Small Businesses and HR: In the beginning…


Date: 24 February 2010

As a start-up, hiring the first employee is a big step. Many regulations and laws affect the hiring, firing, and work of employees. If you employ other people you have to meet the requirements of employment law, and be responsible for paying wages, tax, National Insurance Contributions and Working Tax Credits where relevant. Having recently set up a small business myself, I have had to consider the commotion that goes hand in hand with employing new people. In the current economic climate jobs have become a rare commodity, making it easier for employers to find good people to take on.  Recruiting was the easiest part for me. There were plenty of people who wanted the positions that I had free; the most difficult factor was selecting the best ones. Once I chose the right people, I was then responsible for putting employment contracts in place. The Employment Rights Act 1996 stipulates exactly what must be covered, which include the obvious, such as; the name of the employer and employee, the date the employment began, rate and frequency of pay, hours of work, holiday entitlement, job title, and a description of the duties, as well as other details. Legal advice is often recommended because employment legislation changes frequently, which can have an impact on the information that must appear in the statement – I talked to a lawyer. Once the employment contract has been sorted, and work commences, you get to the part where you then need to pay your employees – argh! It got tricky for me here; some of my employees had other jobs, but as they were students they were still under the personal allowance band, so it was important to use the correct tax code. For this I, again, decided to consult an expert, because the last thing you want is HM Revenue & Customs chasing you, or your employees. On top of contracts and salaries, as a small business you also need to keep employment records of individuals and collective data, as well as certifying that employees work legal hours, and take breaks in line with the law. As times goes on more HR issues can crop up which employers need to tackle without delay; common issues include maternity and paternity rights, discrimination in the workplace, or health and safety concerns. Staying up to date with the law is essential, and as a small employer it is important to protect yourself by doing so. Charlotte Blake of Spanish Translations UK.

Law Donut

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