When you think of the standard HR department, most minds will immediately be drawn to an office or a room in a corporate building. Dimly lit, with a handful of HR workers trying valiantly to sort out department-wide training, or maybe even a problem with morale. Whichever way you look at it, there will probably be one thing that's consistent – the HR department is part of a large company.

When it comes to small to medium businesses, particularly ones that are run by a single person, most might dismiss the need for an HR department. But in reality, if you're running a business yourself, then you are the HR department!

If you have employees working for you, in any form, then you do need to make sure that their needs are adhered to. For example, if someone is employed by you or working under your control or supervision, you’re legally required to have employer’s liability insurance cover. It doesn’t matter if you’ve got a workforce of fifty, working in shifts, over three different locations, or you’ve got one labourer helping you with landscaping. They are your employees, and it is part of your HR requirements to provide them such assurances.

So, how else does HR fit into your small business?

You may not have the resources of a corporation, but you’ve got the same responsibilities. And these can be very basic. Starting off with contracts.

Now, if you’re running your business on a shoestring budget, and with a minimal workforce, you might be tempted to skip the contract part. This is definitely not something you should be doing. While you would ultimately be breaking the law in some manner, it’s also just best practise to give your employees contracts, and within 8 weeks of their initial employment.

I’m sure the majority of you reading already know this, but we’re looking at how it can affect new, small businesses. To begin with, it is, again, a legal requirement to do this. I can’t stress this enough Furthermore, as a new business, word of mouth and reputation can go a long way. If you’re known to do things ‘by the books’, your reputation over those who don’t should increase and improve.

These are just a couple of things that you must adhere to when running your small business, but there will be more. You can read more about employment law at work on the CIPD site.

What are some of the other things that small businesses might overlook, or just simply not know about, when it comes to HR? Share below to make sure that no one, not employer or employee is missing out.

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