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Ask the experts: Hiring, accounting and PO Boxes

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Our experts are on hand to answer all your queries about setting up on your own. Christopher Allen, a Start-Up Adviser at FSB Legal, tackles the latest reader questions

Q What do I need to hire my first employee? 

There are a number of legal duties you will need to adhere to; we recommend you seek legal advice and or visit gov.uk to ensure you are following the correct process. Here are some points to consider:

 Register: You will need to register with HM Revenue and Customs as an employer

 National Minimum Wage: Different rates depend on the employee’s age and whether they are an apprentice or not

 Insurance: You are legally required to have employer liability insurance to safeguard your employees


 Right-to-work checks: You must complete certain checks to see if the employee has the legal right to work in the UK. Failure to check if an employee has the correct documents can result in a fine of £20,000 per employee

 DBS: Depending on the role, an employer may have the right to conduct a DBS check; this is typical in sectors such as financial services, security and the care sector

 Contracts: Most employees are legally entitled to a written statement of the main points of their employment within two calendar months of starting work

 Pension automatic enrolment: You must check if you need to automatically enrol an employee on to a workplace pension or not.

Q How can I make my end-of-year accounts easier? 

Most business owners are passionate about their businesses – but book-keeping is often pushed to the back of the list. Create a weekly work planner with a priority to-do list, so you can allocate time to your least-enjoyed tasks. End-of-year accounts should be high on the priority list – failure to complete them can result in a fine and/or legal action.

 Be organised and allocate time for regular book-keeping

 If you operate as a sole trader and your annual gross trading income is £1,000 or less, you may not have to complete a self-assessment. Contact HMRC for clarity

 Create back copies of your accounts and consider using cloud-based back-up platforms

 Decide in advance whether you require an accountant

 Consider using mobile accounting applications

 Be aware of submission deadlines, as they differ between HMRC and Companies House

 Register to use the Government Gateway service for online filing in advance; login details can take up to seven days to arrive


 If you get stuck, contact HMRC or an accountant.

Q Should I use a PO box address for my business? 

PO boxes have become popular due to their security and low cost. They also increase privacy by protecting your personal address and safeguarding post from thefts. They may not be suitable for all legal structures; some will require a physical genuine address. In some cases, directors may use a service address as an alternative to their home or office address. 

Before choosing a PO box provider, it is advisable to research their prices, services and restrictions. 

Advantages 
 Increased privacy 
 Low cost options exist
 Can collect or have your post delivered to your home 
 Post will be monitored.



Disadvantages 
 Can be costly if you receive a large amount of post
 Larger items may not fit 
 May be seen as unprofessional 
 May overfill if not monitored.