Employment Law and Your Business

04 Apr 2015

Setting up business for the first time and continuing to run it legally initially means quite a lot of paperwork but it is important to get it right the first time. Start as you mean to go on.

Basic rules

There are some basic rules you need to follow to gain the correct licences to trade and be able to employ people. Employing staff means it is your responsibility by law in the UK, to look after the health and safety of all your employees. If you do not do this correctly you may end up being liable for expensive and serious legal action being made against you.

A must have is Employers Liability insurance – this is now a statutory requirement and for your own peace of mind some form of business insurance is also recommended. You may need to seek legal advice on this as insurance covers are extensive and dependent on your type of business and number of employees it might be necessary to purchase a special type of insurance cover. N.B. If you attempt to cut corners and trade without any insurance you will be operating illegally.

If you employ anyone who drives to and from your business you will also need to have vehicle insurance included in the employer’s liability insurance.

Looking after your employee’s means taking care of all health and safety measures. Failure to do this could make you liable to severe penalties. The Department of Work and Pensions (DWP) deals with Health and Safety regulations. You need to be familiar with the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 and all the amendments made to this. Health and Safety legislation is constantly being updated so it is a good idea to regularly check the changes.

You need to be familiar with the Employment Rights Act 1996 and all the changes which have been made to this Act since then. Debates continue in government almost on a weekly basis as business.

You will often see media coverage of employment and health and safety issues….when they go wrong, e.g. On the BBC news 6th November 2013 when the correct health and safety rules were not followed by a forestry business and the consequence was the death of a haulier on the site.

Tips for the employer

So here are a few tips to be aware of as an employer who operates legally and fairly:
  • As a business owner you must carry out regular health and safety checks including making sure first aid equipment is readily available. All employees must be made aware of fire safety procedures.
  • Be vigilant and try to consider all the activities which may take place on your premises – this must include visitors or business clients.
  • If the hazards in your business are unavoidable make sure all your staff are aware and are familiar with the extra precautions they must take
  • Even if you are a small business starting up all these employment laws still apply – there are no exemptions.
  • Make sure all the work stations or areas or work is well designed so that your staff’s health and well being is taken care of.
  • If you employ five or more employees you must have a written policy. This is called a ‘statement of intent’ and it is there to explain clearly where all responsibility lies and how you as an employer will achieve good work practices.
  • Always record any work place accidents or illnesses which may occur in your premises.
  • These rules and regulations are there to protect you and your business and all your employees – it is not worth skimping on the expense of the necessary insurance policies and written statements you may need. If you are at all unsure about these employment laws it is advisable to ask a qualified solicitor for best practice advice.

Tact can help review your employee contracts to ensure they provide you with the necessary legal protection - see more about our contract checking service.

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