Welcoming strangers to your workplace

10th June 2016

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Harriet Broughton of Gregg Latchams Lawyers speaks to BusinessLeader.uk.com about employment laws and key points businesses need to consider before recruiting.

Harriet – tell us about you and your role at Gregg Latchams law firm?

“I am an employment law specialist, advising a range of SMEs on a wide variety of employment law issues, from family matters like maternity and paternity, statutory entitlements like holiday and sick pay, through to disciplinary and grievance issues. I aim to give my clients pragmatic and commercial options whilst steering them through tricky employment law issues.

“I support our In-house Lawyer Service clients with employment support including making sure all their paperwork is in order and their business is properly protected.”

When does a business owner/leader need to worry about the law before recruitment starts?

A: Immigration:
“It is a legal requirement that employers check that their new recruits are eligible to work in the UK. If an employer doesn’t check they can be fined up to £20,000 if they employ an illegal worker. In order to defend yourself, you need to check the new employee’s eligibility to work in the UK before they start work. This is usually done by checking their passport. All employees should be checked to avoid a race discrimination claim.”

B: Impact of restrictions and long notice periods:
“You’ve got the perfect candidate, but can they start straight away? How much notice do they have to give their current employer – can you wait that long? What about any restrictions in their current contract of employment? Are they allowed to bring their clients and contacts with them, or are they going to be sat twiddling their thumbs for 6 months? Make sure you factor these issues into your decision making process, as they could impact your business more than you first expect.”

C: Taking up references:
“Has the candidate told you the truth? Did they really work in that business for that long? I’ve seen a number of clients find out after the employee has started work that they’ve lied on their CV. You might think references are not worth taking, as you often only get start date, end date, and job title, but even that will confirm what the candidate has said on their CV, and you might get something more which can help you assess whether you really want the candidate in your business.”

D: Medical questionnaires
“This is a tricky one. Generally speaking, you should not ask about the health of a candidate before you’ve offered them the job, as this would fall foul of the Equality Act. If you do ask about someone’s health then you need to think about what you’re going to do with that information – if you withdraw the offer because of a medical condition then you run the risk of a disability discrimination claim. Remember, discrimination claims can be brought by candidates, even if they’re not employees yet.

E: Checking qualifications
“How often do you check the qualifications on someone’s CV? Do they actually have the skills and experience you need, or have they been creative on their CV? You could wait and see whether they’re actually any good in the job, but what if they’re not, how many months is that going to set you back in your won’t necessarily show you that the candidate will fit into your business, but it means you won’t waste your time with someone who’s not qualified to do the job.”

How does a business owner/leader protect the business post-recruitment?

“Once you’ve found the perfect candidate, checked out their CV, and are confident that they’re the right fit for your business, you will need to think about a contract of employment. You have to provide certain information within 2 months of the employee starting, but you should also think about protecting your business: your property, your confidential information, your intellectual property, and your business connections.”

What can go wrong?

“Employment law can be difficult to navigate whilst you’re busy trying to run your business. Recruitment can be a time-consuming process, and it’s important that you get it right first time where possible. You might find that the perfect candidate isn’t the right fit for the business once they’re in, or that the person in the interview is different in the workplace. Following the above steps and having thorough processes in place, which you actually follow, can help protect you and your business.

“If you need a helping hand in the recruitment process, or making sure that you’re properly protecting your business throughout the working relationship, then give me a call to see how we can work together.”