Conduct your own HR audit!

 Whether you are a new employer or your business has grown to 50 plus employees, most owners of small businesses will at some point wonder if they are doing enough to meet their legal obligations as employers.

Use this FREE simple checklist to conduct an audit of the HR/People processes in your business.


How it helps you meet your legal obligations


Do you keep employee files (paper or electronic)? Every workplace should be free from discrimination, keeping secure information about your employees can help employers make better, fairer, more impartial decisions and more accurately assess levels of performance or productivity.  However, you should only keep information that you are either required to keep by law (such as payroll data) or information that you need to be able to make impartial, objective operational decisions such as attendance records.


Is your employee data secure? Paper files must be kept under lock and key with access restricted to those in authority that are likely to use the information held to make business or operational decisions.


Electronic files must be password protected with the password changed regularly and shared only with those (as above) that need to make business or operational decisions.


How do you recruit? And how long do you store job applications that you do not act upon?

You may not need to recruit often and a simple process is all that is required, but you do need to follow a fair and consistent process to select your new hires and you must not keep information on applicants that you do not hire after the vacancy has been filled unless you have the applicants permission to do so.




Do you have copies of Right to work documents for every employee? One of the biggest legal risks to any employer is their ability to demonstrate that they have carried out right to work checks before the employee starts work.  The employer must keep copies of eligible documents for every employee and where the employee’s right to work is time bound the employer must check the original document every year to ensure continued eligibility.


Do you issue written terms and conditions of employment to every temporary and permanent contract? It is a legal requirement for employers to issue written terms and conditions to every employee within 3 weeks of their start date.  However, it is normal and best practice to issue the terms of employment in writing before the employee starts work.


Do you have or do you need any additional employment policies? Are these written down?  Can employees access them? Very small employers may not need additional employment policies, the written terms and conditions of employment and a simple H&S policy are all that is legally required and may be sufficient for some employers.  However if you do wish to implement a policy or practice that forms part of your management or operational framework then it might be easier for everyone to write it down and ensure that it is available to everyone.  Once you have a policy though, make sure you apply it fairly!


How do you induct your new starters?  How do you introduce them to your business?  Do you tell them about your history? It is becoming increasingly difficult to attract and retain good people, one way  you can really engage with your new starters is to invest some time to introduce them to your business, make them feel welcome, make sure they have everything they need to be able to carry out the job they have been hired to do.  Make sure the rest of your staff were expecting them!  Assign them a colleague or buddy to help them get used to their new environment and make them feel welcome.  Make sure they know what to do if they have a problem or make a mistake, expect this to happen and plan for it, you will reap the rewards later on and avoid any claims of unfair treatment.


Do you offer a probation period? Do you set performance or development goals to be achieved before the end of the probation? Most probation periods are between 3 and 6 months.  The mistake most employers make is not to have a conversation with the new employee about their work performance or behaviour until after the probation period is passed, when it is hard to explain to the employee why they have not had the opportunity to improve before the probation period has ended.


Make sure your new employee understands exactly what is required of them (this is what the induction should be used for) and how you will measure their performance and behaviour.  Meet with the new employee informally at least once a month (weekly in the first month if you can) during the probation period, encourage them, thank them when they have done a great job or gone the extra mile, but similarly give examples of where they could have done better and be clear about what they need to do differently next time.


Do you keep absence/attendance records? Many small employees do not keep records of sickness absence, lateness or time off taken to deal with family emergencies.  However, it is good practice to keep records for everyone, not just those that have a lot of time off or are consistently late.  If you keep records for everyone it is much easier to make a fair and objective decision when you have a problem employee, it is not just your opinion and you are not singling them out, the data shows you the difference.  You can also use these records as a way of measuring reward for those employees that are rarely late or rarely take time off other than annual holiday.


Do you review performance levels annually, periodically or never?  How do you decide when to offer a pay increase or a bonus? Many small employers do not review performance in a formal way, but it can be done with just a small investment of time and energy and will help you engage and motivate your employees.  We know that engagement soars where employees work in an environment where they experience strong but fair leadership, where they have the opportunity to develop their skills and knowledge and where they can clearly see the connection between the job they do every day and the success of the business.


Do you have a Job Description in place for all positions? A job description or job profile need not be a lengthy or complicated document.  It should be a simple one page (live) document that the manager and employee use to discuss and agree what the main responsibilities of the position are and how output will be measured.  i.e respond to all customer queries within 48 hours.


Do you measure your staff turnover? No matter the size of your business, measuring your turnover can give you the first indication of potential problems with individual managers or departments and it is an early warning system to show you if you are losing staff to a competitor.  If your turnover is low, celebrate it! You are doing something right.


Do you know what process you would follow in a disciplinary investigation? Or if an employee raised a grievance? It is not necessary to have a formal disciplinary & grievance policy documented specifically for your business, but as a minimum, you must follow the ACAS guide to disciplinary & grievance when handling performance or behavioural problems or responding to employee complaints.


Do your employees know your vision for the business? what you are aiming for?  Many employers large and small make the mistake of forgetting to communicate their vision or strategic plan to their staff.  If staff are not aware of what you are aiming for, how can they help you to get there?  I have mentioned earlier in this document that one of the easiest ways of fostering high levels of engagement is to make employees aware of  the connection between the job they do every day and the success of your business. If they know how they are able to contribute and you reward them along the way, half the battle is won!  Always link any reward you give to employees to the strategic plan or your vision for the company.


If conducting your own audit has raised some questions, or you already have a HR or employment law question please tell me what this is (contact me by email or phone).  I will select one question a month which will be replicated anonymously on the website but you will get a personal response free of charge.


If you would like to understand more about how I can help you meet your legal obligations as an employer, contact me to arrange a short telephone call when we can discuss confidentially and without obligation your specific challenge.