Being prepared to respond to employment problems promptly, efficiently and clearly, as well as in accordance with the law means you can safely stop thinking about them in the meantime.
In this section we will cover:
- Why employment law is important
- Preparing for disputes in advance
- Sick leave
- Disciplinary and grievance procedures
- Flexible working
- Equal opportunities and discrimination
- Maternity leave
Why employment law is important
If you’re starting, running or working in a small creative business, employment law is possibly the last thing on your mind. It’s also tempting to think that employment law only really affects larger companies, those with lots of employees, departments and dedicated human resources people; those which have the kind of procedures, forms and policies that your fleet-of-foot, family-style business can do without.
In reality, that’s not the case because employment issues can arise in any business, no matter how small and no matter how friendly and close-knit the owners and employees might be. With that in mind, it is worth having an awareness of the kinds of situations that can arise, along with policies in place to deal with them fairly and lawfully.
The rest of this section looks in greater detail at some of the areas in which typical employment-related scenarios can arise, offering suggestions on how to prepare for them. The information, advice and action points have been developed in conjunction with design industry human resources specialist Evolution HR.
Preparing for disputes in advance
Clearly, no one wants to spend their time worrying about potential employee wrangles or legal squabbles, but it is unwise to ignore the possibility that something may arise, or to assume that you can tackle problems yourself when it does.
When problems do occur, it is good to be in a position to act promptly, efficiently and clearly, as well as in accordance with the law. Ignoring things or hoping they will go away can cause issues to blow up and people to become litigious, especially if they feel they are being ignored or not taken seriously.
Being prepared to respond to employment problems by having policies in place means you can safely stop thinking about them in the meantime. As well as this, employees and job applicants increasingly want to see the detail of a company’s position on various aspects of employment, so having these policies in place is a selling point, as well as good practice.
It’s a good idea to get some specialist help on this: using a human resources consultant to help you draw up your policies and consulting with either an HR specialist or an employment lawyer before making any decision on how to deal with a dispute. Most consultants will offer their services on a time-based rate, so you should only be paying for the time you need them.
Free advice is provided for both businesses and employees by the Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service (ACAS), through its national helpline on 08457 47 47 47. ACAS also offers conciliation, mediation or arbitration services that may help to solve disputes, as well as training for employers and employees.