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What are you really allowed to do as an employer?

21 January 2016
What are you really allowed to do as an employer?

As an employer, you are bound to encounter a variety of workplace problems over time. Working with people is never easy, especially when you are the one in charge. With great power comes great responsibility, as a famous superhero once said. Thankfully, here at Davenport Solicitors, we have worked with scores of employers over the years, and we are here to help you successfully navigate your way through two of the thorniest employment issues – hiring and firing.


Hiring the right people is the single most important part of being an employer, but it is also the trickiest. Perhaps you have a role that desperately needs to be filled, perhaps you would like to give this person a chance, perhaps you are already stretched too thin and do not have the time to interview multiple applicants. Nevertheless, it is vital that you take the time to find the person with the right skills and, more importantly, the right attitude.

Once you have found them, train them properly – invest in them now to save yourself trouble in the future. You also need to make sure that this employee stays as happy and motivated as possible, and this means a pleasant work environment and pay. Paying your employees the right rates is not only important for them, but also a legal obligation on your part. Unless your employee is a volunteer, you must pay them the National Minimum Wage. This varies depending on the age of your employees so make sure you do your research.

And, crucially, make sure your employment contract is clear, comprehensible, and watertight. Not sure how to do this? We can help.


Having your employment contract all clearly established will help when it comes to an employee leaving your business as well. Think of your contract as a mutually-agreed plan of how you intend to treat your employee. Say an employee chooses to leave without giving proper notice – unless your contract states that you will withhold money under these circumstances, you will be legally obliged to pay that person, even if they have breached the terms of notice in their contract.

Similarly, it is advisable that your disciplinary and dismissal rules and procedures are laid out in writing and made clear to your employees when you hire them. Otherwise, this could work against you in the unpleasant event that you are taken to an Employment Tribunal.

The only sort of dismissal you ever want to make is a fair one and this will depend on two key things – your reason for dismissal, and the procedure. In the eyes of the law, you could dismiss someone fairly  if it is on the grounds of their capability or conduct, if it is a redundancy, if something prevents them from legally being able to do their job (such as a driver losing their license) or some other substantial reason i.e. personality clash.

For your part, you must be sure to act as reasonably as possible. This includes, but is not limited to, whether you genuinely believe the reason for dismissal is fair, whether you followed the correct procedures, whether you communicated with the employee about the dismissal and gave them the chance to appeal, and whether you carried out all the proper investigations, where relevant.

These are but two of the many difficult elements of being an employer, and we hope they have helped as a starting point. If you are struggling with any of the issues raised in this blog, we are experts in this field and would be happy to advise you in any way we can.

Do you have any stories about hiring or firing?
If so, we’d love to hear from you – get in touch via Twitter  or contact@davenportsolicitors.com

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