Wednesday, 22 May 2019

Employers urged to act fast over new starters

Employers are being urged to take decisive action as quickly as possible when it comes to the fate of new starters in the workplace.

John Mehtam is the employment law specialist at Martin-Kaye Solicitors in Telford, Shrewsbury and Wolverhampton, and he has called on bosses to take a swift and direct decision over staff on probationary periods.

“Recruitment can be very expensive and there’s never any guarantee that you’ve chosen the right candidate, so it makes sense to employ new recruits on an initial probationary period until you’re sure.

“This status though has no basis in employment law and is purely contractual, so it’s important to have the right processes and contracts in place to ensure things go smoothly whether they turn out to be a success or whether you need to dismiss them.”

Mr Mehtam said despite what contracts of employment may say, management teams should be applying a two-year probationary period as that’s the time frame in which employees are ineligible to bring a claim in an employment tribunal. Contracts should also give the option of scrapping any contractual disciplinary or performance procedures for probationary or short service employees to avoid claims for wrongful dismissal.

“Most probationary periods will include a shorter notice period – some are as short as one week – which gives you the option to terminate the person’s employment quickly if things don’t work out, and this means a smaller payment in lieu of notice too.

“It’s important to take action sooner rather than later if you decide to end the person’s employment and not drag things out unnecessarily – that way you can move on and find the right person for the job, and the employee will have a clear picture of where they stand.

“You may feel that you must have seen something in them initially as you wouldn’t have employed them otherwise, and perhaps you’re dreading the time and cost involved of starting the whole recruitment process all over again.

“But don’t let that put you off – take action as soon as you feel things are not going to end well, but make sure you keep track of the employee’s performance, and keep records with dates and times, and details of what was discussed and agreed.

“This attention to detail will prove invaluable when you do decide that things aren’t working out, as you can use the information to set out the precise reasons for their contract being terminated in a dismissal letter. Remember that you will need to follow a fair and reasonable dismissal procedure, and that you’ll need to be able to show why the employee was not suitable for the role.”

Wednesday, 8 May 2019

Social media warning for business owners

Shropshire business owners have been warned to tread carefully when it comes to boosting their social media profiles.

Andrew Oranjuik, of Martin-Kaye Solicitors in Telford and Shrewsbury, said many business people were already aware of the networking opportunities created by sites such as LinkedIn.

“It makes a lot of sense to boost your LinkedIn presence by accepting connection requests as it expands your network of connections and could lead to potential new business. Statistics show that at the start of this year, there were 27 million registered LinkedIn users in the UK which is a huge pool of opportunities – and while most of them are genuine, inevitably there is an increasing number of fake profiles appearing.

“These profiles can be used for a whole host of unsavoury purposes including spamming your profile about goods and services – or worse still, they may want to connect in order to steal your personal data and the data of your first level connections.”

Mr Oranjuik said the more information your LinkedIn profile contained, the greater the risk.

“If your profile contains your full name, all your previous positions, your current employer, and your entire education and contact details, the information could be harvested and sold on which could ultimately result in identity theft.

“Thankfully there are often tell-tale signs that help to identify fake profiles – take a close look at the profile picture for a start. Does it look like a stock photo image or does the person look too ‘perfect’? Scammers often use pictures of models to encourage people to accept their connection request and sometimes the work experience or job role listed doesn’t match the age of the person in the photo.

“Check whether the profile looks as though it’s been put together in a hurry – are there spelling mistakes or grammatical errors?

“A lack of personal content on a profile should also ring alarm bells. Fake profiles usually contain little or no information about the actual person such as their hobbies, group memberships or recommendations.”

Mr Oranjuik said genuine connection requests were likely to come from someone already connected to one of your current first or second level connections, so it was important to see whether you knew anyone in common.

“Check too whether there is a logical sequence of career progression in the employment section too, from entry level upwards. Fake profiles often suspiciously start from senior level.

“The main advice is to tread carefully – if the request comes from someone who isn’t known to one of your first-level connections, don’t accept it if you have any doubts at all as it’s a risk that could have serious consequences for you and your business.”