Expert advice on the business of running a garment decoration company

LAST MONTH’S TOP BUSINESS STORIES

  • Small businesses are increasing staff numbers and pay packages as lower business costs and increased productivity boosts bottom lines, according to the first quarter results of the Small Business Index from the Federation of Small Businesses. Skills shortage is still a concern, with 37% of businesses reporting finding people with the right skills is a barrier to growth, up from 24.5% just 12 months ago.
  • The law on workplace pensions has changed, with March 1 marking the first in a series of staging dates for small firms to start automatically enrolling employees for a workplace pension. For more information on what you need to do, go to THE Pensions Regulator website, www.thepensionsregulator.gov.uk

Is your website mobile-friendly?

Whether you have a full e-commerce site or a beautiful brochure site, the time has come when your website has to be mobile-friendly. Why? Check your Google Analytics. The amount of traffic your website receives from mobile-users may surprise you.

Now have a look at your website on your iPhone or other small-screen device. Do you have to pinch out to read the text? Are you scrolling left to right to see the whole page? Are you trying to click on one thing and being taken to another because you missed the right link? These are all clear signs that your site isn’t mobile-friendly.

If you rely on your website for any part of your business, the issue is now critical. Google has announced that from April 21, 2015, any website that is not mobile-friendly is likely to fall down its search rankings for searches made on a mobile device.

So how do you achieve a mobile-friendly website? There are two ways. The first is to run a separate website purely for mobile users. But this is time-consuming, because effectively it gives you two separate websites to maintain.

The enlightened way forward is to use responsive design – this is a coding technique which works out what device the browser is using, and adjusts the design of the site so that text is legible, buttons are pressable, and your site is much more usable on a mobile device.

Unfortunately, implementing responsive design will almost certainly require you to invest with your web developer as it isn’t straightforward to retro-fit it onto existing websites. This requirement is never going to go away, however, so you should see this as an opportunity to get ahead of the competition.

If you want to know more about how to make your website mobile-friendly, contact Zoe Richards at NLS.

Zoe Richards is the project manager at North Laine Solutions (NLS), an integrated digital marketing & communications agency.
www.nlsltd.com

Q&A

The news about Jeremy Clarkson being sacked has made me wonder what I would do if one of my staff hit another member of the team. My initial thought is I’d sack them on the spot and march them out of the building straightaway, but legally is that the right thing to do?

It is always risky to dismiss an employee on the spot. Even in cases where guilt seems obvious it would be safer for you to suspend the person with immediate effect so that you can then investigate what has happened by talking to witnesses and obtaining their written statements.
Thereafter the employee should be given a chance to defend themselves and put their side of the story. You can give them the chance to do this either as part of the investigation process (such as seemed to happen in the Clarkson case) or during a formal disciplinary meeting.

Either way it is only after a proper investigation and disciplinary meeting that you can fairly make a decision to impose a disciplinary sanction up to and including dismissal. If you act without going through a proper process then a tribunal may deem the dismissal to be unfair and could order you to pay compensation.

Employees must be notified of the allegations against them in writing, in advance of a disciplinary meeting and they have the right to be accompanied at the meeting (but not an investigation meeting) by a work place colleague or trade union representative.

You should also send them the evidence you have before the disciplinary meeting – that is the statements of those who saw the ‘fracas’.

An employee can only bring an unfair dismissal claim if they have over two years’ continuous employment, but as a matter of good practice it is advisable to always investigate allegations of misconduct before dismissing as there might be mitigating circumstance – although it’s hard to see what mitigating circumstances could reasonably excuse an employee from hitting another.

By all means march them out of the building straight away, but take some time to investigate exactly what has happened before dismissing an employee.

Martin Williams is head of employment at Mayo Wynne Baxter, which provides comprehensive and personal service to a broad spectrum of local, national and international clients.
www.mayowynnebaxter.co.uk

If you have a business question for any of our experts, email it to: rachael@imagesmagazine.com