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Acas launches new guide for small firms on how to handle staff pay

Wednesday 01 July 2015

Workplace experts Acas have launched a new guide for small firms that covers the basics of employment law on staff pay. Last year Acas dealt with over 13,000 employment tribunals claims related to pay.

The new free step-by-step guide Help for small firms: Handling pay and wages can help small and medium sized businesses stay on the right side of the law and ensure pay issues are handled correctly.

Acas' new guide 'Help for small firms: Handling pay and wages' covers the essentials such as how to pay new staff, different types of pay systems, wage slips, what to do during staff absences as well as wage deductions and overpayments. It breaks down the most common employment issues into a series of practical steps that a manager or supervisor can access at any time.

Stewart Gee, Acas Head of Guidance, said:

"Pay is one of the most important parts of any employment relationship but getting it wrong can affect staff morale, productivity and could end up being very costly to businesses.

"Some employers want to grow their business but hesitate in case they misinterpret employment law. Our new guide is simple to use and will help small business owners get the basics right around pay.

"A better understanding of the law can make all the difference between managing staff well and potentially facing a costly and stressful employment tribunal if things aren't handled correctly."

Top tips for employers on pay include.

  • Most workers are entitled to be paid the National Minimum Wage (NMW) but the rate of pay can vary depending on age and whether they are an apprentice.
  • The law does not require you to pay your workers if they work overtime but you still must make sure that the total hours they work meets NMW requirements.
  • A worker is entitled to a minimum of 5.6 working weeks' leave per year.
  • Tips received from a customer directly will not form part of a worker's pay as they are the property of the worker and not paid by the employer. Only tips paid by an employer can be treated as pay and wages.
  • If you want to change your existing pay system or pay arrangements then you must seek agreement from your workers to vary their terms and conditions. Otherwise there are risks to staff morale, productivity and abiding by the law.
  • Men and women must be treated equally and paid the same rate for doing 'like work', 'work rated as equivalent' or 'work of equal value'.
  • You must let a worker have time off work if they are summoned for jury service but you do not have to pay them whilst they are on jury service. They can claim for loss of earnings from the court.

The new pay guidance is the latest addition to a range of step-by-step guides for small firms. They include:

Acas' step-by-step guides are available from the Help for small firms section of our website.

Notes to Editors

  1. Acas' aim is to improve organisations and working life through better employment relations. It provides information, advice, training and a range of services working with employers and employees to prevent or resolve problems and improve performance. Acas is an independent and impartial statutory body governed by a council made up of members from business, trade unions, academia and the law.
  2. Acas runs Training Courses, Workshops and Projects for managers, line managers, supervisors and HR professionals in workplace relations, which can boost an organisation's productivity and profitability, increase motivation levels and ensure less conflict arises in the workplace.
  3. Acas offers a free helpline service (0300 123 1100) which provides advice to employers and employees on problems at work. Our expert advisors can advise on employment law and help find appropriate solutions to a range of work related issues. The Acas Helpline is available from 8am to 6pm, Monday to Friday. Advice is free and confidential so callers do not have to give their names.

For media enquiries or case studies please contact Shumon Ali-Rahman on 020 7210 3688 or Sophia Said on 020 7210 3680. For out of hours media enquiries please call the out of hours duty press officer on 020 7210 3600.