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Setting up a business involves complying with a range of legal requirements. Find out which ones apply to you and your new enterprise.
While poor governance can bring serious legal consequences, the law can also protect business owners and managers and help to prevent conflict.
Whether you want to raise finance, join forces with someone else, buy or sell a business, it pays to be aware of the legal implications.
From pay, hours and time off to discipline, grievance and hiring and firing employees, find out about your legal responsibilities as an employer.
Marketing matters. Marketing drives sales for businesses of all sizes by ensuring that customers think of their brand when they want to buy.
Commercial disputes can prove time-consuming, stressful and expensive, but having robust legal agreements can help to prevent them from occurring.
Whether your business owns or rents premises, your legal liabilities can be substantial. Commercial property law is complex, but you can avoid common pitfalls.
With information and sound advice, living up to your legal responsibilities to safeguard your employees, customers and visitors need not be difficult or costly.
As information technology continues to evolve, legislation must also change. It affects everything from data protection and online selling to internet policies for employees.
Intellectual property (IP) isn't solely relevant to larger businesses or those involved in developing innovative new products: all products have IP.
Knowing how and when you plan to sell or relinquish control of your business can help you to make better decisions and achieve the best possible outcome.
From bereavement, wills, inheritance, separation and divorce to selling a house, personal injury and traffic offences, learn more about your personal legal rights.
Employment law covers a vast area - from employment contracts to dismissal and everything in between. Many businesses find it worthwhile to use an employment lawyer or employment law service to help ensure that they stay within the law.
Complying with employment law keeps your workforce happier and more productive, and saves you the cost and stress of employment tribunal claims.
Employment contracts and statutory requirements
Every employee has a contract, whether it is in writing or not. As an employer, you are legally obliged to provide a written statement of the main terms and conditions. Changing the terms of the contract without the employee's agreement can be a breach of contract.
Regardless of the contract, you must comply with minimum statutory requirements in terms of pay, hours of work and annual leave. These include the minimum wage, the working time regulations covering maximum working hours, and annual paid holiday entitlements. Other entitlements include statutory sick pay for qualifying employees.
Employers must respect a wide range of employee rights. These include providing employees with a healthy and safe working environment, allowing them to belong to a trade union and providing pay statements.
Pregnant women and new mothers have significant rights to time off both before and after giving birth. If they have been employed long enough, they also qualify for statutory maternity pay. Similar rights apply to adoptive parents and new fathers.
Crucially, employees are protected against discrimination on the basis of race, colour, nationality or ethnic origin, age, disability and religion or philosophical beliefs. It is also illegal to discriminate against anyone on grounds of their sex (including gender re-assignment) or marital status (including civil partnerships), or on the grounds of their actual or perceived sexual orientation. Employers can also be held liable for any discrimination or victimisation by their employees or visitors to their premises. Disgruntled employees may well try to claim illegal discrimination; an employment tribunal can award unlimited damages.
Larger businesses must inform and consult employees or their representatives before making major changes or redundancies. Even if you're not covered by this requirement, it's good practice to keep employees informed and involved in major decisions.
You need to have written disciplinary and grievance procedures that operate in a fair and transparent way. Employees should be made aware of the procedures and managers trained in how to handle discipline and grievance issues.
If you need to dismiss employees or make them redundant, you must treat them fairly and reasonably. Unfair or wrongful dismissal can lead to an employment tribunal and an order to reinstate the employee or pay compensation.