Top Tips on Being a Responsible Employer

Dealing with employees

If you’re planning to take on employees, or already have them, it’s important to be aware of the law and your responsibilities. It’s also vital to make sure you hire the right people, and give them the tools and training they need to help your business grow.

Here’s our guide to being an employer.

Hiring new staff

It’s important before you take on new employees to have a clear idea of the role you need them to fill. Whether someone’s leaving, you need an extra pair of hands or you’re expanding operations, a good job description is crucial. Include key tasks and responsibilities, who the individual will work with and who they’ll report to.

Once you’ve done this, you can start recruiting. Put job adverts in likely places – for example, job websites, local newspapers and trade magazines. Spell out the skills and experience you need, and the salary range – it needs to be competitive while reflecting what the job is worth to you.

When you’ve had responses, sort through them to make a shortlist, and invite those candidates to interview. Keep notes, and make sure you don’t discriminate illegally.

Once you’ve offered the job to a candidate and they’ve accepted, agree the start date and plan a proper induction and any training they might need. You must also give the new employee a written statement which spells out their terms of employment.

Employment law

Employees have a number of basic rights, and you should take advice if you aren’t clear on these.

The basic rights of employees are:

  • to 5.6 weeks’ annual leave (pro rata)
  • to a maximum working week of no more than 48 hours on average
  • to receive statutory sick pay (SSP)
  • to fair treatment and a ‘reasonable period of notice’ if dismissed
  • to raise complaints and have these treated fairly
  • to receive at least the national minimum wage (NMW)
  • to maternity or paternity leave
  • to a safe and healthy workplace
  • to not be discriminated against

They may also have additional rights under the terms of their contract.

Workplace relations body ACAS has a range of advice on their website at www.acas.org.uk, which explains all your legal responsibilities as well as best practice to follow.

Problems with employees

Employee disputes can happen in any workplace. The key to is to have a clear policy spelling out what is and isn’t acceptable workplace behaviour (whether employees can use e-mail for personal use), and give this to all employees. Many companies have a staff handbook for this.

Managers should also have regular reviews with staff, encouraging them to bring up any issues so they can be resolved.

You also need to have a clear written policy for what will happen if an employee needs to raise a formal complaint (grievance), and what happens if you need to formally discipline or dismiss an employee. You’ll need to keep records.

ACAS has a discipline and grievance Code of Practice, which you can download from their website at http://www.acas.org.uk/index.aspx?articleid=2174 . This spells out the steps you should follow.

It’s very important to follow these steps – if the worst happens and an employee takes a case to tribunal, you could be liable to much worse penalties if you haven’t followed the Code.


 This article is provided only for general informational and educational purposes. It is not offered as and does not constitute legal or other professional advice on the subject matter in question. You should not act or rely on information contained in this website without first seeking professional advice on the subject matter in question.