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HR: Take it seriously to protect your business and your team

04 Mar 2021 | Liz Somerville


Liz Somerville is the Managing Director of Loch Leven Equine Practice. In this blog, she tells us why all good workplaces, even independent practices, should invest time and money into improving human resources

HR:  Take it seriously to protect your business and your team Image


If you’re in independent practice, it’s easy to focus on the number of clients walking through the door and regard support functions, such as HR, as a nuisance. I set up my practice 16 years ago, offering a gold-standard HR service from day one. While my initial motivation was to protect the business, I soon learnt that it also showed my team that I was a responsible and caring employer.

HR – a critical business function

The law and regulatory environment for HR change frequently. In 2019, I asked a group of vets how many had contracts. Many had been in their jobs for 18 months and had yet to be issued with any documentation. I’ve heard of practice owners being taken to tribunal simply because they didn’t follow due process. This creates stress and ill-feeling. It’s expensive to resolve. Can you afford NOT to take HR seriously?

I took the decision to outsource HR from the outset. The tiny number of staff issues we have faced over the last 16 years is testament to this approach: 

  • My HR outsourcing partner has a deep understanding of the needs of both the business and our employees
  • They handle all aspects of HR, leaving me to concentrate on the areas of the business that most need my active involvement, including leading the team
  • I have the reassurance of knowing that our contracts and other policies are always up to date
  • My employees appreciate the efforts we take to protect them as well as the business
  • Since we started, we have had one Gross Misconduct case and one employee try to take us to tribunal. The case put together by our HR partner was so robust that the complainant dropped the accusations quickly
  • Even if this hadn’t been the case, as long as we could show that we had followed the required steps, the insurance we receive through our HR partner would have covered all costs
  • We pay about £150 per month to outsource our HR. For the time it saves and the peace of mind it gives, it’s excellent value for money.

If you prefer to manage HR in-house, bear these points in mind:

  • Give yourself enough time. From payroll to pensions, contracts to career development, it’s a complex area. Consider delegating some other responsibilities if necessary
  • Take advantage of free resources:
    • ACAS gives free, impartial advice on workplace rights, rules and best practice. It also helps to resolve disputes
    • BVA offers a range of useful resources and support
    • VMG members receive access to template contracts, policies and protocols, grievance procedures. Its member Facebook group is a an ‘hivemind’ of knowledge and experience
  • Check out CPD on offer from the VMG and other organisations. From free lunchtime webinars to congresses with multiple streams, there is lots of information out there
  • Retain an experienced HR consultant. Ask them to review your current contracts, other documents and processes to make sure you shape up.


Is your HR up to scratch? If you’re not sure, it’s time to seek some professional advice to protect your business and your team.

A professional HR function protects your business. It also speaks volumes about your practice’s values and concern for your employees. At a time when good staff are hard to come by, this is a powerful message. Do HR properly and it will be an asset. Do it ‘on the fly’ and you’re exposing yourself to unnecessary and expensive risks.


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