Here is the 2017 edition of our Business Newsletter which we hope you will find both interesting and informative. If you would like to receive future editions by post or email, please complete the simple subscription form.
Business Newsletter 207
Finding out how the Law can help you
Can we save you time and money?
IF you have your own business, whether you work on your own or employ a number of staff, why not take advantage of the free legal health check that we offer under the Law Society’s “Lawyers for your Business” scheme.
We provide a free 30 minute consultation where you can talk over your business with a member of our team, who will help you identify potential pitfalls and avoid future problems. There is no obligation for you to use our services.
The areas where we are able to advise you include:
• Starting your business
• Buying or selling business premises
• Taking on leased premises
• Employing staff
• Employment Law
• Licences, Permissions and Insurance
• Raising money for your business
• Finance and Taxes
• Sole trader, Partnership, and Limited Company arrangements
• Contracts with clients, suppliers and
• Health and Safety Regulations
• Debt Recovery
To arrange your free consultation
Simply call or email our offices to arrange an interview and mention the scheme. You will be under no obligation to take the matter further if you do not wish to do so.
Telephone 01689 822554 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
Local businesses and local lawyers working together
There are two professions every business needs: an accountant and a lawyer.
The reasons for hiring an accountant are fairly obvious but a good lawyer can also provide vital assistance in almost every aspect of your business.
Some of the areas where legal advice is particularly important are raised in this newsletter – such as what happens when illness prevents you from running your business, planning for redundancies, accidents at work and the importance of contracts.
Free review of your business’s legal needs
Many small businesses do not consult a solicitor until they have a serious problem for fear of the costs.
For this reason we offer a free initial interview where at an early stage we can help you to anticipate potential pitfalls and avoid future problems. There is no obligation to use our services.
Bring added value
A solicitor can also add value to a new or existing business in many ways. Their advice now may save you both money and problems in the future – from basic legal contracts to providing broader, strategic business advice.
A local solicitor will be able to relate to what you are trying to achieve in the local community — a community that they are part of, and are familiar with the services, resources and opportunities available to you.
Understanding your business
At Thomas Dunton you will find someone who understands what kind of business you want, listens to your needs and works to achieve those goals.
We always have your best interests in mind and do not just say “You can’t do that” but aim instead to say “Perhaps we could do it this way”.
Size doesn’t matter
If you have your own business, whether you work on your own or have a number of employees, why not take advantage of the free legal health check we offer under the Law Society’s “Lawyers for your Business” scheme.
For more information on how we can help your business, please contact us on Freephone 0800 358 2757, email email@example.com or visit our website at www.thomasdunton.co.uk
Your business contracts
Why do we need contracts? Isn’t a handshake good enough?
Only a written contract, whether for employees, suppliers, customers or landlords, can define responsibilities and liabilities so that everyone is clear how the business agreement will operate.
A contract will include your liabilities for the goods and services you provide, how and when payment has to be made and rates of interest for late payment.
What are terms and conditions?
Theses could be defined as the road map governing the relationship between the buyer and seller in a contract for the sale of goods or the supply of services. It sets out the rights and obligations of the buyer and seller.
What to include
Important terms and conditions include:
• Description of the goods or services
• Terms of payment
• Terms of delivery
• When goods can be returned and any applicable refund
• Termination and Notice period
• Governing Law
What do you gain?
A contract protects your business by offering:
• Clarity: Because each party knows their rights and obligation, disputes are less likely to arise.
• Ease of Enforcement: Robust terms and conditions make it easier to spot when a term/condition has been breached and for the breach to be enforced.
• Client satisfaction: Well written terms and conditions ensure that the Client is very clear about his rights and obligations from the very outset.
• Cashflow: Written terms and conditions ensure regular cashflow for the business by setting out when payment is due and the consequences of defaulting on payment.
• Risk Allocation: Terms and conditions make it clear which parties bear what risk and in what circumstance the risk arises.
Please contact us about new contracts or to review your contracts to ensure they are compliant with the latest legislation.
Sign up for our Pocket Employment Guide
Published twice yearly in April and October, the guide provides information on the latest Government rates and thresholds on a wide range of useful subjects including:
• National Minimum Wage
• National Living Wage
• Income Tax Rates
• Income Tax Reliefs
• National Insurance
• Compensation Limits
• Sickness Payments
• Parental Entitlements
Please call us or email to be added to our mailing list.
Redundancy is an unfortunate action that many businesses have to take at some time or other. Here is some guidance on the initial stages.
How does an employer select which employees to make redundant?
The employer needs to apply objective selection criteria to employees in their workforce. This can include qualifications, experience, skills, attendance and disciplinary record. The employer scores each employee against these criteria.
What happens next?
A letter should be sent to the employee advising them that redundancy is a possibility and setting out the reasons why. They should be invited to a consultation meeting where you can explain –
• The need for redundancies
• The selection criteria
• The scoring system and how it applies to them
• Whether there are any opportunities for them to work in other areas of the business.
Confirming the decision
Once redundancy has been confirmed, the employee should be notified in writing together with advice about a Right of Appeal. The employer must provide the full details of notice pay, contractual benefits, pay for untaken holiday, and the full entitlement to contractual or statutory redundancy pay.
Some employers, to avoid the risk of an Employment Tribunal claim, offer a Settlement Agreement. The employer agrees to pay the employee their redundancy
entitlement, and possibly an additional payment, if the employee waives their legal rights. Most employers will pay for the employee to receive independent legal advice on the Settlement Agreement.
Please contact us on 0800 358 2757 if you require more information.
Who runs the business if you are incapacitated?
The success of a small business is very closely associated with the individual owner’s talents and skills.
If the owner should suddenly become ill or injured and unable to carry on running the business, problems are likely to arise very quickly and things can soon grind to a halt.
Your family and beneficiaries, employees, contractors and clients may be left with many intractable problems such as who pays the staff and suppliers.
Appoint someone you trust
A sole trader does not have a partner who can continue running the business. Even in a partnership, succession formalities should always be in place. How then can you ensure that matters can be dealt with quickly and efficiently on your behalf by someone you trust?
One of the simplest solutions is to put in place a Lasting Power of Attorney whereby you can appoint a person, or persons, to act on your behalf if you lose the ability to make decisions about your property and financial affairs yourself.
In the event of death
If the owner of the business were to die, in order to protect the family and the business, it is advisable to consider the following steps:
• Taking out life insurance policies so that funds are available to enable other partners or shareholders to buy out your interest in the business, or for extra working capital to tide it over a period of uncertainty.
• Regulating the succession by means of specific provisions in shareholders’ and partnership agreements.
• Ensuring that your Will is up to date with instructions for the future of the business.
Inheritance Tax (IHT)
It is very important to ensure that you are aware of the relevant rules relating to IHT that would entitle the executors of your estate to claim Business Property Relief (BPR) – and thus get either 100% or 50% relief for IHT on business assets. (The actual rate of relief depends on the type of business property.)
Depending on the circumstances, it may be possible for the the whole value of the business to be entirely exempt from IHT.
An important part of your overall business planning should include provisions for when and how the reins of your business will be passed on to someone else.
You may want to keep the business in the family, in which case you need to identify a suitable successor. If you wish to sell the business then plan in advance so as to achieve the highest value. Keep Tax issues in mind, for example Capital Gains Tax and Inheritance Tax.
For more information, please call us on Freephone 0800 358 2757 or visit our website.
Stress at work claims
Stress at work is a very common condition that affects approximately 400,000 people in the UK every year.
A certain amount of pressure at work can be motivating but long hours and a heavy workload can result in levels of stress that can make people ill.
Employers have a duty, under the Health & Safety at Work Act 1974, to protect the safety and welfare of their employees and this includes conducting risk assessments for work-related stress.
Good health can sometimes depend on good stress management, as stress can lead to smoking and increased drinking which in turn can lead to a higher risk of heart disease.
Some of the most common causes of stress are:
• Dealing with the public or customers
• Worrying about job security
• Receiving a formal warning
• Poor working conditions
• Excessive hours and shift work
• Victimisation, harassment and bullying
• Worrying about childcare
• Monotonous or repetitive work
• Being unable to vary your work or suggest new methods
• Increased workload and deadlines
• Lack of adequate training
• Frustration with poor management
• Management changes
Claims for stress
For an employee to bring a successful claim it is necessary to prove certain criteria.
At Thomas Dunton we have a dedicated team of specialist Personal Injury lawyers ready to help if you are faced with a claim for stress. Please call us on 01689 822554.
Accidents in the Workplace
All employers have a duty to protect their workers, contractors and visitors from accident or injury. They are obliged to inform staff about health and safety issues and ensure they have the proper tools, safety equipment and clothing to carry out their duties.
All machinery must be regularly inspected and maintained and the workplace must be clean, tidy and free from hazards.
The employer should carry out a risk assessment to ensure that there are adequate first aiders on hand and what equipment and facilities should be available.
They are legally obliged to report certain accidents such as a death, major injury or one that stops an employee carrying out their duties for more than 3 days.
All employers (except for very small companies) are legally obliged to keep an “accident book” into which all accidents are recorded.
This provides a record for the employee should they need time off work or to pursue a claim for compensation. It also enables the employer to see what is happening within the company and take any necessary action to prevent accidents in future.
The employer is only obliged to pay Statutory Sick pay if the employee needs to have time off work because of a work related accident. However, the employer may decide to pay extra depending upon the circumstances.
If an employee has an accident, and subsequent injury, and believes it was the fault of their employer, they may be entitled to compensation.
For more information, please call 01689 822554 or visit our website.
Keeping up to date with legal obligations
The success of a small business is very closely associated with the individual owner’s talents and skills, but to ensure its ongoing security there are various safeguards and legal requirements of which you should be aware.
Contracts with Clients or Suppliers
The Terms and Conditions under which you trade are vital to the protection of your business. Please see our article on page 2.
Trading on Internet and mail order
If you sell online, by mail order or over the telephone, there are strict rules and regulations under legislation called The Consumer Contracts Regulations 2013. It was introduced to protect the consumer who purchases goods or services without first seeing them. Further legislation was introduced with the Consumer Rights Act 2015.
Licences, Permissions & Insurance
Special licences are required for the sale of certain products such as alcohol. Failure to acquire these licences or permissions could result in fines or the closure of your business.
You may also require insurance cover such as Employer’s Liability Insurance, Public Liability Insurance and Product Liability Insurance.
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 just two options available to you. It is important that the terms of any loan are fair and that you are aware of the legal implications of remortgaging.
Health and Safety
It is required that all employers with five or more employees must have in place written policies, procedures and Risk Assessments to address health and safety issues in the workplace. Should a business fail to comply, action can be taken against managers, directors and employees by The Health and Safety Executive.
Staff Working Hours
You are obliged to give your employees a statement of their terms and conditions.
Consideration must be given to various directives including Working Time Regulations, Flexible Working and Shared Parental Leave.
It is always best to try and resolve an employment dispute by using the firm’s Complaints Procedure rather than resorting to the Law or an Employment Tribunal. The issue can be sorted out more quickly, but if it is decided a Tribunal is necessary, it is more costly for all involved.
Please see page one for details of our Free Legal Health Check For more information on all these areas, please call 0800 358 2757 or visit our website at thomasdunton.co.uk
Free Information Leaflets available from our offices or can be posted on request.