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Mythbusting - employers' most common misconceptions

Running a business is not easy and it is understandable that you may have some concerns.

Do any of the below statements sound familiar? Take a look - you may be surprised by our answers!

Disabled staff will take more sickness and be more unreliable than those without a disability.

In reality statistics show that those with a disability do not take more sick days and their attendance levels are some of the best. This may well be because as disabled staff find it harder to get a job, they are more likely to work hard to keep one.

You can't dismiss someone if their sickness is genuine.

This is not always the case. Even if the sickness is genuine can the employer's business afford to wait for a recovery? Obviously it depends on each case but if an employer acts reasonably and considers the alternatives, dismissal may be fair.

Recruitment is a minefield - I don't dare reject anyone.

Recruitment is a chance to find the best possible candidate for the job by looking as widely as possible in the time available. It is not a requirement to take on someone because you are scared to reject them. You may get the best person from somewhere you wouldn't usually look.

I don't know how to be a boss...

Think about the best boss you've ever had. What did they do that earned your respect and made you work hard for them? Try to include those qualities in your behaviour (less any elements that weren't helpful) and remember you are the employer, so if there is a problem it is up to you to act like the grown-up in the relationship and work towards a solution.

Part-timers aren't any use to me.

People who work part-time/flexible hours or job share are often reported to be the most productive workers. It can mean having the benefit of 2 people's ideas and effort instead of 1. They could be more engaged because of the benefits of a good work/life balance.

I'm worried about discrimination claims and unlimited compensation awards.

It isn't employing the person that causes discrimination it is the treatment of that person by you or others for whom you are responsible that can lead to problems. So be reasonable and ensure others do the same. Most discrimination cases arise out of poor communication so talk to your staff and understand their needs at the same time as clarifying what you expect from them.

What do I do if I don't know what to do?

If you are unsure how to resolve an issue then don't make it up. There is a lot of help out there. It is very unlikely that your situation will be one we haven't come across before. You can contact Acas and we'll talk you through it.

I won't be able to get rid of a worker if he/she is no good.

You've taken the time and trouble to take on a worker so you thought they were the right person for the job. Ask what's going wrong.

Tackling poor performance is about improving performance, rather than going through a process to get rid of them and then having to start again. If this doesn't work then you can look at a fair dismissal.

I haven't time to become an employer as well as everything else.

Being a boss comes more naturally to some than others but it is like most things - you'll need to invest a little time and effort to learn the ropes. Once you've done that the benefits can be enormous.

Remember the basics!

  • Treat people fairly.
  • Talk about issues, good or bad.
  • Be very clear about what you want from the worker and check they understand.
  • Provide the tools to help them succeed.
  • Don't ignore it if things are going wrong but talk about how to get things back on track.
  • Remember staff have a life outside work and try to respect that.
  • Set and enforce fair rules at work and be consistent.
  • Listen to staff ideas - they may be better than yours.

People are a fantastic resource; use that resource well, after all you're paying for it.

The things that make you a good boss also make you a successful business!