Taking on your first employee is a big decision. Not only will you be handing over responsibility for part of your business to someone new, but you need to be sure there is enough work to keep them busy, and you will need to take into account your duties and obligations as an employer.
Ten things to bear in mind when hiring your first member of staff:
1. Conduct applicant checks
Once you have found a suitable candidate for the position you’ve advertised, you must make sure that your prospective employee a) has the right to work in the UK, and b) passes any further checks which may be appropriate to their new position – particularly criminal record checks (a DBS check if they’re working with children in any capacity, for example. This used to be known as a CRB check).
2. All employees must have a written statement of terms and conditions
You must provide a written statement of employment for all employees. This provides them with the terms and conditions of employment by Day One of their employment.
You need to provide all employees with an employment contract that outlines their rights, responsibilities, and working conditions. It does not need to be a formal written document, but it generally is as it contains both explicit and implied terms of employment.
3. Make sure your business is adequately insured
This type of cover will protect your business from claims made by employees who have been injured or fallen ill at the workplace. Unless you have no employees, you should take out adequate Employers Liability insurance cover as specified in the Employers’ Liability (Compulsory Insurance) Act 1969.
4. Register as an employer with HMRC
You should register with HMRC as an employer within four weeks of taking on your first employee. As an employer, you will be responsible for paying your staff a pre-agreed salary and deducting any PAYE (income tax) and National Insurance Contributions from staff salaries.
5. Paying your employees
Paid staff must have a payslip including specifics of their gross and net pay, income tax and NICs deductions, and other deductions such as pensions contributions.
You must submit payroll data to HMRC each time you pay your staff to comply with Real Time Information.
Payments must comply with National Minimum Wage legislation.
6. Be aware of your Health & Safety obligations
As an employer, you are responsible for providing employees with a safe and secure working environment. You do not need a written Health & Safety policy unless you have five or more employees. However, you should go through the process of assessing the risks your staff may face at work.
7. Pension auto-enrolment
Employers must provide a pension scheme and auto enrol their eligible staff into the workplace pension. The total minimum contribution from April 2019 is 8% of total pay with at least 3% contributed by the employer.
8. Be aware of leave entitlements: holiday, sick pay, maternity, paternity rules
A wide range of legislation governs employees’ rights to taking time off – either for holidays or due to forced periods of absence.
9. Get staff involved
You’ve been flying solo. There is a tendency to think you know best and to dictate ways of doing things, but it is important to ensure employees can bring their experience and enquiring minds to work. By letting them try things their way, you may find a better way!
10. What happens if things don’t work out?
Perhaps the most complex area of employment legislation covers what happens when an employee is no longer required. If you do not handle a termination fairly (or an employee resigns because you have breached your contract with them), an unhappy ex-staff member may decide to bring a case against your organisation at an employment tribunal.
Employment tribunals typically involve disagreements over pay, the circumstances behind a dismissal, or some kind of discrimination.
Follow these ten steps to make sure that taking on your first employee goes smoothly and is problem-free.
If you would benefit from additional advice about managing flexible working requests, please get in touch via firstname.lastname@example.org or 07970 260104.
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The content of our blogs is intended for general information only and does not replace legal or other professional advice.