Recent surveys have shown that companies of all sizes are optimistic about their ability to expand and create jobs in 2014. With business confidence said to be at its highest since 1994, now is a good time for employers to ensure that their recruitment practices and documents are up to scratch. To help with this, here are some of our “top tips”.

  • Think about your recruitment practices.
    Are you advertising in the right places? Is the use of social media desirable or appropriate? Make sure that job specifications are clear and written in plain English so that there is little room for challenge as to whether a candidate meets the requirements or not.

    Check at what stage in the process you ask candidates for information about disabilities and how you use that information, to avoid any allegations of disability discrimination.

    Try to include a clear marking system, based on necessary criteria for the job, to be applied consistently by interviewing panels. This will help explain any rejection and help to defend any claims for discrimination from unsuccessful candidates.

    Those carrying out the interviews should receive training (including equality training) so they know what to ask and what not to ask. Has this happened recently?
    Bear in mind the requirements of the Data Protection Act 1998. How is information used and how long are unsuccessful applications retained for?
  • Update employment contracts and offer letters.
    Make sure your offer letters are conditional on matters such as references, background checks (if used) and evidence of the candidate’s right to work in the UK so that the offer can be immediately withdrawn if these requirements are not met.

    Think about updating your contracts of employment to use recent developments to your advantage. For example, does your contract require the employee to delete any client contacts from LinkedIn before the end of employment? If not, it may be difficult to effectively enforce any clauses prohibiting the poaching of clients.

    Also, if you have paid a recruitment fee for the hire of a particular employee, think about including a clause allowing the employer to deduct the cost of the fee from the employee’s final salary payment upon termination if the employee resigns or is dismissed within a certain period. A recent court decision upheld the use of such clauses provided the employee agrees to it.
  • Review your policies.
    Make sure that your “family friendly” policies are up to date and that other policies (including whistleblowing) cover the recent changes made by the Enterprise and Regulatory Reform Act 2013.
  • Deal with underperformance early.
    If you have included a probationary period in the contract of employment, make a diary note to review the employee’s performance before it expires. Probationary period clauses should allow the employer to dismiss using a shorter notice period so if someone isn’t going to work out, reduce the company’s termination costs by taking action promptly.
  • Review your terms of engagement with recruitment agencies.
    If your business is taking on agency workers, you may wish to take them on for an indefinite period of time but subject to a short notice period. A recent case showed that agency workers engaged on an indefinite contract would not receive protection under the Agency Workers Regulations 2010 and so would not have the right to claim equal treatment in comparison to permanent staff.
  • If you are engaging contactors, freelancers etc, make sure they do not attract employee status.
    Look carefully at the reason for which the business is engaging a contractor rather than an employee. If it’s appropriate to use a contractor, make sure the contractor’s terms of engagement are clear on the individual’s status. Contractors should always be treated differently to employees in terms of their integration into the organisation, access to benefits and facilities, etc, to limit the scope for the contractor to claim employment status.