Becoming an employer can seem daunting but the key is to get the basics right.

This guidance provides information to parishes on how to get started, including payroll and pension scheme obligations.

Key Facts

  • You will need to tell HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) if you are registering as an employer – you can do this up to 4 weeks before you pay your new staff. Alternatively, you may wish to use an outsourced payroll agency- further details about this can be found below.
  • Arrange insurance – you need employers’ liability insurance as soon as you become an employer.
  • Decide how much you are going to pay people- you must pay your employees at least the National Minimum Wage, preferably you would pay them the London Living Wage.
  • Ensure that you know how to check if someone has the legal right to work in the UK.
  • If you are going to employ staff who will require a DBS check (e.g. If they are carrying out Regulated Activity with children or vulnerable adults), ensure that you are registered with the Diocese for this to happen.
  • Have the details of the job ready to send in writing to your employee. You need to give your employee a written statement of employment if you’re employing someone for more than one month. <link to contract page>

PAYE obligations

If you decide to run your own payroll function you will have a number of legal obligations to comply with:

The Finance Pages have comprehensive information on how to arrange Payroll here: <link to Finance pages>
An additional guide to what churches need to do is available on the Parish Resources website

Statutory Sick Pay

Under certain conditions, you may have to pay an employee statutory sick pay (SSP). This is the minimum level of payment you should make to an employee who is off work through illness – however, you may entitle the employee to more than this. <link to sickness policy page>

Statutory maternity, paternity and adoption pay

An individual who becomes a parent, including through adoption, may be entitled to statutory maternity, paternity or adoption pay.
To qualify for any of these payments, the individual must be employed by you. For further details see the <link to family friendly policies>

Pension scheme requirements

There is now a requirement for all UK employers to automatically enrol certain members of their workforce into a pension scheme and make a contribution towards it. Even if you already have a scheme, you will still have some new obligations to meet.

The Finance Pages offer more advice on PCC responsibilities with regards to pensions. For full information please visit the Pensions Regulator website or call their helpline on 0845 600 1011.

Prevention of Illegal working

You will have an obligation to ensure that any new employees, as well as your existing ones, have the right to work in the UK.

New employees

In order for you to verify the candidate’s identity, the Home Office has produced a list of suitable documents as well as guidance on what copies to keep and how long for. This can be found here.

Job offers should not be confirmed until you have seen documentation that proves to your satisfaction the applicant’s right to work in the UK.

Existing employees

If you do have any existing employees you should ensure that you have copies of their documents on file.

You should do this even if you have known the individual personally for a long time. If any irregularities are found with your existing employees then we suggest that you contact the HR department at the Diocese immediately. You may need to terminate employment.

Sponsoring an individual with a Sponsorship Licence

If you wish to hire someone from outside the UK who does not currently have the right to work in the UK, you may be able to sponsor that individual, subject to role eligibility. In order to do this, you will need to have a sponsorship licence. Guidance on eligibility and how to apply can be found here. We would always recommend engaging an immigration law specialist when embarking on this for the first time – please contact the HR helpdesk for recommendations.


It is the PCC’s responsibility to ensure that it has appropriate insurance in place.

Employer’s Liability Insurance covers a parish for any accident that happens to an employee or authorised volunteer (not automatically) whilst working at the church, which proves to be due to the negligence of the Parish. All employers are normally required to have this cover.

There are also other insurance policies which you may need to consider having including Public Liability Insurance.

It is important that you know what you are and are not covered for and when you are required to inform your insurer of any changes in circumstances, for example, some insurers will ask you to inform them of any pending redundancy situations, as failure to do so could invalidate any claim the PCC make.

Health and Safety Policy

A health and safety policy sets out your general approach, objectives and the arrangements you have put in place for managing health and safety in your Parish. It is a unique document that does not have to be complicated or time consuming. It says who does what, when and how and informs staff of your commitment to implementing and monitoring your health and safety controls. If you have five or more employees, you must write your Health and Safety policy down.

As well as a policy, there are also other steps that you may be required to undertake according to the Health and Safety Executive body (HSE). The HSE have produced this helpful Health and Safety Guide, which includes a template policy.

Other documentation

There are several documents and policies which you should have written down not only to ensure that legal obligations are met, but also to ensure best practice. There is additional information in the HR support pages on each of these sections.

The main documents and/or policies which you may need to have are:

  1. Contracts of employment
  2. Employee Handbook
  3. Absence reporting and sickness procedures
  4. Disciplinary and grievance procedures
  5. Health and safety
  6. Appraisal system
  7. Equal opportunities policy