Paperwork Paperwork Paperwork

You may be mistaken to think in the era of paperless transactions paperwork is no longer necessary I hate to surprise you but it is especially critical when administrating HR paperwork.

I have set out below some of the basics that everyone in your organisation must be aware of when dealing with paperwork relating to people.

  • Not issuing a letter that needs to be issued when it needs to be issued.
  • Issuing letters of appointment and employment contracts promptly
  • Not checking your very important letter was actually signed for and read by your ex or absent employee
  • Incorrect information in a letter, incorrect addresses put on letters
  • Handwritten meeting notes not saved to file or typed up rendering them all but useless if your employee brings a Tribunal claim
  • An insecure filing system meaning that confidential data is compromised
  • An inadequate filing system meaning that you cannot retrieve essential documents or managers simply not giving HR key information to be filed in the first place

Please remember when developing documents

  • If you don’t understand why certain phrases or words are used in certain letters don’t delete them as in fact they need to be left in ask before sending them out.
  • Review your letters or documents before issue and be satisfied that they are correct and reflect your organisation’s ethos in tone
  • Make sure sufficient detail is included in performance review paperwork so that it forms a basis to be used as a performance management tool.
  • Be sure contracts set out clearly  employees or workers duties so that Managers are then managing in line with the detail of the contract (especially the case with Contracts forServices where your workers are NOT employees) or in accordance with what was set out in the letter (e.g. not providing a written outcome to an appeal in line with the timescales set out in their last letter).

Using template documents

Template documents are not the universal get out of jail card too much dependency on them can lead to errors which can turn out to be expensive both in time, money and reputation

Don’t be lazy don’t just rely on the templates … double check names, addresses, job titles, key dates, that attachments are actually attached, that you have customized the letter to be relevant to this particular person and that the letter finishes in a way that will create a tone consistent with the culture of your business … even if you are ‘dismissing’ someone, do it professionally to reflect well on your organisation.

Ignorance is no defence to getting it wrong. If you don’t know what a phrase means don’t just delete it, find out what it means and why it has been included in the template.

If managers are taking on some traditional HR tasks such as hearing grievances/ holding redundancy consultation meetings/issuing letters/contracts etc then give them some essential training in how to do it and what pitfalls to avoid … A basic seminar on how to run grievances, disciplinaries and how to handle redundancy is money well spent.

Does it really matter if an address is wrong or if you don’t issue a TUPE letter when a business changes hands?


Your paperwork forms a key part of your defence to any tribunal claim brought by a disgruntled employee.

Tribunals can and do impose penalties for failure to comply with the law.

Failure to issue a contract of employment within 8 weeks, for example, could cost you a maximum of 4 weeks’ pay per employee.

Failure to produce the paperwork to show you have consulted during a TUPE (transfer of a business) transfer could cost you 13 weeks’ gross pay per employee.

If an employee drifted off after the long-term absence and you never send a letter to them ending the relationship they are still employed by you and accruing holiday and other rights – you need to investigate and then if they still fail to respond send a letter formally dismissing them and issue a P45.

Your paperwork says a lot about the culture and professionalism of your organisation.

In times of tight recruitment, you need to be the organisation that people want to apply to, not the one that has been plastered all over the local press for the shambolic approach you have to the staff you employ. Your paperwork needs to be consistent with the culture and tone set within the business… if you aim for quality, professionalism, respect, integrity then getting the paperwork is key.

Your paperwork is the key to efficiency within your business.

Warning Signs.

  • Something new or different – if you have never handled a TUPE transfer or redundancy exercise before then it is easy to not issue essential paperwork simply because you don’t know what needs to be issued. So ask! Assume there will be paperwork rather than assume there isn’t! TUPE is especially complex so seek advice when considering the acquisition of a business or taking over an existing contract.
  • Do your employees know more about their GDPR rights than you do Are you receiving too many SARs if you are not sure what this means ask!
  • An uplift in the number of grievances raised or tribunal claims brought. Is it the tone of the paperwork that is escalating conflict? Perhaps a lack of paperwork is creating some of the conflict and dissatisfaction? Look for themes and see if you can find the root cause.
  • If you haven’t reviewed your letters, documents, policies, procedures etc. for a year or more are you being a bit complacent? Not only does the law change from time to time but how you need to manage your staff also changes – different market expectation, tighter recruitment market, removal of tribunal fees, new business ownership etc. All these things should drive you to regularly review your paperwork with us to make sure it continues to be fit for purpose.