Common myths when employing someone for the first time

It's daunting employing someone for the first time. There are so many rules and regulations to remember. Is it really worth it? Well, it might be easier than you think. Have a look at these common myths about first-time employment. 

1. Registering with HMRC is too complicated 

Not true. Most employers can register with HMRC online. It's helpful to have all your contact details to hand and, importantly, the date of the first payday or, if earlier, the date you made payments of expenses and/or provided benefits to your employees. 

2. It's impossible to specify what sort of employee you want because of discrimination laws 

Not true. You can draw up a 'person specification' with details of the knowledge, experience, skills and qualifications you are looking for. Make sure these are relevant to the job advertised. 

3. Discrimination laws make the interview process too difficult 

Not true. Just make sure that you choose the candidate that you believe is the most suitable for the role. If a job applicant feels that they have been discriminated against, then they can raise a complaint at an employment tribunal or the Commission for Equality and Human Rights. The Commission for Equality and Human Rights publish codes of practice and recruitment guidelines for employers. It's worth familiarising yourself with these. You should keep notes from the interview process to protect yourself from any potential claims. 

4. You have to give the employee a written contract 

Not true. You can have a verbal contract as well. You do have to issue a 'written statement of particulars' within two months of the employee starting work, unless their employment is for a period of less than one month. 

5. It's too hard to dismiss someone once they're employed 

Not true. You can dismiss an employee by giving them the notice required in their employment contract or written statement of particulars. If this is done, then there is no claim for wrongful dismissal. 

There can still be a claim for unfair dismissal but an employee can only take you to a tribunal for unfair dismissal once they have been working for you for two years. This applies to employees who started after 6 April 2012. 

If you have a genuinely fair reason for dismissing your employee, then you won't be breaking the law. Legally fair reasons include: 

  • Problems with the employee's conduct
  • Problems with your employee’s capability in poor performance or prolonged absence not related to illness
  • Redundancy
  • A statutory reason preventing the continuation of employment
  • Another substantial reason
  • Retirement. 

6. It's so expensive and complicated to set up a payroll

Not true. You can calculate and set up your payroll yourself. HMRC has a free online tool which guides you through the process or you can buy a payroll programme. Employers should be given a tax code by the new employee and along with the HMRC tool or a payroll programme it shouldn't be too complicated. 

7. It's not possible to dismiss someone in the probation period

Not true. It's possible to dismiss someone as long as you do not discriminate in terms of: 

  • Age
  • Disability 
  • Gender reassignment 
  • Marital status 
  • Race 
  • Religion/belief 
  • Sex 
  • Sexual orientation 
  • Marriage 
  • Civil partnership 
  • Pregnancy 
  • Maternity

Hiring and firing employees to meet current legislation is dealt with in greater detail in our guide Employment Law Made Easy, written by employment lawyer Melanie Slocombe.

Other information


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Published on: December 18, 2012

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