As HR consultants to small businesses, we spend an awful lot of time cleaning up mess that is either caused or exacerbated by the client not having a good quality employment contract in place, or perhaps not having something in writing, or possibly having something in writing but without the correct wording to give them the protection they need.
As well as addressing problems caused by not having well-drafted contracts and letters in place, we also obviously spend a lot of time drafting documents for clients that are legally compliant, and focused on achieving the protection a client needs in order to run his/her business in the way they want to.
But what about your business? That’s valuable to you and also worthy of protecting. Your relationships and interactions with clients need a proper written framework, ensuring you can get on with the work that brings in the money unencumbered by unnecessary dispute and uncertainty. You need to reduce the likelihood of non-payment, or dispute about payment, and you need to minimise the chances of legal action being taken against you, or you needing to take action against someone else. All very expensive and time-consuming.
Unless and until you employ staff, that written protection won’t come from employment contracts. You need well-drafted terms of business making clear to clients how you work, what you expect from them, what you provide and under what conditions.
You need a proper contract for those clients who enter into a retainer arrangement with you, setting out details of what you provide, what you expect, and payment arrangements.
You need the appropriate disclaimers in these documents making it clear under what circumstances you can (for example) send a substitute, clarifying when services can be withdrawn, and making clear that if a client doesn’t follow your advice, you are not liable for losses they may incur.
You need a real engagement letter setting out the main aspects of your relationship with a new client, invoicing arrangements and fees.
All of this is boring legal stuff, but it’s really important. Many people skip it, and rely instead on a combination of emails, phone conversations, goodwill and assumptions. This is partly because getting these documents drawn up properly usually involves paying a lawyer to do it, and when starting up, consultants don’t have money for legal fees.
This stuff is absolutely vital to us. It saves a lot of time, angst, money and effort down the line, it protects your business (which in turn protects ours, and that of our other consultants), and perhaps even more importantly, it’s the professional thing to do. It gives a reassuringly professional impression to your clients that they are getting high-quality advice, which is worth every penny.
For all these reasons, we have proper terms of business, engagement letters and retainer contracts drafted by a lawyer for use by our consultants. These are reviewed on an annual basis and amended where necessary. It gives them peace of mind, clarity and protection in their business dealings and is an important part of what we offer.
If you’re interested in talking to us about becoming a partner with face2faceHR with bags of support, do get in touch.