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When the time comes for a small business to begin employing people for the first time, the list of legal rights and responsibilities can seem extremely daunting. After all, getting it wrong could cost you time, money and profitability. It may even expose you to legal liability.

Fortunately, however, complying with employment law doesn’t have to be difficult. When approached carefully, with the appropriate attention to detail, you should be able to hire, manage and retain effective staff who will help you continue to grow your business. 

So what do you need to consider before you take on staff for the first time? Howells Solicitors offers a brief guide to help you take the next step with your business.

Taking on Staff for the First Time

When you take on new staff you need to:

Know the Law

Employment law is extremely complex and subject to changes every year. It covers a wide range of issues, including pay, working hours, health and safety, disciplinary and grievances, time off, discrimination contractual terms, as well as recruitment and termination of employment. 

It’s for this reason that we recommend consulting with a solicitor before you take on any employees in order to ensure that you fully understand your rights and responsibilities towards them. Howells Solicitors offers assistance on both an ad hoc and continuous basis via our Howells Employment Law Package (HELP). To find out more about this service, click here

Write Up An Employment Contract 

Once you hire a new employee, you have just two months to provide them with a written statement that sets out the terms and conditions of their employment. This must include a number of things, including: 

How much and how often they will get paid

Their hours of work (including whether they must work Sundays, nights or overtime)

Holiday entitlement and other benefits 

Where they will be expected to work

What company policies/procedures apply to them

Please note, this list is not exhaustive. 

Whilst there are a number of basic written statement of employment templates available to download online, these should never be relied upon to meet your business’ individual requirements. Failing to provide your staff with an employment contract that both accurately represents your business arrangements and offers you the flexibility to make reasonable changes in the future could be extremely costly, particularly if a claim were to be brought against you in an Employment Tribunal. 

Howells Solicitors can advise you on the drafting or review of any employment contracts, as well as that of employee handbooks. 

Check Your Employee’s Right to Work in the UK 

Employers can be fined up to £20,000 per person for employing illegal workers, and can be sent to jail for up to 2 years and receive an unlimited fine if they’re found to have knowingly employed an illegal worker.

To find out if a potential employee has the right to work in the UK and what documents you should check, HMRC have provided an easy to use tool that you can find here

Get Employers’ Liability Insurance from an Authorised Insurer

As an employer, you are responsible for the health and safety of your employees when they are at work. If your employees are injured at work, or they or your former employees become ill as a result of the work that they carried out for you, they can claim compensation if they believe you are responsible.  Employers’ Liability Insurance ensures that you have a minimal level of insurance cover against any such claims, and is compulsory. 

You need Employers’ Liability Insurance as soon as you become an employer, and you can be fined £2500 for every day that you aren’t properly insured. 

Inform HMRC 

When you take on an employee, you will normally have to register with HMRC as an employer. This is so that you are able to make the necessary tax and National Insurance deductions from your employee’s wages, and pay them to HMRC. 

To register as an employer with HMRC, click here

Get HELP with Employment Law from Howells Solicitors 

Howells Solicitors offers a proactive, cost effective service that helps small and medium enterprises comply with current and future employment legislation. We have a wealth of experience, and can help your business successfully navigate the minefield of employment law. 

To learn more about how Howells can help you and your business, please get in touch on 0808 178 2773 or email info@howellslegal.com today.

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