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

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