Catherine Wilson
Thomas Eggar

Member Article

Small businesses and hiring staff: hints and tips

Catherine Wilson is a Partner and employment specialist at leading law firm Thomas Eggar LLP. Here, she gives her top tips on hiring new staff.

Hiring employees is often seen as a headache by small and growing businesses given the mountain of government regulation, which, it is often argued, favours employees over employers.

With the government now focusing on the country’s economic growth, a few days ago, the Queen announced changes to employment legislation with the aim of reducing the burdens on business in an effort to encourage recruitment. The introduction in April of the requirement for two years qualifying service prior to pursuing a claim for unfair dismissal should provide some comfort for employers however there remain a number of issues employers still have to deal with when taking on new employees.

1 – Advertising

Employers need to think carefully about the job description including how and where they advertise. The job description needs to be clear and cover the main purpose and objectives of the job, detailing which, in relation to a candidate’s skills and experiences are ‘essential’ and which are ‘desirable’. The employer will also have to ensure that the advertisement is open to the widest range of candidates by using all possible mediums from the internet to newspapers in order to reach potential candidates of various ages, sexes and
different communities. Finally don’t forget that a job advertisement can create contractual liabilities post recruitment, for example, in relation to salary and bonus arrangements.

2 – Recruitment

It is important for employers to ensure that they recruit the right employees for their business, but at the same time, there is a legal responsibility to ensure that the selection process is fair and that no unlawful discrimination occurs during it.

It follows that employers need to agree prior to the interview on the candidate selection criteria based on the job description and person specification. Employers need to think about when and where the interview should take place in relation to a candidate’s specific needs. For example, employers must ensure that the place of interview has disabled access for disabled candidates or that the interview is held that a time which would not conflict with a candidate’s childcare responsibilities. Shortlisted candidates should be asked the same questions and employers need to be mindful not to ask about a candidate’s personal life unless this is relevant to the requirements of the job.

3 – Regulatory considerations

Employers must be mindful of the fact that they will be responsible for ensuring the income tax and national insurance is paid for the new employee. Employers are otherwise liable for certain penalties. Employers will also need to set up the new employee on a payroll system; however this task is made less complicated nowadays with many accountants and book keepers offering a payroll service.


There is no doubt that for small businesses looking to expand, the prospect of having to ensure compliance with employment laws and practices can be particularly unappealing. However, there is help and information available to employers. For example, Acas has issued helpful guidance for employers looking to take on new employees.

Also, Business Link has a ‘Taking on an employee toolkit’ which is a useful commercial guide for new employers.

This was posted in Bdaily's Members' News section by Thomas Eggar .

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