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Top 5 HR essentials for employing a member of staff


Too often I see employers without the absolute HR essentials when employing a new member of staff. As a result, this can leave businesses open to expensive legal action and the inability to manage employees effectively. With just a few steps – you can avoid these headaches!

Working as a HR Consultant with businesses in Cumbria and across the UK gives me a unique insight into the thoughts and priorities of business owners. It comes as no surprise that owners are focused on the product or service that they provide, putting into place the team that they need and - of course - the finances!

It's easy for any business to fall behind with obligations and requirements of employment when their business grows, whether that be gradually, rapidly, or sometimes employing someone 'just happens'.

"We just need someone to help, and we'll figure all of that HR stuff out afterwards"… sound familiar?

Having even one single employee means you have employment and HR obligations as an employer.

What are the most important things to have in place when employing a new member of staff?

  1. Contract of Employment
  2. Discipline and Grievance Procedures
  3. Right to Work Checks
  4. Employee Privacy Statement
  5. Working Time Regulations

Read why these are my top 5 HR essentials for employing a member of staff in more detail below! 

Contract of Employment

You might also see a Contract of Employment referred to as a 'Statement of Employment Particulars'.

There are specific details that need to be included in a contract of employment. These provide the framework of how the employment works, including things like hours, breaks, rate of pay and not forgetting the ever-important probation period! Probation periods really are essential!

Did you know that it's now a requirement to issue the Statement of Employment Particulars no later than the first day of employment

Discipline and Grievance Procedures

Thinking (or hoping) that you're never going to need Discipline and Grievance Procedures isn't enough I'm afraid. It is a requirement to have these procedures in place, no matter the size of employer. 

Right to Work Checks

It's easy to make presumptions about the background of a potential employee and presume that they have the right to work in the UK. However, there is a requirement to check the right to work of all new employees, before they start work and regardless of nationality.

Did you know that a Driving License isn't proof of Right to Work? 

Employee Privacy Statement

Most people groan at the term GDPR, but a point to note is that employees are one of the groups of people that you should keep informed about what you do with their data. If your Data Protection Policy doesn't cover this, it's time for a review! 

Working Time Regulations

Most employers know that there's an obligation to provide the right breaks for their team.This can vary across some industries and age groups, but for most, it's an uninterrupted break of 20 minutes when working time is over 6 hours and there should also be a break of 11 hours between shifts.

You might have heard of the limit of 48 hours on a working week and that employees can opt out of this. It's easy to think that this is not applicable as your employees are never going to work over 48 hours – however, did you know that if they have not opted out, you have an obligation to keep track of their hours at all of their jobs to demonstrate and make sure that they do not go over the 48 hours? 

Well, that's all very good, but I've been running my business for 10 years and never had any of this stuff – do I really need it?

Whilst it might seem like a great idea to continue as things are, as you've never had any problems, the HR stuff really pays when things go wrong, or there's some boundaries that need to be set or enforced.

Of course, we should never forget that these are legal requirements and employees have the ability to raise a claim against their employer or in some cases, you could be in the sights of a government body such as the Home Office if you fail to check a right to work.

I've come across businesses where the legal challenges aren't enough of an incentive to get the essentials right, but the additional potential of negative PR coming from an employee raising a complaint often tips the balance.

Remember to review too, what is right for you with a couple of employees, might not be the same if your team grows or your business changes. You might want to formalise some policies like mobile phone use, social media use or have some processes in place to help manage the employee admin such as holidays. 

This all sounds a lot to do! Where do we go from here?

If you're reading this thinking this all sounds painful, I can tell you that it's never as bad as you think.

I've supported businesses in Cumbria and the UK that have been operating for many years and simply didn't get around to putting anything in place (if this is you, you are not alone!). We worked through it a step at a time and if there were issues, we resolved them, a step at a time.

It's important to find an HR partner that suits your business or organisation and that you like who you work with. If you make the right choice, they can make the process easy allowing you to stick to what you're good at – after all, HR is what we're good at!

For more information on this topic, feel free to contact me at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or book some time straight into my diary for us to chat using this link: 

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Tuesday, 25 June 2024