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written by
Max White

Hiring your first employee

First-time employee

Business is good and the workload is really starting to stack up. So far you’ve kept costs down by handling everything yourself, but you’ve had to make some sacrifices along the way. Efficiency is slipping and you're putting in the extra hours to keep up, meaning you’re spending less time at home. You need to hire an employee to help get back on top of things.

As a small business owner, it’s one of the toughest decisions you’ll have to make. How, after all your hard work and dedication, do you find someone you can trust to take shared responsibility for your business?

Figure out what your business needs

When the work piles up, it’s easy to assume that all you need is an extra pair of hands. But in reality, your resourcing issue is more complicated than that.

Take time to carefully consider why you need the extra help. Are you struggling to complete orders on time? If so, you need to find someone with the skills to help produce and process whatever it is you’re selling. Are you spending too long in the shop when you should be out making deliveries? If you are, you’ll need someone you can trust to serve customers, as well as manage your stock.    

Only when you know specifically what your business needs will you able to determine who your business needs.

Establish what this person has to have

Writing down some 'must haves' for your first employee is a good exercise in understanding both where your business is now, and where you want to take it.

To begin with, this person will help relieve your current workload. But once settled in, this person could help take your business to the next level. Try to find someone who can grow with your company, instead of just getting you out of a jam. Recruiting isn’t cheap, so you’ll want to avoid replacing this person anytime soon.

Grab a pen and jot down the following:

  • What skills and level of experience you are looking for in an employee
  • A brief description of your business
  • Detailing of the exact job title
  • Responsibilities involved

Once you’re happy with it, ask for a second opinion. What you have written will become your job advert and job description. It’s important that it is grammatically correct and an accurate, professional reflection of your business. 

Know exactly what’s expected of you as an employer

Pinning down what this person must do for your business is an important step. But understanding what you must do for them is just as important:

  • As an employer, it is your responsibility to determine whether the person you wish to hire is eligible to work in the UK. Usually, this means them supplying their passport or an appropriate visa. The Government’s right to work calculator can help you with this.
  • If the work you’re asking this person to do involves healthcare or working with children, they will need to carry out a criminal record check.
  • UK law states that your employees must have at least 5.6 working weeks as time off every year.
  • If your staff are ill for more than four days, you are expected to pay them statutory sick pay.

To avoid any kind of future fallout, you need to ask yourself whether you can financially support an employee on holiday or taken ill, as well as how long you can efficiently run your business for without them.

Follow these steps

For an in-depth explanation of how to hire your first employee, take a look at this Simply Business step-by-step guide for small businesses.

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