11th March 2016
Are you guilty of signing a contract without reading it in full? If so, you’re not alone.
Studies show that between 7% and 10% of people will read the contracts that they’re given. The other 90+% will not.
It’s been estimated that we’d need to spend 76 days a year (from 9am until 5pm) reading through terms and conditions, to get through every contract that we sign. You might not read them all in one go, but that’s still a lot of time to set aside.
Yet, if there’s ever a workplace dispute, you can be sure that contracts and documents will be studied in great detail.
Who should take responsibility for HR documents?
It’s up to the employee to know what they’re signing and to understand the requirements and demands of their job.
It’s up to the HR department, or HR manager, to make sure that the necessary info is provided. It’s vital that the information is clear, thorough and well thought out. In the event of a workplace dispute, a slight error or omission is enough to cause chaos for a business.
So, how do small businesses manage? Solicitors can be expensive and it can cost a small fortune to have all of the necessary documents produced by someone else. Here are just a few ways for small businesses to access affordable HR documents:
As well as providing leading HR software for small businesses, and larger ones, the Staff Squared website features HR document templates that you can access and edit completely free of charge. These templates include an Employee Handbook and probation letter templates.
Acas is the Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service, providing free advice to employers and employees surrounding the areas of HR, employment law and workplace relations. There are free templates and documents available to download from the Acas website, covering three main areas: hiring, managing and disciplining.
On the Acas website you’ll find job application forms, staff appraisal forms, staff turnover analysis documents, flexible working documents and letters regarding disciplinary action, as well as a number of other useful files that you can download and use.
SEQ Legal Website Contracts
The SEQ Legal website offers a number of documents to download for a small price. There is also an Employment Agreement that can be used completely free of charge, as long as credit to SEQ Legal is included within the final document.
Documents that you can pay for include employment contracts, equal opportunities policies, data protection policies and disciplinary letters.
HR.com promotes itself as the Human Resources Social Network. As well as being a place for HR professionals to connect, the website includes free documents and templates for salary scales, recruitment, meeting minutes, performance reviews, injury reporting, holidays and sickness and a whole lot more.
HR.com is a US website, so there may be some things that aren’t relevant to a UK small business.
What are the benefits and drawbacks of using free or cheap HR documents?
If you’re running a small business with a budget that won’t stretch to cover hours and hours of professional fees for HR document creation, then you need to decide where you can save a bit of money.
If you work with a professional… they’ll create HR documents specifically for your business, and you will benefit from their expertise and knowledge. You’ll have access to a human being who will discuss the process with you, asking questions and clarifying details.
Each document that you receive will have been designed and created based on your needs and requirements, ensuring that everything within the document is going to be useful and relevant. You might also get some say over how technical the documents are, or whether or not you’d prefer a more friendly and colloquial approach. However, all of this comes at a high price which many small business owners struggle to justify.
If you use free or cheap HR document templates… you won’t need to worry about how many different documents your business will need, and how much it’ll cost overall. As a small business owner you’ll be free from worries about which documents to prioritise, and which to put on the back burner until you’re in a stronger financial position.
Using affordable HR documents will take more of your time. Instead of having documents written by someone else, you’ll have to sort through templates and edit them on your own. There is also a risk that your final document won’t cover everything that it needs to cover, or could be inaccurate in some way.
What if you can’t decide if it’s worth paying more for your HR documents?
Low cost HR documents don’t need to be your final choice. If you’re struggling to find space in your budget for the dozens of documents that you’ll need, then a free or cheap alternative could be a starting point for your business.
As your HR budget grows, you’ll be able to replace your template documents with professionally written contracts and forms if that’s what you’d like to do. Otherwise, you’ll be able to continue to use your template-based HR documents if they’re still the right choice for your business.