In a nutshell

As soon as you decide to hire your first member of staff there are legal requirements that you have to meet. This page outlines the essentials that you need to know about and directs you to relevant areas for further information.

By not complying with the essential legal requirements of being an employer you open yourself up to the risk of bad reputation, loss of time and productivity and even an employment tribunal claim. CIPD research on conflict management in 2015 showed that employers spend an average of 19 days of management time dealing with individual ET cases; by taking care to get the legal foundation right you're setting yourself up to be an effective people manager.

Key steps to managing this issue

As an employer you have to have the following in place and ensure you comply with employment legislation:

1. Contracts of employment

You are legally required to provide an employee with a contract of service within 8 weeks of starting work with you. Check out the section on contracts of employment to find out more about employment status and how to provide the right contract for your staff.

2. Policies

To begin with, you may wish to consider introducing the following key policies:

  • Code of conduct
  • Equality, Diversity and Dignity at work
  • Discipline
  • Grievance
  • Data Protection (including GDPR notice)
  • Health and safety (you must have a written policy if you employ 5 or more people)
  • Family friendly
  • Flexible working

You can refer to the relevant sections for more information on these topics, or enlist the services of an HR consultant for advice on drawing up policies.

3. Protected characteristics

In the UK, age, disability, gender reassignment, marriage and civil partnership, pregnancy and maternity, race, religion and belief, sex and sexual orientation, are ‘protected characteristics’ covered by discrimination law to give people protection against being treated unfairly. It’s essential that you and your staff are aware of the protected characteristics and take care to avoid discriminating anyone based on these characteristics. Acas have information and resources to help you create a fair workplace.

4. Other legal requirements

Pay: You must pay your workforce at least the National Minimum Wage (see Pay and Benefits section for more).

Pensions: All staff are auto-enrolled into a pension scheme: visit the government website for more information.

Tools and resources

The glossary of essential people management terms will help you get to grips with key terms used in HR and people management.

Legal disclaimer

The materials on this site are for guidance only and do not constitute legal or other professional advice. You should consult your professional adviser for legal or other advice.

The CIPD is not liable for any damages arising in contract, tort or otherwise from the use of or inability to use this site or any material contained in it, or from any action or decision taken as a result of using the site.

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