Hiring Staff for the First Time? Here’s Everything you Need to Know Before you do

After interviewing numerous candidates, hand-picking a great applicant, and feeling almost ready to take on board your very first employee. However, there are a few formalities to take care of before hiring staff. These include tax, pay, insurance, checking your new recruits eligibility to work, and the all-important employment contract.

Most of these essentials can be dealt with online — good news for those who often feel overwhelmed by paperwork. What’s more, especially when you are dealing with HMRC for tax and payroll, gov.uk is a great go-to hub of information built to keep first-time employers on track. Nevertheless, it’s essential to take the time to ensure nothing is left forgotten, and avoid unnecessary hassle (not to mention financial penalties) further down the line.

Check the eligibility of the candidate to work in the UK

Checking your candidate’s eligibility to work in the UK should be one of the first actions you take in the process. Ideally,sta you want to check this in the recruitment phase, but if this isn’t possible you should definitely make your checks as soon as they have accepted the job offer. Alternatively, you could ask candidates to bring appropriate documents in at the time of their interview. But to avoid any inference of discrimination, you must apply this to all candidates in the interview process.

You should follow the Government’s recommended ‘Obtain Check Copy’ procedure. This involves checking the validity of acceptable documents (e.g. passport) in the presence of the new starter, before taking and retaining a copy. Full details, including a list of accepted documents, are included in the ‘Home Office right to work checks guide’.

Apply for a DBS Check (if needed)

Formerly known as Criminal Records Bureau (CRB) checks, these renamed Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) checks are necessary for healthcare roles and for working with children. As an employer requiring less than 100 checks per year, you will need to obtain an application form from a DBS umbrella body. Steps to take:

  1. Ask the applicant to complete it, and return it with the relevant supporting documents.
  2. Forward this to the umbrella body.
  3. Be sure to give your new employee the documents immediately after making the job offer. It can take around eight weeks for the check results to return.
  4. If the tests bring up any incriminating information your employee failed disclose, you may have to withdraw the job offer.
  5. Waste no time. Prepare documents in advance of searching for your new addition.

For further details on this process, the official DBS checks guidance contains all the information you need.

Put employers’ liability insurance in place

You’ll need to put employers’ liability insurance in place as soon as your new staff member starts working for you. As soon their start date is on the calendar, inform your chosen broker or insurer. Considering this well in advance (i.e. as soon as you’ve decided to take on staff) gives you more time to shop around for a suitable, well-priced policy.

As with many other types of insurance, it is possible to obtain employers’ liability cover by approaching insurers directly, through using comparison sites, or via an independent insurance broker. The application process usually involves providing a breakdown of the nature of your business, and the type of work your employee will be carrying out.

Send your new employee a copy of your terms and conditions

As well as verbally offering your candidate the job, it’s also good practice to send a formal offer letter. If the offer is subject to receiving acceptable references and/or, for proof of a driving licence, for instance, this should be made clear in the letter.

Although you have up to two months from the start date to provide it, this offer confirmation stage is also a good opportunity to supply your new employee with a written statement of employment particulars, setting out essential information about the job. This guide to employment particulars sets out what needs to be included here.

Register as an employer with HMRC

Before your new employees first payday comes around, you’ll need to register yourself as an employer. This is a simple online application that can be done via the HMRC Register as an employer page. After registering, you will receive PAYE references followed by an activation code for HMRC’s PAYE Online service.

Follow each of these steps you can rest assured you will have:

  • Checked that your employee is legally entitled to work for you, and within the UK.
  • Purchased the right insurance cover, at a competitive rate, and put it in place before their first day.
  • Provided your new employee with a legally-required statement of employment particulars, so that you are both on the same page.
  • Let HMRC know that you’re now an employer. This means you can pay your employee, while enabling HMRC to collect income tax and national insurance.

As an employer, there are several new challenges you may come to face. For instance:

  • What’s the most efficient way to deal with payroll each month?
  • How should you respond if your employee formally requests flexible working arrangements?

Browse our help centre for advice on these and lots of other business topics, made to help you find your feet as a new employer.

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