When a small business begins growing, it can outstrip the ability of the owner alone to keep pace with all the tasks needed to keep things on track.
The only way to keep the business growing is by hiring staff.
There are a number of essential items that a business owner needs to put in place and adhere to, from both legal and procedural perspectives, to create and maintain a happy working environment.
Clive Pintusewitz, head of Small Enterprise at Standard Bank, outlines the key HR essentials for any small business.
Pintusewitz says: “It is often said that people are the most valuable asset of any business. Ensuring that your employees are indeed assets means being cautious and ensuring that they fit your business, and making sure you manage staff effectively.”
Vital things to keep in mind when selecting and hiring staff include:
- Understanding laws applicable to hiring staff
Regulations are outlined in the ‘Basic Conditions of Employment Act’, the ‘Employment Equity Act’ and the ‘Occupational Health and Safety Act’, which must be displayed in all places of employment.
Make sure you know what the law stipulates about matters such as:
- How much leave must be allocated to employees and how annual leave is calculated
- The allocation of and entitlement to sick leave
- Notice periods in the event of resignation
- The disciplinary steps that need to be followed in the event of having to terminate the services of a staff member
- The requirements regarding information about your employee that have to be retained and kept on file for authorities such as SARS and the Department of Labour
- What your obligations are in terms of UIF and PAYE
- Requesting a CV and doing effective follow-ups
A CV can be thought of as an advertisement and usually casts an applicant in the best light possible.
It pays to investigate claims made on a CV and reference check past employment details with former employers.
Finding out that a person doesn’t have the experience they claim before you hire them can save disappointment, time and money.
- Knowing exactly what an employee must do and the time it should take to do a specified job
It is a legal requirement that an employee is given a job description. It is also one of the most valuable documents an employer can have as it allows you to check a person’s performance against specified requirements.
Taking the time to carefully consider a job and specify its requirements can help you ensure that you do need someone for a full time job.
It will assist in checking a CV against specific task requirements and is a useful document that you can use in an interview.
It will also help ensure that you can delegate responsibility to a person who can handle what is required.
- Supplying an employee with a letter of appointment
A good letter of appointment should:
- Tell an employee what they have been appointed to do and clearly outline their duties
- Set out the hours they are required to work
- Deal with issues such as paid overtime
- Discuss benefits such as medical aid, pension funds, performance bonuses and leave allocations
- Clearly set out notice periods required if a person wishes to leave your employ
A copy of a letter of appointment should be signed by an employee and kept safely in their file so it can be referred to if required.
- Having a clear disciplinary process or code of conduct in place
The basis for monitoring performance can be the legal requirement that an employee signs an attendance register every day. This avoids potential conflict as hours worked are clearly documented.
If you have a disciplinary process in place, it must follow relevant labour laws. A copy should be supplied to an employee, so they understand all processes involved.
- Procedures for staff resignations
When someone resigns, they should do so in writing. Accepting a resignation should also be done in writing, and should note when the employee’s service will end, the status of the person’s leave allocation, and what money is being paid out and what it is for. This can help avoid potential conflict later.
“Good HR practices are as important as strong administration processes. If good HR practices are put in place and adhered to they can create a strong understanding and respect between employer and employee,” says Pintusewitz. “Ignoring the basics can lead to disagreements, conflict and end in a labour court, which could be costly.”