Lindsey Cartwright is a member of Morton Fraser’s employment law team based in the Glasgow office. She advises both employers and employees on a wide range of employment law issues, including unfair dismissal, compromise agreements, business reorganisations, redundancy, workplace discrimination and restrictive covenants.
She acts for clients at all stages of the employment relationship and regularly represents clients in the Employment Tribunal and EAT across the UK.
Lindsey is a member of the Employment Lawyers Association and a Licentiate member of the Chartered Institute of Personnel & Development.
Morton Fraser is a leading full-service law firm working with large multinationals, the public sector and not-for-profit organisations across Europe.
We are delighted that Lindsey will be answering your questions here each month.
I have some great ideas and would love to set up my own company, but I have heard that employment laws are really stringent in the UK and that employers are always getting taken to Court and Tribunal when all they are trying to do is run a business. Should I be thinking about doing this in another country to get round this issue. I am young and have no particular ties here, so I can be flexible. Michael, Birmingham
Whilst the UK is governed by a lot of employment legislation, it’s really not that bad! Most of it emanates from Europe, so you would have to go pretty far to get away from it. Generally speaking, unless you do something which is patently discriminatory, you will have a year to decide about new employees and whether or not they are right for your business. As long as you don’t promise people long notice periods in their first year, then you can terminate their employment relatively inexpensively and without large potential liabilities. The key is to actively manage performance right from the start instead of leaving it on the list of “things to do” and never getting round to it. This need not be time-intensive – a regular catch-up over how things are going and any issues you have is all that’s required.
Get yourself a decent lawyer – they will bring to the table years of experience of lessons to be learned from other peoples’ mistakes. It is this experience which you are otherwise missing and which makes a good lawyer invaluable. Some firms will do very reasonable retainers for small businesses so that you can ask as many questions as you need to for a small annual fee. The basic documentation you require for employment law purposes is not particularly complicated and should be available to you relatively inexpensively. Again, don’t put it on that list as the potential penalties for failure to do it are likely to be higher than the cost of getting your documents sorted out.
If you would like to ask Lindsey a question relating to your employment or a problem being faced in your organisation, please email your question to us at firstname.lastname@example.org