6 tips for giving your business a “spring clean”

3rd April 2019

This article originally appeared in SME News.

Give your business a spring clean with these six tips for a clean and tidy SME.

1. Contracts

Do your employment contracts contain the terms that are legally required? Do those terms provide adequate protection for the business? Do the contracts actually align to the jobs in practice? And are the contracts fair to your employees?

Employers should carry out an annual audit of their contracts of employment across the whole workforce. This may sound tedious and time-consuming, but it’s at the top of the list for a reason.

2. Staff Status

With apologies for all the inverted commas, are you confident that ‘self-employed’ staff are not actually ‘workers’ or even ‘employees’? It’s important to ensure that you have accurately assessed the status of everyone engaged by the business as getting this wrong could prove costly.

And, as the heavily reported Pimlico Plumbers case taught us last year, it’s not as straightforward as writing a contract that sets out that a person is self-employed, thus allowing you to escape employer liabilities. The Pimlico case was a clear reminder from the Supreme Court that they will look beyond a written contract to determine the true nature of an employment relationship.

3. Handbooks

Are your staff handbooks up to date? In particular, did you pay attention to the changes in employment law that took place in 2018, such as the implementation of the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), or the Parental Bereavement (Leave and Pay) Act 2018, and have you revised your policies to reflect those changes?

Having a decent, up to date handbook has many benefits; it will provide clarity for staff, gives them reassurance that you as an employer have considered their needs, and it will ultimately provide protection and structure for the business. It’s also important to ensure your management team know the policies of the business and have had training on them, enabling them to provide both leadership and consistency.

4. Pay-Gap

Since April 2018, businesses with more than 250 employees have been required to publish data comparing the earnings of their male and female employees. Recent figures from the Office for National Statistics show that the gender pay gap from 2017 to 2018 stands at 8.6% among full-time employees.

Regardless of the size of your business, it is imperative that you continue to monitor the gender pay gap and ensure that you are implementing a transparent and fair pay structure regardless of gender.

5. HR Admin

Are you on top of your admin? For example, have you organised probationary reviews for your new starters?

It’s particularly important to remember that if you treat those on probation differently to existing staff (i.e. they are not be entitled to bonus, other benefits, have a shorter notice period, may not be able to work from home etc), they may actually become eligible for these benefits if you have not formally extended the probationary period and communicated this properly – even if they are not performing to a required standard.

6. Holiday and Wellbeing

Finally, what measures have you got in place to ensure that your people take their all of holiday this year? We frequently talk to businesses who are struggling with the operational challenge of ensuring that staff take their holiday entitlement by the year end.

This can lead to a whole list of issues such as burn out, illness, stress, and damage to morale (not to mention the fact that it is contrary to the working time regulations). Rolling over holiday to the next year is an acceptable practice but it’s certainly not best practice, and should be avoided where possible.

Hayley Marles is a senior associate at DAS Law.

Disclaimer: This information is for general guidance regarding rights and responsibilities and is not formal legal advice as no lawyer-client relationship has been created.

Hayley Marles

Senior Associate, Solicitor

Learn more
8 things SMEs need to know about wrongful dismissal

DAS Law’s Michaela Smeaton gives us the low-down on wrongful dismissal, and suggests a few things you can do to protect your business against these claims.

December 2018 Learn more
How to avoid workplace discrimination in your business

Businesses must do all they can to prevent discrimination in the workplace and being up-to-date with equality law is essential.

April 2018 Learn more

Read more from the DAS Law blog

Employment disputes Braving the storms: what every employee and employer needs to know about winter commuting

If you run your own business, bad weather can cause chaos when staff can’t get in. What employment law regulations are in place when handling transport troubles in winter?

February 2020
Employment disputes Do employees get extra pay on a leap year day?

Every four years, many workers find themselves cramming an extra day of work into an already packed year. But are workers in the UK entitled to extra pay for this extra work?

February 2020
Employment disputes My employer is advertising my job. Where do I stand?

DAS Law’s Lauren Woolf explains what to do if you find out your employer has been advertising your job without informing you that you are being dismissed.

January 2020
General advice , Employment disputes Beware the perils of sharing colleagues’ Christmas party antics on social media

Are people allowed to record and share your more embarrassing moments without your permission? What does the law have to say?

December 2019
Employment disputes , Goods and services disputes All you need to know about tipping

Are we legally obliged to tip? Does that money actually go to the staff or is it kept by the business owner? Thomas Pertaia has the answers.

December 2019
General advice , Protecting your business , Commercial disputes Understanding the definition of defamation

Defamation can be a complex area of the law but this simple guide from DAS Law’s Damien Field will hopefully help you to understand it a little more clearly.

November 2019
General advice , Protecting your business , Commercial disputes Distinction in Defamation – the difference between slander and libel

Defamation is the expression of an untrue insinuation against a person’s reputation. But what is the current law on defamation? DAS Law’s Saiful Ahmed explains.

November 2019
Employment disputes International Stress Awareness Week: your workplace rights

To mark International Stress Awareness Week, Hannah Parsons, a solicitor at DAS Law, takes a look at what the law says your employer needs to do about stress.

October 2019
Protecting your business , Setting up a business 4 things you need when you run a business from your home

Running a business from your home could make it easier to balance your home life with your work, but there are a number of extra rules that you will need to consider.

October 2019
Protecting your business , Goods and services disputes What businesses need to know about selling products

By law, any goods that you sell must be as described, of satisfactory quality, and fit for purpose. If the product fails to meet any of these criteria, the buyer is entitled to a refund.

October 2019
Employment disputes , Protecting your business Health and safety and computers

Employers need to manage the risks to their employees of working at computers for long periods of time. DAS Law’s Bethan Mack explains.

October 2019
Employment disputes Is there a time limit for providing an employee with a P45?

As an employer, you are required to tell HMRC when somebody leaves or retires, and deduct and pay the correct tax and National Insurance.

October 2019
Employment disputes What you need to know about pay and wages

The law seeks to provide a fair structure and ensure that we are appropriately compensated for our efforts, and that employers cannot underpay or exploit us when it comes to our wages.

October 2019