What Do you Need if You’re Employing Someone for the First Time?

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Employing your first member of staff is both exciting and challenging. 

For some new business owners, it’s understandably scary. What if you get it wrong? What if you forget something you’re meant to do, and end up causing huge problems for your business?

The good news is, it’s possible to make consistently great recruitment decisions and build a team which helps the business grow. But there are some technicalities to take into account first.

However, as unexciting as they are, the following seven tasks are actually legal requirements. We’ll get onto the more exciting stuff later.

Seven things you must do when employing someone for the first time

The following guidance is taken directly from the government. We’ve summarised it to make your life easier, but there’s a link against each one if you want to find out more.

1 Decide how much you’re going to pay them

You’ll need to pay the employee at least the National Minimum Wage. This changes fairly regularly, so we’ll avoid quoting the current value here but, every employer, no matter their size, needs to pay at least the correct minimum wage.

There’s also the National Living wage, which is higher than the National Minimum Wage, and attainable for workers over the age of 25.

More info

2 Make sure they have the legal right to work in the UK

If you’re employing someone from a foreign country, you’ll need to ensure they have the legal right to work in the UK.

There are some basic checks you can carry out on the government’s website, and at the time of writing there are some temporary changes to the way documents are checked due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

More info

3 See if you need a DBS check

Once known as the ‘CRB check’, DBS stands for Disclosure and Barring Service. It enables you to check the criminal record of someone who’s applying for your new role.

If you operate in certain industries such as healthcare or childcare, you can usually obtain more detailed checks.

More info

4 Buy employment insurance

As soon as you become an employer, you’ll need employers’ liability insurance.

Policies should cover at least £5 million and be from an authorised insurer. If you’re not insured, you could be liable for a £2,500 fine for every day you’re not properly insured.

More info

5 Send details of the job to the employee

If you’re employing someone for longer than a month, you’ll need to send them a written statement of employment. This is usually referred to as an employment contract.

This might sound a bit old-fashioned, but it serves an important purpose. Within that letter, you’re expected to disclose all the terms and conditions of the employment, along with details of the job itself.

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6 Inform HMRC

HMRC needs to know that you’ve employed someone, and you can do so relatively simply by registering as an employer.

This can be done up to four weeks in advance before you pay your new member of staff (we recommend you do so).

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7 Check the employer’s pension status

You might need to automatically enrol your new member of staff into a workplace pension scheme.

Since early 2018, this rule has applied to all employers, both large and small. Thankfully, the process is relatively straightforward and can be done online.

More info

What else will I need to do when employing for the first time?

Beyond the legal requirements for employing someone, there are a number of strategic things you’ll need to do as well.

The following quick-fire tips will help you avoid the perils of choosing the wrong person:

  • Scope out the role; what’s involved and what responsibilities will the person have?
  • Write the job description. Then edit it and proofread it. Repeat this until you’ve created something which demands to be read by the right candidate.
  • Decide the qualities you’re looking for in the candidate, from their experience to their skill set, values, and personality.
  • Write an advert which focuses intently on the benefits of working for you as an employer. Reveal the opportunities that are available and the exact type of person you’re looking for.
  • Determine your interview questions and the answers you’d like to hear. Make a list of qualities you want to see from the employee and review their interview performance against those qualities.
  • Use templates to record your interview questions and answers so you can refer to them should you need to justify your decision.
  • Keep your recruitment records for a period of 6 months (to comply with GDPR)

Getting the legal requirements of employment wrong (or avoiding them entirely) can be hugely costly, therefore we really do recommend bookmarking this page and referring to it whenever you decide to recruit.

If you need help with employment law or have any questions on the points we’ve covered today, just get in touch with the Trinity team

Our HR partner Anabela from Stress Free HR runs a workshop specifically for businesses recruiting their first employee. Anabela can help you put together your job description, advert and provide those interview questions so you get the right person first time!

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