What They Are And Why You Need Them?

The first rule of employment is to ensure contracts are in place – and there’s never a reason not to.

Even if you’re working in the family business, for a friend or someone else you know, a contract is essential when two people work together.

Without one, both the employee and employer can leave themselves wide open to problems – some of the them costly, others reputational if you find yourself at a tribunal.

I founded BPHR Consultancy in July last year after a 10-year career in corporate HR. I’m now working with businesses across Kent as an outsourced HR, helping them to ensure they have policies and procedures in place in case of misunderstandings or disputes.

Here are just some of the reason why you need a contract:

Salary, notice periods, disciplinary/grievance procedures and redundancy information is clearly stated to give transparency and fairness to both sides.

Working time and place of work, if you don’t have a contract, as a result an employee could work when they want and where they want. The employer could also take advantage, moving the employee’s times and place of work around.

A contract avoids confusion, misunderstandings and disputes and is a clear record of expectations.

“I’ve seen it many times, what can go wrong when contracts aren’t in place. Along with any financial or reputational issues, there is also the health and wellbeing side to consider. This can be a very stressful and worrying time for employers and employees when there is a dispute or allegation of breach of contract where there is no employment contract in place. Implied terms may play a key role in the resolution. As a result this could be time-consuming and costly, and can have a huge effect on morale and productivity. If you have a contract, things can be that much easier to navigate and resolve.”

What is an employee handbook?

An employee handbook keeps everything the employee needs to know in one place. It can also be used to give a new employee a great first impression of the company. It’s an extension of the contract and whilst it’s not an essential requirement by law, there are many good reasons to have them.

It’s a document that sets out many pieces of information that an employee might need to know and details certain workplace rights, such as:

  • Company values, standards, mission and expectations
  • Correct procedures – policies that go with the disciplinaries, grievances, sickness absence and performance management
  • Policies not required by law – benefits, perk boxes, dental and private healthcare
  • Career development – what to expect in terms of training and progression
  • Health and safety information
  • Diversity and equal opportunities information

Why have one?

It’s a useful tool for onboarding a new employee, giving them all they need to welcome new staff. employee.

  • Communication – it’s a great way for the employees to understand the way the company operates
  • Behaviour – it sets out the behaviour and cultural expectations to craft a cohesive workforce
  • Loyalty – an employee handbook can increase employee engagement and loyal

What happens if you don’t have one?

  • Unacceptable behaviour can occur as expectations aren’t set out
  • They can protect a business against claims / tribunals such as harassment claims, wrongful termination claims, and discrimination claims
  • Productivity and morale is protected, meaning a happier workforce
  • Mistrust – if there isn’t enough transparency in the business – employees may think they have something to hide

What size business needs an employee handbook?

It’s better to have it, even for one employee because they still have rights. You still have the same obligations to them compared to a workforce of 100. The handbook can grow with you too – as you add benefits, career progression or perks on, they can be added too.

An employee handbook helps to brand a company and build its culture – people will see what’s expected, what others do and they will replicate it.

I work with many businesses, large and small in asssiting them to write, review or refresh their contracts and employee handbooks.

Other HR services are also available including people management, employee engagement, workforce planning, restructuring, redundancy. All on affordable monthly packages or on a Bespoke adhoc basis.

Contact BPHR Consultancy for a free initial chat