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Wired Sussex Breakfast Session: Staff Contracts, Pensions & Employment Law Issues

Yesterday I chaired our Breakfast Session ‘Staff contracts & employment law issues’  with a panel of great experts who shared their knowledge & experience and answered a lot of really interesting questions from members:

Kate Roper is the Senior HR and Recruitment Manager at Crunch and has been working in HR for 10 years.

Fiona Martin is a joint co-founder of Martin Searle Solicitors and heads their Employment Law team which specialise in workplace discrimination cases. Fiona runs the HR Digital Media & Tech Group in Brighton & Gatwick area in partnership with Wired Sussex, providing employment law advice and training to HR managers and owners.

In case you couldn’t make it, we want to share as much of the conversation as possible. Below are the key points from the session:

  • The ACAS website is an excellent free resource for small businesses. The content is checked by lawyers so information they provide is correct and reliable.

There are a number of different benefits an employer can offer:

  • Honesty, openness, communication with staff is key.
  • Companywide communication is important to ensure moral good is maintained - conduct a staff survey anually.
  • Regular appraisals/performance feedback/goal mapping.
  • Training - online, conferences, inhouse, external - budget per person.
  • 2 week inductions are a great way to give staff an excellent foundation when starting their role to introduce them to your business and to make them feel valued and part of the team.
  • There are lots of free training and educational events to attend in Brighton and surrounding areas to help with development and training.
  • Private healthcare plan - there are a number of different companies offering businesses healthcare plans for their employees including Simply HealthAviva and Bupa.
  • Life insurance.
  • Bike to work scheme.
  • Childcare vouchers.
  • Discount cards - for local shops and suppliers.
  • Wellness months - to support staff in physical amd mental health - invite yoga, pilates instructors to deliver classes, gyms to offer discounts to staff, nutritionists to give advice & provide healthy foods.
  • Flexible working hours - most asked for benefit by employees.
  • Sabbaticals - Career breaks are at the discretion of the company depending on the resource available and the needs of the company.  Maybe staff can come back as consultants, part time, for a fixed term.
  • Holidays - Statutory holiday is 20 days + 8 days bank holidays.  Anything above this is at the discretion of the employer but more days contribute to a more attractive package.


  • Scottish Widows are Crunch’s pension provider. Crunch found it useful to have a SW representative come into the company and explain the benefits of their pension.
  • People’s Pension are also an excellent provider for small businesses and they are all online.
  • Recommended that if you are researching pension providers, speak to a financial adviser who will be able to recommend pension plans that will suit your company.
  • Statutory pension contribution is 1% by the employee and 3% by the employer this year. This amount includes administration fees incurred.
  • Important to ascertain who is eligible for a pension within your business. A ‘jobholder’ is eligible for pensions.
  • Start pensions for your staff as early as possible.
  • Depending on the age and role of the individual, their preference on types of benefit will vary. Some will prefer time and experience related benefits, whereas others will prefer monetary and stability.
  • Write a very simple "beginners guide" to pensions for your staff bullet pointing main points and process clearly laid out and easy to understand.


  • Probation periods range between 3 months and 6 months is the usual length. Regular updates during this time period to check staff are fitting in well and performing their role effectively.
  • Take time to full understand the differences between freelancers and employees and what they are both entitled to.

We also talked about:

  • Creating company Strategy & Culture which I covered in this blog from our Breakfast Session ‘Finding, developing and retaining talent" this month.
  • The next HR Digital, Media and Tech Group in Brighton is on the 19th May 9.15-11.15am and the next one in the Gatwick area is on the 5th May 9.15-11.15am.   It would be great to see you there.
  • My support services for our members with planning recruitment, writing job descriptions, attracting the best talent to work with you.

Feel free to share your thoughts, feedback or other tips by tweeting us @WiredSussex using #WiredBrekkie.

You can check out upcoming Breakfast Sessions here.

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