additional costs on the business, because they have to spend more money on recruitment processes, pay, and training, this does come with benefits to the employer.
If the business environment is fair, employees are more likely to feel secure in their roles. This enhances motivation and therefore productivity. Additionally, it can help employers attract and retain quality staff.
Why Understanding Employment Law Is So Important
The risks of failing to understand and implement employment law are enormous. If employees aren’t treated fairly in the workplace, are denied equal opportunities, discriminated against, exploited, or otherwise mistreated, they’re entitled to recourse under the law.
That can range from an employment tribunal with all the expense, time, and energy that involves hefty fines or even imprisonment. If the company’s good reputation is damaged by legal action, it can adversely affect profitability and future investment in the company, and even lead to its demise. Employment law solicitors for companies can help you avoid these dangers.
A Guide to Employment Law in the UK
As an employer, your responsibilities under labour law for businesses include implementing:
- Contracts of employment;
- Redundancy and unfair dismissal policies adhered to after two years’ continuous service;
- Working hours and holiday entitlements;
- Family-friendly policies;
- The National Minimum Wage;
- Protection against discrimination; and
- A qualifying pension scheme with employer contributions.
Whether you are about to hire your first employee or are a well-established business with a long-standing workforce, you will almost inevitably need a good employment law firm on your side to ensure the relationship runs smoothly. Speak to OGR Stock Denton today.