Get Support

People & Skills

HR and employment law


People can be the greatest resource for a business, so it is important to recruit the right staff, offer them relevant training, understand your responsibilities as an employer, put in place good HR procedures and ensure your business is compliant with employment law.

Becoming an employer for the first time

Below is some useful information on things you’ll need to consider when taking on an employee(s) for the first time:

  • Decide how much to pay an employee – You must pay your employees at least the National Minimum Wage. Check here for the current National Minimum Wage and National Living Wage rates.
  • Employment checks – This will include checking someone has the legal right to work in the UK. You can find more information here
  • Checking if the applicant has criminal convictions – You may need to apply for a DBS check (formerly CRB check) for employee(s) if you work with children, vulnerable people or security. 
  • Employment contract and working hours – All employees have an employment contract with their employer. This sets out an employee’s employment conditions, rights, responsibilities and duties. You can find more information here.
  • Purchasing employers’ liability insurance – You will need employers’ liability insurance as soon as you become an employer.
  • Creating a written statement of employment – You will need to provide a written statement of employment to your employee if you are employing someone for more than one month.
  • Registering as an employer – You will need to register as an employer with HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) when you start employing staff. 
  • Setting up payroll and PAYE – For more information about payroll and PAYE for employers please click here.
  • Workplace pensions – Check if you need to provide a workplace pension and set-up a pension scheme.
  • Health & Safety in the workplace – From fire safety to health and safety procedures for using equipment you can find further information here. (link to .gov website).

The government has put together a useful guide to preparing to take on staff, which can be found here. HMRC also offers a range of online resources, including an online course for new employers plus you can subscribe to the HMRC YouTube channel for the latest video guides.

Advice on employment issues, HR and employment law

At the Berkshire Growth Hub, we run regular free one-to-one clinics and masterclasses on Human Resources (HR) to provide you with advice and information on a wide range of HR matters, employment law, recruitment and training. Check out our events page here to view and book a place on one of our upcoming events. If you have a more urgent issue you would like to discuss, you can also call us on 01344 388005 or email

Acas also provides free and impartial information to employers on all aspects of workplace relations and employment law. Here you will find information, advice, training and conciliation to help prevent or resolve workplace problems. You can also call the Acas helpline on 0300 123 1100 from Monday-Friday, 8am-8pm and Saturday, 9am-1pm, for clear and confidential guidance about any dispute or query you have about relationship issues within the workplace.

Recruiting the right people

Hiring an apprentice

Whether developing the skills of a current member of staff or recruiting a new individual, apprenticeships are a great, cost-effective way to develop your workforce, increase productivity, reduce recruitment costs, address skills gaps and improve your bottom line.

Apprenticeships are work-based training programmes, designed around the needs of you, the employer. Apprenticeships are available at four levels, from Intermediate (NVQ Level 2 or equivalent) right through to Degree Apprenticeships (Level 6/7). They usually take between one and four years to complete, but the duration depends on the level of apprenticeship, the apprentice’s ability and the industry sector.

Apprentices grow flexibly with your business as they develop in their role. And because they are learning qualifications relevant to your industry, they will soon start to deliver exceptional return on investment. Anyone over the age of 16 can apply to do an apprenticeship, whether they are just leaving school, have been working for years or are seeking to change careers.

An apprenticeship will enable your business to:

  • reduce overall training and recruitment costs
  • harness fresh new talent
  • address future skills gaps
  • keep pace with the latest technology and practices
  • improve staff morale
  • increase staff retention and loyalty
  • keep skills in-house and pass them from one generation to the next
  • improve productivity.

How are apprenticeships funded?

If you have less than 50 employees and an annual payroll of less than £3 million, you will need to pay a 10% contribution to the cost of apprenticeship training for apprentices aged over 19 and the government will fund the remaining 90%. For apprentices aged 16-18 (and those aged 19-24 who are care leavers or have an education, health and care plan), the government will fund 100% of the cost of the apprenticeship training.

If you have more than 50 employees and an annual payroll of less than £3 million, you pay 10% of the cost of the apprenticeship training. The remaining 90% is funded by the government (up to the upper funding band limit).

If you have a gross annual payroll bill of over £3 million, you will need to pay the apprenticeship levy. This means you will pay 0.5% of your wage bill above £3 million through your PAYE scheme to HMRC to pay for apprenticeship training. You can then access these payments through the online Apprenticeship Service portal to fund your apprenticeship training with your chosen provider.

Incentive for hiring a 16-18 year old apprentice

To support employers with the cost of supporting a 16-18 year old apprentice (and 19-24 apprentices who have left care or have an Education, Health & Care Plan), the government is currently offering a £1,000 incentive.

For the latest information on hiring an apprentice and funding, click here

Berkshire Apprenticeship Service

If you would like more information on apprenticeships, the Berkshire Apprenticeship Service is a one-stop shop for Berkshire-based businesses who want to know more about apprenticeships. They can provide you with details of apprenticeship programmes and the latest funding as well as help you find the right apprenticeship programme and training provider for your needs. Call 01753 793370 or email 

Knowledge Transfer Partnerships

The Knowledge Transfer Partnership (KTP) scheme helps businesses in the UK to innovate and grow. It does this by linking them with an academic organisation (e.g. a university) and a graduate to work on a specific project.

A KTP is part-funded by a grant. The amount a business needs to contribute depends on the length and scale of the project as well as the size of the business. The scheme can last between 12 and 36 months, depending on what the project is and the needs of the business. The academic or research organisation partner will help to recruit a suitable graduate, known as an Associate. They will act as the employer of the graduate, who then works at the company for the duration. Click here for more information on KTPs. 

Education and Training Providers

Investing in workplace training can often help your business develop an advantage over competitors and improve productivity, as well as aiding staff retention and thereby reducing recruitment costs.

In Berkshire, there are a number of providers of apprenticeship programmes and other vocational training including BCABracknell & Wokingham CollegeNewbury CollegeReading CollegeWest Berkshire Training Consortium, Windsor Forest Colleges Group and Activate Enterprise.

The Careers & Enterprise Network

You can also help inspire the next generation by donating your time, skills and experience to helping young people learn about the world of work and entrepreneurism.

Thames Valley Berkshire LEP and The Careers & Enterprise Company are working in partnership to deliver the flagship Enterprise Adviser Network in Berkshire. Research from the Education & Employers Taskforce and other sources shows that young people who have a greater exposure to employers whilst at school, achieve better employment outcomes. The initiative brings together ‘Enterprise Advisers’ who will work one-to-one with school and college leaders, helping them to develop effective employer engagement plans, drawing on existing, local business networks.

Brexit advice and support for businesses

EU Settlement Scheme employer toolkit

If EU citizens want to stay in the UK beyond 31 December 2020, they and their close family members will need to apply to the EU Settlement Scheme. An EU settlement Scheme toolkit has been created, which contains tools and information with which employers can support EU citizen employees and their families on the EU Settlement Scheme.


Back to Get Support

Share this