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The five biggest errors made by employers

If you are an employer with the best intentions, it's possible to make an employment-related mistake that can result in an HR nightmare

Below we have listed five of the most common and biggest mistakes made by employers and explain how you can avoid falling into such traps.

1) Forgetting employment contracts

You have a legal obligation to set out clearly in writing the terms and conditions of employment for your employees within two months of their start date.

This is easy to overlook; however, by ensuring you have provided this vital document to your employees, you are ensuring that they are, or should be, aware of their employment rights, their obligations, and your expectations.

2) Not using the employment contract to protect your business

If you are in a business in which you are in direct competition with other companies, as so many are, it makes sense to try to protect yourself against the competition from within your employment contracts.

You can use your employment contract to protect intellectual property and restrict employees from taking existing clients – and potentially colleagues – with them should they move to a competitor.

To get the most out of such clauses, and to ensure they are reasonable in scope, it is recommended that you obtain the right legal advice and assistance.

3) Recruiting the wrong people

Whilst it is inevitable that some staff will move on when you don’t want them to, a far worse thought is that you employ an individual who is simply a bad fit.

This can be hugely damaging to your business and affect your retention of other good staff. It is therefore imperative that you recruit the right people – invest time in this and you will be justly rewarded.

4) Failure to follow correct dismissal procedures

There is unlikely to be an employer who has not wanted to sack an employee immediately for something they have done; however, to do so can cause many more headaches, legal bills and damages payments, as you may be at risk of a successful unfair dismissal claim.

Make sure your internal policies and procedures regarding dismissal are up to date in respect of what is required of you legally. These can be set out in the employment contract, or separately in a staff manual.

Provided you follow those procedures, you are likely to ensure that you will not be faced with such problems in the future.

5) Offering a ‘sweetener’ to an employee you want to get rid of

Many employers may find themselves tempted to secure the amicable removal of an employee by offering an incentive to leave. Whilst it is possible to do this, and it can be done legally, you must be careful to ensure that you follow the correct legal process and authorised documents.

Make sure that all discussions prior to a settlement being agreed are ‘off the record’, or ‘without prejudice’ if in writing, to avoid them later being used against you at a tribunal if the negotiations break down. It is recommended that both you and your employee take legal advice when dealing with such situations.

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