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Legalities of employing staff

Guidance on meeting employment law.

Practical advice for business

If you are running a business for the first time the GOV.UK site has useful information and explains about the minimum wage, legal right to work, DBS checks, registering as an employer etc..

What you should have in place

  • Job descriptions for each member of staff, setting out the key duties of each post and what is expected of the member of staff holding that post. It is recommended that a person specification is developed alongside each job description. This will help with recruitment.
  • Statement of terms and conditions of employment. This is the written contract of employment, setting out pay, rights to time off, holiday, sick leave, pensions, notice periods for termination and disciplinary and grievance procedures. It should be provided within two months of employment commencing
  • Disciplinary and grievance procedures. These are the procedures which your setting will follow should it become necessary to take disciplinary action against a member of staff or a member of staff has a grievance relating to their employment.
  • Staff induction procedure. When a new employee begins work there is a lot for them to learn about your organisation, from health and safety to dress code. To help ensure they become familiar with everything and settle in quickly it is recommended that an induction programme is in place.
  • Staff appraisal system. Appraisals are normally carried out by line managers. This will vary depending on the needs of each setting, but in a voluntary managed setting the chairperson will normally carry out the appraisal of the supervisor (manager, playleader etc.), and the supervisor would carry out the appraisals of the other members of staff.

Further information and guidance

Areas to consider

Safer recruitment

All organisations in England that work with or provide services for children and families have a duty to protect their welfare. From 1 January 2010 it has been a legal requirement that recruitment panels appointing paid school staff and volunteers into the children and families workforce should include at least one person who has been trained in safer recruitment.

A course is available at CPDonline/Step into Training.

Prevention of discrimination

The Equality Act 2010 legally protects people from discrimination in the workplace and in wider society.

It replaced previous anti-discrimination laws with a single Act, making the law easier to understand and strengthening protection in some situations. It sets out the different ways in which it’s unlawful to treat someone. Find out more about who is protected from discrimination, the types of discrimination under the law and what action you can take if you feel you’ve been unfairly discriminated against.

Age discrimination

It is unlawful to discriminate against workers because of age or perceived age, unless there are exceptional, 'objectively justifiable', grounds. Employers should ensure they have policies in place which are designed to prevent discrimination in:

  • recruitment and selection
  • determining pay
  • training and development
  • selection for promotion
  • discipline and grievances
  • countering bullying and harassment.

Employers should be aware that the Government removed the default retirement age in April 2011, making compulsory retirement at any age unlawful unless objectively justified.

Further information and guidance on age discrimination can be found at :

Minimum wage

The National Minimum Wage (NMW) is a minimum amount per hour that most workers in the UK are legally entitled to be paid. GOV.UK has more information about this topic.

Holiday entitlement

The amount of paid holiday due to an employee should be laid out in their terms and conditions of employment and must be for as least the statutory minimum, which they are entitled to under Working Time Directive Regulations

  • The statutory entitlement is 5.6 weeks for a full time employee
  • There is no statutory entitlement for public/bank holidays
  • Employers can direct when holiday is taken, with prior notice. This is often in the contract of employment e.g. school term time only employed to take their holiday during school holidays
  • Pay for non-contractual over time is excluded from the statutory entitlement
  • Agency or casual staff are entitled to paid leave

For more information, including how to calculate entitlement for employees who work part time or term time and for staff with irregular hours and casual staff see:

Stakeholder pension and pension contributions

Workplace Pensions The law on workplace pensions has changed. Every employer with at least one member of staff now has new duties, including enrolling those who are eligible into a workplace pension scheme and contributing towards it. This is called automatic enrolment. As an employer, you must be ready to start enrolling staff from your staging date.

For more information visit:

Paying staff and payroll services

As an employer, you have a number of legal obligations with regards to paying your staff. These include registering with HMRC (if required), issuing payslips, making statutory payments, such as sick pay, making legally required deductions and paying HMRC amounts due to them.

Further guidance is available from:

We are aware of the following organisations that offer payroll services:

Employer duty - prevention of illegal working

Employers have a duty to ensure prospective employees have a right to work in the UK and to prevent illegal working. There is also a duty to take copies of the documents seen and record them on a central record.

Advisory, Reconciliation and Arbitration Service (Acas)

Information and advice about rights at work and duties of employers can be found on the Acas website.

National Insurance

Current rates can be found on the HM Revenue and Customs website.