Guide to employment law launched in response to queries

The Forum of Private Business (FPB) has launched a guide to employment law, following a surge in enquiries after the 1 October.

The FPB opened a legal helpline during a five week period in September and October, which showed that 65 per cent of the calls received were queries regarding employment law.

The 'common commencement date' of 1 October saw a series of employment regulations introduced, including changes to Agency Workers Regulations. Figures from the Department of Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS) show that a single employment claim can cost an average of £1,800, highlighting the importance of getting it right.
Commenting, the Forum's Chief Executive Phil Orford said: "As with much of the legislation affecting small businesses, employment law can be a huge minefield and one of the main problems is that it is constantly changing, with new regulations coming in all the time,"

"For example, some of the biggest recent changes came with the Agency Workers Regulations, which came into force in October along with a raft of other legal developments. The regulations effectively give temporary workers the same rights as permanent staff, significantly affecting business owners who rely on the flexible labour market.

"While the burdens of employment law remain in place, keeping up with the changes and putting in place watertight procedures should remain a key priority. It is important to know your responsibilities - and act accordingly so you don't fall foul of the law."

The Government recently revealed that changes to the tribunal system will come in next April, including the extension of the qualification period for the right to claim unfair dismissal from one to two years.

Mr Orford added: "The proposed changes to the tribunal system are welcome, and overdue. Nevertheless, a tribunal situation is the last thing any small business wants to be involved in, so the message to all small business owners is to ensure that their HR and employment practices are up to date and follow the letter of the law. Failure to do can be extremely costly.

"However, it is important to remember that professional help is out there to ensure firms comply. Ignorance is never an excuse, and that is certainly worth bearing in mind here."

The Forum's Employment Guide takes into account all the changes which came in to force in October and includes 70 customisable employment law templates. The Guide is available online or as a hard copy as part of the Forum's Practical Employer package, which is provided as part of the organisation's HR business support solution.