Top Five Staffing Mistakes Made by SMEs

Kicked orangeDealing with an employment tribunal claim is stressful, costly and time-consuming. The HR Surgery has put together some of the most common mistakes that employers make, which leave them vulnerable to litigation. Avoiding these will minimise an employer’s risk of tribunals in the first place and put the business in the best possible position in the event that a case is brought.

1. Not having employment documentation in place
Ensure that you have employment documentation in place. There is a legal requirement for an employee to be given a written statement of particulars of employment within two months of the employee’s start date. Clear and well drafted policies in a Company handbook that support the contract of employment and include disciplinary and grievance procedures will assist with resolving disputes at work, and your defence in the event of a tribunal claim.

2. Not training managers to take the correct action
As an employer you are liable for the actions of your managers, but few managers have had training or guidance in how to handle problems with employees. Employment law can be complex and it is easy to make costly mistakes and ‘slip up’ if you are not an expert. Ensure that line managers are trained on dealing with people problems and following the correct procedures. Make sure they know who to turn to for HR advice and when they should seek it – the sooner the better.

3. Not dealing with problem employees early enough
Get advice early and ‘nip problems in the bud!’ Employers are often nervous of tackling problem employees but it is really important to deal with issues before they escalate to become time consuming and costly for the business.
Use probationary periods effectively to ensure any concerns are dealt with at the start of the employment relationship. In particular, ensure that issues are dealt with formally (not just informally) by the end of a year’s employment, the current qualifying period for unfair dismissal.

4. Not keeping written records that create a strong defence
Keep written records. Make sure that managers document conversations and actions – if it’s not written down, it may be assumed it didn’t happen. Keeping records also ensures that all parties are fully aware of the situation. A clear paper trail is key to defending a case and will save you a lot of time, effort and angst in the event of a tribunal claim.

5. Not asking for help from an employment specialist
The ‘we’ll muddle through and hope for the best’ strategy inevitably leads to costly repercussions. If you don’t have a HR Manager in-house then contact The HR Surgery. We offer a range of very flexible services from drafting policies, on-site support at meetings, dealing with all the necessary paperwork and providing effective and practical support and guidance to business owners through the ever-changing ‘employment law maze’.

For less than half the cost of a solicitor, the HR Surgery provides businesses with preventative and defensive measures for businesses which may otherwise be crippled by the costs arising from even a single Tribunal claim.