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New to HR - Helpful Acas resources for you

Flowers new to HR If you're new to Human Resources, whether working as an HR assistant in a large organisation or managing staff in a small business, Acas can help you in your role.

Our guidance, tools and resources can help you keep up-to-date with employment law and good workplace practice. We can show you how to get the best from staff and help you avoid costly mistakes.

We can help you recruit, deal with workplace contracts, manage absence or deal with flexible working or parental leave requests. Our full range of advice is available through our handy advice A-Z.

Watch our Acas Most Asked HR tips video.

Areas to learn more about when first starting in a HR role

We asked our HR customers what workplace issues they had to deal with when they started out. Their feedback has helped us develop guidance and tools to help you in your day-to-day role.

Recruitment and induction | Contracts | Pay | Managing discipline and grievance | Managing absence | Holidays | Managing appraisals and performance | Redundancy | TUPE

Recruitment and induction

Key facts

  • Carefully work out the number of new staff and the skills needed, including how vacant roles might have to change.
  • Make sure you don't discriminate when advertising roles or selecting candidates for interview.
  • Ensure you carry out interviews in a consistent and fair way so all candidates get an equal opportunity.
  • As soon as the successful applicant accepts the job offer, start to organise a carefully-planned programme to settle them into the role and organisation, so they become effective as soon as possible... and want to stay.

Resources that will help you:

Recruitment and induction guidance

Recruiting an employee: A step-by-step guide

Social media - recruitment and performance management

Settling in a new employee: A step-by-step guide

Template letters for hiring staff 

Recruitment and induction training

Recruitment e-learning


Key facts

  • A contract of employment is an agreement between an employer and employee and is the basis of the employment relationship.
  • While most employment contracts do not need to be in writing to be legally valid, it is better if they are.
  • A contract 'starts' as soon as an offer of employment is accepted. Starting work proves that you accept the terms and conditions offered by the employer.
  • Most employees are legally entitled to a Written Statement of the main terms and conditions of employment within two calendar months of starting work. This should include details of things like pay, holidays and working hours. Download our word icon Written Statement of Employment [53kb] template.
  • An existing contract of employment can be varied only with the agreement of both parties.

Resources that will help you:

The new employee's contract: A step-by-step guide

Template for written statement

Changing or varying a contract

Written statements of terms and conditions of employment

Employment contract terms

Termination of an employment contract

Zero hours contracts

Contracts and written statements e-elearning


Key facts

  • All employees are entitled to an individual written pay statement.
  • Pay slips/statements must be given on or before the pay date.
  • Fixed pay deductions must be shown with detailed amounts and reasons for the deductions - eg Tax and national insurance.
  • Part-time workers must get the same rate as full-time workers.
  • Most workers are entitled to be paid the National Minimum Wage and National Living Wage.

Resources that will help you:

National Minimum Wage and National Living Wage

Advice leaflet - Holidays and holiday pay

Calculating holiday pay

Pay deductions

Equal pay

Automatic pension enrolment

Pay and reward e-learning

Managing discipline and grievance

Key facts

A good working knowledge of discipline and grievance procedures is essential for all managers if issues are to be resolved in the workplace rather than spilling over into an employment tribunal. Here are some useful approaches.

  • Informal action.
  • Gather information.
  • Talk to the employee.
  • Listen to what they say.
  • Agree a way forward.
  • Agree targets and review dates.
  • Keep brief notes.
  • Review.
  • No further action/take action.

The Acas Code of Practice on disciplinary and grievance procedures gives practical guidance for handling issues in the workplace.

Main principles:

  • deal with issues promptly
  • act consistently
  • carry out investigations
  • inform the employee of the allegations
  • allow the employee to present their case
  • explain the right to be accompanied
  • provide the right to appeal.

Resources that will help you:

Discipline and grievance - Acas Code of Practice

Discipline and grievances at work: The Acas guide

Carrying out investigations in the workplace

Managing discipline - Investigation to possible dismissal: A guide

Template letters for discipling staff

Discipline and grievance e-learning

Managing absence

Key facts

Managing attendance problems often means tackling possible causes of absence, such as working patterns, job design or personal issues like caring responsibilities.

Dealing with absence or lateness

Authorised absence and lateness can be dealt with by:

  • requiring absent employees to phone in by a given time on each day of absence
  • having a return to work interview to ensure there are no underlying issues
  • taking disciplinary action if unexplained absence continues.

Certified or uncertified sickness can be dealt with by:

  • monitoring individual absence levels
  • holding return to work interviews
  • discussing the problems with the employees
  • having a policy on sickness absence
  • seeking medical opinions if necessary.

Resources that will help you:


Templates for managing absence

Managing staff absence: A step-by-step guide

Managing staff absence - Be prepared: Know the basics

Template letters for managing staff


Key facts

Most workers - whether part-time or full-time - are legally entitled to 5.6 weeks of paid annual leave. Additional annual leave may be agreed as part of a worker's contract.

  • Most workers are legally entitled to 5.6 weeks paid holiday per year (this is known as statutory entitlement).
  • Part-time workers are entitled to the same amount of holiday (pro rota) as full-time colleagues.
  • Employers can set the times when workers can take their leave - for example a Christmas shut down.
  • If employment ends workers have the right to be paid for any leave due but not taken.
  • There is no legal right to paid public holidays.

Resources that will help you:

Calculating holiday pay

Holiday notice requirements

Managing appraisals and performance

Key facts

Managing performance is a continuous process which involves making sure that the performance of employees contributes to the goals of their teams and the business.

There are three aspects to planning an individual's performance:

  • objectives which the employee is expected to achieve
  • competencies or behaviours - the way in which employees work towards their objectives
  • personal development - the development employees need in order to achieve objectives and realise their potential.

Line managers should:

  • agree objectives, competencies and development needs with individuals so that they contribute to business goals
  • review individual performance against objectives and competencies throughout the year
  • give feedback and discuss amendments to individual objectives as circumstances change
  • agree the most important skills and behaviours necessary to do the job well and agree a personal development plan
  • help staff to achieve objectives through coaching and provide access to training or other development opportunities
  • manage under-performance
  • hold an annual appraisal review with the job holder and, in collaboration with the employee, write an appraisal report (this is often supplemented by interim reviews held quarterly or half yearly).

Resources that will help you:

How to manage performance

Templates for managing appraisals

Managing performance guidance

Challenging conversations and how to manage them

Performance management training

Performance management e-learning


Key facts

  • Good communications and consultation between management and employees can help an organisation get through the redundancy process.
  • Employees have the right not to be unfairly selected for redundancy.
  • Employees may be entitled to a statutory redundancy payment and notice.
  • Redundancies can happen when employees are dismissed because their job no longer exists, for example when:
    • new technology makes a job unnecessary
    • an employer needs to cut costs and reduce the number of staff
    • the employer needs to close the business.

Resources that will help you:

Redundancy consultation and procedure

Selection criteria for redundancy and avoiding redundancies

Redundancy payments and notice

Handling small-scale redundancies - A step-by-step guide

Handling redundancy e-learning


Key facts

TUPE (Transfer of Undertakings) rules apply to organisations of all sizes and protect employees' rights when the organisation or service they work for transfers to a new employer.

When does TUPE apply?

There are two situations when the TUPE regulations may apply; business transfers and service provision transfers.

In business transfers

The TUPE regulations apply if a business or part of a business moves to a new owner or merges with another business to make a brand new employer. A part of a business might for example be a distribution function of a larger organisation.

In service provision transfers

The TUPE regulations apply in the following situations when a:

  • contractor takes over activities from a client (known as outsourcing)
  • new contractor takes over activities from another contractor (known as re-tendering)
  • client takes over activities from a contractor (known as in sourcing).

Resources that will help you:

Handling TUPE transfers: The Acas guide 

pdf icon TUPE changes 2014 [165kb] 

pdf icon TUPE overview: the 4 key stages [60kb] 

Further Acas resources designed for you

Creating effective HR - Part 1: Systems and policies

Creating effective HR - Part 2: Managing performance

Creating effective HR - Part 3: Managing dismissal and discipline

If you are new to Acas, you may also find these useful:

Join our LinkedIN HR forum to talks to other HR colleagues

Sign-up for our free e-learning to update your HR knowledge or learn new skills

Helpline Online - straightforward answers to your employment relations questions.

HR for beginners training - this practical HR training course provides an introduction to the fundamentals of employing people. 

The Acas Blog - Acas experts and guest bloggers share their views, experiences and insights on the world of employment relations.

Individual disputes - find out more about Acas dispute resolution services including early conciliation.

Publications - view our guidance booklets and download free copies.

Let us know how we can help

Acas advisers can help you with any HR or employment relations issues your organisation may have. Contact us through our online enquiry form to let us know how we can help.

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