For any business owner taking on a new employee, it can be a daunting period. Time and resources may be stretched (especially if you are short-staffed) and HR tips for small businesses can be hard to find.
But taking on a new employee is something that any business must take great care over. If you make mistakes or ignore key responsibilities in the early days, it can cost significant amounts of time, money and stress in the long run.
To avoid falling foul of UK employment law, there are several key things you need to give new employees. From before you’ve even started advertising, to during the hiring process and onboarding – make sure you’re up to speed with the latest business HR advice.
Many entrepreneurs will start their business as a sole trader. Whilst it’s sensible to wait until you’re secure financially before taking on employees – this is something you have to do when hiring.
Make sure you’ve registered with HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) at least a month before you take on your new employee. Timing is crucial, as the process can take several weeks, but can’t be done more than two months before you start paying your first member of staff.
This is an essential part of recruitment that’s often overlooked. The job description is the first thing your new employee will receive from you, and forms a crucial part of the hiring process.
A clear job description setting out key responsibilities, skills and remuneration will set expectations on all sides. You can also refer back to the document throughout the interview process, keeping notes on relevant strengths and weaknesses of each candidate.
Just remember that pay must at a minimum, be at the National Minimum or Living Wage, taking into account all hours worked.
It’s vital to check if your chosen candidate has the legal right to work in the UK. Consequently, it’s a good idea to ask interviewees to provide their passport or other supporting documents (such as DBS checks) during the hiring process.
You should also make sure each new employee has a National Insurance (NI) number. Businesses who employ illegal workers can face fines of up to £20,000 per employee – so be vigilant! If ever in doubt, the latest business HR advice and support is available on the government website.
Successful business human resources (HR) relies on accurate and consistent record keeping. You are required to keep employee details safe, secure and easily accessible – with accurate tax records stored for six years.
Each employee file should at least include:
If you aren’t sure what information you should store for each employee, HMRC can advise.
When you hire a new member of staff, it’s your responsibility to arrange payment and make necessary income tax (PAYE) deductions from their salary.
To fully register your new employee on payroll, you’ll need information from their P45. A P45 is a document given to employees at the end of their previous job, providing details of their tax code, gross pay, and the tax paid for that year.
It’s usually wise to employ an accountant or bookkeeper and invest in accounting software to help with payroll.
Under auto-enrolment rules, you’re also required to enrol any new employee into a workplace pension scheme. The only exceptions are if your worker earns less than £10,000 per annum or is under 22 years of age.
There are many different types of employment agreements, including full-time, part-time, fixed-term and consultant contracts.
Whatever agreement you have with your new employee, you are legally required to send details about the role. This includes a statement of employment (the job description you wrote at the start of this process!), as well as a contract of employment.
The contract of employment should be issued after your candidate has accepted the role, no more than two months after their first working day. It will outline their employments rights, responsibilities and duties, and should include:
Last but not least, make sure to give your employee a warm welcome and set appropriate goals.
It’s best practice for business human resources that new workers have a pleasant onboarding experience. This could involve ensuring relevant training is in place, setting manageable targets or arranging meetings with other staff and stakeholders.
Any great business owner will tell you that their staff are the most valuable asset. So beyond what you need to give new employees on hiring, also consider how you will retain and reward excellent workers. It’s in everyone’s interest that this is a long-term, successful relationship. Start as you mean to go on, and your business will go from strength to strength.
If you run a start-up or SME and are looking for business HR advice and support, the Bromley Business Hub can help. Whether it’s HR tips for small businesses, hiring that first member of staff or connecting with other local entrepreneurs, you and your business will be off to the best possible start.
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