As with most New Years, it starts with looking back on the previous year and making resolutions for the coming year…but what about businesses?
With it being the start of the New Year, now may be a good time to review your existing contracts of employment and staff handbook. Do they still work for you? When were they last reviewed? Are they still legally correct? Do you need new policies?
Have a think about how the business has changed, where you see it going in the next few years and the number of staff employed by the business along with their job title and responsibilities. Are the business needs reflected in the contract and is the business protected?
Key clauses we would always recommend in a contract of employment in order to protect the business are as follows:-
- Deduction of wages
- Garden leave
- Confidential information
- Restrictive covenants – i.e. setting up in competition or working for a competitor
It is important to mention that one size does not fit all. There will be employees within your business with different levels of seniority – if this is the case, their contract will differ to an employee who works in the warehouse, for example. How about those employees who have been promoted from a junior to a more senior position? Does their contract have tighter confidentiality provisions and restrictive covenant provisions?
Is your Staff Handbook fir for purpose?
Although Staff Handbook’s are not a legal requirement, they are a bible of the policies and procedures within your business which provides a framework, helps employees perform in their work effectively and resolve disputes.
Whilst there are certain policies which should always be included in a Staff Handbook such as Equal Opportunities, Disciplinary and Grievance Procedures and Anti-Harassment, you may also want to consider incorporating further policies which may now be necessary in your workplace i.e. Adverse Weather and Travel Disruption Policy and Social Media Policy. Of course, always ensure the policies included within your Staff Handbook are non-contractual to prevent further liabilities to the business in the event of a breach.
As with your contract of employment, it is important to maintain the policies in your Staff Handbook to ensure they are updated in line with current regulations. For example, the introduction of Parental Bereavement Leave in 2020. How will you incorporate this into your existing handbook?
As a minimum it is important to ensure contracts and policies are regularly reviewed and in line with not just ever changing legislation but your business as it evolves. For example, a staff handbook containing the basic policies will no longer be suitable 5 years down the line.