“The Lord God put the man in the garden of Eden to care for it and work it.”
Genesis 2:15 (NCV)
This article is aimed at churches and other organisations who are engaging staff for the first time. It sets out the key basic areas you need to be on top of when engaging someone – whether as an employee or as a worker. (Whilst this guidance is not aimed at organisations whose staff are only office holders, such as a minister, or volunteers, the first five sections below may still be relevant for them).
Q: Do I need to do immigration checks?
A: Yes. It is a serious offence to allow someone to work for you (in any capacity, whether paid as an employee or worker, or unpaid as a volunteer) unless they have the right to work in the UK.
Q: Do I need to do DBS (criminal record) checks?
A: For certain roles, yes. You should not adopt a blanket approach to DBS checks as they may not be required for all roles.
You would usually need to apply for one if the individual is going to have contact, as part of their role, with children or vulnerable adults (this applies to all those working for you, not just employees and workers). You can find out more here: Check someone’s criminal record as an employer: Checks you can make on someone’s record – GOV.UK
Q: Do I need to register with the Information Commissioner (ICO)?
A: Yes, unless your use falls within a narrow set of exemptions. There is a self-assessment tool on the ICO website.
This is something you may need to do even if you have no staff, but if you have not yet registered, it would be wise to do so when engaging staff for the first time. For churches, if you collect or process the data of anyone who is not a regular church member, then it would normally be appropriate to register.
There is an annual fee for registering, which is currently £40 (£35 for direct debit). You can find more details in the ICO’s guide – The Data Protection Fee: A Guide for Controllers
Q: Do I need employers’ liability insurance?
A: Yes, you must obtain employers’ liability insurance as soon as you engage staff. You can find more details here: Employers’ liability insurance – GOV.UK
Q: Do I need to register with HMRC?
A: Yes. You will need to register with HMRC before the first payday. There are different ways to register but it can be done online. You can find more details here: Register as an employer – GOV.UK
Q: What must I pay them?
A: There are laws setting out the minimum wage you must pay your employees and workers. You cannot pay less than these amounts. More detail can be found in our article National Minimum Wage 2022: changes that may affect you
Please note that if you are reading this article after 2022, there is a link to the government website within the article which will take you to the current rates.
Q: How do I account for tax and National Insurance?
A: Your payroll software will calculate how much tax and National Insurance is owed but you will have a duty to report this to HMRC. There is useful guidance about this and whether or not you need to register for PAYE here: PAYE and payroll for employers: Introduction to PAYE – GOV.UK
If you don’t have your own payroll software, HMRC provide a free basic tools app, which may help with these tasks (and others, such as producing payslips and P60s). You can find more details here: Download HMRC’s Basic PAYE Tools
Q: Do I need to provide a pension?
A: Normally, yes. There are some exceptions. The main exceptions include employees/workers who earn less than the prescribed minimum amount or who are under 22, or over the state pension age. There is a helpful self-assessment tool on the Pensions Regulator website.
Unless you fall within an exemption, you must provide access to a qualifying pension scheme and make employer contributions (at the time of writing, this is a minimum of 3% of qualifying income – which is not full pay).
Normally an employee/worker should be allowed to join from day one, but in some circumstances this can be deferred by you for up to 3 months.
More information is available on the Pensions Regulator website including how to set up a Pension Scheme.
Q: Do I need to produce payslips?
A: Yes. Employees and Workers must receive itemised payslips no later than on their payday.
The payslips must include pay before and after deductions (such as tax and pension contributions). They should normally set out what those deductions are and what they relate to. Where someone’s pay varies depending upon time worked, it should state the number of hours worked. Where some of the pay is holiday pay, this should be set out separately in the payslip.
You can provide payslips electronically rather than in hard copy.
Q: Do I need a written contract for them?
A: Yes, provided they will be working for you for at least one month.
Whilst it does not technically need to be in the form of a contract, and it does not need to be signed, all employees and workers must be provided with a written statement setting out certain prescribed terms (such as pay, and notice entitlements). This statement must be provided on or before their first day of work.
Basic information on what needs to be included in the statement can be found here: Employment contracts: Written statement of employment particulars – GOV.UK
Our Employment Pack contains a wealth of information about this including template contracts of employment and policies.
Our Worker Pack provides template documents for workers.