We’re here with practical legal information for your business. Learn about employment law, company law and more.

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.

Using CCTV for workplace monitoring

Using CCTV in the workplace is subject to data protection and human rights law, so what must employers do to avoid breaking the law?

There are many legitimate and lawful business reasons why employers can monitor employees using CCTV. These include:

  • to keep employees safe and secure by preventing violence or theft
  • to prevent pilfering, malingering, deliberate damage or other misconduct
  • to ensure and record that health and safety procedures are being followed
  • to monitor and improve productivity
  • to comply with regulatory requirements in some sectors (eg financial services)

When using CCTV, three key areas of law must be observed. Firstly, employers must not act in a way that is likely to destroy or damage the mutual trust and confidence between an employer and employee. If they do, an employee can claim constructive dismissal.

Secondly, data protection laws and principles regulate how employers can collect and process 'personal data' about employees – which includes video footage recorded using CCTV cameras. These laws and principles give employees the right to ask which data is held on them and why it is collected and processed. There are also limits on how long such data can be held.

Finally, employers (particularly in the public sector) should respect their employees' rights to privacy under human rights law by making sure CCTV monitoring is proportionate and not too intrusive.

To avoid legal problems, unless you’re using CCTV in particular circumstances (eg to detect a crime or catch and prosecute those responsible) or to comply with a regulatory requirement, let employees know in advance:

  • that you are introducing CCTV
  • the reasons why
  • how monitoring will take place
  • the nature of the monitoring
  • how information obtained will be used
  • how their rights (eg to privacy) will be protected

Employees should be given the opportunity to make their views on the above known. After consultation, your procedures and practices should be included in a written CCTV policy document that is readily available to employees, explained to them in their induction and in ongoing training.

The Information Commissioner's Office Employment Practices Code contains further detailed guidance and recommendations.

Secret CCTV filming should be avoided except in exceptional circumstances, such as to help prevent physical injury or a serious crime. It should be authorised by senior management and limited to a specific period of time and, as far as possible, to specific people. The risk of intrusion on innocent employees should be balanced against the objectives of the secret recording – particularly if it is to take place in a private area such as a restroom.

Evidence of other wrongdoing obtained by covert recording is unlikely to be admissible unless it amounts to gross misconduct.

Overall, introducing CCTV can be a complex and problematic step, with potential for reputational damage if employees denounce their 'big brother' employer. Specialist legal advice is strongly recommended.

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