Ready to hire your first employee?

Taking on your very first employee can be a very exciting moment. It can, also, be stressful.

All those “i”s to dot and “t”s to cross to ensure that things are done correctly before their first day of work.

HR guru Olga of CrosseHR is here to share her tips with all prospective employers and employees.


The characters are fictitious and please remember this is intended as a guide rather than a tailored solution. 

Mabel is an upcoming fashion designer. She’s had a sudden run of orders and is beginning to get overwhelmed. It’s time her to ease the burden upon her time by hiring her first part-time employee.

Doris has just completed a course in sewing and pattern cutting at college. She’s got a skill set that matches Mabel’s perfectly, so Doris is a great fit as Mabel’s very first part time employee.

But it’s a big step for both of them.


Mabel: I’m worried, this will be the first time I have employed someone and I hear negative stories like getting stuck with the wrong person, being saddled with legalities that will cost a fortune. My business is very new and I can’t afford to make mistakes, I want to get this right…

Doris: I’ve great sewing skills and I’m ready to take on a job for a few hours a week. But I’m anxious about contracts, making sure my job is clearly defined, getting stuck with the wrong employer, pay and taxes…


Crosse HR: Hiring your first employee.


Advice for Mabel, the prospective employer.

Mabel this is very exciting, your company is going well and you cannot let your fears hold you back. Employing someone is the next step and it can be one of the most rewarding things you will ever do. There are a lot of myths and half truths out there but its not as bad as its made out to be. Just make sure you do the following things as a minimum.

1. Be clear about the job and what you want that person to do. The best way to do this is to write a list down, this is otherwise known as a job description and is simply a list of the things you want your employee to do.

2. Be clear about what you are going to pay, remember the National Minimum Wage for 25 years of age and over is £7.50 per hour, 21- 24 years of age £7.05 per hour, 18-20 years of age £5.60 per hour, so it cannot be less than that.

3. Be clear about the hours of work , start and finish times, and days of work, is it part time, full time (minimum 37.5 hours per week) etc.

4. Be clear about holidays (minimum 28 days per annum which INCLUDES bank holiday for full time staff, pro rata for part timers)

5. Be clear about the ground rules you would like them to follow i.e. who to call when sick, or late, how to book annual leave, when to take lunch, phone calls at work, smoking breaks, dress code, childcare responsibilities.

6. Within 28 days of them starting, but ideally before they start, you need to produce a contract/written particulars of employment, stating all of the above, as well as a few other things such as disciplinary, grievance and sickness procedures etc.

7. Always have a probation period minimum 3 months but ideally 6 months, that way any issues can be ironed out easily within the first few months with little come back. Remember unfair dismissal rights begin 2 years after a person starts, so there is plenty of time to get it right.

8. You also need to make sure you enrol them in a pension scheme as all employees have to be auto enrolled into a scheme. This year you contribute 1% in employer contributions, from April 2018 its 2% rising to 3% in April 2019. For further details look up www.the pensions 

Communicate, communicate, communicate and make sure anything that has been agreed is in writing before the contract start date.

Crosse HR: Hiring your first employee.


Advice for Doris, the prospective employee.

You have great skills and it’s exciting to put them to use and help a small business to grow. If you follow the guidelines below you will be clear about what is expected. Don’t be afraid to ask your prospective employer questions if you are confused.

1. Ask for a job description or list of your duties, this tells you in general terms what to expect your job to be.

2. Ask what your wages are going to be i.e. paid by the hour (if so you must be paid a minimum of minimum wage which has changed for 25 years of age and over to £7.50 per hour, 21- 24  years of age £7.05 per hour, 18-20 years of age £5.60 per hour. Gross of Tax and NI).

3. Will you be PAYE or self employed? PAYE means the employer deducts your tax and NI and pension at source for you.

4. Make sure you get a contract or written particulars BEFORE you start employment. This will state your salary, HOW you will get paid and when, your holidays (yes you are entitled to minimum 28 days annual leave for a full time employee (pro rata for part time), any breaks, notice periods etc.

5. You also need to make sure you are enrolled  into a pension scheme as all employees have to be auto enrolled into a scheme. This year the employer  contribution is 1%, employee contributions are .8% the gov pay .2%, from April 2018  your employer pays 2% rising to 3% in April 2019, you pay 4% by April 2019 and the government pays 1% by April 2019. For further details look up www.the pensions

6. Make sure you clarify your start and finish times.

7. If you need to leave early or come in late, what are the possibilities for this? Do not ignore this, please mention it if you think it could be an issue before you start.

8. Ask about probation periods i.e. how long are they?

9. What are the GROUND rules i.e. Lunch breaks, who is your boss, how things are done.

10. Give them your P45 when you start so your tax code is correct and you pay the correct tax.

11. What are the notice periods (in case it doesn’t work out)?

12. If in doubt just ask, It is better to know in advance before you take the job than find out all is not as it should be after you take the job.

It’s natural to be nervous but there is no reason why this will not be a fantastic opportunity for both.

HR for small business owners

Olga Crosse

Olga Crosse
0330 555 1139

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