Employing staff for the first time

The main things you need to know when employing staff for the first time:

Decide how much to pay someone

You must pay them at least the National Minimum Wage. Employees who do not receive the National Minimum Wage may bring a claim against their employer in the employment tribunal.  It is also a criminal offence not to pay someone the National Minimum Wage or to falsify payment records.

The National Minimum Wage from April 2018 will be £7.83 per hour, for those aged 25 and above. There will be a rate of £5.90 per hour for those aged 18 to 20, and people under 18 will be entitled to a rate of £4.20. Those on apprenticeships will be entitled to £3.70 per hour.

Check if someone has the legal right to work in the UK.

Someone who is subject to immigration control must obtain a work permit before working in the UK, unless they belong to a category of people who don’t need one.  It’s a criminal offence (punishable by a fine of up to £5,000) to employ a person without immigration authorisation to work in the UK.

For further details about work permits, contact the Work Permits UK Helpline on 0300 123 4699.

Get employment insurance

You need employers’ liability insurance as soon as you become an employer.  It must cover you for at least £5 million and be with an authorised insurer.

Check if you need to apply for a DBS check (formerly known as a CRB check)

If you work in a field that requires one, e.g. with vulnerable people or security.

Send details of the job (including terms and conditions) in writing to your employee.

You need to give your employee a written statement of employment if you’re employing someone for more than 1 month.  This will state the main terms and conditions.

Tell HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) by registering as an employer 

You can register up to 4 weeks before you pay your new staff.  Most employers can register online, but some will need to register by telephone, email or with an HMRC office. See HMRC’s web page ‘How to register as an employer’ for more information.

Once you’ve registered with HMRC they must then apply the rules of deducting tax and National Insurance properly.  Employers should be given a tax code by the new employee.  We would recommend using a payroll software such as QuickBooks.

A Pay Slip must be issued

An itemised pay statement must be issued to all employees at the time of payment and must include the gross earnings; net pay; fixed and variable deductions from gross earnings; and if the net pay is paid in different ways, the amount and method of payment of each part payment.

Employees may raise a complaint with an employment tribunal if the employer fails to issue a pay statement or if the content is in dispute.

Workplace Pension Scheme

Check if you need to automatically enrol your staff into a workplace pension scheme.  By 2018 all employers must provide a workplace pension scheme. This is called ‘automatic enrolment’.

You must enrol and make an employer’s contribution for all staff who:

  • are aged between 22 and the State Pension age
  • earn at least £10,000 a year
  • normally work in the UK (this includes people who are based in the UK but travel abroad for work)

You must deduct contributions from your staff’s pay each month.  If you fail to do this, you may be fined by The Pensions Regulator if you pay late or don’t pay the minimum contribution for each member of staff.

For more information please visit

So…what can you say in a job advert?

Many businesses have policies in place which are designed to help prevent discrimination within the workplace. However, the guidelines also apply when it comes to attracting the right employees for their vacancies.

As a general guideline, it is unlawful for an employer to discriminate against anyone, both at work and in job adverts, based on the following nine protected characteristics:

  • gender
  • race
  • religion or belief
  • disability
  • age
  • pregnancy and maternity
  • marriage and civil partnership
  • sexual orientation
  • gender reassignment

If you would like further information on this topic or to discuss any points mentioned:

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