Employing people can be daunting. How do you know whether you’ve found the right person for the job? How much should you pay them? What happens with maternity or sick leave? What can you do if things don’t work out?

Here are five key things your should do before taking on staff.

1. Get an employment contract ready
All employees must be given a “written statement of employment” within two months of starting work. A clear, carefully worded statement will give you and your employee confidence and help to prevent future misunderstandings. Read our blog post on employment contracts to see what you should include.

2. Set up a pension scheme
If your staff meet certain conditions, you have to put them into a pension scheme. Even if they don’t, you still have to offer them a pension, so it’s important to have a scheme ready. Fortunately, setting up a pension scheme is easier than you might think, and there are plenty of providers who don’t charge a setup fee. Our free guide to pensions and auto-enrolment covers everything you need to do.

3. Check rates of pay
Deciding what salary to offer can be tricky. How do you attract competent staff without breaking the bank? A good place to start is the TotalJobs Salary Checker. This will give you an idea of the going rate for the role you’re looking to fill in your part of the country. Of course, you’ll also need to consider how much your business can afford to pay – and make sure you’re offering at least the minimum wage!

4. Brush up on the basics
Employment law is pretty complex, and you should always speak to your accountant about anything you’re unsure of. However, before taking on staff, it’s worth familiarising yourself with a few of the basics.

Holidays – Employees who work 1 day per week are entitled to 5.6 paid holidays per year. Those who work 2 days get 11.2 holidays (2 x 5.6) and so on, up to 28 holidays for employees working 5 days per week. HMRC’s step-by-step holiday calculator is handy for getting a quick and accurate calculation.

Maternity pay – Employees who have worked for you for at least 26 weeks and earn on average at least £116 per week have a right to 39 weeks’ statutory maternity pay. You can reclaim this from HMRC and in some cases get them to pay it to you in advance. Here‘s how to calculate maternity pay.

Sick leave and pay – One thing employers can’t reclaim is sick pay. For the first three days an employee is off, you don’t have to pay them anything. After that, you have to pay them £92.05 per week for up to 28 weeks, assuming they provide you with a doctor’s note and were earning at least £116 per week before their sick leave.

5. Have a clear disciplinary procedure
A quiet word can often resolve minor disciplinary issues and improve an employee’s conduct. But you need a clear written procedure for more serious breaches of the rules. We recommend basing this on the ACAS Code of Practice, and using their letter templates for each stage. You can also call them for free confidential advice at any time.

Thinking of employing people, but not sure where to start? Get in touch.

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