There is a wealth of information about business law online, but do you understand these five laws all business owners should know?
1. Registering and licences
Depending on the structure of your business, you will need to register with certain organisations. Operating as a sole trader requires the least amount of paperwork, at a minimum you must register with HMRC. Other types of structure have rules regarding naming the business and registering with Companies House. A major consideration, when deciding on the type of business to set up, is the separation of legal responsibility between individual and organisation.
2. Statutory employee rights
Your employees are key to your business, so you must ensure you are aware of their rights and adhere to laws governing your responsibility to them. Legally you must provide pay statements, which include net and gross amounts, plus any deductions made. All employees have a right to sickness pay and, if they are over the age of 22, enrolment in a workplace pension scheme. There are different rules for permanent versus freelance employees, but all contracts must take into account employment law.
There are many types of insurance which protect businesses against such risks as loss of assets and compensation claims, among other things. None of these are legal requirements, there are however two types of insurance that businesses may need to have by law. The first is employer’s liability insurance, which is a requirement if your business has employees. If the business uses motor vehicles then you are required to have third party motor insurance at a minimum.
4. Health & safety
Whatever your business structure, size or type, there are likely to be health and safety laws that you as the business owner must be aware of and adhere to. If your business has employees then you will be responsible to ensure that the workplace meets health and safety criteria. Even if you don’t have any staff, you may still be liable for visitors, consumers and, in some cases, those in the vicinity of the workplace.
5. Data protection
Most businesses these days will deal in some sort of personal data. This might be that of clients, customers or employees. Every business owner should be aware of data protection laws and how information must legally be handled and stored. The Information Commissioner’s Office is the independent authority which deals with data protection.