New employer? 5 more things you need to know

Have you read my previous blog New employer 5 things you need to know? If you did, you might recall that I said the list is not definitive or exhaustive but rather a general checklist for new employers. Here I’m adding another 5 items to my checklist for new employers.

1. Disciplinary Procedure

An employer should ensure that their disciplinary procedures are written down and available to all employees and workers. The ACAS code of practice sets out the basic principles of fair practice which should form part of a company’s policies.

2. Grievance Procedure

As with disciplinary procedures, ACAS have also produced codes of best practice to be applied to grievance procedures. It is worth noting that although ACAS codes are not statutory, they are considered best practice and employers may be penalised if they are not followed. A grievance procedure should be written down and available to all employees and workers.

3. Pensions

As of 1 April 2017, all but a small number of employers are now required to have automatically enrolled their workers into a qualifying workplace pension scheme. There is an obligation to automatically enrol eligible jobholders (those of at least 22 years of age, but under pension age earning at least £10,000 pa) and both employer and employee must make a contribution to the fund. However, if the worker chooses to ‘opt-out’ of the scheme, neither they nor the employer will be required to make a contribution.

There are a number of options as to what type of scheme an employer might choose to implement, and it is sensible to obtain advice from a pension specialist prior to setting up a scheme. Although there is no obligation to auto enrol non-eligible job holders (those aged 16-21 or over state pension age but under 75, or earning less than £10,000 but at least £5,824) or entitled workers (aged 16 -75 but earning less than £5,824), those falling in these categories must be advised of their right to join the relevant scheme should they choose to.

4. Restrictive covenants and post termination restrictions

Employers seeking to restrict competition or poaching of staff and clients by ex-employees should consider including restrictive covenants or post termination restrictions in their contracts of employment. In order to fully benefit from restrictions protecting their business interests, the contract should be signed by the employee or restrictions may be difficult to impose.

Any clause restricting an employee in the course of their employment or after they have left must be reasonable and justified or it may be unenforceable. Employers are strongly advised to seek advice before including restrictions, and to think carefully about what interest they are trying to protect and what is reasonably necessary to do so.

5. Disability rights

The Equality Act defines disability as a long standing medical condition which a person has had for at least one year, and which impacts on their ability to engage in daily life including work life.

If your staff meet this test, an employer is legally bound to establish what reasonable adjustments can be made to their role or the way they work, and guidance from their doctors or occupational health may be required. If there are no adjustments which can be made, suitable alternative employment should be considered. Though an employer is not duty bound to create a new job for their employee, they must be able to show that they have taken all reasonable steps to comply with their duty under the Equality Act.

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