Professor Fiona Church

Member Article

Growing Business and Employment Law

Professor Fiona Church, Executive Dean at Faculty of Education, Law and Social Sciences at Birmingham City University, shares her views on employment law for small business.

Small business looking to grow can sometimes be daunted by the prospect of having to deal with what they consider complex employment regulation.

Common perceptions are that it is difficult to recruit the right people and almost impossible to get rid of anyone if they prove unsuitable. Employers worry about the minimum wage, about tax, regulations and paperwork. They also worry about ending up in the Employment Tribunal if they get something wrong.

Common myths about employment include:

  • The complexity of dealing with payroll, tax and national insurance
  • Recruitment is difficult because of the legal framework – people will sue if they aren’t selected
  • It is impossible to dismiss unsuitable staff once you’ve taken them on
  • There is so much employment law I will never get my head around it
  • The law favours the employee not the employer.

It is vitally important that some of these myths are busted and that employers feel ready and able to take on staff. There are people out there looking for jobs and there are jobs that need doing – how do we encourage employers to take the plunge?

In fact, it isn’t as difficult to employ people as you might think – and some of the regulation is actually helpful to employers in giving clear guidance about what is expected. There is also a great deal of direct support and advice available.

The Government has recognised the concerns of business and is currently promoting a number of useful toolkits and support mechanisms for employers. An important initiative, the ‘Red Tape Challenge’ launched in April 2011 aims to simplify the stock of over 21,000 statutory rules and regulations employers may face.

Top tips for potential employers:

  • The ‘Taking on an Employee Toolkit’ developed by Business Link provides an excellent source of information on the process of hiring staff, setting pay, getting the right insurance, understanding tax requirements and core legal obligations.
  • The ACAS Guide for new employers covers legal aspects relating to recruitment, discrimination, pay, discipline and grievance and ACAS codes of practice and guidance documents can be adopted by employers so that they don’t have to write their own.
  • Many areas are dealt with on-line – such as registering for tax – and e-mail and telephone help-lines are available to answer questions quickly.
  • Employer Direct Online provides access to Jobcentre Plus when advertising vacancies.
  • It may not be as expensive as you think to employ someone – initiatives such as the Young Persons Wage Incentive scheme offers wage subsidies for employers who can offer an 8-24 year old from the Government’s Work Programme a job for at least 26 weeks and the Apprenticeship Grant for Employers supports those employers by providing wage grants to help in recruiting their first apprentice.

In the current economic climate it is essential that employers are able to grow their businesses successfully. Support is there to enable them to do this with confidence.

This was posted in Bdaily's Members' News section by Laura Stannard .

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