Following her appearance this morning on Woman’s Hour, here HR Headmistress Kate Russell gives a few pointers on getting your recruitment right.
As your start up business begins to take off, it’s not always easy to think about and plan for recruitment of staff. Business needs in the growth phase can change quickly and the trick is to be able to make a dynamic response to these, so make sure any staff you take on remain an asset to your business and not a burden. No one wants to have to go through the time consuming recruitment process only to have to follow it with the painful and potentially costly task of redundancy and dismissal.
First of all, do your best to assess what your business actually needs. This means planning ahead, not just reacting to a heavy workload. If you’re still not completely sure what difference a new post might make, using agency staff can be a good way to go. It might cost a bit more initially, but you get to find out whether or not a particular role is really going to help your business in the way that you hope without making any permanent commitments. Remember that the Agency Workers Regs which come into force on 1st October give agency workers additional rights after 12 weeks in the same job, so ensure that if you go that route, you limit the usage.
Once you’re clear about what you need, set about finding the right person. Plan the whole process: you’ll need a job description, person spec, competence-based questions and, if you can, a means of testing that they can actually do the job. It all sounds, and can be, time consuming, but it’s far better to plan carefully and spend the time at this stage of the process. The more objective you can be, the less likely you are to end up with an accusation of discrimination (there are a few ‘bounty hunters’ out there!).
You may not have started your own business to end up managing staff, but get this right and it could be the best investment you ever make.
To misquote a recent television commercial for California…. “People have a lot of misconceptions about [employment tribunals] and most of them are wrong…” – I always thought that all misconceptions were wrong, otherwise they wouldn’t be misconceived. But California has different rules, and so does the Employment Tribunal.
Getting a good result in an employment tribunal is one of the most satisfying parts of my job, so it pains me to say that an employment tribunal hearing is not an experience that I would wish upon any employer. It is a tiring, draining and fundamentally risky place to be for any employer.
I have a lot of experience of representing employers in employment tribunals, and I am often asked whether employment tribunals are biased against employers (or indeed I may be told that they are). But this is a misconception (and yes, it is therefore wrong).
There are judges and tribunal members who are more likely to look at things from an employee’s perspective, but the opposite is equally true. Having said that, an employment tribunal’s decision is as likely to turn on believability (even likeability) of a witness as much as on the evidence, and the mood in a hearing can change like the wind.
That is one reason why it is so important to have legal representation at the hearing and throughout the process, even though sometimes even that won’t be enough. Ultimately though, with the right preparation most employment tribunals will get it right most of the time.
The difficulty is that it is impossible to predict with certainty how things will go on the day. How things should go, is not the same as how they will go. This is not so bad for the Claimants (employees) who have little or nothing to lose and are often without legal representation. The employer, on the other hand, will have incurred legal costs, loss of management time, and reduced productivity - even if they win. So, do you feel lucky?
The risk and the cost often rest wholly with the employer. It is for this reason that you could say that the system is loaded against the business, which has no choice but to incur time and expense in defending a claim, and to that extent you could say that the system is biased against employers. So maybe that is a misconception that is right? (sic)
Matt Huddleson is a specialist UK employment lawyer and law firm partner with Foot Anstey and Wordpress law blogger.