You don't need consultants to manage your employment obligations. Use free advice and easy-to-use online tools to help you to identify the unnecessary paperwork you may be completing to comply with employment legislation.
I own a small catering company and have been looking for ways to cut costs. Saving on small things like utilities and equipment has helped and several months ago I stopped using external advisers to comply with employment legislation, using Business Link instead. What can I do now to bring costs down even further?
In these financially challenging times, it is sensible to look at employment law as an area where reductions can be made. As you have found, the government's free advice and easy-to-use online tools can help you to manage your employment obligations.
Research shows that employers spend millions of pounds a year producing unnecessary paperwork to comply with employment law. It makes good business sense, therefore, to check that you are not "over complying". Cutting superfluous paperwork will reduce costs and free up time for you and your staff to focus on developing your business.
Three main areas where small businesses tend to over-comply are the national minimum wage, Working Time Regulations and data protection. Remember, if you are looking at ways to cut costs in these areas, there are still employment regulations that you need to adhere to. For example:
● When taking on new staff you must provide every new employee with a written statement of their key terms and conditions of employment within two months of them starting their job
● You are required by law to keep sufficient records that prove you are paying your workers at least the national minimum wage. These records must be kept for at least three years, although you are advised to keep them for a longer period
● Under the Working Time Regulations workers aged 18 and over can only work a maximum 48-hour average week and are entitled to 5.6 weeks' holiday unless they choose to opt out
● Care should be taken with all staff records to ensure they meet the 1998 Data Protection Act. The Act states how you must keep staff records and what you do with them.
These points may help you to save money.
Taking on new staff
Don't duplicate your standard employment contract with a separate written statement. Use the written statement tool at www.businesslink.gov.uk/writtenstatement to create one basic document that will meet your legal requirements. It's quick and easy to do and will include all the required terms and conditions.
National minimum wage
The national minimum wage doesn't require extra paperwork but many businesses spend money on unnecessary record-keeping. Employers must keep a record to show they are paying their staff at least minimum wage but it doesn't have to be separate or special records. For many employers their existing payroll and business records will be sufficient.
Working Time Directive
Employers are required to keep records to demonstrate that the 48-hour limit has been respected. In many cases - for example where employees are required to clock in and out of the workplace - records of time worked will already be maintained and these will satisfy the working time statutory requirement. Employers are also required to keep up-to-date lists of opted out workers and using the free, opt-out proforma agreement at www.businesslink.gov.uk/workingtimeflowchart could save time and money.
By law you must keep certain records for a set period of time. It is a good idea to keep records for six years, to cover the time limit for bringing any legal action against you, including national minimum wage claims and contractual claims.
For free advice on complying with employment law visit: www.businesslink.gov.uk/employingpeople