Entrepreneurship & Small Business

Hiring first employee ... questions

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[OP]
Jr. Member
May 20, 2012
104 posts
9 upvotes
VANCOUVER

Hiring first employee ... questions

I own an growing ecommerce business and it's time to get some help with customer service.

We're in BC, but many of our customer service inquiries come from the East coast or Europe so it may make sense to employ someone in Ontario, for example.

In an ideal world, we would have someone working 8am-11am and 1-3pm EST each day (Mon-Fri). Then maybe an hour on Saturday morning and an hour on Sunday morning.

As the business grows those hours would increase.

I've never hired anyone before so I need some advice!

Is it possible to structure an employment contract like that?
Do we need to offer benefits of any kind?
Is there any advantage to hiring inside/outside of BC?
Do we need a lawyer for the employment contract?

Thanks in advance for any advice!
14 replies
Deal Addict
Jul 13, 2009
4693 posts
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van800 wrote: I own an growing ecommerce business and it's time to get some help with customer service.

We're in BC, but many of our customer service inquiries come from the East coast or Europe so it may make sense to employ someone in Ontario, for example.

In an ideal world, we would have someone working 8am-11am and 1-3pm EST each day (Mon-Fri). Then maybe an hour on Saturday morning and an hour on Sunday morning.

As the business grows those hours would increase.

I've never hired anyone before so I need some advice!

Is it possible to structure an employment contract like that?
Do we need to offer benefits of any kind?
Is there any advantage to hiring inside/outside of BC?
Do we need a lawyer for the employment contract?

Thanks in advance for any advice!
Is it possible to structure an employment contract like that? - Yes
Do we need to offer benefits of any kind? - No. But you would need to either require person to have own equipment or provide it.
Is there any advantage to hiring inside/outside of BC? - Nothing significant
Do we need a lawyer for the employment contract? - Ideally but it will be super straight forward. Your accountant can help with that if you are going to payroll this person.
Deal Addict
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Jun 13, 2010
3354 posts
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GTA
I'm not sure how long the person you hire will stick around with part time hours and working seven days a week with no benefits. Sure you'll fine someone in these times but I would think they would be looking for a "better" position while working for you.
[OP]
Jr. Member
May 20, 2012
104 posts
9 upvotes
VANCOUVER
Good point. I can probably manage to do a little customer service myself on weekend mornings. And we could extend the hours during the week by giving her some other tasks.

Any idea what would be a reasonable wage for an employee like this? And what benefits might they expect?
Deal Fanatic
Oct 7, 2007
8481 posts
4413 upvotes
Try to check quality references (preferably from previous employers) and ask meaningful questions. References are not just a way to determine whether or not you will hire a person but also a way to find out what the person's strengths or weaknesses are. Sometimes it is also good to build in incentives that motivate the person to stick around. You could start by paying them 90% of your salary at first and then after 6 months switch them up to 95% and then 100% full pay after a year or some variation. You could always give incentives that align goals. For example, you could give bonuses based on good reviews for customer service or something like that.

The most important thing is to make sure you know what you value in an employee before you start the process and then evaluate potential hires and their skill sets against this list. This should keep you from getting distracted by superficialities that may not have much to do with the kind of work product you expect to receive.
[OP]
Jr. Member
May 20, 2012
104 posts
9 upvotes
VANCOUVER
Those are some great tips.. thanks!
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Jun 13, 2010
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van800 wrote: Good point. I can probably manage to do a little customer service myself on weekend mornings. And we could extend the hours during the week by giving her some other tasks.

Any idea what would be a reasonable wage for an employee like this? And what benefits might they expect?
You'll have to look into things like vacation, sick days, health care premiums that the government may require you to provide as well as benefits that might entice a "good" employee. Employees (especially full time) cost a lot more than just their wage. It would be a good idea to get a pro to help you figure out everything involved with having an employee in your company.
Sr. Member
Dec 17, 2009
859 posts
660 upvotes
Vancouver
van800 wrote:
In an ideal world, we would have someone working 8am-11am and 1-3pm EST each day (Mon-Fri). Then maybe an hour on Saturday morning and an hour on Sunday morning.
Ask your new employee to fill out TD1 and TD1BC

Also if you schedule a person for an hour work, you still need to pay that person for two hours.

“An employee who reports for work must be paid for at least two hours, even if they work less than two hours. “

https://www2.gov.bc.ca/gov/content/empl ... -daily-pay
Deal Fanatic
Oct 7, 2007
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tofubb wrote: Ask your new employee to fill out TD1 and TD1BC

Also if you schedule a person for an hour work, you still need to pay that person for two hours.

“An employee who reports for work must be paid for at least two hours, even if they work less than two hours. “

https://www2.gov.bc.ca/gov/content/empl ... -daily-pay
They must have changed this because it used to be a minimum of 4 hours pay at one time.
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Oct 30, 2008
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tofubb wrote: Ask your new employee to fill out TD1 and TD1BC

Also if you schedule a person for an hour work, you still need to pay that person for two hours.

“An employee who reports for work must be paid for at least two hours, even if they work less than two hours. “

https://www2.gov.bc.ca/gov/content/empl ... -daily-pay
If hiring someone from Ontario, it is 3 hours.

Having worked in many customer service positions previously, you’ll probably want to offer someone a full-time position if you want them to remain committed. Depending on the tasks you require and the level of customer service you’re expecting, A full time salary of $37,000 to $42,000 could be appropriate. Again, this depends heavily on your requirements. Do they need to be bilingual? How many years of experience? Also if they are the only employee, they’ll become the “front line” for your company and may have a substantial influence on the perception of it. My advice is pay fairly and provide adequate benefits if you want them to do well.
Please don’t confuse my kindness for weakness.
[OP]
Jr. Member
May 20, 2012
104 posts
9 upvotes
VANCOUVER
moulamou wrote: If hiring someone from Ontario, it is 3 hours.

Having worked in many customer service positions previously, you’ll probably want to offer someone a full-time position if you want them to remain committed. Depending on the tasks you require and the level of customer service you’re expecting, A full time salary of $37,000 to $42,000 could be appropriate. Again, this depends heavily on your requirements. Do they need to be bilingual? How many years of experience? Also if they are the only employee, they’ll become the “front line” for your company and may have a substantial influence on the perception of it. My advice is pay fairly and provide adequate benefits if you want them to do well.
Thanks! I had been leaning towards a daily 4-hour schedule, something like 8am-12noon on weekdays. That would be 20 hours per week. I'm concerned that she won't have enough to do if we employ her full-time.

However, we could probably find plenty of other work for her to do - online research, spreadsheet tasks, proof reading blog posts, etc. So a full-time job might work too.

As for specific requirements, we would want:
- Someone with online customer service experience (ideally ecommerce)
- Native English speaker (no French needed)
- Excellent written communication skills
- Some familiarity with Shopify, Amazon Seller Central, Google Docs, Google Sheets, etc would be good. But we can train if necessary.

Do you think the salary range that you mentioned ($37-42k) would be reasonable for that skillset? And presumably that would be for a full-time employee at 40 hours per week?
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Oct 30, 2008
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van800 wrote: Thanks! I had been leaning towards a daily 4-hour schedule, something like 8am-12noon on weekdays. That would be 20 hours per week. I'm concerned that she won't have enough to do if we employ her full-time.

However, we could probably find plenty of other work for her to do - online research, spreadsheet tasks, proof reading blog posts, etc. So a full-time job might work too.

As for specific requirements, we would want:
- Someone with online customer service experience (ideally ecommerce)
- Native English speaker (no French needed)
- Excellent written communication skills
- Some familiarity with Shopify, Amazon Seller Central, Google Docs, Google Sheets, etc would be good. But we can train if necessary.

Do you think the salary range that you mentioned ($37-42k) would be reasonable for that skillset? And presumably that would be for a full-time employee at 40 hours per week?
Well if you’re doing 8am to 12pm, part-time may work. The schedule you had stated before would not have been ideal for many people. If someone is looking for 20 hours of work in the morning and then have the rest of the day for other things, it could work for their needs.

Honestly, out of the criteria you’ve listed, i would say the most difficult one to meet would be the excellent Written (and verbal) communication skills. In my experience, someone who meets that requirement is often looking for bigger and better opportunities. Maybe a student who shows excellent communication skills, has the capacity to manage your various inquiries, and might be familiar with some of the applications you’ve mentioned would be a good fit.

I am not sure how benefits would work for a part-time employee as I was only ever full-time but any part-time who receives some type of benefit would surely be happy. It is my understanding that they often don’t get benefits. Also be prepared for the possibility of a higher than average turnover rate, even for one employee. As others have mentioned, they might see this as a job to take while waiting for something else. It’s just the reality of the call centre gig. I myself left after about 8 years full-time due ti the stress and never being able to take a “break” as in the calls/emails/training of others was non-stop. If you’re job enables the future employee to get a coffee if needed as an example and are not being often berated by customers, they might be inclined to stay longer.

Good luck with your search.
Please don’t confuse my kindness for weakness.
Deal Addict
Jan 21, 2018
4723 posts
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Vancouver
A standard employment contract is a good idea, just to spell out the legal details and make sure you are clear if any question of employment status comes up. You can add whatever you think is relevant, as long as it's legal under employment laws.

As this is your first employee, it's important to go through all the standard issues that might come up during employment, and when the employee eventually leaves. We made sure to copy not only a standard employment contract, but a standard employee handbook of about 25 pages that spells out a lot of things you need to think about, like:
- What is the sick leave policy, if anything?
- What is the vacation policy? (and read the employment laws about this)
- Allowed flexibility to hours of work? Timesheets?
- Expenses covered? How? Any limits?
- Code of conduct? (e.g., no side deals with customers?, no accepting gifts from suppliers?)
- Non-competition and confidentiality?
- Personal leave? Bereavement leave for family funeral?

At first you won't think most of these things are important or likely to be an issue, but that fact is that you never know. There's a chance that any of them could come up at any time, and the longer you go and the more employees you eventually hire, the more chance you will run into an issue where you will be grateful that you have a written policy that the employee reviewed. For example, when your valued employee comes to you and says they'd like to take 2 weeks off without notice because their grandmother just died, you are caught in a bind: forced to make a trade-off between damage to your business or pissing off a valued employee with what seems like an arbitrary decision. How much easier if you have a written policy clear to all in advance.

You also need to think about what happens when an employee leaves. They don't have to give you any notice, and that's too late to start introducing new policies about accumulated flex time, return of company equipment, confidentiality, and non-competition.

As for benefits like extended health insurance, they don't make financial sense for either the employer or the employee in small companies. Nevertheless employees often attach a high value to them. Benefits insurance is probably academic at your size, because you won't be able to get a reasonable price for group coverage until you hit at least 4 employees. The alternative is a PHSP, which at least offers a tax benefit to the company and professional claims management for as little as 5% fee.
Member
Feb 15, 2018
344 posts
414 upvotes
Is it possible to structure an employment contract like that?
What you are trying to do is called a split shift and how such shifts are administered is regulated by provincial employment standards. Whatever contract you come up with can not violate your provincial employment standards. I would read up on these first or better yet hire a lawyer or some well seasoned HR consultant. Legalities aside, you will have a hard time hiring quality talent under split shift conditions - unless they are working from home.

Do we need to offer benefits of any kind?
No, you do not need to offer benefits. Anyway, a lot of insurance companies will not even offer you a benefits plan since you just have 1 employee. These types of benefits are called group benefits and insurance companies make money off them because the risk is spread across multiple employees. Your other option for benefits would be to join the group plan offered through your local chamber of commerce - but you need to be a member.

Is there any advantage to hiring inside/outside of BC?
Yes and no. A major advantage to hiring from back east is the timezone. Now to the disadvantages. You will really need to consult with an employment lawyer (not an ambulance chaser) to figure out which province's employment laws would govern this relationship. If you are in BC and hire a BC worker then everything is straight forward. Keep in mind that different provinces have very different labour laws - some are more employer friendly while some are more employee friendly.

Do we need a lawyer for the employment contract?
If you have to ask, then you do need a lawyer. The mechanics of an employment contract are very sophisticated and poor drafting could render the contract null and void. Unless you have taken a class in university that deals with employement law and know how to reference previously decided cases for guidance with your drafting, you will be way in over your head. At the very minimum you would need the services of a solid HR consultant to help with the drafting as they have probably written so many contracts. Better yet an employment lawyer, or a combination of both. One wrongfull dismissal claim can wipe out whatever profits you have made.
[OP]
Jr. Member
May 20, 2012
104 posts
9 upvotes
VANCOUVER
canuckstorm wrote: Is it possible to structure an employment contract like that?
What you are trying to do is called a split shift and how such shifts are administered is regulated by provincial employment standards. Whatever contract you come up with can not violate your provincial employment standards. I would read up on these first or better yet hire a lawyer or some well seasoned HR consultant. Legalities aside, you will have a hard time hiring quality talent under split shift conditions - unless they are working from home.

Do we need to offer benefits of any kind?
No, you do not need to offer benefits. Anyway, a lot of insurance companies will not even offer you a benefits plan since you just have 1 employee. These types of benefits are called group benefits and insurance companies make money off them because the risk is spread across multiple employees. Your other option for benefits would be to join the group plan offered through your local chamber of commerce - but you need to be a member.

Is there any advantage to hiring inside/outside of BC?
Yes and no. A major advantage to hiring from back east is the timezone. Now to the disadvantages. You will really need to consult with an employment lawyer (not an ambulance chaser) to figure out which province's employment laws would govern this relationship. If you are in BC and hire a BC worker then everything is straight forward. Keep in mind that different provinces have very different labour laws - some are more employer friendly while some are more employee friendly.

Do we need a lawyer for the employment contract?
If you have to ask, then you do need a lawyer. The mechanics of an employment contract are very sophisticated and poor drafting could render the contract null and void. Unless you have taken a class in university that deals with employement law and know how to reference previously decided cases for guidance with your drafting, you will be way in over your head. At the very minimum you would need the services of a solid HR consultant to help with the drafting as they have probably written so many contracts. Better yet an employment lawyer, or a combination of both. One wrongfull dismissal claim can wipe out whatever profits you have made.
Super helpful reply, thanks!

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