Frequently asked questions

What does HR do?

HR is all about the effective management of people to enable an organisation to meet its strategic aims. There are many activities associated with an HR department including:

  • Resource planning and recruitment
  • Writing employment contracts, policies and procedures (sometimes organised into a staff handbook)
  • Dealing with staff issues such as grievances
  • Managing discipline issues and performance management
  • Restructures and redundancies
  • Psychometric assessments and team building
  • Organising staff pay and benefits
  • Training and career development

The type of HR work varies from business to business and HR professionals can choose to specialise in a particular area (e.g. training or recruitment), or become a generalist and get involved with the full range of HR activities.

HR operates at all levels of an organisation from the board room to the shop floor. HR professionals need to demonstrate a range of abilities including:

  • Problem solving
  • Clear and sensitive communication
  • Strategic thinking
  • Administration and organisational ability

How does HR outsourcing work?

HR outsourcing is an alternative to having an in-house HR team. For many organisations, it is not cost effective to have an in-house HR team so outsourcing HR is a great option.

All organisations that employ people require some level of HR support.

When taking on your first employee, your business needs to provide employment contracts and other documents to ensure compliance with employment legislation. Well drafted employment documentation can also help protect an organisation’s interests.

HR businesses like The HR Dept offer packages such as the Flying Start (for new businesses) or HR Advice Line (telephone and email support). It is up to you to decide which package is the best fit for your business.

When should you outsource HR?

The best time to outsource your HR is before any tricky people issues arise. As you would expect, it’s much easier to manage people issues when you are proactive rather than reactive.

Ideally you should outsource your HR at the point of taking on your first employee. That way, you can have your employment contracts and other employment documentation drafted by a professional. They will ensure your documents are legally compliant and protect business interests.

Realistically, we understand many organisations look to outsource their HR when there is a people problem that needs to be resolved (such as a grievance, redundancy, or performance management issue). That is fine. The HR Dept are happy to help whenever a problem arises.

How will Human Resources change in the future?

People management is more complex than ever before. Human Resources (HR) will need to spend more time focused on people challenges arising from:

  • New employment legislation
  • Remote working
  • New working practices
  • Skills and talent shortages

This will be made possible using technology designed to take away much of the administration burden from HR professionals.

We also believe that more organisations will look to outsource their HR activities to bring in HR specialists as and when required.

What rights do employees have?

Employees have various rights including:

  • Payment of Statutory Sick Pay (SSP)
  • Maternity, paternity, adoption and shared parental leave and pay
  • The right not to be unfairly dismissed
  • Statutory redundancy pay
  • The National Minimum/Living Wage
  • Protection against unlawful deductions from wages
  • Itemised pay statements
  • The statutory minimum level of paid holiday
  • The statutory minimum length of rest breaks
  • Receiving notice of termination of employment
  • Time off for family emergencies
  • To not work more than 48 hours on average per week or to opt out of this right if they choose
  • Protection against unlawful discrimination

All employees must be issued with written particulars of employment on or before their first day of employment.

What is the difference between an “employee” and a “worker”?

Incorrectly identifying the employment status of an individual can lead to problems. The simple list below will provide guidance on whether an individual should be classed as an employee or a worker.


  • Have a mutuality of obligation (they are required to work contractual hours and are unable to refuse work)
  • Have full employment rights

In contrast workers:

  • Have no mutuality of obligation (i.e. cannot expect to be asked to work and can refuse work if asked)
  • Have no right to claim unfair dismissal or other employment rights except for statutory benefits such as paid holidays

Both employees and workers are required to carry out the work personally and are unable to provide a substitute for their services.

How much does outsourcing HR cost?

This depends on the level of HR support you require.

Typically, for a micro business (up to 5 people) the most important requirement is to ensure your employment documentation is legally compliant and protects the business. We offer a document-only package at an affordable rate.

For larger businesses who will have more employees (and therefore more employee issues), an advisory package maybe required. A package such as the HR Dept HR Advice Line package (which also has employment tribunal insurance cover) will be priced on a range of factors such as:

  • Number of staff
  • Industry sector
  • Previous employment claims history
  • Additional services such as documentation or onsite HR support

Advice packages are great value and cheaper than employing an in-house HR person or team. This is why HR outsourcing is a great option for many businesses.

What are HR services?

HR services assist with people management for businesses of all types and sizes. People management, or HR services, can be provided by an in-house HR department or an outsourced professional who knows and understands the business.

HR services are available at every point of the employee lifecycle, from recruitment to redundancy and everything in between.

Some employers may be surprised to find out that employment law applies right at the start of the recruitment process. It is from here that HR services can be beneficial. Firstly, to ensure business processes are compliant with employment law such as discrimination and secondly to make sure that the best person is recruited for the hiring company.

Other HR services include but are not limited to:

  • Payroll
  • Disciplinary and grievances hearings
  • Absence management
  • Performance and appraisals
  • Employee training
  • Health and well-being

No problem is too big or too small to seek professional advice from an HR expert.

Can you outsource Human Resources (HR)?

Yes, business owners can choose to outsource their Human Resources (HR) if they wish. It can often be more cost effective to do this than hire a permanent HR advisor.

Some companies employ HR professionals who make up the HR department for the business.

Smaller companies, with fewer employees, may find that outsourcing HR to an external agency or professional is a better solution for the business, as they have fewer HR needs.

The HR Dept provides flexible outsourced HR services to suit the various needs of employers across a broad range of industries. Starting from micro businesses and start-ups, to larger more established companies.

What is the difference between in-house and outsourced HR?

In-house HR is a business function provided by skilled employees for a company.

Whether an individual HR advisor or a team lead by a HR manager, the in-house HR department is responsible for human resources and people management for the business. This ranges from recruitment to training, grievances, absence management, managing the leavers process and more.

The HR employees will have an employment contract and be enrolled in the company’s payroll.

Outsourced HR refers to HR services provided to a business by an external HR professional or agency. The outsourced HR provider will not be employed by the company and will instead have a contract for agreed services.

Outsourced HR provided by The HR Dept can apply to one off pay-as-you-go needs or provide longer term advice covered by the protection of employment tribunal insurance.

What do employers need to give to employees upon hiring?

Employers are legally obliged to provide an employee with a written statement of particulars on or before their first day of work. This is a legal document which sets out the employee’s basic terms and conditions of employment.

A written statement of particulars is not contractual unless a signed copy is returned to the employer. Employment contracts can be complex and professional HR advice is recommended when compiling one.

In addition to a contract, employers may need to consider the following for their new employee:

  • An induction to run through an introduction to the company
  • Employee handbook
  • Uniform, if appropriate
  • Equipment needed to perform the job

When can an employer terminate an employee?

If an employer wishes to terminate or dismiss an employee, they must have a valid reason for doing so and must follow a fair and legal process.

Unless gross misconduct has occurred, dismissal should only happen if a disciplinary procedure, as detailed in the company’s disciplinary policy, has been unsuccessful. An investigation with appropriate evidence will be required to establish facts, avoid discrimination and manage the risk of unfair dismissal.

Depending on the employment contract, employers must provide either contractual notice of termination or the legal minimum of notice. The legal minimum is one week for employees who have served under two years with a company.

Dismissals can be complicated and carry high risk of breaching employment law if not handled correctly. It is advised to seek professional HR support to carry out dismissals.

How much does an employment tribunal cost?

The cost of an employment tribunal depends on the claim being made and the outcome of the case.

Losing an employment tribunal can result in substantial fines being paid out in awards to the claimant.

Tribunal costs vary greatly, but here are some examples of the biggest awards in the year 2018/2019 and the claims involved:

  • The largest unfair dismissal award was £947,585 – the average was £13,704
  • The largest race discrimination award was £33,660 – the average was £12,487
  • The largest sex discrimination was £24,103 – the average was £8,774
  • The largest disability discrimination award was £416,015 – the average was £28,371
  • The largest age discrimination award was £172,070 – the average was £26,148


When should companies undertake background screening?

When looking at background checks we mean all checks that are above and beyond taking references from previous employers, which most organisations undertake, and right to work in the UK checks, which are mandatory for all employees.

Typically, organisations working in financial services, particularly where there is a requirement for financial background screening, and companies who have staff working with children or vulnerable adults, are more likely to undertake background screening.

An organisation can choose which areas it would like to screen including:

  • Criminal records
  • Social media
  • Credit checks
  • Education and credential verifications
  • DVLA checks – for roles that require a degree of driving
  • Public safety verifications

Organisations will need to assess what checks are proportionate and relevant to the role in question and how they will use the information once received.

Do you run a business and have a HR question ?

The HR Dept provide outsourced HR support to employers. If you are an employee we would suggest that you contact Acas.

Looking for expert HR support?

We can help you focus on your business by taking care of all your human resources needs.

Let us know how we can help or ask about our free initial HR review.

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