What to Consider When Taking on Your First Employee

When your business has developed to the point where you need additional help, courage is needed for the next step. It has to be taken though, otherwise your business won't be able to grow any more.

According to the government's web page about taking on your first employees, there are seven things you need to take action on immediately. Actually you'll find there is a lot more to it than that, but its list is a good starting point.

What Does the Government's List Cover?

The first item is to decide how much you will pay. It has to be at least the National Living Wage (currently £7.20 per hour) unless the worker will be under the age of 25, when the National Minimum Wage applies for the appropriate age range. If you think the worker might be worth more than that, and you can afford it, you can decide on a higher starting figure, which will possibly attract more suitable candidates for the job, but take care not to set a precedent that you may not be able to keep up.

To comply with employment law, you may need to have Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) checks of the criminal records of employees, depending on the nature of your business, and whether it involves security, children or other people who are vulnerable. You must also ensure that all applicants are not here illegally and have a right to work. And you should have employers' liability insurance in place before employment starts.

If this is your first employee, in 2016 you probably won't have to have a workplace pension in place yet, but from 2017 it will most likely be a requirement, so you need to start planning for it. You do need to register with HMRC as an employer.

Once you have your chosen employee, you have up to two months to issue a written statement of employment particulars or, if it applies, before the employee travels abroad for you. The statement should include the terms of the contract that automatically applies once a job offer of longer than 1 month has been issued and accepted.

What Else Should Be Considered?

Among the considerations not covered above is the legal minefield of recruitment. Great care must be taken to avoid an allegation of discrimination in any form, whether you advertise for free on social media or go the more expensive advertising routes or use a recruitment agency. You will also need to set up employment policies and procedures to cover things like bullying, staff grievances, holidays, sick pay and much more.

Even with only one employee, you must set up a payroll and make the appropriate contributions of tax and National Insurance and report on this to HMRC in real time. Your local bookkeepers will be able to help with this. In many cases, they often take over all the payroll activity so the business owner doesn't need to worry about it. They'll also be happy to advise and help on all the other aspects of taking on the first employee, including whether you could do with other professional help for anything.

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