As part of a raft of new financial measures to encourage businesses to recruit and train new staff, it’s reported that small businesses are to be given a £1,500 ‘incentive payment’ to take on more apprentices. But taking on extra staff can be daunting for business owners – particularly if they are recruiting for the first time.

Here’s our quick guide to becoming an employer, and the things you need to consider.

Make sure you’re covered.

By law, all businesses that employ one or more members of staff must have employer’s liability cover for at least £5 million. This also applies to businesses hiring temporary personnel such as those on work experience, part-time staff and apprentices. Employer’s liability tends to come as standard on most insurance policies, and provides cover if the business has to pay damages as a result of injury or disease caused in the workplace, to an employee. All staff need to be covered by employer’s liability,

Check references thoroughly.

Whether recruiting for temporary or permanent positions, it is essential to obtain references to ensure prospective employees are responsible Their background should be thoroughly checked and it’s a good idea to question their work ethic, whether their previous employer would hire them again and if they have ever been subject to disciplinary action. To protect your business some insurers also offer cover against incidents such as an employee stealing from the business, however this may be invalidated if adequate references are not taken in the recruitment process.

Training and induction.

It is essential to fully induct all members of staff to ensure they are familiar with your business, its procedures, and the environment in which they will be working. However the length and content of the induction programme will vary depending on the role itself. If the role requires the use of business equipment and machinery, more thorough training may be required.

Health and Safety matters.

New members of staff will not be familiar with the business environment they are working in, or its particular hazards. In order to minimise risks, it is crucial they receive a full health and safety briefing. This includes what to do in the case of dealing with a spillage, manual handling, best practice for storing stock and how to log accidents involving themselves, a colleague or a member of the public. This will not only ensure the safety of employees and any visitors that come into contact with the business, but it will also protect the company from potential claims.

Employee welfare.

To ensure the wellbeing of all employees, business owners must abide by legislation and allow for regular breaks and provide a rest area. Employers must also keep records of sickness (of more than four days), and details of any accident or injuries, as well as records that show you are complying with the Working Time Regulations, which cover working time limits.

Taking on employees for the first time is a huge responsibility, and can be somewhat overwhelming. And, whilst there is a lot to consider (including legal obligations), employees are a valuable investment so you want to make sure you get it right.


Peter has received many accreditation's including many from the Times Online. As founder of You Could Save (2005) , What Stationers (2007) and more recently, Peter Millikin (2018). Peter regularly helps consumers and national organisation ‘save money’. He believes that the only successful way to bring people together online is to provide an open marketplace where people can all work together in a friendly, unbiased environment.

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