Employing people for the first time


You have reached the point of success where you need to employ for the first time. This can be a daunting time for small business owners and this guide will help you. 

When employing people, firstly decide on the hours you need them to work. Your options include a ‘zero hours’ contract if the work you’re offering has peaks and troughs or is irregular. Be aware, that employees with a zero-hours contract, can work for other employers. Holidays and other entitlements will still accrue and will be based on actual hours worked.

If you need to be able to control the hours to be worked or you have regular work to give, set the hours which can be part or full time.

Hours of work and the Working Time Directive

Be aware of the Working Time Directive regulations which states employees can’t work for more than 48 hours per week on average (averaged over 17 weeks) unless they opt-out. 

An employee has the right to an uninterrupted break of at least 20 minutes if they work more than 6 hours in a day. 

An employee should get at least 11 hours’ uninterrupted rest between finishing work and starting work the next day. 

An employee is also entitled to one of these: in a 7-day period, 24 hours of rest or in a 14-day period, 48 hours of rest (this is often taken as one block of time, but can be two separate 24-hour breaks if the employer decides this is appropriate).

How to recruit?

There are many methods for advertising for staff:

Online platforms: Indeed is free and a good source of candidates (just be prepared to sift through many applications, some of which won’t be suitable). For paid targeted advertising, try CV Library or Total Jobs.

Advertise on local Facebook groups and LINKEDIN.

We endorse recruitment agencies for more unique or specialist roles as they will seek candidates, pre-screen and interview before they submit CVs to you. They will charge afee for this which is worth it if you have urgent recruitment requirement or limitedtime.

Different rules apply to shift workers and on call arrangements.

There are 2 procedures that you are required to give to an employee: 

Grievance procedure 

The main purpose of a grievance procedure is to give your employees an easy way to bring up troubling or potentially sensitive issues with you about their work environment or interpersonal relationships with others at the company. Your procedure should state how you will deal with the grievance and the timeframe. It should also give the ‘right to appeal’ against the outcome. 

Disciplinary procedure 

Disciplinary procedures should be used to ensure that your employees are aware of the business rules and the performance standards that are expected. The disciplinary procedure provides information on the investigation process and the possible sanctions i.e. written warnings or dismissal. 

As your business grows, more HR policies should be issued, but for now, that’s it! 



A contract of employment is a legally binding agreement between an employer and an employee. 

We recommend that you gain a contract of employment template from a HR Consultant (like R Human Resources!). Don’t be tempted to download one from the internet. A HR Consultant will understand your business and tailor a contract to suit and add relevant additional clauses to protect your business such as Intellectual Property and Restrictive covenant. 

A tribunal can award up to 4 weeks pay to an employee for not having an employment contract. 

The main elements of a contract: 

★ Rate of pay 

★ Holiday entitlement (5.8 weeks is statutory which can be prorated for part time staff) 

★ Sick Pay entitlement 

★ Any other benefits 

★ Place of work 

★ Notice periods 

★ Pension provision (Tip – research ‘auto enrolment’) 

This is required by law and must be issued before the employees starts their employment. 

Here are our top tips for getting the best from your new employee

  • Give the employee a job description – it will set out the work expected of them.
  • Set clear objectives – what do you want your employee to achieve and when.
  • Don’t be afraid to discuss under performance and remember to give regular praise for a job well done!
  • Induction – set your employee up for success by telling them about your company and history.
  • Give them the training they need and continue to invest in their training as this will support ongoing employee engagement.
  • Have regular 1:1s to discuss any issues – from both your point of view and theirs.
  • Pay at least the National Minimum Wage and ideally the Living Wage.
  • Have a 3 month probation period, you can extend it if performance is not up to standard and you can end employment within this period (if you’re unsure, gain advice from R Human Resources).

Finally but just as important!

Remember to consider the GDPR regulations – ensure you gain consent to retain data about your employees and store the information on a HR system ideally.

Check the employee has the right to work in the UK (you will need to see and verify certain ID documents).

R Human Resources have an ’employing people for the first time’ package which includes policies and procedures required by law, a contract of employment template and a 1 hour advice session where we will answer any questions you may have on this topic. 

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