Employing staff

11 November 2004
Employing staff

The hospitality industry has a notoriously bad reputation for finding and holding on to good staff, so getting your recruitment strategy right first time is crucial for avoiding employee issues in the future. There are, of course, a number of ways you can find your new employee, including through recruitment agencies or by direct advertising.

Recruitment agencies
Using a recruitment agency can be expensive, with the one-off recruitment fees ranging from between 15% and 25% of your new employee's salary. In most cases, the agency will advertise the position for you and the cost will be included in the one-off fee. They will shortlist CVs for you, and good agencies will see candidates face-to-face before recommending someone to you. Agencies will have a large number of CVs on their database and are a good way of getting a new employee quickly.

You need to be clear with them regarding your requirements and know when to say no. They need to be properly briefed, and it is equally important to provide them with feedback if the CVs you are receiving are poor or if someone you have interviewed is unsuitable.

Don't be afraid to use more than one agency at a time or to try to negotiate a reduced fee. Agencies will provide in their terms of business a claw-back mechanism if the person doesn't work out in the job. For example, if you recruit an individual who leaves after a month, then the agency may reimburse 50% of the recruitment fee or provide a free replacement.

Direct advertising When drafting an advert make sure that it's clear and concise and includes basic information such as company name, job title, location, salary, benefits and hours of work. Give a brief description of the company and what the role will involve, and include clear criteria for the skills, experience and qualifications you are looking for. Remember, don't discriminate against anything unlawful, such as age, race, religion or gender.

Put yourself in the shoes of your target candidate and consider where they are most likely to look for a job; and consider the time of year - not many people look for a job at Christmas time, for example.

You can advertise in Caterer, local and national newspapers or your local JobCentre. National newspapers obviously have a wide readership, and this will mean that you should get a lot applications, but it can also be expensive and time-consuming in the long run. You will probably receive loads of applications from people who are completely unsuitable for the job.

Free local newspapers provide a higher readership level, but are likely to be more expensive than local papers sold in newsagents. You won't be inundated with applications if you advertise in trade or specialist magazines, but you are likely to receive quality applications. You could choose to advertise online, and there are a number of websites you can use. In some cases they will do the work of a recruitment agent as well.

JobCentres are improving their services for employers and have a recruitment database, which means that the job you advertise can be accessed online or at any JobCentre. You may have no luck at all and receive applications from candidates who are unsuitable, but you may discover a highly suitable candidate and save recruitment costs.

The selection process You should make your selection on the basis of the individual's ability to do the job. Compare their experience, qualifications and skills to the criteria you have set out in your job description. Remember that you don't have to see everyone who meets the minimum criteria. Make a decision about the number of interviews you are willing to conduct, and select the best applications accordingly.

Stick to the criteria you have chosen for the job. Being as specific as you can early on will save you time during the shortlisting stage.

Be fair Do not discriminate unnecessarily and certainly not on the basis of gender, race, disability, sexual orientation, religion or trade union membership. From 2006 it will be illegal to discriminate on the grounds of age, and it is bad practice to do so now. When shortlisting, treat candidates equally and apply your decisions consistently. Candidates can make a claim to an employment tribunal for discrimination even at the recruitment stage, so you must be able to show that you are using a fair process. Under the Data Protection Act, applicants can also request a copy of their application and any notes you make during the selection process.

Employing from overseas If you want to look overseas for staff, the first thing to check is that your potential worker is eligible to work in the UK. Recent new entrants to the EU (Poland, Lithuania, Estonia, Latvia, Slovenia, Slovakia, Hungary and the Czech Republic), but excluding (Greek) Cyprus and Malta, must register with the Home Office within 30 days of starting work in the UK. As their employer, you must retain a copy of the registration certificate you receive from the Home Office.

It is a criminal offence to employ a person who is not entitled to work in the UK, with potential fines of up to £5,000. Make sure you carry out all reasonable checks, including asking to see original identification documents (P45, national insurance card or passport) and retain copies of the relevant pages (acceptable documents are listed on the Home Office website, www.ind.homeoffice.gov.uk).

If you wish to employ an individual from outside the EU, there are various criteria that must be satisfied to ensure you are not offering a position to someone that could equally be filled from within the EU, so it may be worth contacting a specialist to help you with the paperwork and requirements.

Contracts Once your chosen candidate has accepted the job and you have issued a formal offer letter, the next step is to draft a contract for them. As soon as your employee starts work they are accepting the terms and conditions offered by you, and both parties are automatically bound by those terms. A contract is therefore in place, whether written or merely implied.

It is not a legal requirement to have a written contract, but it is a legal requirement to have a written statement of employment particulars. Often these terms will be incorporated into a contract. A written statement of employment particulars is required to set out key areas of an employee's terms and conditions. This means that in reality you may as well issue a written contract containing all the legal requirements and those issues directly relevant to your company.

These details must be provided to every employee within two months of them starting work with you. People who work for you but are not employees - ie, independent contractors or freelance agents - are not entitled to a statement.

Chris Lane can be contacted for further advice on 020 7566 4000 or clane@kingstonsmith.co.uk

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