What you need to know when recruiting for the first time

Here, Ruth Hayward looks at the business and legal considerations small businesses should make when recruiting their first member of staff.

The recruiting process can be daunting when you are not accustomed to it yet

The recruiting process can be daunting when you are not accustomed to it yet

Recruiting for the first time can be a complex and daunting process. Therefore, it is vital to make sure you do everything properly. Here is some advice on what needs to be done when recruiting staff.

Be fair in your recruitment practices

Per the Equality Act 2010, recruitment processes cannot discriminate against anyone from what is known as a ‘protected characteristic’. These include a person’s race, gender, sexuality, age or any disability they may have. This means your job advertisements and any supporting documents you produce to guide candidates in their applications, such as the person specification and the job description, cannot exclude anyone who would be suitable for the role from making an application.

In addition, how you go about recruiting the candidate cannot be discriminatory. Discrimination can unintentionally take places at times though. This is known as Indirect Discrimination, and can happen when part of the role applies to everyone, but disproportionately affects some applicants over others.

Check their immigration status

An employer is also legally required to make sure any new hire has the right to work in this country. If an employer doesn’t, and it turns out there is an issue with that new member of staff’s right to remain or there are restrictions on what employment they can undertake, the employer can be fined up to £20,000 for each illegal employee they have unknowingly employed. Employers who have knowingly employed an illegal worker, meanwhile, face criminal prosecution, which can include sanctions ranging from a fine up to and including a custodial sentence.

Undertake other checks

You may also need to conduct other checks depending upon the industry you operate in. For example, Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) checks are both necessary and legally required for those working in certain sectors. This is particularly true where the employee’s truth-worthiness is of the upmost importance, such as in the financial services sector, or where the employee would be working with children and vulnerable adults.

Be clued up on employees’ rights

Employees automatically have a number of employment rights on their first day. These include the right to receive payslips, non-discrimination rights, maternity rights and the right to written terms of employment. Employees are also entitled to at least the National Minimum Wage, a minimum number of holidays and, if their employment is terminated, a minimum notice period.
As an employee’s length of service with the company increases, they will continue to gain further rights, including maternity pay and increased protection against unfair dismissal. Thus, it is vital you have put all the correct measures in place, as breaching an employee’s rights could have very costly and damaging consequences. These can include employment tribunal claims and being investigated by regulating bodies.

Put contracts of employment and staff handbooks in place

Another way to protect your business is to ensure Contracts of Employment and staff handbooks are in place and set out clear standards and procedures. For example, clauses within a Contract of Employment can be set out to protect confidential information, intellectual property rights and company property, as well as instituting non-compete periods for those who are leaving the company.

Furthermore, clear rules, regulations and standards of staff behaviour can be put in place with the creation of a Staff Handbook. These can also be used to make clear any workplace procedures, such as health and safety policies and grievance procedures, too.

Register as an employer and take out employers’ insurance

Before you first pay your new staff member, you also need to register as an employer with HMRC. Registration takes up to two weeks and can be done via the gov.uk website. Furthermore, you also need to get an employers’ liability insurance policy from an authorised insurer that offers at least £5 million-worth of cover before you become an employer. It is very important you do this as you can be fined £2,500 for every day you aren’t properly insured, plus an additional £1000 if you don’t display your insurance certificate or make it available to inspectors when asked.

Making sure that all of the above is done correctly is of the upmost importance when recruiting any new staff member. Not only does it set the tone and give new employees the right impression of the organisation, but it also protects the business too.

If you are in any way unsure about what needs to be done when recruiting staff for the first time, I would highly recommend you speak to a legal professional who specialises in employment law as they will be able to help you and ensure you are doing everything that is legally required.

Ruth Hayward is a specialist employment law solicitor at MHHP Law

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