WHERE LOCAL BUSINESS GROWS

Employing staff for the first time

Things you will need to think about when you begin employing staff, including how to register as an employer, how to check the immigration status of your employees and an introduction to Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) checks.


Overview
 

1.Decide how much to pay someone - you must pay your employee at least the National Minimum Wage.

2. Check if someone has the legal right to work in the UK. You may have to do other employment checks as well.

3. Apply for a DBS check (formerly known as a CRB check) if you work in a field that requires one, eg with vulnerable people or security.

4. Get employment insurance - you need employers’ liability insurance as soon as you become an employer.

5. Send details of the job (including terms and conditions) in writing to your employee. You need to give your employee a written statement of employment if you’re employing someone for more than 1 month.

6. Tell HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) by registering as an employer - you can do this up to 4 weeks before you pay your new staff.

7. Check if you need to automatically enrol your staff into a workplace pension scheme.

Registering as an employer
 

You normally need to register as an employer with HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) when you start employing staff, or using subcontractors for construction work.

You must register before the first payday. This can take up to 2 weeks. You can’t register more than 2 months before you start paying people.

You still need to register if you’re employing yourself (eg as the only director of a limited company).

Most new employers can register online.

Employers' liability insurance
 

You must get Employers’ Liability (EL) insurance as soon as you become an employer - your policy must cover you for at least £5 million and come from an authorised insurer.

EL insurance will help you pay compensation if an employee is injured or becomes ill because of the work they do for you.

You may not need EL insurance if you only employ a family member or someone who is based abroad.

You can be fined £2,500 every day you are not properly insured.

You can also be fined £1,000 if you do not display your EL certificate or refuse to make it available to inspectors when they ask.

Check to see if your insurer is authorised by looking at the Financial Conduct Authority register or contact the Financial Conduct Authority.

You may want to use an insurance broker to help you buy EL.

Checking your employee's immigration employment status
 

You may need to ask the Home Office to check an employee’s or potential employee’s immigration status if:

  • they can’t show you their documents, eg they have an outstanding appeal or application with the Home Office
  • they have an Application Registration Card
  • they have a Certificate of Application
You should see if they can work legally in the UK before asking for a check.

Start now on the Home Office service

Before you start You’ll need to get the employee or potential employee’s permission to make the check.

You’ll need to provide the following information to request a check.

Your employee’s or potential employee’s:

  • full name
  • date of birth
  • nationality
  • job title
  • hours worked per week
  • home address
  • Home Office reference number or case ID (if they have either)
You need to see their original Application Registration Card or a Certificate of Application if this is what you’re checking.

You’ll also need to provide your:

  • business name
  • business type
  • business contact information
You can be fined up to £20,000 for employing illegal workers.

Disclosure and Barring Service Checks (Formerly CRB)
 

Criminal Records Bureau (CRB) checks are now called Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) checks.

You may need to check someone’s criminal record if they apply:

  • for certain jobs or voluntary work, eg working with children or in healthcare
  • to foster or adopt a child

There are different rules for getting a criminal record check in Scotland and Northern Ireland.

Who can ask for a DBS check
 

Only employers and licensing bodies can request a DBS check. Job applicants can’t do a criminal records check on themselves. Instead, they can request a basic disclosure from Disclosure Scotland (you don’t have to be from Scotland to do this).

DBS eligibility guidance lists most roles that are eligible for a check. You can contact DBS if you’re not sure.

How to get a DBS check
 

  1. The employer gets an application form from DBS or an umbrella body (a registered body that gives access to DBS checks).

  2. The employer gives the applicant the form to fill in and return to them along with documents proving their identity.

  3. The employer sends the completed application form to DBS or their umbrella body.

  4. DBS sends a certificate to the applicant. The employer has to ask the applicant to see the certificate.

If the applicant has subscribed to theDBS update service, the employer can check their certificate online.

 

How long a DBS check is valid
 

A DBS check has no official expiry date. Any information included will be accurate at the time the check was carried out. It is up to an employer to decide if and when a new check is needed.

Applicants and employers can use the DBS update service to keep a certificate up to date or carry out checks on a potential employee’s certificate.

Types of criminal records check
 

There are 3 types of check. The employer or organisation running the check should provide the applicant with more information about the level of check required.

DBS check applicants must be 16 or over.

The time it takes to process a DBS check depends on:

  • the level of check
  • if the details given for the check are correct
  • what police forces need to be involved in the check

Generally, it can take around 8 weeks to get a DBS check.

Standard (£26)

This checks for spent and unspent convictions, cautions, reprimands and final warnings.

Enhanced (£44)

This includes the same as the standard check plus any additional information held by local police that’s reasonably considered relevant to the role being applied for.

Enhanced with list checks (£44)

This is like the enhanced check, but includes a check of the DBS barred lists.

An employer can only ask for a barred list check for specific roles. It’s a criminal offence to ask for a check for any other roles.

Volunteers

Checks for eligible volunteers are free of charge. This includes anyone who spends time helping people and is:

  • not being paid (apart from for travel and other approved out of pocket expenses)
  • not only looking after a close relative

An employer can only apply for a check if the job or role is eligible for one. They must tell the applicant why they’re being checked and where they can get independent advice.

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