Pitfalls To Avoid When Employing Private Household Staff
When you take on private staff you become an employer, albeit an employer with no HR department and very limited admin resources! There are some common misconceptions on the part of those who take on private staff that often backfire and cause problems. However, the solution is easy to put in place and we are here to help.
It’s the law
No matter how small an employer is – even if it is just single person, the law requires you to set out all of the basic contractual terms in writing within 2 months of employment beginning. Failure to do this is not only unlawful, but can also lead to a financial penalty being awarded against you in the tribunals.
The basic terms include things like: the names of the parties, the date employment commenced, the place at which work will be undertaken, rates and frequency of pay, hours and holiday. You also have to include details of sick leave and pay, pension, disciplinary and grievance procedures.
Another mistake is to assume it is advantageous not to issue a contract of employment until the employee has proved to be satisfactory. The opposite is true! Here is why: The law will ‘imply’ a legally binding contract between you and the employee even if one has not been agreed in writing, however, the terms of this ‘implied contract’ will be uncertain. This problem of uncertainty often leads to disputes and sometimes produces costly and stressful legal claims: because the parties’ expectations about important terms do not match.
An implied contract, or even a statement that properly sets out all of the basic contractual terms, must reflect the minimum statutory protections for the employee, but it will omit the protections a sensible employer will want to include. Employers often need to stipulate rules about things like the probationary period, confidentiality, holiday, sickness reporting, break times and time recording. Employer usually need flexibility about which duties can be required of the employee, what hours are to be worked, where work is to be undertaken and how employment will be ended. Important employer rights should also be included, so that – for example – the employer can deduct sums owed by the employee from pay, suspend, hold relevant information about the employee and obtain medical advice about the employee’s health and fitness for work.
Without a properly drafted contract, that is signed by you and your employee at the commencement of employment, you will not be able rely on these protections. It is sensible to include all terms in a single agreement that is drafted to suit your requirements and which ensures that the terms of employment are clear and cannot be disputed. We have teamed up with SDC HR to offer our clients a bespoke contract drafting service, with a dedicated consultant assigned to guide you through the necessary steps, draft the contract for you and be on hand to answer your queries and advise you.
Please contact Hayley Wallbridge for more details.