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The important business of employment law

Published 28 October 2019

Failing to comply with any law runs a risk and it is the same with employment law and business.

The legislation is designed to protect the rights of the employee and covers almost all aspects of the employer and employee relationship.

Employment law is ever evolving and keeping up to date with it can be daunting. Every April, there are a range of amended employment laws and deadlines for organisations to meet. This year that included changes to the law on payslips (1) and increase to the national minimum wage (2).

For an employer communicating its policies and employment law updates to employees is crucial.  An ‘employee handbook’ is a good way in which to do so and it should be reviewed and updated accordingly.

The handbook will typically contain a company’s operating procedures. A copy of it will usually be provided to the employee when they commence their employment.

The document will include important policies that are expected in the workplace and to protect the rights of employers and employees. It should also contain legal information, such as the company equal employment opportunity policy, workplace harassment policies as well as expectations for safety in the workplace.

It is worth taking a look at five main areas of employment law

Employment contracts

All employees have an employment contract with their employer (3). It is an agreement that details employment conditions, rights, responsibilities, duties which are called the ‘terms’ of the contract.

Employees and employers must stick to a contract it ends (eg by an employer or employee giving notice or an employee being dismissed) or until the terms are changed (usually by agreement between the employee and employer).

There is no legal requirement to provide a written employment contract, but it is advisable to have one, so the terms of employment are recorded.

Discipline and grievances

Disciplinary and grievance issues can be troublesome, and it is vital that these issues are dealt with promptly, fairly and consistently. Getting it wrong can lead to an employment tribunal claim, which can be costly for an organisation.

All employers should have written disciplinary and grievance procedures. The ACAS Code of Practice provides good practice guidance that all employers are encouraged to follow (4) If an employer fails to follow the Code it can face an increase of 25 per cent in any award made against it by an employment tribunal.


The Equality Act 2010 was introduced to legally protect people from discrimination in the workplace and in wider society (5). It is against the law to discriminate directly against a job applicant or employee because of the following protected characteristics: age, being or becoming a transsexual person, being pregnant or on maternity leave, being married or in a civil partnership, disability, race including colour, nationality, ethnic or national origin, sex, sexual orientation and religion, belief or lack of religion/belief.

Protecting the interests of the business

An employer should look to protect its interests such as confidentiality, client connections, staff, suppliers and intellectual property and relevant terms should be detailed in the employment contract.

In certain business sectors this may include a non-compete clause, but they can be contentious (6). Any post-termination restriction must go no further than is reasonably necessary to protect the legitimate interests of the business and each case will be different.

Personal Data

Employers have obligations under the General Data Protection Regulations (GDPR) (7). Personal data must, for instance, be processed lawfully, fairly and in a transparent manner. This includes employers being required to provide detailed information to their employees about processing of personal data.


1 Change of law on payslips [Internet] [Cited 22.10.19]

2 Increase to minimum wage [Internet] [Cited 22.10.19]

3 Employment contract [Internet] [Cited 22.10.19]

4 ACAS code of practice [Internet] [Cited 22.10.19]

5 The Equality Act [Internet]  [Cited 22.10.19]

6 Non compete clauses [Internet] [Cited 22.10.19]

7 GDPR [Internet] [Cited 22.10.19 ]

“A reputation built on success”

For free employment law advice or if you are affected or want information and support by any of the issues in this article please give us a call. 0333 772 0611

A reputation built on success

For employment law advice or if you are affected or want information and support by any of the issues in this article please give us a call. 


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