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Employing people

Taking on employees is often necessary to grow and expand your business, but it is a big step and brings with it extra responsibilities. Below are some of the key points you need to consider when employing people:

Recruiting your first employees - All recruitment decisions must be made in a fair and impartial way. From job advertisements to interviews and contracts, you must not discriminate against anybody on the grounds of sex, race, marital status or disability. There are some limited exceptions to these anti-discrimination laws such as if you can show you need to employ a particular sex or racial group for caring or authenticity reasons, but it is best to take legal advice if you believe you fall into one of these categories.

Eligibility to work in the UK - Your employees must be eligible to live and work in the United Kingdom. If you have any doubts in this area, you can check with the Home Office’s UK Border Agency about the best way to establish if someone is entitled to work in the UK. Please see www.ind.homeoffice.gov.uk for further details.

Contracts of employment - Even if it’s not written down in a formal document, a contract of employment exists from the moment an employee accepts your job offer. However, you must give an employee a written statement outlining the main terms and conditions of their employment within two months of them starting to work for you.

Some things that must be included in the written statement include:

  • Your business’s name and the employee’s name
  • The date the employment which your company began
  • Job title and/or job description
  • How much and how often they will be paid
  • Standard working hours
  • Holiday entitlement
  • The employee’s place of work
  • The length of notice required by the employer and employee to terminate the employment.

If you want to make any changes to an existing contract of employment then you must get the employee’s consent.

Employees’ rights – Your employees have a wide range of rights covering areas such as minimum wage, insurance, sickness, holidays, pensions, rest breaks, annual leave and maternity/paternity leave to name just a few. See our Employment Law section for more detail on these areas.

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