New Year, New Job: Advice for Employers in 2021

Posted on January 18, 2021

One of the most popular New Year’s resolutions made in January is to find a new job. This couldn’t be more apparent than in January 2021. The UK saw a rise of 4.9% in unemployment in the 3 months to October. 370,000 people were made redundant as official data also show largest annual fall in employment for a decade.

For those employers who are in the fortunate position of hiring new staff, it’s crucial that they are prepared for onboarding new employees, including ensuring the most recent Covid-19 employment policies are adhered to.

What information needs to be included in an employment contract?

From the outset, it’s vital that employers are proactive in ensuring a suitable contract of employment is in place to cover both parties, in the event of an employee’s departure from the business. Whilst in many cases the process of an employee moving on transpires amicably, it is best to be prepared for a worst-case scenario should things turn sour. Given that Employment Law is constantly changing and developing, it can be difficult for employers to keep up with their contractual obligations.

Firstly, employers should give thought to the appropriate probationary and notice periods they will need to have in place. One consideration is whether to include a non-compete clause in the contract of employment, designed to prevent employees from poaching customers or staff for a designated period after their departure from an organisation. In certain circumstances, it may also be wise to have the option of garden leave, or paying an employee in lieu of working their notice period, depending on the nature of their role and the level of customer interaction they may have.

What Covid-19 information needs to be included in an employment contract?

A lot has changed in employment law over the past 12 months due to the introduction of policies relating to Covid-19. Do your contracts and policies stand up to the Covid-19 test? Employers should check the following are covered in employment contracts.

  • Furlough and flexibility on working hours, including if employees are required to home school their school-age children
  • Sickness policies for those either affected themselves or supporting someone affected by Covid-19
  • Working from home including, safety, confidentiality, performance management and salaries
  • Social distancing measures and heath and safety in the workplace
Read also > Who is responsible for an accident whilst working from home? 

Data protection in the workplace – what information needs to be included in an employment contract?

In a post-GDPR world, modern employment contracts may wish to cover the acceptable use of technologies, social media and data security, in order to protect against a scenario where a departing employee may copy, transfer or share sensitive data. This not only prevents commercial issues for a business, but also ensures the responsibility to safeguard the personal data of its customers is adhered to. Whilst we’re on the topic of privacy, it’s also sensible to change the passwords to any shared company social media accounts or software an employee may have had access to.

What process should be taken when an employee wants to leave the business?

 With effective communication between relevant parties, an employee leaving can be a smooth process. If a business is customer-facing, you should also decide on the right time to inform customers of the personnel change, reassure them about the transition and handover period to avoid any concerns arising.

However, if a departure is not so amicable, employers should fall back on the contract of employment to protect their business interests. With the right policies and procedures in place from the outset, the consequences of problematic personnel issues can certainly be minimised. By engaging with our Employment Law specialists, we can highlight any problem areas before they arise and provide effective advice to help avoid disputes or tribunals in the future.

How to contact Jefferies Law

Jefferies’ Employment Law team are able to offer specialist advice in ensuring your contracts and procedures comply with the latest legislation, and support in the event that an issue should arise.

For further information, please call 01702 332 311 or contact employment@jefferieslaw.co.uk

The contents of this article are for the purposes of general awareness only.  They do not purport to constitute legal or professional advice.  The law may have changed since this article was published.  Readers should not act on the basis of the information included and should take appropriate professional advice upon their own particular circumstances.

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