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Taking the leap from sole trader to employer

Making the step from being a sole trader to making your first hire can be very daunting. It's a big change to go from being responsible for just yourself to having a duty of care for someone, providing meaningful work, paying them and making sure you're doing everything according to the law.

Perceptions are strong that taking on staff involves increased risk, cost and time commitment, and also the risk of tribunals if things go wrong.

Only around 1 in 20 sole traders made the brave leap in the five-year period to 2012 to become employers. And yet, struggling along alone makes one thing certain - soon there will come a point where the business can no longer grow.

Becoming an employer

That's one of the reasons that Acas wants to help sole traders make the transition as smooth as possible.

Recruiting an employee: A step-by-step guide is especially tailored for their needs, and is also packed with tips and information that all small firms and managers in larger organisations will find useful.

Warning against rushing into a hire, it suggests taking time to pinpoint the key tasks of a job and the kind of qualities you'd be looking for - and gives you help with how to go about identifying what and who you need.

When you're ready, it's time to advertise, but knowing where and how widely to cast the net is important, something the guidance puts straight.

It's not always possible for sole traders, but getting someone's help to sift through applications and hear interviews can help guard against unintended bias. Even so, Acas has pointers on how to set up interviews and what kind of questions to ask, and what to do when you've made your choice.

Sometimes advice makes best sense when given with concrete examples. That's why Acas also describes real-life situations to puncture persistent myths and misconceptions about the recruitment process.

Acas publications and services

Recruiting an employee: A step-by-step guide is one of a suite of eight step-by-step guides providing Help for small firms and sole traders. They're aimed at keeping you on the right side of the law in key areas of employment, including contracts, pay, performance, absences, grievances and redundancy.


Acas experts can visit you and work with you to develop the most effective recruitment procedures and contracts of employment. See Recruitment and Retention: how Acas can help for more information.

Practical training is also available on Recruitment, People management, and, for newer employers, Employing People - A Practical Introduction.

For free, impartial advice and guidance visit Acas Helpline Online.

Visit the Acas Training Courses, Workshops and Projects area for more information.

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We recommend that you explore further information and advice available on this website, particularly within our Advice A-Z guidance pages. If you have questions about workplace rights and rules visit Helpline Online.
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