Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Employment Law Solicitors - 7 Essential Qualities to Look For!

7 tips for large to small businesses that are looking to hire an Employment Law Solicitor or to simply check that you are getting a good service from your existing advisor.

Nobody needs to be reminded that due to the economic recession we are currently experiencing, times are hard for all businesses, whatever their size. Although it may not the first thing that comes to your mind if you are involved in running a business, clear, concise employment law advice should be strongly considered no matter what the economic climate, especially if you are looking to reduce the size of your workforce or review contractual terms and conditions. Consequently, here are seven tips on what to look for if you need employment law advice:

1. Ensure it is affordable
2. Risk Management Service
3. Regular Employment Meetings
4. Ask for a Risk Management Report
5. An Employment Manual
6. Insurance Cover
7. Online Consultant Service

Ensure it is Affordable

It is obvious to most people that you want to ensure you get value for money from the advice you receive. However, there are inherent dangers in seeking the cheapest option. There is usually a reason you are given a low estimate of costs and it may be that the person concerned lacks the experience that you require. Many firms of solicitors with employment specialists now offer HR and employment protection schemes that were previously the territory of non legal firms. The advantage of selecting a firm of solicitors who operate such a scheme is not only their levels of expertise but that they will be fully insured with a well established complaints procedure if things go wrong. Unlike most of the non legal companies, you should also be able to find a solicitor's employment law protection scheme that only lasts for one year, which allows you to evaluate the service over that period before you decide whether to renew the service or not.

Risk Management Service

A good employment law advisor will first of all carry out a free risk management audit, which is basically a health check of your employment practices. A specialist employment solicitor will visit you to look at your personnel records, review procedures, uncover any weaknesses, and assess what needs to be done to improve any problem areas.

Regular Employment Meetings

You should also ensure that the scheme offers regular employment meetings, where the company you have hired will meet and talk with you or your HR department, management team and other key members of your team. This will enable them to understand and review your terms and conditions of employment, disciplinary and grievance procedures, absenteeism, flexibility, equal opportunities and redundancy arrangements and to make appropriate amendments.

A Risk Management Report

Following your health check, you should ask for a comprehensive risk management report. This will review your current policies, practices and compliance with legislation. It will also include an action plan for any improvements that could reduce the risk of disputes with your staff.

An Employment Manual

If you have made the right choice in hiring an employment law advisor, they will also supply you with an employment manual - an invaluable source of reference for good employment practice. This includes information on fair procedures for recruitment and absenteeism, guidance on how to draft employment contracts, a selection of over 100 specimen letters and forms, and many other aspects of good HR practice.

Insurance Cover

Insurance cover is also important. When you're protected by insurance cover, you'll no longer have to worry about the costs of defending an action brought against you by an employee as a high-quality policy will cover legal costs and expenses to defend employment disputes of up to Ј100,000 per claim. In certain circumstances, compensation awards that you're ordered to pay by an employment tribunal and out of court settlements agreed by insurers will also be covered.

Online Consultant Service

In this age of modern technology, it may seem like a given but some Employment Law Advisor do not necessarily offer online consultant services. By using an external consultant service you have control over exactly what HR services are delivered to you and how it is implemented.

This article is free to republish provided the authors resource box below remains intact.

About the Author
John Mehtam is an experienced Employment Law Solicitor and specialises in Employment Law Advice from Shropshire based Alpha HR of Martin Kaye Solicitors.