Avoiding Legal Pitfalls: Compliance Tips For HR Professionals

By understanding employment law, staying up-to-date with changes to legislation and communicating changes to staff you can avoid common legal pitfalls.


James Rowland

Commercial Director James leads Account Management, Sales and Marketing at Neathouse Partners.


16 May 2023


17 July 2024
4 min read
Avoiding Legal Pitfalls: Compliance Tips For HR Professionals

By understanding relevant employment laws, staying up to date with changes to legislation, educating employees and communicating any changes with them, you stand a better chance of avoiding common legal pitfalls across key employee management areas like data protection, recruitment, pay, working hours, equality, and contract termination.

With the proper knowledge and strategies, business owners can stay up-to-date with the ever-changing employment laws and regulations, ensure compliance, and protect their businesses from legal and financial risks.


What Is Compliance In HR?

Compliance in HR is the process of ensuring that an organisation adheres to applicable laws, regulations, and standards when it comes to the management of its employees.

This includes areas such as wages, working hours, benefits, hiring and firing practices, and safety and health standards.

Compliance in HR is essential to ensure the safety and well-being of employees, as well as to avoid costly legal repercussions for employers.

HR compliance is often best achieved by working with a team of HR legal experts who will help you understand the implications of any changes to the law and provide you with the best advice for your business.


Understanding the Law

If you're responsible for HR at your organisation, it falls to you to ensure that the company and its employees are compliant with all relevant employment laws and regulations.

Understanding these areas and knowing what is and doesn't apply to your business is the first step to ensuring compliance.

This can feel like an overwhelming task, particularly if you're part of a small HR team or work alone juggling multiple business roles, and that's why it can be beneficial to use the services of specialist HR legal experts to ensure your business is on top of everything it needs to understand.


Common Legal Pitfalls In HR

To show you the scale of the task that HR professionals have to deal with, here are just some common legal pitfalls that every business owner and anyone working in HR needs to be aware of:

  1. Employment discrimination - Employers must ensure that all employment decisions are made without regard to protected characteristics such as race, colour, religion, sex, national origin, age, disability, or genetic information. HR must be vigilant to avoid discriminatory practices in hiring, promotions, compensation, and terminations.
  2. Improper classification of employees - Employers must accurately determine whether an individual meets the criteria for an employee or an independent contractor based on factors such as control, integration, and economic realities.
  3. Violation of wage and hour laws - Employers need to maintain accurate time and payroll records, and adhere to all working time regulations and minimum wage laws for workers and employees.
  4. Inadequate documentation and record keeping - Employers should fully record details of employee contracts, performance evaluations, disciplinary actions, and employee complaints. Failing to maintain accurate and thorough records in these areas can make it challenging to defend against legal claims, demonstrate compliance with laws, and support employment decisions.
  5. Inconsistent or improper disciplinary actions - HR professionals must ensure that disciplinary actions are taken consistently, proportionately, and as per established policies and procedures. Inconsistencies can lead to poor employee morale and claims of unfair treatment.
  6. Inadequate employee handbook or policies - A well-drafted and comprehensive employee handbook is essential for setting clear guidelines, expectations, and policies for employees.
  7. Failure to accommodate disabilities - Employers must provide reasonable accommodations to qualified individuals with disabilities unless it causes undue hardship. Failing to fulfil this duty can result in claims of disability discrimination.
  8. Inadequate training and education - Inadequate training may result in employees engaging in discriminatory behaviour, harassment, or unsafe practices, which can lead to costly lawsuits, regulatory violations, and reputation damage.
  9. Mishandling employee grievances and complaints - Failing to address complaints adequately can lead to allegations of retaliation, discrimination, or a hostile work environment.
  10. Breach of confidentiality and privacy - Mishandling or unauthorised disclosure of sensitive and confidential information can result in violations of privacy laws and regulations that not only break the law but erode employee trust and organisational reputation.

Stay Up To Date With Employment Laws

Simple ways to stay informed of changes to employment regulations in the UK are:

  • Monitoring government sources like the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS), the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC), and the Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service (ACAS).
  • Working with specialist employment law & HR experts like Neathouse Partners
  • Professional associations, industry groups, training sessions, online publications, and networking opportunities can also help you stay up to date with relevant legal developments.
  • You must also regularly review and audit your documents to ensure compliance with updated laws.


Educating Employees

Regular awareness and training sessions should be held to educate staff on HR compliance laws and regulations while drawing their attention to any updated internal policies, useful industry or topical webinars and conferences that may help them to stay up-to-date.

By following these practices, employers can maintain compliance and ensure their staff are well-informed about the latest changes.


Developing Policies and Procedures

Every organisation needs policies and procedures in place that are tailored to their operations and cover all aspects of an employee's employment with the company, from training to grievances, remuneration, and absence, to name a few.

You need to ensure that the impact of any changes in legislation is assessed by the company and that the policies and procedures are updated to reflect them.


Seeking Professional Advice

With so many areas to stay on top of, professional advice and legal guidance on HR matters can help you stay up-to-date on changes to key areas like employment regulations, data protection laws, family rights laws, and minimum wage laws.

In the last few years alone, HR professionals have had to get to grips with new guidance on the use of employee monitoring, whistleblowing structures have been reformed, resulting in changes to settlements and compensation, and the digital workplace has also brought about changes in HR practices, as well as governance and reform.

A legal expert can help you understand the implications of any changes to the law and provide you with the best advice for your business.



By understanding employment laws, staying informed of changes, educating employees, and developing policies and procedures, business owners and HR professionals can ensure compliance and avoid costly legal pitfalls.

The expert team at Neathouse Partners can help you manage or meet your employer's responsibilities relating to compliance across the full employee lifecycle.

Contact us on 01244 893776 to book a free, no-obligation call with one of our experienced team.

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