Last week (30 April) HJS Human Resources and joint hosts Howdenwhite were joined by over twenty local employers for a complimentary seminar titled “Employing People: Your Guide to Getting it Right.”
The seminar was free to attend and included ample opportunity for networking, as well as a buffet lunch. Guests heard a number of presentations including:
When is an employee not an employee?
Employees v Contractors – a taxing question?
Employee Benefits: what’s the cost?
What is an unfair dismissal?
What are the latest updates to employment law?
What is the Government's 'The Good Work Plan?'
We were delighted to have a diverse range of local employers join us, and it led to some great discussion from all. There were a number of particular 'hot topics' and we've shared some of the key insights below.
We hold free seminars discussing common areas that impact businesses and employers in the local area. If you would like to be one of the first to be notified of our next free seminar, please join our mailing list. You'll receive an e-newsletter once a month with information on our events and 3-4 article with advice and top tips.
Key insights from our Employment Law seminar
1. When is an employee not an employee?
This question is particularly important and often comes in to play with employment
disputes. Commonly a three principle test is applied:
Personal Service — employment is when the work or service is required to be provided by a specific individual. Contractors have the ability to sub-contract work to be completed by someone else if they choose to.
Mutuality of Obligation — in employment the employer has an obligation to provide work or offer work to be completed, and the employee has the obligation to perform or complete the work offered. This area is becoming more difficult to clearly define with the increased use of casual work like zero-hour contracts.
Control — terms of employment will outline the work to be completed, when and how. A contractor will have considerably more freedom over how and when they work.
It's important to remember that although contracts and paperwork may label an agreement between parties in a particular way, any employment tribunal will review what is actually happening in practice!
2. Tax implications of employees versus contractors
Having employees can be expensive for an employer - from National Insurance contributions, pension schemes, to holiday pay, sick pay and maternity/paternity rights. As contractors are self-employed for tax purposes, they are responsible for declaring their earning to HMRC and paying any tax due. Obviously they don't benefit from employment rights of employees, like sick pay and holiday pay.
Naturally there's a financial benefit to businesses for working with contractors, and some businesses have identified ways to classify employees as contractors via intermediaries. IR35, the Intermediaries Legislation, currently applies to the Public Sector organisations meaning they can no longer self-asses if IR35 applies.
There are consultations in place to change the legislation to extend this to medium and large businesses in the private sector from April 2020. Watch this space!
3. How to minimise the risk of an employment tribunal
Claims in the year 2017/18 totaled 109,685 cases. Employers cannot eliminate their risk of being taken to an employment tribunal but the following top tips are best practice to minimise the risk:
Check employment documents are up to date and effective for your organisation - once updated ensure contracts and policies have been issued and received by the employee!
Make sure disciplinary procedures are non-contractual - obviously employers will need to follow the essential elements of their disciplinary procedures but this means in in exceptional cases procedures can be adapted. If disciplinary procedures are contractual, an employer can be found in breach of contract if not followed exactly as outlined.
Train your managers in how to manage performance and discipline - these are skills to learn and develop and worth investing in from the start. Make sure you deal with performance problems promptly, before they get worse! If this is a skill gap you recognise we have two courses in June which may be of interest:
Handling Discipline & Dismissals - 19 June 2019 (full day)
Essential Management Skills - 26 June 2019 (full day)
Document, document, document! Keeping accurate notes and records on performance, meetings, actions agreed is vital. Employment tribunals will look for all parties involved to offer evidence and proof to support their cases. Lack of paperwork, communication to the employee or inconsistent application of the policies are some of the most common causes of tribunals won as unfair dismissal.
The seminar was held at The Stones Hotel, which was a great venue and provided a highly praised lunch (lots of compliments from our guests especially for the mini roast beef and Yorkshire puddings!)
If you'd like to discuss any of the points highlighted above, do give the team a call on 01722 325833 - we'd be happy to help!