Taking on your first employee

Going from working by and for yourself to employing staff is a big step,  but often a necessary one if you are going to build a sustainable business.

Some wedding businesses can manage perfectly well with just a single person plus a little help from family and friends. For others outside help will be needed from day 1.

If you are unsure whether to take on an employee or not, then think very carefully and weigh up the options. Make sure you calculate the full costs of employment – not just basic wages, but holiday pay, taxes, insurance and the administration time. Then look at the advantages – being able to take on more business, getting fresh ideas and the possibility of taking a holiday!

Taking on an employee in the UK

Once you decide to go ahead, its important to do your homework. Business link have a comprehensive section on employment which covers the legal as well as the practical aspects.

Contact HMRC to register as an employer (and be prepared to receive a very large amount of information from them). Alternatively your accountant may offer a payroll service

Recruiting the right person is essential – a poor employee can work out very expensive. Take some time to define the job you want your employee to do and the skills and attributes the person will need. Be prepared to be flexible – I will recruit someone with the right attitude and a “can-do” approach even if they don’t have all the skills I would ideally like. Skills can be learnt – attitude can’t.

Before your new employee starts, have an induction/training plan ready. Even if most training will be “on the job” its important to let your staff know the ground rules and get them familiar with your way of working as quickly as possible.

Employing casual staff

If you just want to employ someone on a casual basis – to help out at wedding fairs for example – then tread carefully. You can employ someone on a “zero hours” contract where they are only paid when they carry out work. But you are still responsible for tax and national insurance deductions and your employee has the same rights as any other employee.

Remember that handing over £20 in notes at the end of the day is not legal! If you do plan to employ casual staff then check out the legal position with someone who really understands employment law.