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Your Legal Requirements and Obligations When Recruiting

The government advises that there are six things you should do when recruiting staff for the first time.

Decide how much to pay them

You must pay your employees at least the National Minimum Wage (or if they are aged 25 or over, the National Living Wage), regardless of the size of your business.  Contracts for payments below the minimum wage are not legally binding.

The current minimum wage rates for different types of employee are as follows (note that these change each year):

Employee type

Minimum hourly wage

25 and over


21 and over


18 to 20


Under 18




Check if they have the legal right to work in the UK

You can do this using the government’s online tool.

Apply for a DBS check if required

Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) checks were formerly known as Criminal Records Bureau (CRB) checks. These checks serve to check a potential employee’s criminal record and are necessary for roles such as those in healthcare or that involve working with children.

You can get an application form for a DBS check from the DBS itself or an umbrella organisation.

If you perform fewer than 100 checks a year then you cannot go through the DBS and must use an umbrella body. If you perform more than 100 checks a year then you should register with the DBS – this costs a basic fee of £300.

There is a special service for checking those wishing to work in adult care called Adult First.

If you carry out criminal record checks on prospective employees then you must have a policy in place regarding the recruitment of ex-offenders. This must be shown to any applicant who asks for it.

Get employment insurance

See our page on insurance.

Send written details of the job to the employee

If you are to employ someone for more than a month then you must give them a written statement of employment. For more on this, see our page on employment contracts.

Registering as an employer with HM Revenue and Customs

You need to register with HMRC when you start hiring employees. You must do this before the first pay day. It can take up to two weeks. It is not possible to register more than two months before you start paying. To find out how to register, see GOV.UK.

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