Whether you have employees, consultants, contractors or agency workers, as an employer you must ensure that you and your business are protected. This is in regards to confidentiality, retaining your client base, health and safety, statutory and contractual rights and breach of those rights.
You should ensure that you have in place:
- Contract or consultancy or agency agreements;
- Confidentiality and restrictive covenant agreements; and
- Staff policies and handbooks.
You should also make sure that you understand your health and safety, working from home, grievance and disciplinary processes.
Contract of Employment
If your team are employees there will be a contract between you whether this is in writing or not. You are obliged to provide employees with written terms of particulars within 2 months of their start date or you could be liable to pay damages.
A contract ensures that you have both understood the objectives and responsibilities of each others role in the business relationship and protects both parties from later denying this objective or choosing to unilaterally vary it. The contract can expressly confirm a working term or it will be implied by statutory law where it is silent. A comprehensive agreement can protect you in the event of poor performance, misconduct or a misunderstanding at a later date.
The contract must include details about the following:
- The names of employee and employer;
- The start date of the employee’s work;
- The title of the job;
- Location of the job;
- The salary amount and how often the employee will be paid;
- The hours of work;
- Holiday entitlement and pay;
- Required minimum notice periods of employee and employer;
- Disciplinary, dismissal and grievance procedures;
- Sick pay entitlement; and
- Occupational pension scheme, if there is one.
This is a contract in much the same way, but where an employee has statutory rights self-employed staff do not have the same protection. As such a contract setting out the agreed work terms and confidentiality are essential if you are to protect yourself against any potential disputes and have the ability to sever these contracts in the event of a problem.
Confidentiality Agreements and Restrictive Covenants
Whether employed or self-employed people assisting your business will have access to your trade secrets, supplier lists and client names and addresses. If someone leaves your employment or starts-up a side-business they could potentially cause you losses: they could solicit business from your clients for themselves or a competitor; use your materials and information or release confidential material into the public domain that reduces you profit. Clients could choose to leave with the team member to their new job and this could likewise cause you a loss in both current and anticipated revenue.
Prevent this with an agreement prohibiting them sharing this key information or working for a competitor or taking clients for a reasonable period of time; make sure that you protect yourself before they start working on your projects so that should they choose to work elsewhere this is a deterrent from poaching business from you. In the event they do breach the agreement you can issue a claim for damages and/or an injunction to stop the breach continuing.
Handbooks and policies
A company should always understand and set out to its staff its internal policies that must align with statutory rules on: discrimination, grievances and disciplinary procedures, holiday and sick leave, maternity and paternity, redundancy and other key areas.
This helps support any Tribunal actions brought against you by displaying a reasonable employment structure and that you have followed these terms correctly justifying your reasons to, for example, dismiss someone.
We can chat through any concerns you may have, draft these documents for you, and help address any problems that have arisen with a team member or offer HR support as you grow.
Our specialist employment team understand the need for swift, frugal advice with the ultimate goal to settle and avoid costly tribunal hearings. Whether it’s advising on a document, defending or issuing a claim or negotiating a settlement we are commercial, practical and above all motivated to protect you without undue costs.
Employment law is ever-evolving our job is to stay on top of the regulations, keep our clients abreast of the changes by adapting their documents and our advice as such we are not just reacted to your instructions but proactive in updating you throughout.