Employment law and Franchising

Employers are rightly concerned about ever growing regulation of businesses in respect of employees, and the ever growing “bundle” of rights for employees that go with it. Whilst it is easy to get it wrong, it could be easier than you think to get it right. Employment legislation is a two way street. The employer who knows their way round the legal landscape, aided by timely and professional advice, can use the law to ensure that employees, whilst protected in many ways, also deliver their side of the employment bargain.

The key, at all stages of the employment relationship, from recruitment to termination, is preparation. Employers should have policies, to ensure that they are not vulnerable to claims of discrimination in recruitment. Every employee must be given a statement of their basic terms and conditions no later than 2 months after the start of their employment.  A fuller contract, in addition to, or including the basic terms, is also normally advisable, to cover any additional terms agreed by the parties (some of which no doubt will be for the employer’s benefit).

It is also advisable that there should be a Staff Handbook to accompany the contracts covering critical areas, such as;

- Disciplinary and grievance procedures  

- Equal opportunities, anti discrimination, harrassment and bullying policies.

Employers can be liable for discriminatory acts of employees against other employees, and even by customers, clients and other third parties against employees. Properly drafted policies will assist the employer in defending such claims where the employer is unaware of what is going on.

- Health and safety

- Recruitment

- Retirement

- Whistle blowing

- Email and internet use

This list  is  not  exhaustive.  These are just some of the policies that may be needed.  Disciplinary and grievance procedures, and anti discrimination policies are essential however. In discussion with you, legal advice will ensure that your employment documentation is tailored for your business.

If a regular turnover of staff is expected in your business, the following points need to be considered;

- National Minimum Wage

- Health and safety, including induction and training

- Working Time Regulations, such as rest breaks and holidays

Although an employee will usually require either 1 or 2 year’s service, depending on when they started, to bring a claim for unfair dismissal, there are exceptions to this rule. The exceptions include dismissals related to:

- Pregnancy

- Flexible working

- National Minimum Wage

- Working Time Regulations and

- A Health & Safety breach

Again, this list is not exhaustive and you should seek legal advice before taking any steps to dismiss any employee. Dismissals which fall foul of discrimination legislation can lead to unlimited awards of compensation.

Where there is no discrimination,unfair dismissal compensation can rise to £70,000 plus for employees who are highly paid or who might struggle to find alternative employment.

In addition to this, there is no length of service required for an employee to bring a claim for discrimination. A claim can be brought on the grounds of:

Sex, Race, Pregnancy, Nationality, Disability, Religion and beliefs, Colour, Sexual orientation, Maritul status, Gender reassignment, Ethnicity or age.

In the event that an employer (for example, a franchisee) buys another business, the implications of the Transfer of Undertakings (Protection of Employment) Regulations 2006 which will affect the rights of your existing and, in the case of buying a business, new employees.

We offer an Insurance Protection Scheme which will support your business. For a fixed fee we offer the following package to protect you and your business;

- Helpline – immediate contact and support from a qualified solicitor operational throughout the working day

- Health check on Employment documents – we will make sure that you have up to date Contracts of Employment and Staff Handbooks to cater specifically for your industry

- Tribunal proceedings representation and awards – in the event that a claim is brought against your business, the Scheme will support you throughout the process.

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