Making the right decisions about your staff
24th June 2017
Often, new business owners are given lots of information about the pitfalls of hiring new staff and told about onerous employee rights which are a burden for businesses. Balancing the need for additional support with the need to reduce the legal risk as far as possible, can be tricky.  However, whether you’re considering taking on an intern, casual, part-time, fixed-term or permanent employee, there are certain key things all employers should bear in mind.

Right to work checks

All employers must check that all their staff have the legal right to work in the UK before employing them.  If they don’t and an employee is working illegally, the employer can be fined up to £20,000 per worker and or, even, imprisoned. In completing the checks, all staff need to be treated the same (regardless of their nationality, place of birth or appearance) to avoid claims of discrimination. When a member of staff joins an employer, they must provide evidence of their right to work in the UK by showing the company an original document from List A or List B published by the Home Office.  You should check it each time you employ someone as it is updated regularly.   We can advise on the necessity of termination of employment if you become aware that someone is working illegally.  In this scenario, you must act quickly to avoid further penalty. Also, don’t forget that if your staff work with vulnerable adults or children, You’ll need to carry out Disclosure and Barring checks.

National Minimum Wage/National Living Wage

You will need to check current rates and discounts to check you are paying your workers at least the national living wage.  Special rules apply to apprenticeships.

Tax, pensions and insurance

HMRC recently updated its guidance on who is classed as self-employed or employed, as well as the need for employers to provide workplace pensions.  There are additional regulatory considerations such as registering with HMRC as an employer and arranging employers’ liability insurance.


If you employ anyone, you must provide them a “written statement of particulars” setting out information such as the company name, employee name, job title or a description of work, their start date and details of pay and hours of work.  Generally, this must be provided within the first 2 months of employment and is often in the form of a contract. There are many other things to think about including what is contained in an offer letter, what probationary period might be suitable and appropriate and what references you should take up. All this can feel a little overwhelming but, fortunately, we are here to help.  We can talk you though all your obligations and prepare a pack of all the start-up documents you need, with handy checklists to help you manage the load.

About the author

Hedges Law
Prisca is an experienced and pragmatic employment lawyer with a particular interest in whistle-blowing, discrimination and education matters.

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