How to choose between hiring a virtual assistant vs. hiring an employee

Running a business is not easy. You’ll need to put in hours and hours of hard work and dedication to keep it growing. However, running a business is also very rewarding and satisfying. You have more control over your schedule, you are able to work from home at your own pace, and you are able to direct your business in any direction that you desire. Therefore the secret to running a business is to achieve the perfect balance between putting in the hard work and reaping the rewards.

If you find yourself unbalanced, and the rewards are far less satisfying while the hard work is far too draining, then perhaps you need to employ someone to help you. But, before you post an ad on a job website or in a newspaper, here are a few things you need to consider when hiring an employee:

1. Decide how much you are going to pay your employee: As an employer in the UK, you need to decide how much you are going to pay your employee. This salary will depend on their age and what you are employing them to do, but you must also make sure that your employee is paid at least the national minimum wage. You will also need to offer a competitive salary to make sure you are attracting the right talent and skill.

2. Check if they are legally employable in the UK: You will need to make sure that your employee has the right to work in the UK. This will include finding out what documents you need to validate, such as a work permit or UK passport. This will depend on the residence status of your employee – whether they are a British citizen or a foreign national. You will also need to verify if the identification is genuine, with the employee present. If your potential employee does not have a UK passport, you’ll need to check if they have a Certificate of Registration or Naturalisation.

3. Perform DBS checks if needed: If your business works with vulnerable people such as children or vulnerable adults, all your employees will need to undergo a DBS check or security clearance. This is important to make sure that your employees do not have a criminal record, and that the vulnerable people you work with are protected. Depending on the type of DBS check you need to complete for your employee, it can be quite expensive.

4. Provide an employee contract: Before you employ someone, you will need to draw up a contract that they will agree to and sign. This contract needs to cover all legal factors, liabilities, terms and conditions, salary details and the job description. You will need a lawyer to draw up this contract.

5. You will need to get Employers’ Liability (EL) Insurance: As soon as you become an employer, you will need to get EL insurance cover. Your cover needs to be a minimum of £5 Million from an accredited insurer. EL insurance is important as it is used to cover compensation should your employee get injured at or fall ill due to the work they are doing for you. You can be fined up to £1000 if you do not have a certificate when inspected.

6. Register with HMRC as an employer: Once your new employee is onboard, you will need to inform HMRC by registering as an employer. This needs to be completed at least four weeks prior to you paying your new employee their first paycheck.

7. Set up an employee pension scheme: Employers need to provide a workplace pension for certain staff by 2018. Any employee from the age of 22 that works in the UK and earns at least £10 000 per year will need to be enrolled on a pension scheme.

8. Adhere to Health and Safety laws: UK Health and Safety laws are in place to ensure that you, your employees and your customers are safe from harm, and that workplace injury and illness are kept to a minimum. Unfortunately, the process can be quite complicated and time-consuming, and you will need to follow the legislation to the minute detail to avoid being penalised. It is also important to note that Health and Safety laws apply to all types of workplaces and not just factories or shops.

9. Take into account additional costs per employee: For every new staff member that you hire, you must be able to cover the costs of their desk space, laptop or PC and pay additional costs per user for various online applications and SAAS products. With a virtual assistant, you may still need to pay additional costs for online applications but you do not have to pay for additional desk space and office equipment.

10. You will need to think carefully before terminating the contract or reducing your staff numbers: If you find that you lose a major contract with a client, you may find that you need to downsize quite quickly and unfortunately, when you hire permanent employees, you may need to pay additional costs in order to let them go. This is of course quite distressing for both employers and employees. One of the ways that entrepreneurs reduce this risk is by working with virtual assistants so that they can increase and reduce their staff numbers whenever this is needed.

As you can see, there are so many things to consider when employing someone. The process can be long and time-consuming, and you might just end up regretting getting an employee in the first place. One of the biggest challenges with hiring a permanent employee is the concern that they will not be able to meet up to your expectations or that you will need to cover for expenses such as sick pay if your business cannot afford this. If you are not at the stage where you can afford to hire employees, you may want to work smartly and hire a virtual assistant with Beyond VAs.

You will avoid having to figure out a salary and getting a lawyer to draw up a contract. Since the VA works from a remote location, you can also skip checking whether they are employable in the UK. This further means that you do not need to set up a Health and Safety regulated office or workspace. You will also not need to get EL insurance, or register with the HMRC, or even set up an employee pension scheme. On top of all this, the VA will do the same work as a regular employee, they will be consistent and you can expect them to stay with you longer than an intern. The greatest advantage is that you can get all of this for a far less cost to your business.

Beyond VAs is a London based social enterprise that helps solopreneurs and SMEs grow their businesses by connecting them with talented virtual assistants from countries with high unemployment rates. To find out more about Beyond VAs, get in touch with us or subscribe to the newsletter here:

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