Written by Alison Flett and

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With the recent spell of warmer weather, we are (hopefully…) starting to emerge from the winter gloom and Spring will be here before we know it!

For some of us, New Year’s Resolutions have been forgotten or broken. However, the new season brings with it a time for fresh starts and it is a great opportunity to review and tidy up employment documents and practices that may have got dusty from sitting on the shelf for too long.

If you are not sure where to start, adding the following jobs to your “to do” list might help you straighten things up:

  • Ensure contracts are up to date, compliant and adequate. If you don’t have contracts in place for some employees, now is the time to do this.
  • Employment law moves on quickly and terms and conditions can get out of date if they are not reviewed on a regular basis. If not kept under review, you may find your contracts lack important elements that can protect the business. Have you, for example, amended your contracts to comply with the General Data Protection Regulations (“GDPR”) that were introduced last year?
  • Whilst many review and revise template contracts for new starters, it is less common to have a process in place to review and update existing employment contracts. There are several points to think about when doing this:
  • Do they reflect recent legal developments?
  • Have the terms been updated as the employment relationship has developed?
  • Do they offer the business the flexibility that it needs?
  • Will you be able to enforce the current post-termination restrictions
  • Review restrictive covenants to ensure that they remain focused and reasonable to protect business interests. If restrictions are updated, keep a written record of the reasons why (e.g. promotion, change in position and, if relevant, a list of customers/contacts that the employee regularly deals with as part of his/role).
  • Check that you have job descriptions for all staff that cover key duties and functions. If someone has been promoted or their role has changed, has their job description been updated too? These are often underused by employers but, if kept current, can be a very useful HR tool.
  • Review your policies and put a system in place for doing so going forward. These are dynamic documents that are never really “finished”. They should be regularly reviewed and updated to ensure that they reflect your current work practices.
  • When carrying out an audit of your policies, you need to ensure that:
    • They reflect legal developments;
    • They have been properly communicated to staff and managers have received training on them;
    • Signed acknowledgement forms for important policies are maintained in employee’s files; and
    • There is no disparate treatment in how they are enforced by the business
    • Take legal advice on changing contracts if the changes are fundamental and ensure you consult sensitively with employees about any changes that are planned.

    Having clear and up-to-date contracts and policies not only allows for greater flexibility in how the business is managed, they help to avoid costly disputes and give you a strong foundation to take action if problems arise. If you require help or guidance in reviewing your contracts or policies, get in contact with a Forbury People consultant here.

    6th February 2019