HR for Small Business

Photograph of Jenefer Livings, Founder of Silk Helix Ltd
5 January 2022
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What size of business needs HR?

If you’re employing even a single person you need HR. Employment law applies to everyone you employ. And, given your payroll costs may be your highest monthly outgoings, you need to ensure a return on that investment.

Performance Management

You’re never too small for performance management, this is how you ensure the return on your investment. If you’ve come from a corporate life this might make you shudder as you recall appraisal forms, tick box exercises that gather dust for the rest of the year, OK not all corporate businesses are like this and your performance management certainly shouldn’t be.

In a small business you can keep it simple, but it’s still crucial your people know the direction of the business, the goals and targets as well as the role they play. Defining and describing your expectations is key to driving your business forward and once you’ve done this you’ll also be able to pick up quickly on anyone not meeting expectations.

Employment Law

Employment law applies to every employee, there is no minimum you need to meet. You don’t even need to be a limited company. We have seen sole traders with single employees being taken to an employment tribunal.

Employment law is wide ranging: holiday entitlements, written statements of particulars, discrimination, fair reasons for dismissal to name just a few.

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Small Business Employee Handbook

An employee handbook serves a number of purposes. It sets out the expectations of your people and the employment relationship, it should be a guide to your brand and culture. At the same time it protects your business, by setting out expectations you can be clear on what will happen if those expectations are not met.

When your expectations are clear they are far more likely to be met, ultimately improving both productivity and the customer experience of your brand.

An employee handbook will reduce disputes, when expectations and consequences are clear people are more likely to be treated with consistency and feel a sense of fairness. And, should the worst happen and you are taken to an employment tribunal, having your rules and expectations in writing will go a long way to help you avoid employment tribunals.

Protecting Your Business

As an employer it can feel like employment law is all on the side of the employee. Employers are in a position of power in the employment relationship, however, it’s easy to lose the sense of power by making mistakes.

Take contracts of employment as an example, if you only produce a statement of particulars with the minimum legal requirements this will be about giving employees the information they need. As an employer you should go further and include flexibility clauses, deductions from wages clauses and garden leave clauses to name just a few - all designed to protect your business and give you flexibility.

Absence Management

Absence is disruptive, especially in a small business, however it’s also unavoidable. Monitoring absence, talking to people about their reasons for absence, accurately recording absence are all key to be able to manage and reduce absenteeism.

Sickness might be the most common reason for unplanned absence but there are other statutory rights to time off, including time off for unexpected incidents relating to dependants. Ensure you are familiar with all the statutory rights to time, this will avoid claims of discrimination arising from misunderstandings.

Why outsource?

People management can be a headache, trying to keep up to date with employment law can be even more challenging. Not knowing the law will not be accepted as a defence if you do find yourself in an employment tribunal. Dealing with employee disputes, misunderstandings, absence and poor performance all distracts from the day job, running and growing your business.

Outsourcing means you have an expert on your side. Save yourself time and get the right answer first time from a HR and employment law expert. A HR professional will not only provide you legal advice but be able to support you to grow your business. They can look strategically at your business, consider what you need from your people and how to get there.

Contracts of employment and an employee handbook written specifically for your business will ensure you are legally compliant, your business is protected and you’re driving performance in the right direction.

Outsourcing with Silk Helix is designed to suit exactly what you need - ranging from ad-hoc support with a single issue or simply writing your contracts and employee handbook, through to our retained packages, 12 months unlimited access to our advice lines and even a fully outsourced HR department.

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