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Legalities of a growing workforce

I want to take on more employees but someone said that once I get over a certain number there are extra laws I have to comply with. Is this true? By Noz Islam

Business Link has launched an employing people checklist that covers the main obligations you have to address: health and safety, working hours, maternity and pensions and the recent increase in the minimum wage.

In a few minutes, you can complete the checklist which then generates a personalised report that highlights areas of employment law you may need to address. The tool is within the ‘Employing People’ category at www.businesslink.gov.uk/takingonstaff, where you can also find further information.

The tool will recommend you consider your health and safety risk assessment. This has to consider the health and safety risks to staff and third parties, so you should have one however many employees you have.

As well as recording the findings of the assessment, all employers with five or more employees are required, under the Health & Safety at Work Act, to prepare a written health and safety policy.

Your duty of care also extends to non-employees and contracted staff when they are working alongside you. You need to be confident of any sub-contractors’ understanding of health and safety and allow them to identify any training needs.

If you employ five or more people, you may also have to make a stakeholder pension scheme available to your staff, although some employers are exempt. A stakeholder pension is a type of low charge, flexible pension that can be bought from financial service companies.

Using self-employed contractors reduces your obligations but be sure that these individuals are legally defined as self-employed.

Ask yourself if they work to set hours, in a fixed location, with equipment supplied by you, where it could be argued that they are your employees, or if they set their own hours of work, come to work with their own equipment, take ownership of financial risks and look after their own income tax and National Insurance contributions, where a self-employed status is more likely.

Noz Islam is an online business adviser with Business Link