Key Employment Issues for Letting Agencies / Property Companies
Typically, letting agencies and property companies are busy and fast-paced workplaces, with staff dealing with a high demand for properties, a very competitive market and the vulnerability of the sector to political changes, all in an increasingly regulated environment. This often means that there is limited time to consider the company’s relationship with staff to protect your business. If HR isn’t given the focus it needs, staff can become disengaged and employee contracts are unlikely to be fit for purpose, creating risk for your business.
By following our four key tips below, it needn’t take too long or cost too much to cover the HR basics. We have also developed a tailored HR and Employment Law advice service to cater to the needs of your company. This can act as an outsourced HR function for smaller companies, or provide added support for larger ones.
- Put robust contracts in place
It is important to have a contract of employment in place for each new employee prior to their employment commencing. This proves you are compliant with the law, and ensures that both the company and employees understand the basis on which employment has been agreed. Putting a contract of employment in place retrospectively can be problematic as the ‘unwritten contract’ created through practice may have to be complied with.
It’s important to recognise different employment arrangements in contracts. For instance, early termination clauses are crucial when employing someone via a fixed term contract. This means the relationship can be ended before the end of the fixed term without having to pay the employee for the whole of the fixed term, which would be the case in the absence of such a clause.
As part of our HR package, we include a contract review to ensure that your business is protected from this sort of situation, and to ensure your contracts are tailored to your company. Our online Employment Portal also offers a selection of other contracts such as director’s service agreements and consultancy agreements. You can therefore rest assured that areas such as competition, intellectual property, and confidentially are sufficiently covered.
- Comply with new legislation
Like housing and property regulation, employment legislation is constantly changing, with successive governments taking different approaches to labour laws. It can be challenging for businesses to navigate these changes, particularly with no in-house HR support. Legislation implementing shared parental leave, zero hours contracts, employment status, holiday pay calculation and pension auto-enrolment can be complex without guidance and advice from experienced professionals.
Our HR service is provided on a fixed-fee annual basis, and offers unlimited employment law and HR advice. This makes picking up the phone or sending an email to our dedicated team easy, and as we shall be familiar with your business we can tailor our advice accordingly. Further to this, we run networking events, seminars, and produce HR-related blogs to ensure that your business is kept up-to-date with all the latest employment and HR news and developments.
- Have key policies and procedures
Workplace policies and procedures can be left as a bit of an afterthought by companies until something goes wrong, which can lead to a mad rush to put a relevant policy in place. However, policies and procedures should be considered a valuable asset to your business, and not just as useful firefighting tool! Policies and procedures are invaluable to ensure companies are legally compliant, and that staff know what is expected of them as well as what they are entitled to. It can be particularly advantageous to have thorough disciplinary and grievance procedures as this sets a high standard of staff conduct and will also reduce the risk of a tribunal finding you have not followed due process.
For this reason we include these polices as appendixes in our standard employment contracts to make things easier for businesses. Our online Employment Portal provides a wide variety of policies and procedures that you can choose from, with everything from Time off for Ante-natal Appointments Policies to Social Media Policies. There are also full staff handbooks to download for your company to make use of if you wish.
- Get advice before terminating employment
Unfortunately every business is likely to need to terminate an employee’s employment whether this is a redundancy or a dismissal situation. It is always a big decision to dismiss an employee, no matter how long or short their service period is, and legal advice should be sought before taking any measures. While an employee who has been with the company for fewer than two years cannot claim unfair dismissal, there is still potential for discrimination claims, breach of contract claims, or whistleblowing claims which do not require any period of qualifying service. Employers should always think very carefully about making a decision and make sure they fulfil all contractual obligations, for example paying for accrued holidays and providing the correct notice period.
We would be delighted to send you a flyer detailing our fixed-fee yearly charge, along with the benefits of the subscription.