Employment law advice in Wimbledon, South West London, Epsom and Surrey

Contracts of Employment and Staff Handbooks

If you are a start up company, it is likely that you will be considering how to best lay the foundations for success by ensuring that that your policies, procedures and contracts of employment are in line with the law. Peacock & Co Solicitors can help you prepare these documents to ensure that issues do not arise later down the line. However, it is a misconception to think that this is a one-off task. It is essential that long-standing companies keep an eye on these documents and ensure that they evolve at the same rate as a company evolves.

What is a Staff Handbook?

A Staff Handbook is a handbook that contains all your company’s policies and procedures in one easy to find place. It is useful in setting out to your employee what you expect of them and what they can expect from you. A Staff Handbook is not a one size fits all document and what works for a company that employs less than 20 people will not be sufficient for a company that employees hundreds of people. The expert team at Peacock & Co are equipped with up-to-date understanding of the legal landscape to help create a tailor-made Staff Handbook that meets your needs and objectives. Moreover, if you initially prepared a Staff Handbook for your company that was fit for purpose years ago, you may have grown into a much larger enterprise over this period and therefore will need a more robust Staff Handbook.

Are your Staff Handbooks up-to-date?

Staff Handbooks need to be regularly reviewed to make sure that they are in line with the current law both in regards of legislation and recent case law. If, for example, you have a maternity policy that is not in line with the law, then you are risk of a claim being brought to you even if you have followed your own policy. Equally, even if you have an up-to-date disciplinary policy, it is essential that all members of staff are aware of it and that anyone taking part in a disciplinary process follows the process. You are at risk of an adverse decision at the employment tribunal if you dismiss an employee without following your own procedure. A review of your Staff Handbook is an opportune time to evaluate where certain training may be useful.

Contracts of Employment

In the same manner, Contracts of Employment need to be reviewed and kept up to date with the law. It is not uncommon for someone to rise up through a company and be promoted several times but still have only signed their initial contract of employment. Post termination restrictions that are adequate for a fairly junior manager may not be adequate for a senior member of staff, such as a chief financial officer.

It would be very unlikely for a company to hire a junior manager and a chief financial officer and give them identical contracts. Nevertheless, if you have a member of staff that started as a junior manager but is now a chief financial officer you have in effect handed-over identical contracts of employment for these two vastly different roles. Even something as straight forward as an employee’s notice period should be reviewed to ensure that a crucial member of the team that would take months to replace does not have a one month notice.

Here are some commonly asked questions we receive about contracts of employment and staff handbooks:

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There are certain policies such as your grievance policy or disciplinary policy that you are obliged to have in place by law. You may in essence already have a Staff Handbook even if it is not referred to as such. A Staff Handbook sets out what you expect from your employees and what they can expect from you in one easy to find place.

There is no one size fits all answer to this. It will depend, for example, on whether there have been significant changes in the size of the company or in the law. We would recommend an annual review of your Staff Handbook. If there has been no significant changes since the last review we carried out, then it is likely to be a short and cost effective process while giving you more peace of mind.

It is a good idea to have both hard copies of a Staff Handbook that are easy for members of staff to track down as well as having it accessible as a soft copy on your intranet.

You will need to include an employee’s job title, a detailed description of the role, their start date, their place of work and many other crucial details. Here at Peacock & Co we can review your Contracts of Employment and/or draft contracts from scratch to ensure that these details are covered-off.

The benefit of legal advice in drawing up Contract of Employments is to ensure that they are in line with the current law and that you will not face a potential claim later down the line.

Any changes or variations to a Contract of Employment after it has been agreed and signed will need to be agreed in writing with the employee. This may require some negotiation. The expert team at Peacock & Co can assist in helping you to achieve your objectives in an amended Contract of Employment.

For expert advice and assurance that your contracts of employment and staff handbooks are in line with the current law, contact us: