Starting to employ people

When starting your business, you may well only be working with a small number of other people. If your business is a success and you want to expand, you may well look to take on employees. Even if you’ve been running a business for a while, now might be the time you’re looking at taking someone on.

Consider what employment option best suits your needs and remember that your employees are a valuable investment, so you want to make sure you get it right.

  • Are you looking for someone to fill a specific skill gap or just to cope with extra workload?
  • Is this additional workload temporary and what affect will taking on someone new have?


Permanent full-time or part-time staff tend to have an open ended contract with you and you have certain obligations to them. Temporary staff recruited through an agency can be an excellent choice to cover a temporary need, but you still have some obligations to the person concerned.

Freelancers, consultants or contractors are generally self-employed, so there are few employer obligations.


There are many ways to advertise your vacancy. Some of the most popular are:

  • Local and trade press
  • Online
  • Job Centre
  • Recruitment Agency.

Fact: 44% of small firms have no full-time employees – Mintel Small Business Banking UK Sept 04 report


To avoid poor results from interviewing, you need to properly plan and prepare.

  • What are you looking for?
  • What criteria are you going to assess candidates against?

There are two main ways to structure an interview; formal and casual. A formal interview tends to use structured questions to explore the criteria you’re assessing against. Casual interviews are more of an informal discussion and ‘getting to know you’ session.

See also: Guide to interviewing candidates

You might also want to set a practical task to assess a specific skill and remember to interview in a quiet place where you won’t face constant interruptions. Give the candidate the chance to ask questions about the job and the company and make sure you let them know when you’ll be in touch with a decision.

Employment law

As soon as you take on employees, the law outlines the responsibilities you have towards them.

There is a host of information to be found on employment law and issues to consider include:

  • Employment contracts
  • Redundancy/employee dismissal
  • Discrimination and harassment
  • Maternity and paternity
  • Sickness
  • Working time/minimum wage
  • Holidays/statutory leave.

Tip: For information on employment law: Tailored Interactive Guidance on Employment Rights (Tiger) provides guide through different aspects of UK employment law.

ACAS provide impartial, independent and confidential advice to employers and employees.

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