By Mark Ellis

Your Virtual Lawyer does not like legal ease and he does not like to sit on the legal fence! Follow these top tips to help hire successfully and sack safely:

• If you use agency workers and if you have the bargaining power — insist that the agency employs staff that it supplies to you. This will greatly reduce the risk of claims being made against you.

• If you are hiring/using a “consultant” or “self employed” person make sure that there is a simple contract in place that says that the contractor does not need to accept jobs that you refer to him and that if he does so he can send someone else in his place to carry out the work. This will make the relationship look less like employment and more like real self-employment.

• Be careful when recruiting! Get all candidates to complete a standard application form; make sure that you use a standard interview assessment form; and make sure that you have a paper trail that evidences a fair assessment and selection process. This will be invaluable if an aggrieved applicant makes a discrimination claim against you.

• Ask all new recruits for evidence of right to work in the UK — not just the ones that you think look foreign!

• Make sure that every employee has a good contract of employment — not to comply with the law but to protect your business!

• Diarise and review all new employees at, say, 45 weeks after starting. If you are not sure about suitability, sack within the first 51 weeks.

• If firing an employee within the first year of employment — beware exceptions to the “one year rule”! Some sacked employees with less than one year’s employment might have the right to claim unfair dismissal. Before you fire, always take legal advice.

• Before firing, comply with a three step disciplinary process regardless of length of service: (1) Invite to a formal meeting setting out your complaint and offer the right to be accompanied, (2) meet and discuss the problem and (3) following dismissal offer the right to appeal.

The information and any commentary contained in these articles is for general information purposes only and does not constitute legal nor any other type of professional advice. Neither Fresh Business Thinking nor Ellis Whittam Limited nor Ellis Whittam & Partners LLP accepts liability and to the extent permitted by law each excludes liability to any person firm or other entity for any loss which may arise from relying upon or otherwise using the information contained in these articles. If you have a particular problem query or issue you are strongly advised to obtain specific advice about the same and not to rely on the information or comments in these articles.