HR Legal Compliance - Whats Really in it for Business Owners?

legal compliance Mar 18, 2019

Imagine for a moment you’re going on holiday for 4 weeks. Now there’s a thought for a start. But, it’s only 4 weeks of your life.

Would you let someone you don’t know very well and doesn’t know where you’re going on your holiday - pack your bags for you?

Imagine the morning after that long flight, unzipping your case. What could you potentially find?

Swimsuits and flip-flops for a skiing holiday or camping equipment and mountain boots when you’re on a cruise ship.

YOU know where you’re going, know the right clothes, the potential ‘bits’ of kit you need and the right documents to have. It sounds obvious that you’re not going to let someone else you hardly know do it for you. 


Hold that thought.

Charlie’s Story

Charlie is a Business Owner. He started out ‘solo’. He did a great job, clients loved him and he had more business than he could handle. Following initial success, Charlie sat back and thought: '

I’m on to a winner here. I’ll grow the business. I’ll employ staff who will work just like me. Eventually, I’ll be able to sit back and take it easy. It will pretty much run itself and I’ll make loads of money'.

So, here Charlie is, sometime later, employing around 10 staff. But, he’s not particularly happy.

In fact, he’s pretty fed up. It’s not matched the dream he had at the start.

He’s working longer hours, he’s stressed out and having sleepless nights. He’s questioning whether he even enjoys it any more.

The reason? He feels like he just has a ‘suitcase’ of issues all relating to the staff he has employed.

So, let’s have a look inside Charlie’s suitcase:


First of all, Charlie has become obsessed with time. It came naturally to him, when he was on his own, to turn up even earlier than expected to give a good impression. 

Now, he never seems to know when certain staff will arrive for work and he’s spending a lot of his own time dealing with complaints.


That’s when they DO turn up. They seem to have a lot of personal issues and he has tended to let them have days off because he wants to be a good boss. 

He’s also noticing that there is an increasing amount of ‘one off’ sick days. The reasons range from a ‘cold’, throat infections, flu, headaches etc. He doubts they are all genuine. 

His costs are rising because he just continues to pay them.

He’s also paying overtime to cover their jobs.


He has an office now and people out in the field, so he has landlines and mobiles. The phone bills are huge. He’s guessed that staff must be using them for personal calls but doesn’t know how to stop them.


Charlie isn’t very ‘techy’, he just throws every bit of information he needs on his IT system and pretty much everyone has access to it. 

What he doesn’t know is that 2 members of staff who have worked for him for about 3 years are about to leave his Company, taking all his business know how and database to set up in competition.

The first thing they are going to do is email all his clients and undercut him. But, before they go, they intend to leave him a ‘present’. 

A virus on his hardware to keep him busy.


As he passes by, he sees his office staff are wasting a lot of time surfing the net. They are either shopping or playing games, on Facebook or other social media platforms. 

Charlie has also become aware that some accounts are full of cruel remarks about him that he’s not happy about.

It gets him down. And, he’s paying them while they are doing it.


Charlie thinks that one member of staff may have an alcohol problem. There’s machinery and tools around. He doesn’t feel it’s appropriate to say anything. 

At the Christmas party they got pretty drunk and was rude to Charlie in front of everyone.

Charlie didn’t think he could do anything because it was outside of work, so he made a diplomatic exit.

The problem now, is that Charlie feels he’s lost a lot of respect and his staff don’t really take his work instructions very seriously.

Productivity is slower than he needs and he’s getting concerned about the Company reputation with the feedback he is receiving about the customer service being provided.


A couple of staff simply don’t want to do the job he needs them to do, areas of the business need different working hours and one section needs to be closed down. He doesn’t know how to do it. Some people are just in the wrong jobs doing the wrong things.


The outcome of all these issues? 

Charlie’s overheads are huge. On the surface, he looks successful, but the reality? 

He's taking home less money than some of the people he employs.


When you see Charlie out networking, he will have a big smile on his face and when you ask him ‘How’s Business Charlie’ he’ll just say:

‘Great Thanks’.

Who Packs Your Business Suitcase?

Remember the earlier question? Would you let someone you hardly knew pack your suitcases for just a 4-week holiday? 

No. Your business is for years, possibly your entire working life.

Many of the issues Charlie was facing was because he was allowing others to decide how the business was going to be run.

They were packing his business suitcase.

So, What is HR Legal Compliance About ?

The key foundations for any business employing staff is usually wrapped up under the main headings of ‘Contracts of Employment’ and ‘Employee Handbooks’.

These are two key documents in a business that ‘nails down’ all the key areas of employing staff. All the HR policies that cover employment rights and the day to day ‘people’ side of the business. 

And, let’s be honest, it’s not the most exciting stuff to read and many Business Owners, in the initial few years, can be tempted to fly ‘solo’ without them in place.

At the same time, there is a lot of information that could be making you feel you’re being beaten over the head with ‘the legal stuff’ rather than being supported. Particularly with the ongoing messages of : ‘you must be legally compliant’, ‘you must avoid Tribunals’, ‘be careful’, ‘you can’t do that’, ‘its going to cost you’, ‘there’s high risks’.

You may even have attended a seminar looking to arm yourself with the latest legal update, only to feel it’s just more ‘scare’ tactics that do a great job in sending you away thinking:

‘well if its that scary why on earth would I employ anyone anyway?’

It may not feel the best encouragement to support you in growing your business.

So, what’s really in HR Legal Compliance  – for YOU as the Business Owner?

Putting in place Contracts of Employment and an Employee Handbook ensures YOU are packing your own business suitcase. 

These documents provide you with much more than ‘legal compliance’. It’s an important starting point of communicating to your staff the standards of behaviour you expect.

It forms the foundation of the culture you need that will support you to grow.

They also provide the information for you to make the right decisions and take action when you need to, ensuring you act fairly and consistently.

Without even having to say anything  – how great is that???

Another advantage to using an Employee Handbook is if you feel uncomfortable saying ‘this is the way I want things to be’ or ‘I want it this way’.

Also known as ‘Feeling like the Bad Guy’ syndrome !

It provides you with a subtle way to make your life easier. How?

The phrase ‘Company Policy’ comes into play.

It’s not you being (or feeling like) the ‘Bad Guy’. Its Company Policy and standard practice. It provides that subtle ‘distance’ in your language, that positions you immediately as a professional Business Owner. 

You will also find Company policies that are good practice, are far more difficult to argue with. It doesn’t have any emotions and never gets tired of saying exactly the same thing every time its asked the same question.

Unlike a potentially weary business owner at the end of a long day.

But, the main thing, is that you use these documents to ensure you don’t end up in Charlie’s position.

If you’re feeling downhearted because you may be thinking ‘It’s too late’.

It’s not. It never too late.

You are simply ‘repacking’ your suitcase by putting them in place. If you have a version that is out of date, too brief or unusable, simply get them reviewed.

Avoid the templates, talk to someone about your business, get the documents designed properly to ‘fit’ what you need.

Introducing them will save you time, save you money, protect your business, your reputation and set your standards.

And yes, of course you will ‘tick the box’ that provides you with legal compliance.

But, that almost becomes secondary to the day to day advantages it brings you as a Business Owner in the long term. 

When you recruit new staff, they are aware of the culture from day one and you are able to focus on other aspects of the business rather than troubleshooting the same day to day ‘people’ issues.

It does a lot of the work for you.

So, you can go on real holidays where you are able to switch off more easily knowing that things are running ok without you.

If you can relate to any part of Charlie’s story and would benefit from a confidential chat on the ways to ‘repack your suitcase’, email me at [email protected]


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