Running a small business often means wearing many different hats and potentially making decisions without specialist advice. In association with Prosper?, Simon Whitehead Head of Recruitment Law, and Nicola Young, Legal Director, both of Brabners LLP discuss how you can avoid potentially expensive and time-consuming HR mistakes.
HR legal experts offer practical advice for how employers can support employees and ensure smooth business continuation.
Support staff mental health
Positive action should include ensuring you are supporting the mental health of your employees. Suggestions include:
Raising awareness and reducing stigma
Running anonymous surveys
Building online communities and employee networks
Encouraging use of videos on calls
Picking up the phone instead of sending an email
Comply with Covid secure guidelines
When it comes to bringing your workforce back into the office, “employers should ensure that they have done a risk assessment to make the workplace COVID secure and that they follow the COVID secure guidelines closely”.
Ensure you comply with safe Covid-19 compliance:
Workers who can effectively work from home should do so; employers should not be asking or encouraging workers to come into the office
Anyone else who cannot work from home can still go into the office
Ensure that risk assessments have been done and the workplace is COVID secure, following COVID- secure guidelines closely
React to any outbreaks (by following COVID-secure guidelines)
“Provided that you’ve completed a risk assessment and are comfortable that you have a COVID secure workplace, and if the employee has a good reason for not being able to work effectively from home, you can still allow them to work in the office.”
Future-proof your policies
Looking ahead to the future, Young provides advice for how to safely return your staff to the workplace and discusses ways you can future-proof working policies for the future.
Action you can take now to future-proof your policies include:
Review your existing policies
Set up an official homeworking policy to deal with: health and safety matters, information security and data privacy, supervision and management, homeworking equipment and expenses
Amend sickness policy
Revise disciplinary, grievance and performance management policies to cater for remote working
Health and safety policy reminder to staff
Time off work compassionate leave, time off for dependents, parental leave
Flexible working adopt certain forms of flexible working
“Employers that have got five or more employees have an obligation to have a health and safety statement, and should make it available to employees.”
Avoid unfair dismissal
If you have a genuine redundancy situation, you need to deal with it properly:
Provide adequate warning and follow correct consultation procedures with affected employees: Tell staff and talk to them formally
A fair selection process: ensure metric is objective and does not disadvantage a particular group
Consideration of alternative employment
Above all, make it a fair procedure and keep minutes of all meetings
Whitehead goes on to share ways you may be able to avoid having to make redundancies with a series of alternative suggestions, including:
Contractual changes (changes to terms and conditions)
Pension Scheme changes decrease contributions, ensuring you comply with legal obligations
Discretionary benefits freeze them or reduce them
Offer part-time working
About the speakers
Nicola Young – Legal Director at Brabners
Legal Director in Brabners’ Employment team, Nicola Young is an experienced employment lawyer who is active within the Sport sector.
She handles issues such as dismissals, redundancies, discrimination, TUPE, reorganisations, restrictive covenants, executive terminations and negotiated settlements. She also audits and drafts contract and policy documentation and represents clients in employment tribunal proceedings.
She works with a wide range of employers and employees and is experienced in acting for athletes, national governing bodies, sports agencies and professional clubs across a variety of sports.