Know UK employment regulations

Our step by step guide takes you through your responsibilities as a UK employer and points to more information on regulations.

1. Understand contract types and employment responsibilities

If you’re employing staff in the UK, you will have tax and employment responsibilities under UK law. These depend on the type of contracts you give your staff, and their employment status.

Read about UK contract types and get an overview of employer responsibilities on GOV.UK

2. Check National Insurance contributions and wage regulations

National insurance

The UK's National Insurance system funds certain benefits and the state pension.

As an employer you’ll have to pay Employers' National Insurance Contributions, calculated as a percentage of the salary paid to your employees. In addition, your employees will pay a percentage of their wages, if they’re earning over a certain amount per week.

Find information on current rates of national insurance contributions on GOV.UK.

National Minimum Wage

The UK operates a National Minimum Wage to encourage people to work and prevent businesses from using low wages to compete unfairly. Employers must pay the National Minimum Wage no matter how small a company is.

Read an overview of the National Minimum Wage on GOV.UK.

Learn about minimum wage amounts for different types of work on GOV.UK.

National Living Wage

There's also a non-compulsory National Living Wage, which is higher than National Minimum Wage.

View the National Minimum Wage and living wage calculator for employers on GOV.UK.

3. Understand pension and leave payments

You should be aware of your pension responsibilities as a UK employer. You can read more about this on the UK Pensions Regulator website.

In addition, you’ll need to be able to fund sick leave, maternity leave and paternity leave. Find out more in these employer guides on GOV.UK:

4. Register as an employer and set up payroll and PAYE

PAYE (“pay as you earn”) is the UK's system to collect Income Tax and National Insurance from employment. As an employer, you normally have to include PAYE as part of your payroll. PAYE is operated by the UK's tax, payments and customs authority, HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC).

You will need to register as an employer with HMRC when you start employing staff or using subcontractors for construction work.

You must register even if you’re only employing yourself, for example as the only director of a limited company.

You must register before the first payday. You cannot register more than 2 months before you start paying people.

Register as an employer on GOV.UK.

Find out more about payroll and PAYE on GOV.UK.

5. Make your workplace safe and accessible

As an employer, you'll have a responsibility under UK law to:

  • prevent discrimination
  • make your workplace accessible for employees with disabilities or health conditions
  • keep employee information and data safe
  • maintain fire safety
  • follow UK health and safety regulations
  • make checks when you recruit and employ someone

Read a step by step guide to get your business ready to employ staff on GOV.UK.

6. Get Employer's Liability insurance

You must get Employers’ Liability (EL) insurance as soon as you become an employer. Your policy must cover you for at least £5 million and come from an authorised insurer.

EL insurance will help you pay compensation if an employee is injured or becomes ill because of the work they do for you. You can be fined £2,500 every day you are not properly insured.

You may not need EL insurance if you only employ a family member or someone who is based abroad.

Find out about Employers’ Liability insurance on GOV.UK.

7. Consider specialist advice and support 

You may want expert advice on employment law or human resources, to make sure you’re prepared to set up in the UK.

Overall, how would you rate your experience with the Expand Your Business in the UK service today?

Very dissatisfied
Neither satisfied or dissatisfied
Very satisfied