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Basic legal obligations for an employer

By 16/06/2012June 22nd, 2021Legal
basic legal obligations for an employer

Whilst employing your first member of staff is an exciting time for you, employment law can be a bit of a minefield and can be a complex and often daunting place! There are so many laws and regulations which you need to consider so we thought we would share some of the simple basics with you and then, over the coming weeks, we will go into some of these in more detail.

  1. You must register with HMRC as an employer.
  2. All employees (this does not include self-employed or agency staff) who have been employed for more than a month should be given an employment contract within 2 months of their start date regardless of whether they are part time, full time, permanent, temporary or how many hours they are working and even if they are going to be working for less than 2 months.
  3. If you want to change the terms of an employment contract, generally you need the employee’s permission.
  4. If you are employing more than 5 members of staff then you must have a Health and Safety policy in place and you must provide staff with free training and protective clothing or equipment required for their job including eye examinations and corrective glasses as required for those who are regularly using computer screens.
  5. All staff should be paid at least the National Minimum Wage regardless of their hours and this includes agency staff.
  6. Employees should not have to work more than 48 hours a week including overtime.
  7. Employees are entitled to at least one day off per week.
  8. Employees working for six hours or more are entitled to at least a 20 minute break every six hours.
  9. All employees are entitled to paid holidays including part-time staff where their time off is prorated based on the hours they work.
  10. You should give employees an itemised pay slip on or before the day they are paid which shows all deductions you have made.
  11. If an employee has average weekly earnings of £111 or more and is sick for four days in a row (INCLUDING weekends, bank holidays or other days they do not normally work) then they are entitled to Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) which is currently £87.55 a week. This should be paid on the same day and in the same method as their normal wages.
  12. Most workers are entitled to take time off for the birth of a child or for adoption. The time they are entitled to depend on whether they are the mother or the father and also how long they have been employed by you.
  13. Employees have the right to request flexible time to look after children and can request unpaid time off for the same reason and you cannot discriminate against them in any way for doing so.
  14. Even if a worker is employed by an agency they still have employment rights and many of the obligations still reside with you to ensure the agency is complying with their obligations or it could come back to bite you in the future.

The above list is not meant to be exhaustive (though it probably feels exhausting just looking at it!) but these guidelines should cover the main requirements which you need to consider when employing staff for the first time.

Updated on 9th March 2015. The actual figures mentioned above are subject to regular change and you should ensure you use the most up to date figures taken from an official source. The above figures were obtained from UK Gov website at