Let’s give some of these employers the benefit of the doubt. Perhaps they got confused and thought they were legally allowed to pay a given employee less than the minimum wage. There are, after all, several types of employees that can be paid below the minimum. They include self-employed freelancers, people under the age of sixteen, and some trainees. However, it’s important to clarify whether someone you believe is self-employed is actually a worker. Review the contract to ensure they’re not technically an employee. Not all trainees or interns can be paid less than minimum wage, either.
In the United Kingdom we have a little thing called the Equality Act of 2010. There were equality laws in business way before then, but this was the most recent and comprehensive Act. The Act, as you can probably guess, protects workers from discrimination. Employers should be completely familiar with the Equality Act and its implications. They should also be wary of what kind of discrimination can result when the Act is ignored.
There are plenty of ‘characteristics’ that can result in discriminatory behaviour from employers. In fact, the discrimination may even occur without even being hired. (In the case where you haven’t hired someone on the basis of that characteristic). They include some of the age-old discrimination targets such as sex, skin colour, or age. Newer laws take into account people who may not have been necessarily treated fairly by the law previously. Sexual orientation, transgenderism, and disabilities are all protected against discrimination by the law.
Expenses and benefits
This can be a fairly tricky area. A lot of employees believe they have the right to a number of benefits, to be provided by their employer. However, this isn’t actually the case. Employee benefits are definitely something you should consider. They can help boost satisfaction and, thus, productivity, after all. But you’re not actually obligated to hand out a bunch of benefits to your employees. Company cars, travel and entertainment expenses, child care, health insurance... These things aren’t promised to an employee by any policy or Act.
However, if you do offer benefits, then there are some things you need to keep an eye out for. This isn’t something that many employers take into account, but it’s important that you do. When you’re offering an employee a particular benefit, it’s going to cost you money. A gym membership, for example, will be paid for by the company. (And do make sure it’s actually paid for by the company. Otherwise, it’s not really a benefit!) But whenever money exchanges take place, what else takes place? That’s right: taxes. Some employers have been caught trying to charge the taxes of those benefits to the employee. This is generally done by an automatic deduction from their salary. However, employers have an obligation to pay the taxes owed due to benefits as well.
Health and safety
Perhaps the most important responsibility you have to your employees is that of keeping them safe. When you hire someone to work at your office, you’re effectively making them stay at a given location for hours on end. And if they have to stay at a location for at least eight hours a day, their rights dictate that the location must be safe. And seeing as you’re the boss, it’s up to you to make sure that it is safe!
Maintaining health and safety in the office may seem fairly easy to a lot of employers. Some of it seems self-explanatory. Make sure there’s antibacterial hand wash in the bathrooms and the kitchen. Ensure all spills are cleaned up. Make sure all the exits are clearly marked and free from obstruction. It all seems easy enough, right? Of course, it depends on where you work and specific work you do. But whatever the case, there are always extra steps you can take to ensure worker safety. One of these extra steps could be helping employees (or yourself!) become more aware of these health and safety aspects. You could look into health and safety training services by Peninsula Group, for example.
Record-keeping is pretty darn important in the modern workplace. What’s more is that it’s also much easier than it used to be. After all, you can keep records digitally now. You don’t have to grab a paper form and write out everything. Just use your keyboard, open up some spreadsheet software, and bam. Sometimes it’s not even as complex as that. Sometimes it’s as simple as making sure you’re saving generated data to a safe place.
So why are so many employers not doing their best when it comes to keeping records? One of the main problems with this is that it’s an employer’s obligation to keep employee records accurate and safe. When you think about all the documents and data that are generated as the result of an employee? As well as how important they can be to current and even future employment? Then you start to see why it’s such a necessary responsibility. After all, you have payslips, tax declarations, retirement plans, timesheets and worked hours... There’s a lot of data that you should be recording. Make sure you’re making backup copies of all of those, too. If an employee needs to request such information for any reason, you need to be able to provide them with it.