The wealth of existing employment legislation which changes on a regular basis can seem daunting to untangle for employers and employees alike.

There is light at the end of the tunnel for Small & Medium Enterprise (SME’s) by way of a local business service founded in 2014 by Caroline Hitchen.

Caroline has spent nearly 40 years in the employment law field, advising at all levels, both in house and in a consultative capacity.

She began her career with a Degree in Business Studies with Human Resources (then known as good old fashioned Personnel!) before working her way up through the ranks, and being promoted in 1991 to a Main Board Directorship with Biffa Waste Services Ltd as Director of HR at age 28.

Caroline then combined having a family and running an employment law advisory business for 18 years, advising both corporate and private clients.

Caroline was often asked by new clients if she was a solicitor and eventually she decided to bite the bullet and train to gain the qualification. She underwent formal legal training whilst also running her consultancy business and then spent two years with a well-respected firm of solicitors in High Wycombe, who were generous and visionary enough to take on a mature trainee!

Having achieved this lifetime goal she set up her own business again, and is well placed to understand what businesses need having also been Company Secretary of the family business, Neal Training Limited, for 25 years.

The business, Caroline Neal Employment Law, which Caroline has set up as a consultant, offers HR and employment law advice to corporate clients.

She believes that a fixed fee monthly service is the way forward for corporate clients, assisting with budgeting, and removing the uncertainty of how much advice is going to cost. Companies currently have a choice of using solicitors for employment law advice (which can often be expensive), or one of the many helplines available, however these don’t necessarily offer a personal service and in some cases managers find themselves talking to a different advisor each time they call.

Caroline’s service offers clients the chance to benefit from her many years of experience, together with the comfort of speaking to someone who is familiar with their business and staff, without worrying about increasing costs. Caroline likens the service to having access to your own HR Director at the end of a phone!

The fixed fee service is based on estimated usage and provides telephone advice, a visit to the client’s business to get to know a little about the company and the drafting/vetting of basic employment related letters.

More time consuming projects such as subsequent meetings, drafting large documents such as contracts or policies, projects such as assisting with redundancy programmes, tribunal work etc. will be charged at a reduced hourly rate of £135 plus VAT for clients who have signed up to the service.

Alternatively for clients who for whatever reason do not wish to sign up to the monthly service, she offers a highly competitive hourly rate of £195 plus VAT.

When it comes to Terms & Conditions Caroline also believes in keeping it simple. Her view is that businesses are becoming increasingly frustrated with lengthy and complicated contracts, which often have to be terminated at exactly the right time or businesses find themselves inadvertently signed up for another year! If clients want to leave her service they simply need to give one month’s notice.