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Advisory handbook - Employing people: a handbook for small firms

Employing People - Acas Handbook Download the pdf  Advisory handbook - Employing people: a handbook for small firms [1009kb]

Many small firms may think that they have insufficient time or resources to devote to employment issues, but sensible employment practices can help small firms to be more effective, more profitable, to grow and to create more jobs.

Employees are most firms' greatest asset so it is worth spending some time and effort over them. Employing people can, if handled badly cost an employer time, money or lost profitability through:

  • recruiting unsuitable employees
  • inadequate training
  • low morale and motivation
  • high absence levels and turnover of employees
  • ineffective management and supervision
  • too many dismissals.

These problems can be overcome by a small investment of time and resource. Generally small firms can have a number of 'natural' advantages.

  • Close personal relationship between employer and employee.
  • An understanding of individual employees' problems resulting from regular face-to-face contact.
  • Being able to act and react quickly to events.

By having good employment practices it can help:

  • small firms to anticipate employment problems and so improve managing the business
  • employees to know where they stand - what they can and cannot do, what they can expect from their employer and what their employer can expect from them.

Questions and answers

How can I avoid bad recruitment?

A few simple steps can help avoid problems, first ask does the firm need new employees or can existing employees do the job or be trained for it. If new employees are needed, would part time workers be more suitable? Find out what the job tasks are and draw up a job description to help get a clear idea of the job. This will contain the major parts of the job and its main purpose. A person specification or pen picture of the ideal person for the job will identify the skills and personal qualities to look for.

Does an employment contract need to be in writing?

Most employment contracts need not be in writing to make it legally valid; a verbal agreement can be sufficient. However, writing down the terms and conditions of employment can minimise later disagreements. Employers are required by law to provide a written statement containing the main terms of the contract within two months of the employee starting work.

Why should I have rules and procedures?

Good company rules benefit employers and employees. They make clear what conduct the employer considers is acceptable and what is unacceptable. They also make sure that employees' conduct and job performance meet certain minimum standards. From the employee point of view they ensure consistency which benefits employer and employee. And they clearly indicate what action the company will take if rules are broken

What is the difference between misconduct and gross misconduct?

Misconduct - conduct which initially required disciplinary action other than dismissal (although if further misconduct takes place, it may lead to dismissal). This can include persistent lateness, unauthorised absence and failure to meet known work standards.

Gross misconduct -conduct which may lead to dismissal without notice - summary dismissal. This can include working dangerously, stealing or fighting. But much will depend on the circumstances of each offence and whether summary dismissal would be reasonable in such circumstances.

Did you know?

Acas run practical training courses to equip managers, supervisors and HR professionals with the necessary skills to deal with employment relations issues and to create more productive workplace environments.

Click to view related Acas training and course dates in your area for:

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