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Employment rules guide to help small businesses

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The Equality and Human Rights Commission has published a guide to help small firms cope with the economic downturn.

The guide contains advice on such topics as flexible working as a way of avoiding staff layoffs and an explanation of the law on redundancy.

The Commission said that the guide, entitled ‘Managing the downturn and preparing for recovery’, is the first in a series aimed at small businesses which often do not have in-house access to professional HR support.

As well as advice on how employers can comply with employment law, the guide provides an outline of the redundancy process as it is affected by discrimination law, and details of organisations such as ACAS which can help with information on redundancy and employment regulations.

There is also information on different forms of flexible working, such as part time, job sharing, flexible hours and remote working.

Nicola Brewer, the chief executive of the Commission, said: “We start from the premise that the vast majority of businesses want to do the right thing by their staff. They regard their employees as their most valuable asset and they can see the benefit of treating them fairly.

“But we recognise that the law around equality and discrimination can be confusing and intimidating for people who don’t have a human resource specialist. Our research with small businesses tells us they are crying out for short, easy to use guides in this area. They will help small businesses understand their legal obligations and give them ideas about how to develop best practice in a way that is tailored to their size.”

Ms Brewer explained that the Commission had started with a guide for the economic downturn because sometimes firms will have no option but to shed staff.

She added: “When this happens we know business owners will want to do it in a way that is fair to all their staff and avoids the waste of time and energy taken up by grievance and tribunal processes.

“We also want to help business consider alternatives. Investment in recruiting and training employees is often wasted when redundancies occur and a committed, loyal and expert workforce is key to ensuring you’re able to exploit any improvements in the economic climate. Flexible working can help companies retain good employees.”

The guide can be found at: