Aaaaargh HR!

Running a small business is challenging enough, without having to deal with HR issues. What HR essentials should you have in place in order to deal effectively with people issues if they arise?

I have been working with a couple of SME’s this week on some people issues they have been experiencing. Both the business owners I was working with were frustrated and felt that the issues were detracting them from running their business. One of them asked me what policies and procedures does he need to have in place to make people issues easier to deal with in the future, which gave me my first topic for the launch of our HR blog.

There is a myriad of HR policies and procedures that businesses can have in place but for an SME focussing on the essentials is a must and in my opinion there are four areas (yes, only four) that should be covered:-

1)  Contracts of employment

Contracts of employment don’t need to be long complicated documents. 2-3 pages will suffice. It is important that key elements of the employment relationship are included in the contract, particularly working hours, rate of pay, notice periods and sickness absence entitlement and reporting requirements.

Legally employment contracts need to be issued to employees within 2 months of their start date, however I would advise that they are issued (unsigned) in advance of the employee’s start date and that both parties sign the contract of employment on the first day of employment. This prevents disagreement about any of the contractual clauses once employment has commenced.

2)  Sickness absence policy

A simple sickness absence policy is a must. It should contain detail on how an employee reports their absence from work but more importantly it should define how persistent and long term absence will be dealt with. 3 spells of absence or 10 consecutive days within a twelve month period are the triggers that I would recommend.

3)  Disciplinary Policy

A disciplinary policy should define how cases will be dealt with if an employee’s conduct is in breach of company regulations. If such a policy isn’t in place, conduct can still be dealt with, however it is easier and more straight forward to deal with if there is a clear policy is in place.

4)  Grievance Policy

A grievance policy defines how cases will be dealt with if an employee raises a grievance which is connected to work. Again, it makes dealing with a grievance easier and more straight forward if a clear policy is in place.

….see there isn’t too much to it and hopefully you feel less daunted by “HR” now. I always say to clients that for an SME, HR policies are a bit like the AA, you may never need them but it is good to be covered just in case!

As you can see, no fluff, just action!

Rebecca – Author of Rebecca’s HR Blog