Having made your decision and selected your candidate, there are a number of things to consider before they become an employee. This section takes you through the appointment process.
2. Getting ready for your new employee
Having made your decision and selected your candidate, contact them to tell them of your decision. It is a good idea to first contact them by telephone and let them know you are sending a letter confirming your offer and providing the terms of employment.
The offer letter should re-state the specifics of the job together with the terms and conditions, start date and any action the candidate needs to take, for example to sign and return an acceptance of the offer.
Include any specific conditions, for example, if the job is subject to exam success or subject to satisfactory references being received.
Make sure the candidate is aware that you are seeking references, and get their express permission to approach their current employer.
It is common practice to appoint a new employee for a probationary period, usually three months, to make sure they are capable of doing the job. Include this information in your offer letter.
IMPORTANT NOTE: even during a probationary period, an employee has statutory rights with which you must comply.
Getting references and other checks
Include a job description with your request for references. It is also recommended that you ask structured, relevant questions that enable you to gain further information about the candidate’s abilities. Do not ask for personal information or for the referee’s personal views of the candidate. A simple form confirming dates of employment, competency and particular skills may be all that is required.
At this point you should also do any other checks that are necessary. For example, if they are not a British national, check to confirm that the applicant has the right to work in the UK, or if driving is part of their job check to confirm they have a driving licence, or if the job involves them working with children or vulnerable people, to do a Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) check.
3. What to do when your new employee starts work
Once the candidate has accepted the job, you have to get ready for their arrival and induction.
Induction is the process of familiarisation with your business and settling into the job. A good induction makes a positive first impression and makes the new employee feel welcome and ready to contribute fully.
In a small business, the induction programme is likely to be informal. The aim is to make them familiar with the workplace, and give them a good grasp of your working practices and any specific aspects that affect them. In particular make them aware of any fire and health and safety requirements so that they are able to do their work in a safe environment with no risk of being exposed to unnecessary danger or endangering co-workers or business colleagues.
Make sure there is space for them and organise essential equipment, including a desk, telephone, computer and basic stationery. Show them the basic facilities and explain how the working day usually operates (break times, lunch breaks and arrangements for lunch, etc.).
Introduce the new employee to key people both within and outside the organisation and give them details of who to contact if they need any assistance or have any questions. This is particularly important if they are the first employee and there is otherwise only you, the business owner, in the business.
The induction programme may take place over a period of time, but check in with the new employee on a daily basis to answer any questions and to build a positive working relationship.
Use this template to remind you of the key things to include in an induction programme (MS Word 11kb).
Next: Taking on your first employee - legal issues