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Ask James Caan – Issue 83

Written by Kimberley Startup | February 15, 2012 | 0 Comments

Small Business Advice Ask James CaanDear Member,

The group this week has provided some great content for employers and candidates alike. Webrecruit copywriters, Leona and Elle, have shared invaluable posts, from how to get the most from Google+ to employee relations advice – I hope you are able to take something away from them all.

This week I was approached by Trevor who, as a small business owner, is taking his next big step by looking to employ his first member of staff.

He tells me business is growing fast and to keep up with the workload, he’s looking to take on a few contractors. His email raised some very interesting points, including:

‘Where do I start so I don’t break any employment or health and safety laws? How detailed should employment contracts need to be (probation periods)?

‘Plus as my business is primarily bespoke software development how do I protect my business from a future employee taking the software code used for clients and leaving?’

Trevor, it is fantastic news to hear that business is going well and you’re ready to take it to the next level.

As I’m sure you are aware, recruitment, employment law, contracts, health & safety, and intellectual property – are all fundamental elements you need to know, understand and comply with as an employer.

I have put together a few ideas and resources to guide you in the process, but at a minimum, always ensure to seek advice from the right professionals and legal advisors – certainly when it comes to intellectual property.

Before taking on your first member of staff, you need to know how you’ll measure the output of the role before you post the job. What mechanism is in place to measure the output of a new member of staff?

If you haven’t already, your first step should be to register as an employer. There is a lot to consider, from payroll to contracts – so talk to HM Revenue & Customs. Whilst employing contractors will require slightly less work, there are still a number of procedures you need set in stone.

When it comes to Employment and Health & Safety, really use the resources Business Link offers. You must familiarise yourself with legislation and what you, as a business, are responsible for. There are many areas to cover, including writing a health and safety policy, providing the right training and getting employers’ liability insurance, so ensure Business Link is your first port-of-call.

As a small business, you won’t have the support of a human resources function, so it will be up to you to compile the contracts yourself (with appropriate guidance) or alternatively, you could outsource this to an HR agency.

Before you can put the wheels in motion, you must be clear about what type of worker you are recruiting. Determine whether they will be an agency worker or self employed, or if they will be working for you. Each of these have important differences and can affect your statutory obligations, in which you must know.

An employment contract may be in writing, implied or verbal. Whilst oral contracts are as binding, it’s advisable to look into the written route – it may help you further down the line. This resource should help:

Finally, intellectual property. Protecting your IP is essential, and typically, the employment contract will cover this. It will assume that any work carried out will belong to the employer. If in doubt, always ask for legal advice. Visit the Startups website for more information:

Hopefully this will give you an idea of the areas you need to look into, and please keep us updated.



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