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Top People Tips for Small Businesses

Hopefully your small business is growing and you’ve found yourself in need of some help. Now is the time to move from entrepreneur to employer, and it can be a daunting proposition. Here we try and help you think about the processes needed to aid the transition.

Protect Yourself

Well-drafted employment contracts will assist in ensuring that your commercial interests are safeguarded. Make sure that contracts have a confidentiality clause so your secrets can’t be divulged when an employee moves on. It’s important to get legal advice from an employment solicitor at this point to make sure you’re covering all the law and regulations correctly.

Make It Worth Their While

You will need to provide a competitive pay and benefit package to make sure you get the right candidates for your business. If you create a simple pay model for different roles it can help with consistency. You will also need to make it clear to employees what the timescales and criteria are for pay reviews (whilst making it clear that there is no right to a guaranteed year on year pay rise).

Give Them a Break

Your employees will be entitled to a minimum of 28 days holiday per year if they are full time. This can include Bank Holidays if you want. Set out clear guidelines around holidays including when they can be taken and how many days can be taken at one time. You might not want your new employee to disappear for a whole month at a time during a crucial point in your business calendar.

Keep Your Employees Safe

You are legally required to keep your workplace safe and hazard free, and safeguard against any potential health and safety risks. Arm yourself with an accident book and a first aid kit, and make sure workstations are designed for comfort.


Following a series of pension reforms in 2012, all UK employers will eventually be required to auto enrol eligible workers in a pension scheme and make mandatory minimum contributions to that scheme. The new employer duties are being implemented month by month over a period of five and a half years which commenced on 1st October 2012. You can find out more information about this on the Department of Work and Pensions website.

Employer’s Liability Insurance

By law you must have insurance to cover any claims brought against you by an employee. This could be useful if they are injured whilst at work. You can be fined up to £2,500 a day for not having insurance, so make sure it’s in place before your new employee starts work.

Record Everything

Employee data must be recorded and kept securely for at least seven years, and then you must have a policy in place if you wish to keep it any longer. By law you must record any sickness absence and accidents at work. The Information Commissioner’s Office has more information for employers regarding keeping data safe.

100 Days

Research has shown that the first 100 days of employment are crucial in finding out if your new employee is a good fit. Vice versa it’s also the time it will take for them to decide if you are the right employer for them. It’s a good idea to have a probation period in place with objectives and regular meetings to make sure things are going smoothly. At the end of the probation period you must put it in writing if you are confirming employment, or terminating the contract.

Keep Checking In

To make sure that your new employee is performing well you need to have performance reviews in place. In a small business environment this can be handled with a light touch so you are seen to encourage people to thrive and contribute to your business.

Having the right processes in place from day one will help your business grow, and with the right people on board you may find new avenues to travel down. Before you employ anyone make sure you get advice about the ins and outs of UK employment law. It can be a complex field to negotiate so we advise having a specialist lawyer guide you through it.

Jim Lister is a Business Employment Lawyer at Slater and Gordon in Manchester.

Our employment lawyers for business at Slater and Gordon have many years’ experience working with small businesses starting out on their employment journey. For any query you may have call us on freephone 0800 916 9060 or contact us online and we will call you.

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