Preparing for Your First Employees as a New Business

Bringing new employees into a business for the first time can offer you a way to grow your business more than ever before. Maybe you’ve come to a point where you can no longer do everything yourself, or you’ve hit a growth period that’s accelerating what you do, and you need to get more people on board to meet demand. Regardless of the reason, if you can be confident there is a need for an employee or employees, then preparing for the hiring process can begin.

But before you throw out that job advert, there are a few things you need to do to ensure you are set up for success and you can be confident you are approaching things correctly.

Determine their Job Role

Firstly, you need to determine precisely what their job role will be. What are you struggling with? How do you need support, skills and experience that can benefit your business? While you might know you need employees, finding the need for them and justifying hiring people and becoming an employer, not just a business owner, needs to be carefully thought out.

Look into the specifics of the business and how you can best delegate to support what you do, be it answering calls or emails to offer excellent customer service whilst you’re in meetings. To help you as a sous chef for running a catering business from a home kitchen, or to help you extend your operating hours if you are unable to dedicate your whole day and essentially do what you do whilst you’re not there, e.g. running a small store. Once you have this confirmed, you can easily move on with the process.

How Many Employees Do You Need?

Will one person be sufficient to help you get things done? Or will you need more than one person? The more employees you have on the books, the easier it might seem to get things done, but then the more complex the hiring process, as you need to accept multiple new hires and then train them, as well as ensure everyone can work together cohesively for continuity. But suppose you realistically don’t think that one additional person will be enough, but you cannot afford multiple full-time hires. In that case, you can separate the opening into multiple positions and bring more people on board to help you move the business in the right direction.

One employee might sound ideal, but if you rely on them alone and they need to take time off for mandatory holidays throughout the year, or they need time off sick, then you might find yourself in hot water if you’d struggle to be without them. Take this into consideration when thinking of how you are planning your business.

When Will They Be Working?

From here, you must determine the hours you will require them to work. How many hours do you need support for, and what hours will they be working? The options for the hours they work in the UK are extremely flexible and dependant on your business, your hours of operation, and what will suit the company and your industry.

Let’s say you want to staff a small store that is in a busy shopping precinct that is primarily busy from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. It makes sense that your working hours for employees fall around these times. Your shift patterns can be anywhere from 7 or 8 a.m. to 7 or 8 p.m. every day you are open. However, if you’re opening a factory or warehouse, then it’s likely that you need to be staffed 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, meaning you need to be looking into dividing up shifts and finding a pattern that works for you. Whether it’s putting shift patterns in place so people work the same hours, such as 8-4, 4-12, and 12-8, or you opt for the 2-2-3 work schedules, which give employees two days off together but have them rotated in for 12-hour shifts either side; 2 12 shirts, two days off three two hour shifts and follows a strict rotation to ensure they do not go over their hours or work too many days in a row.

Full or Part-time Contracts

Next up is deciding on whether or not you want to take people on full or part-time. While there is no official limit of what makes a person a full or part-time worker, it’s generally thought that full-time is 35 hours or more. It depends on the business and shift patterns you designate, plus things like whether or not you pay for breaks or lunch hours, too.

You can take employees on for a zero-hour contract or hire them for a set number of hours per week: 16, 24, 25 or 40, for example. Part-time workers get the same benefits as full-time workers; they’re still entitled to holiday pay, sick pay, maternity, and paternity pay. But with part-time workers, you might find it more flexible for you as you can divide one 40-hour contract into two or three job roles and ensure that if anyone is off for any reason, you have others to take the pressure from covering them. One single full-time worker might be preferable as you can create a level of consistency and support the business with minimal changes to what you are already doing.

Register As An Employer

You need to register with HMRC as an employer and get your employer register number. Now, the timings for this need to be exact. You cannot register more than two months before hiring your first employee, but you need to have registered before their first pay cycle. It can take up to 14 days to get this number through, so be careful about when you put your application in so you can ensure you are set up and ready to go come payday.

Payment Method and Frequency

How will you be paying your employees, and how often? You can pay weekly, monthly, four weekly, set days of the month. It’s completely up to you, but you need to set the pay schedule and rate of pay before advertising to ensure you are offering a fair rate of compensation for the services rendered during the working day. You need to be paying at least the minimum wage or the living wage, depending on the area. While for more skilled employees, you will need to match the going rate in the industry to ensure you can remain highly competitive for the applicants you want to entice to work for you. 

You also need to figure out how often you will be paying employees. You can choose weekly, fortnightly, monthly on the last working day of the month, a set day in the month or four weekly. It is completely up to you, and while it’s more common to be paid monthly at the end of the month in the UK, there are a couple of options for when you set your pay schedule to help you find a frequency that works for you. 

How you pay employees is just as important; typically, paying via direct deposit into their bank account is the easiest, most efficient way of paying employees. However, you can also pay them the required amount from their payslip in cash. If you’re a small shop owner who can take a lot of cash throughout the week, it’s perfectly fine to use the cash to pay employees instead of asking for their bank details.


You need to have payroll software in place to create a payslip and make the required deductions for tax, national insurance, student loan repayments, pension payments or any other deductions. This ensures that the employee gets the right amount of pay and that national insurance and taxes are paid from each pay cycle. If you don’t have payroll software, it might be worth hiring an accountant who can do this on your behalf, and you collect the payslips from them. A payslip can be a physical copy or sent digitally, but either way, the employee needs to access each and every payday, and it must have their correct details, including name, national insurance number, PAYE tax code, hours worked, rate of pay, and deductions.

Employee Handbook

Finally, as a new employer, you should create an employee handbook that can help you set a standard of working and behaviour when at work or representing the company. What you think is and isn’t acceptable, what to do in case of a problem, emergency or dispute. Who their point of contact is, and what will be expected of them. Detail any procedures for disciplinary action, HR departments if you have them or outsource to an HR company and what they need to do if they cannot make it in for their shift. And include aspects such as sick pay, when and how to request holidays or changes to their permanent working hours, maternity and paternity pay, long-term absences, etc. It essentially needs everything they need to know about the company, your policies, and their possibilities as an employee for you.

Once you have all of your information ready to go, you can move into the process of hiring your first employees.