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HR and employment law is constantly changing, and it can be a real challenge for small to medium-sized businesses employing staff to keep up, especially if you don’t have a HR Manager.  The majority of the clients of the Employment and Holistic HR team are SMEs, and we’ve used our experience to answer some questions commonly asked by our small to medium-sized clients:

  1. Do I have to give my staff Contracts of Employment?

It’s a legal requirement to provide your staff with a statement of terms and conditions of employment within two months of them starting work.  Usually, this is contained in a Contract of Employment or Service Agreement (if they’re senior).  Click here for tips on what to include in the Contract. 

  1. My new member of staff isn’t working out, can I terminate employment?  How much notice do I have to give?

If your new member of staff just isn’t working out, you can dismiss without too much legal risk (so long as you are not doing so for any unlawful reason – e.g. unlawful discrimination, trade union membership). This should simply be a case of meeting with the employee to explain that their employment is terminating and following this up with a letter, giving reasons for the termination. We recommend you take advice before dismissing. 

  1. One of my employees has just told me she’s pregnant.  What rights does she have?

All pregnant employees have the right to maternity leave, which can be taken for up to 52 weeks. Such employees are also entitled to paid time off to attend ante-natal appointments. Only employees with at least 26 weeks of service at the 15th week before the Expected Week of Childbirth are entitled to statutory maternity pay which the employer must pay.

  1. How many holidays are employees entitled to?  Do I have to pay holiday pay?  And how can I ensure I don’t have staff on holiday at busy times?

All employees are entitled to a minimum of 28 holidays a year (pro-rata if they are part-time). This is the case even if they are not attending work because they are on long term sick leave or maternity leave.  Employers are obliged to pay employees as usual during holidays and must remember to include amounts that employees would usually receive, such as commission and regular overtime.  This is a complicated legal area of the law and requires specialist advice.  Employers are entitled to refuse requests for holidays if it does not suit the business for the employee to be off at a particular time, so long as employees are able to take their full holiday entitlement at other times.  Other rules relating to holidays should be contained in the Contract of Employment or Holiday Policy. 

  1. Unfortunately, the business is thinking of making redundancies – what are my obligations to the staff?

If you are considering making redundancies, you must identify employees in the “pool” for selection for redundancy, advise them that they are at risk of redundancy and then follow a fair redundancy procedure, which involves consulting on ways in which the redundancies can be avoided and how to mitigate their impact.  Employees should be selected for redundancy on fair and objective grounds (e.g. skills, standard of work performance and disciplinary record). Employees confirmed as redundant must be given the right to appeal the decision to make them redundant.  If you are making 20 or more employees redundant over a period of 90 days or fewer, this is a collective redundancy, and you must inform the Secretary of State and follow the rules relating to collective redundancy. 

The information above is for guidance only and is not intended to replace specialist legal advice. 

Our unlimited, fixed fee HR advice service Holistic HR includes a Portal of employment documents that you can access online including Contracts of Employment, Service Agreements as well as workplace policies and procedures, “How To” Guides and Manager’s Briefings. It also gives you access to unlimited HR and employment law Advice from our specialist employment lawyers. To find out more about Holistic HR click here. 

Contact our Employment Law & HR Support team in Edinburgh & London

If you have an HR or employment issue, or would like to find out more about our HR retainer service, please contact us on 0845 345 5004 .  

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