Originally Published in January 2014
Even in the smallest of businesses, there’s no excuse for not following basic employment procedures and for making what might be termed “schoolboy errors” when it comes to dealing with people. Recently I’ve been involved – at a very late stage – with companies that faced tribunal claims from relatively low paid staff. In these cases, the potential compensation was more than doubled because they had got one or more of the following wrong:
- Issuing a statement of terms and conditions. You have 2 months from the day the employee commences to give them this – and it doesn’t have to be a particularly complex or legalistic document. The excuse that “the employee never asked me for it” will not wash – this is your responsibility. Failing to do this, if coupled with another successful tribunal claim, means you could have to pay up to 4 weeks’ pay to the individual.
- Giving out an itemised payslip. No matter how you pay the person, they are entitled to receive a pay slip before or around the time they are paid, showing their gross pay and any deductions from it (tax, national insurance, pension etc). Failing to do so could lead to a claim for….
- Unauthorised Deductions from wages. You cannot (with a few limited exceptions involving shop workers) take money from someone’s wages or salary without them agreeing to it first, other than statutory deductions (tax etc). This applies even if the person agrees that they owe you the money. What’s more, if you do make an unauthorised deduction, then not only can the person reclaim the money but you lose the right to claim it from them another way (e.g. via debt collection)
- Not giving notice. Someone who has worked for you for more than one month is entitled to at least a week’s notice (it increases by a week for each complete year’s service – 2 weeks for 2 years etc to a maximum of 12). If you don’t give correct notice the individual can claim breach of contract and be awarded compensation equivalent to the notice they should have received. The only exception to this is a situation of gross misconduct, i.e. behaviour so appalling that you can consider the contract to have ended.
All of these situations are so easily avoided – and costly if they are missed. Moreover they’re areas where any employee, regardless of service, can make a claim to a Tribunal.