HR · 28 March 2017

Definitive guide to hiring your first member of staff: Law and contracts

Guide to hiring
For further law and contracts guidance, you may wish to enlist the help of an HR consultant

Following on from registration and insurance, we take a look at the relevant bits of law and contracts you need to know as part of our guide to hiring.

Over the course of this guide, we’ll be outlining the key procedures that you’ll need to follow to ensure a smooth transition into employerhood. To begin, we covered everything you need to know about registering staff and your insurance responsibilities as a new employer. Now, we will take a look at the relevant aspects of employment law, before guiding you through benefits and salaries.

As a new employer, there are a number of law and contracts requirements you must meet. Here are some of the key dos and don’ts.

Dos

  • Check that the candidates you consider for the role have the right to work in the UK
  • Carry out any other checks that are necessary for the role (e.g. criminal record checks for jobs that involve working with children or vulnerable adults)
  • Familiarise yourself with employees’ rights to holiday and sick pay in the UK and decide what to offer your employee in both these regards
  • Prepare either a statement of terms and conditions or a contract of employment
  • Remember that once the employee starts, you have a responsibility to provide a safe and secure working environment

Don’ts

  • Don’t ask candidates any questions about their health during the interview process. When you make an offer, you may only ask the successful candidate questions about their health that are relevant to the job
  • Don’t write any notes about a candidate that you wouldn’t want to share in a court or tribunal.
  • Don’t forget to make it clear in an offer letter if the role is subject to any conditions, such as obtaining satisfactory references or checking the individual’s qualifications
  • Don’t leave it too long to get your new employee to sign their contract. Ideally you should ask them to do this before they start their new role but if this isn’t possible, ask them to sign their contract during their first week

Employment law and contracts

At the very least, you should give anyone you employ for at least one month a statement of documents, specified terms and conditions relating to their employment.

However, you may wish to consider providing a contract of employment instead. This is a more robust document that contains additional information for the employee and provides a greater level of protection for you and your business.

In addition to the information included in the statement of terms and conditions, the contract could also cover topics such as confidentiality and intellectual property.

For further employment law guidance and support, you may wish to enlist the help of an HR consultant or an employment law expert.

When you register as an employer with HMRC, you will automatically be added to the Department of Work and Pensions’ list of employers and will be notified when you have to start deducting pension contributions from your staff’s wages.

In the meantime, check out the Pensions Regulator’s step-by-step guidance for preparing for automatic enrolment.

Don’t miss the rest of our definitive guide to hiring your first staff member:

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ABOUT THE EXPERT

Emily Coltman is chief accountant to FreeAgent, provider of cloud accounting software for freelancers, micro businesses and accountants. She is passionate about helping the owners of small and growing businesses to escape their “fear of the numbers” and she translates small business finance and tax into practical common sense speak.

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