Small catering companies face good and bad news this summer. On the one hand, they should reap the rewards of more Brits holidaying at home. But that also means a mountain of paperwork. Here's how to cope
I own a small catering company and the summer months are the busiest time of year. However, owing to the economic downturn, I'm hoping even more people will be holidaying in the UK this year, which means I need to be more prepared than usual to manage my seasonal surge in business. The problem is that when it comes to recruiting staff and dealing with employment legislation, I usually panic. What should I do to ensure my recruitment worries are dealt with and out of the way before business really picks up?
As a small seasonal business, you may not need to recruit staff very often but when you do, there are employment laws that you will need to adhere to, no matter what employment contracts you offer. Complying with employment law may seem daunting, but it is simpler than you think: free advice and online tools are available on the Government's Business Link website to help you meet your legal requirements.
When hiring staff, ensure that all recruitment decisions you make are fair and non-discriminatory. It is also important to check that employees are eligible to live and work in the UK and that you present staff with a written statement of employment within their first two months.
Be aware of the amount of holiday that employees are entitled to. The statutory minimum paid annual leave entitlement has recently risen from 4.8 weeks to 5.6 weeks a year. You can find out more information on the holiday changes at: www.businesslink.gov.uk/employingpeople
Ensure you adhere to all the laws that surround EU Working Time Regulations as well as those that concern pay, tax and pensions. Employee's tax and national insurance contributions must be deducted from wages and paid to HM Revenue and Customs. As a catering business, you may choose to employ younger staff. If this is the case, ensure you adhere to the National Minimum Wage regulations.
Finally, you must comply with minimum statutory requirements relating to disciplinary and grievance procedures. Dismissals should be made in a fair and lawful way and employees who are dismissed must be given the correct notice period.
Think about the following points to ensure the seasonal highs you may face don't lead to business lows:
Identify your recruitment options
There are lots of different employment options available to seasonal businesses - the key is to identify what will best meet your needs. Think about whether you need temporary workers or employees on fixed-term contracts and consider using family or friends to help out at weekends or during school holidays. It is important to get the right balance between permanent employees who work throughout the year and those who work during peak times.
To help you recruit and retain staff, provide them with schedules well in advance so they can plan their lives outside of work. This can include keeping them informed about when to expect the busiest periods so they aren't surprised when there is a surge in work. Also consider offering incentives, such as overtime payments or bonuses based on productivity. Measures like these can help keep your staff motivated and committed.
On the Business Link website you'll find free advice, guidance and helpful online tools on a whole range of employment issues; such as working time regulations, flexible working, pay and written statements. Why not use the free written statement tool at www.businesslink.gov.uk/writtenstatement to create and download a fully compliant document which you can save for the future and use again
Understand the legal requirements
There are some basic legal requirements that you will need to be aware of to ensure you meet legislation - these apply to all employees. Thankfully, this information is easily explained on the Business Link website.
More information on developing a successful seasonal workforce is available at www.businesslink.gov.uk/employingpeople