TFN Guide: Research is key in taking on first employee


Lesley Winton, of animal education charity Fostering Compassion, is relaxed about taking on her first member of staff

22nd September 2017 by Gareth Jones 0 Comments

Taking on your first employee is a major milestone for anyone who is setting up a charity.

It's exciting but hiring staff can also be a stressful process involving lots of administration and protocol to ensure that you are complying with employment legislation.

Pensions, holidays and insurance are just some of the aspects that have to be considered. With the huge range of employment law, health and safety and confidentiality requirements, it can often be a complex field for organisations to deal with.

Lesley Winton, of Fostering Compassion, has been accessing advice on how to go about taking on an employee for her animal welfare education charity.

“The demand for our services has just exploded,” she said. “We have been busier than we have ever been, and have almost reached a tipping point. To enable us to continue to grow, we are now looking to bring on a member of staff.”

Fostering Compassion was initially an arm of The Winton Foundation for the Welfare of Bears, but expanded into a separate charity in 2013. Piloted with 10 pupils in East Lothian, the organisation has gone on to educate 250 children who have had difficult starts in life on animal welfare – as evidence shows that those who have suffered abuse often struggle to show compassion to other creatures.

Lesley has been operating the charity as a sole employee, and said she wants to ensure all the finances are in place for employing a member of staff before takes the big step of beginning to recruit.

“I think it is important to have access to the funding not only for the charity, but also for the person who you are taking on,” she said. “When you take someone on, you are providing them with a livelihood. You need to be in a secure position.”

Lesley said that she has undertaken lots of research on becoming an employer, and that asking for help is important. She feared growing too quickly, as can happen with many businesses let alone charities, but is not nervous about becoming an employer.

“I have been looking lots of things up, but I think I will bring someone in to help with the HR side, even if it is a consultant. The Scottish Council for Voluntary Organisations (SCVO) has supported me as well.

“You have got to make sure that you comply with the law when you are bringing someone on as an employee.

“But it will be brilliant. We are taking the natural next step. Having grown the charity from the ground, we have gone through a variety of processes and steps. This is another one, and I think it will be an exciting step.”

Get information on employment, taking on volunteers and managing staff from SCVO

Free information can also be accessed by calling the SCVO information helpline on 08001690022.