Make becoming an employer work for you with Jacksons’ Start-up Business Package.
With falling rates of corporation tax encouraging entrepreneurship, the gig economy offering bright new ways to work, and social media bringing businesses and customers together more than ever before, now is the age of start-up. Little wonder then that since 2000 the number of businesses in the UK has increased each year by 3% on average; positive news for our region too as 2017 saw the North East record the highest growth in new businesses (8.1%) of anywhere in the UK.
Yet, at the same time, it has probably never been so daunting to start taking on staff. Pensions auto-enrolment, increases in the national minimum wage, developments in discrimination, employment status reforms and the forthcoming General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) are just some of the issues lying in wait. And, for the unfamiliar (or unfortunate), following the Supreme Court decision to abolish the employment tribunal fee regime a greater risk of workplace disputes escalating to litigation.
But it is not all doom and gloom if you are a new employer or about to become one. Starting off on the right foot with the correct support will help you negotiate the potential hazards and adapt to the responsibilities of managing a workforce. So what are the key documents you need to have?
The contract of employment, or employment contract, is at the heart of the employment relationship. An employment contract does not need to exist in writing to create legally enforceable rights and obligations – there are many examples of the courts and tribunals finding an employment relationship and holding one party accountable to another in the absence of any documents. However, employees who are employed for at least one month have a statutory entitlement to a written statement of particulars of employment within two months of starting work. Start-up businesses are therefore advised to put in place a template contract of employment for when they start taking on staff.
But it’s not just employment contracts to consider. Significant developments in employment status mean it is increasingly important to ensure that your contracts and agreements with casual workers or self-employment contractors reflect the reality of the relationship.
What about staff handbooks, policies and procedures? It is difficult for a business to manage staff effectively in the absence of any written record of the principles it adheres to or the processes it follows to achieve these. Information on disciplinary and grievance procedures, or reference to documents containing these, must be provided in a written statement, whilst the employment tribunal can impose a financial penalty of up to £5,000 where there are “aggravating features” such as not having an essential policy or procedure. However, an exhaustive staff handbook is not necessary from the outset – it is far better initially to have a few, key policies and procedures which staff are aware of and you are confident operating. It is also important to keep policies and procedures under review to ensure that they remain compatible and respond to changes in the law.
Obviously, when starting a business funds can be tight – you can’t afford to be paying for a service you don’t need – however, overlooking your legal obligations as an employer can be far more costly, whilst cobbling together documents which are unfit for purpose can do more damage than good…
…which is why we developed Jacksons Start-up Business Package.
At Jacksons Law Firm, we are committed to supporting new businesses taking on their first staff or needing to put in place the essential employment documents.
We regularly act for start-up companies, SMEs, OMBs, partnerships, social enterprises, charities and other organisations over a range of sectors, and are proud to have been advising businesses in the North East and beyond for over 140 years.
Our Start-up Business Package is competitively priced and for a one-off payment of £250 (inclusive of VAT) includes a template employment contract plus a staff handbook comprising disciplinary and grievance procedures, an equal opportunities policy and a communications policy, all titled with your business name and displaying your business’s logo.
What’s more, our Start-up Business Package clients also benefit from our expert advice and personal service on non-contentious employment law matters at a fixed hourly rate of £100 plus VAT for six months – providing dedicated support as and when they need it.
We appreciate the balance which new businesses must strike between taking reliable advice and not incurring unnecessary costs. With this in mind, we developed our Start-up Business Package as an alternative to various subscription services which seek to prematurely tie you in to an annual or multiple-year contract that does not offer value for money. Whilst we do offer comprehensive employment law support for an annual subscription fee (via our Jacksons Shield employment protection service) we will only recommend this when you are ready to take full advantage of it.
Your business will be eligible for the Start-up Business Package if it is within the two years of incorporation or starting trading, and you employ no more than five employees.
Choose Jacksons Law Firm to work with you from the outset to provide the right advice for your business. For further details or to start working with us, please contact Paul Clark.
 House of Commons Library Briefing Paper 23 November 2016
 House of Commons Library Briefing Paper 15 November 2017