Let’s get down to business. Here is the our latest Business Newsletter. An informative and interesting read if you are running your own business. If you would like to receive further editions of our newsletters, please complete the simple subscription form opposite. Click below to read the newsletter as a PDF.
Let’s get down to business.
You didn’t go in to business to learn about the legal aspects of running a business. You started your business because you are passionate about what you do. We understand this because we’re passionate about our business too. At Thomas Dunton, we are a local solicitor firm, with 40 years of expertise in helping local businesses in the area. We know the local community; we are familiar with the local services, resources and opportunities available to you and together we can passionately help you grow.
How can we help you?
We provide a free 30-minute consultation where you can talk over your business needs with one of our expert team. This FREE Business workshop will help identify any potential problems and focus on relevant legal procedures that you should have in place. We offer this service will no obligation to use our services.
Our areas of Expertise include:
1. Starting up your business
2. Taking on leased premises
3. Employing Staff and Employment Law
4. Licences, Permissions and Insurances
5. Finances and Taxes
6. Sole Trader, Partnership and Limited Companies
7. Contract Law
8. Health and Safety Regulations
Don’t just take our word for it:
We always ask our clients for honest feedback on their experience of Thomas Dunton through an anonymous satisfaction survey. We think it’s important to know how well we are doing and how we can improve. Our recent annual client survey reported that 92% of our clients said that they would recommend us to their friends and family.
Improving your bottom line:
Good legal advice can bring added value to your business. Whether that be in the form of legal contracts, employment law, taxes or tribunals. Having a solicitor that provides a strategic, legal prospective can prove invaluable.
What to include in a Staff Induction
Conducting a staff induction with new staff means that they are familiar with your business practices and how you work:
HR Essentials – your staff need to be set up on your HR and payroll systems. Ask them to bring in key information such as photo ID, NI number and their bank details on their first day. Also make them aware of the processes for:
• Giving notice
It’s important that your staff can perform the tasks you need. Ideally spread their training over their probation period. It should include health and safety considerations, business specific tasks and the use of new equipment.
It’s also a good idea to introduce them to the rest of your staff and give them a tour of your premises.
Contracts: Employee and Business.
Gone are the days when a firm handshake sealed a deal or employing staff without a con-tract. Running a successful business requires written contracts which define responsibilities and liabilities so that everyone is clear how the business agreement will operate.
• Define what their responsibilities, tasks and duties are as well as their job title.
• Include whether a probationary period is applicable
• State where they will be based during work and how many hours a week they will be working
• Outline their annual salary and when they should expect to be paid.
• Their holiday entitlement and your sickness policy
Important terms and conditions to include are:
• Description of the goods or services
• Terms of payment
• Terms of delivery
• When goods can be replaced and any applicable refund
• Termination and notice period
• Governing Law
Having legally sound contracts protects your business. It provides clarity, ease of enforcement and transparency for all concerned.
These are general points to consider, however, please contact us for more detailed guidance to ensure that you are compliant with the latest legislation.
Are you GDPR Compliant?
The way we handle data has changed with the introduction of the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR). This came into force on 25 May 2018. These new regulations will affect every business, regardless of size and sector. Your business could be fined up to 4% of its global turnover if you are not compliant.
What is Personal Data?
Personal Data is information which identifies an individual and businesses need to use it securely and responsibly.
What is Data Protection?
Data Protection is the category of law that deals with our data and how it is collected, controlled, stored or shared.
Why has GDPR come about?
The new regulation has been created to bring Data Protection in line with our modern usage of personal data as we now ‘share’ this information on the internet and through our mobile phones.
When does it apply?
This regulation came into force on 25th May 2018
What is the objective of GDPR?
This legislation will allow people greater control over their personal data by regulating how it can be used by business
Unfortunately, from time to time you may find yourself in a position of having to make staff redundant. Although this can be upsetting, here is some general guidance on the initial stages.
Who should you make redundant?
Acting objectively, you need to assess employees against criteria which could include:
qualifications, experience, skills, attendance and disciplinary records. Each employee should be scored against these factors.
A letter should be sent outlining the prospect of redundancy and briefly the reasons why. Employees should be invited to a consultation meeting where you can explain:
The need for redundancies
Alternatives to redundancies
The selection criteria
The scoring system and how it is applied
Other opportunities, if relevant, for them in other areas of the business
Confirming the decision:
Once the employee has been given the opportunity for a meeting, consultation and consideration a written notification should be sent to the employee. This letter should include the rights of appeal, notice pay, contractual benefits, pay for untaken holiday and the full entitlement to contractual or statutory redundancy pay.
A Settlement Agreement can be offered, this helps avoid the risk of an Employment Tribunal claim. In this, you need to include the redundancy entitlement and possibly an additional payment if the employee waives their legal rights.
Legal Obligations – your to do list.
Trading on the internet and mail order
If you sell online or by mail order there are strict rules and regulations under legislation called The Consumer Contracts Regulations 2013. This protects the consumer who purchases goods or services without first seeing them. Further legislation was introduced with the Consumer Rights Act 2015 which covers new rights on digital content. The Act gives the consumer a clear right to the repair or the replacement of fully digital content such as online film and games, music downloads or e-books.
Finances and Taxes
Raising finance is often an issue for a new or existing business and taking out a loan or remortgaging your home are two options. Make sure that the terms are fair and that you are aware of the legal implications of remortgaging.
Regardless of gender, your staff should be paid the same, when doing the same or equivalent work. It has been an aspect of UK sex discrimination law for over 40 years, and the law is now incorporated into the Equality Act 2010.
Staff Working Hours
You are obligated to give your staff a statement of their terms and conditions. Consideration should be given to various directives including Working Time Regulations, Flexible Working and Shared Parental Leave.
Try and resolve disputes internally by using the firm’s Complaints Procedure rather than resorting to an Employment Tribunal.
The General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) came into force on May 25th 2018. Your business needs to be compliant to ensure that you will not be fined up to 4% of your turnover.
What to consider when leasing a Commercial Property.
• Make sure the space is big enough. When your business grows, you want to have large enough premises too.
• Ensure that the space is able to support the infrastructure you will need. You will need to have enough room for cabling as well as being able to accommodate the speed and adaptability for broadband.
• The average lease is now 5 years (although longer or shorter leases can be negotiated). Consider a break clause to get out of a lease if need be. You may need to pay more rent but it could help.
• Check the ‘User Clause’ so that it fits with the type of business you wish to run.
• Know what your service charges will be and make sure you can pay them.
We can help with these legal matters and we always advise that a solicitor carefully review your lease agreements before you sign on the dotted line.
Don’t Slip: Accidents in the workplace
Accidents in the workplace occur more often than most people realise and as an employer, you need to be aware of your responsibilities and deal with accidents correctly when they happen. You must also investigate workplace incidents that resulted or could have resulted in an injury.
As far as reasonably practical, employers have a ‘duty of care’ to ensure the health, safety and welfare at work of their employees and others affected by the employer’s activities. Put in simple terms, this means:
Making sure your staff are aware of all safety issues through training, information, instruc-tions and supervision.
Ensuring your staff have all the proper tools, safety equipment and clothing to carry out their job
Maintaining safe plant and systems of work and reporting accidents.
Keeping a written health and safety policy if you employ more than five members of staff.
Making sure that the workplace is clean, tidy and safe from hazards
Conducting risk assessments and assigning first aiders.
What to be aware of in Employment Law during 2018:
There are several new legislations that take effect during this year, and we have outlined the main ones below:
• The ‘Fit for Work’ assessment scheme ended in England & Wales at the end of March. However, the ‘Fit for Work’ helpline, website and web chat service will con-tinue.
• April saw the first gender pay gap reports being published for both the private and public sectors.
• Statutory maternity, paternity, adoption and shared parental pay increased in April, as did statutory sick pay. The national minimum wage increased on April 1st to £7.83 for 25 and over from £7.50 and workers aged 21’s wage rose to £7.38 an hour.
• From 6th April, income tax and both employer and employee National Insurance con-tributions became payable on all payments in lieu of notice.
• GDPR came into force on May 25th. This requires employers to comply with new leg-islation in respect of the processing of personal data.
Buying or Selling a Business
Buying a Business
Sometimes it makes perfect sense to buy a business rather than start one from scratch.
1. The business is already established.
2. Finances may be easier to arrange if it has a proven track rec-ord.
3. Your client and customer base are established
4. You already have a workforce that know the business
1. If the business has not been run correct-ly, you may have to invest additional fi-nances over and above the purchase price.
2. You may need a large amount of work-ing capital to assist with the cash flow.
3. You may need to honour or renegotiate existing contracts.
4. Your staff may be demotivated by the takeover or leave because of the change.
Once you make an offer: Due Diligence
Before you commit yourself you should be aware of every aspect of the business. Once you make an offer and it has been accepted (subject to contract), a period is allowed for you to access the accounts and records. There are three areas to take advice on:
Commercial Due Diligence: Where does the business sit in the marketplace; check your competition.
Financial Due Diligence: Check all the accounts to ensure there are no irregularities
Legal Due Diligence: As part of the sale and purchase contract your solicitor can check that the business has a legal title to sell, has ownership of all the assets, and that regulatory and litigation issues are fully addressed.
Selling a Business:
Deciding to sell or close a business can be a difficult decision to make. Apart from the physical selling of the business and its assets, there are many other factors to take into consideration. Your tax and all other accounts and paperwork should be up to date so that the buyer’s solicitor and accountant can carry out their Due Diligence checks. In addition, there will be many other issues to cover depending on the type and nature of the business. These will include:
Are you leaving or winding down a partnership?
Are you selling or closing a limited company?
Is your business registered for VAT?
Are you self-employed?
If you are leasing your premises you will nearly always need your landlord’s consent to transfer the lease to your buyer.
Existing contracts with suppliers
Leasing contracts for equipment
Tax implications (discuss your plans with your accountant at an early stage)
How to deal with ongoing liabilities /your bank etc