One thing I do quite regularly is attend workshops and training courses to make sure my knowledge is always up to date. I recently spent a Saturday at an Employment Law workshop and it was a really helpful refresher for the kinds of things employers need to know when employing people.

We have split it down into the things you need to do by law and things that are good practice in order to help build a happy and efficient workforce.

Legal requirements:

  • All your employees should be issued with a contract of employment within the first 8 weeks of their employment. But I would suggest that you do not let your employees start working for you until they have signed their contract. That will ensure that everyone agrees to the terms of the contract before work starts and also means you won’t forget to get the signed document back from them. It’s worth noting that from April 2020, all employees need a contract of employment from day 1. It’s not a legal requirement but a comprehensive job description should go hand in hand with the contract, although remember to allow both you and your employee some flexibility about what their role will cover.
  • All employees must be paid at least the National Minimum Wage or National Living Wage, depending on their age. Information on the current rates can be found here
  • It is your legal responsibility as an employer to ensure that your employees have the right to work in the UK. This will be especially important after we leave the EU as an individual’s status may no longer be clear. To do this, you need to check their passport (and any visa) and take a black and white copy for their file; make a note of when the passport or visa runs out so you can keep the files up to date. Fines for non-compliance are £20,000 per employee.
  • Depending on the nature of your business, you must also have a DBS (Disclosure and Barring Service) check on each employee. You can ask an employee to provide a basic DBS certificate or you can apply for a standard or enhanced check on them if their role requires it. Information on DBS checks and how to apply for them can be found here
  • You also now have to auto-enrol your employee into a workplace pension. This could be one organised by the government or one you have organised yourself through a qualified financial advisor. Speak to us if you have any questions about pension auto-enrolment.
  • Employers’ Liability Insurance protects your employees if they get injured or become unwell as a direct result of the work they do while in your employment. If you employ anyone, even on a part time or voluntary basis, you’re legally obliged to hold Employers’ Liability Insurance. You must have a policy that covers you for at least £5million and the fines are big too – you can be penalised £2,500 for every day you are not properly insured. You should speak to a reputable company or broker about buying a policy but government information can be found here.

Employer best practice:

  • Offer each new employee a proper induction so they are fully up to speed on emergency procedures and usual business information. If appropriate, allocate them a ‘buddy’ for the first few days as they get to know the job and the people.
  • Complete a personal details record which should include personal details of the employee, next of kin, any medical conditions and their bank account information for payroll purposes. You can also use this to record their DBS check and, if they drive as part of their role, a copy of their driving licence, which you should request every 3 months. Remember to keep this information secure under GDPR regulations.
  • If appropriate, ask employees to sign a 48 Hour Working Time Directive Opt Out. This means you can ask employees to work for more than 48 hours in a week if required.
  • You may also need to check an employee’s professional qualifications so ensure you have copies of their certificates and make sure you know when they run out as you may have a legal responsibility to ensure an employee is appropriately qualified for the job they do e.g. food hygiene or forklift driving qualifications.
  • Appoint an appropriately trained dedicated first aider and keep their training up to date. Ensure everyone is trained on fire procedures should the worst happen and nominate a fire warden for each working area.

Taking on your first employee or growing your workforce can be daunting but having a robust process in place from the start will help make everything more straightforward. If you have any questions at all about being an employer, just give us a call and we’d be happy to help.