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Employees: Hire them, give them work – is that it?

Calendar December 7, 2016

The essence of employment is to hire employees so they can carry out tasks and duties you require. But as an employer your responsibilities do not end there. By complying with the law and looking after your staff you can be more efficient and more profitable, effectively preventing unexpected penalties and legal actions.
There is a list of things that must be complied with, not only at the start of the employment but throughout the course of the employment. A checklist of which can be found below.
Your first responsibility is to check whether the potential employee has the right to work in the UK. For all employees employed on or after 29th February 2008, employers must obtain, verify and copy documents which evidence their right to work in the UK before they start working. If you are an employer as a result of a transfer under the Transfer of Undertakings (Protection of Employment) Regulation 2006 (TUPE), you are not exempt from carrying out these checks on employees acquired under the transfer.
All data acquired as a result of job application must be processed fairly in accordance with your obligation under the Data Protection Act 1998. These include keeping data secure, but also that the data should be kept no longer than necessary. Doing a background check on employees via social media is another form of data which is protected under the Act.
Depending on the type of your business, you may also need to carry out Disclosure and Barring Services (DBS) check, previously known as Criminal Records Bureau (CRB) checks. These checks provide information on the individual’s criminal record; and are crucial if their role involves working with children or with vulnerable individuals i.e. in healthcare and schools.
Once the employee is selected, the arrangement is commonly recorded in a written contract of employment. Although this not a legal requirement it is advisable for the sake of accuracy and clarity. The law only requires employers to provide what is known as a ‘written statement of terms’ to their employees (in the absence of a written contract). The written statement sets out the minimum details about the terms governing the employment relationship; this includes:
– Identity of the parties;
– Date employment began;
– Date continuous employment began;
– Scale or rate of remuneration;
– Hours of work;
– Any terms relating to:
– Holidays and holiday pay;
– Sickness and sick pay;
– Pensions and pension schemes;
– Length of notice required to determine the contract;
– In a fixed term contract, the end date;
– Job title and job description;
– Place of work;
– Any collective agreements;
– If the employee is working outside the UK, the currency in which the employee will be paid;
– Details of disciplinary and grievance procedures;
– Whether a contracting out certificate in force, i.e. Pension Scheme Act 1993.
Above is the basic information that must be communicated to the employee within 2 months after the beginning of the employment, unless they are employed for less than a month; in such case no written statement is needed. Once the terms are signed by the employee, changes to the terms can only be made if the employee is happy with the amended terms. The changes must be communicated to the employee in writing within 1 month of the change seeking their approval.
If you are a new employer, you must inform HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) and be registered as an employer – you can do this up to 4 weeks before you pay your new staff.
Furthermore, as an employer you must also have an employee handbook which govern and outline all the policies and procedures of your company. This could include, health and safety policy, staff development, redundancy, grievance and disciplinary procedures, sick pay, sick absence, staff training etc. This should be located where it can be easily accessed by an employee.
Additionally, you will have to provide a workplace pension for eligible staff by 2018. This is called ‘automatic enrolment’. Once the employee is enrolled, you must then send them a letter detailing the pension scheme and their rights. You are also required to make contributions to the pension, unless the employees earn the following amounts or less:
– £486 per month,
– £112 per week,
– £448 per 4 weeks.
Finally, below is a quick checklist to assist you further with your obligations when hiring new employees. Give us a call on 0330 221 0684, fill in our online enquiry form or email [email protected] if you require expert legal advice on your current contracts or handbook, or wish to hire us as your out-sourced HR department. Our advice team regularly help with updating, amending, re-drafting contracts of employment and employee handbooks; and would love to help you with yours.


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