If you are a business owner and you are thinking of taking on a staff member then you have probably given some serious consideration to getting some employment law advice from Berkshire solicitors such as dphlegal.com/.

Did you know, however, that you are classed as an employer even if you have volunteers, rather than employees?

The field of employment law is a minefield, and once you start working with people who are not immediate family members it is easy to fall foul of regulations regarding pay, benefits, and protections.

Your volunteers or employees have a lot of rights, and you need to make sure that you are living up to them. You have rights as an employer too, of course, but all too often things are done via a “gentleman’s agreement” and then if anything goes wrong, what could have been resolved with a simple contract ends up going to court.

Get off On The Right Foot

The best time to seek employment law advice from a professional law firm, is when you are first setting up as a business or when you are growing and starting to look at taking on other members of staff after experiencing periods of growth.

A competent Reading law firm will help you to draw up contracts, and will advise you on your responsibilities in terms of pensions, sick pay, notice periods, maternity or paternity leave, health and safety, training, etc.

It is hard to get rid of an employee once you have taken them on, and even volunteers have rights when it comes to the environment that they work in.

If you have issues with bullying or stress/harassment, then you should have a designated HR person to deal with those things. You should have clear disciplinary procedures, and clear notice periods for both employees handing in their notice, and for things such as redundancy. This way both parties will know where they stand.

All of this can be quite intimidating if you’re just a small business owner who wants to take on some extra help.

It is important that you get it right from day one, though, because failure to address these potential issues can end quite badly for you as a company.

Employees vs Contractors

One way that some companies try to get around the issue is by making employees ‘contractors’ instead of actually taking them on as a proper employee.

In some circumstances this can work, but it is not as simple as saying “you are an independent contractor so you don’t have the rights of an employee”.

If you take someone on, but they work solely for you, then there are circumstances where they could claim that they are an employee regardless of what your contract says. So, don’t assume that you’ve found a simple solution to the issue.

Talk to an employment law specialist to make sure that what you are doing is above board and legal – the extra paperwork up front could save you from a lot of hassle if an employee or volunteer were to leave the company on bad terms and try to put together a case against your business out of vindictiveness.