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Being an employer comes with all manner of responsibilities, not least ensuring the happiness and safety of your staff.

So when an employee approaches you, or the person responsible for HR within your organisation, with a problem or complaint (a grievance) you need to ensure you have the necessary procedures in place to resolve the situation efficiently and fairly.

Failing to recognise and deal with a grievance properly could result in the complaint going to an employment tribunal, which would likely prove to be costly, not to mention a huge strain on time and resources on any small business.

To help ensure, your business avoids such costly distractions, here’s how to prepare for, and manage staff grievances.
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Picture the scene. You’ve spent years developing an amazing new product, the likes of which has never been seen before.

It will truly revolutionise the market and give your competitors many sleepless nights of agonising worry.

But it all depends on you shocking the world by announcing your new product at the annual trade fair. If word gets out before, it will ruin all your hard work and give your competitors a head start.
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As 2015 progresses, increasing numbers of small and medium sized businesses (SMEs) – those employing up to 30 members of staff – are getting closer to their automatic enrolment staging date, where they will be required to enrol staff into a workplace pension scheme.

Hundreds of thousands of small employers across the UK will have already received letters from the Pensions Regulator (TPR) telling them of their Automatic Enrolment duties as an employer. However many small businesses still don’t know what they need to do. Continue…

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New parental leave legislation came into effect in April 2015, giving men and women the option to share child care over the course of a year.

Increased flexibility provided by shared parental leave will enable more men to be involved in child care and bond with their babies. It will also give women the freedom to return to work earlier if they wish, which could enhance their career prospects.

However, not everyone has welcomed the new legislation with open arms. Some of the harshest critics have been the Small Business Federation and The Institute of Directors who claims the legislation could create a “nightmare” for employers, particularly small businesses.

So what are the implications of shared parental leave legislation on a business and how can you overcome the practical challenges it brings?

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As a small business owner, you’ve probably heard of the phrase “Intellectual Property”, or IP as it’s commonly referred to. But studies show that despite knowing what Intellectual Property is, many small businesses assume that protecting their Intellectual Property is only something that larger, well-known businesses need to worry about.

The fact is that IP protection is something that many start-ups and small businesses can benefit from considering early on, because without the right protection businesses could lose some of their most valuable assets.

To help you get to grips with the subject, this guide looks at some of the key intellectual property rights small business owners need to know about.
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Automatic enrolment is looming large on the horizon for hundreds of thousands of small businesses across the UK.

With many small firms unfamiliar with company pensions, tackling auto enrolment (AE) can feel daunting, so this guide has been designed to help small business owners get to grips with the subject.

It outlines they key issues for small businesses, including what auto enrolment is, what’s happening, the implications for you and your employees and the steps you need to take to ensure you comply with the new rules.
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Copyright law is one of the key areas of intellectual property protection. In the UK, protection applies automatically once the work is created, so there is nothing further that needs to be done by an owner in order to obtain all the benefits of protection.

In this article we step through the different types of work that are protected by copyright, and explain the extent of the monopoly granted.
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Business is all about partnerships – public-private partnerships, supplier relationships, collaboration with colleagues and competitors, and of course the way you work with your customers.

So it’s never a good thing when you find your closest partnership – that with the fellow leaders of your business – has begun to break down.

It’s the same old story – you start out bright-eyed and bushy-tailed, full of optimism, but even if your business is successful, the cracks can start to show when you try to decide where to go next.

Without a partnership agreement in place, it’s hard to tell who’s actually got the decision-making power, and companies can collapse in a matter of minutes when it all comes to a head.
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The Summer holidays are fast approaching and if you are an employer, you may soon be inundated with holiday forms from your workforce, as staff begin to prepare for their holidays.

Although a lot of businesses have a workforce structure that enables adequate cover during holiday season, there are some that struggle due to the lack of staff and or financial resources to provide cover, during the holidays.
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There’s no doubt that entrepreneurs need spark, grit, creativity and a huge amount of drive and commitment. However, adversity can be a helpful companion to an entrepreneur: it may be the catalyst for that light-bulb moment or it may create resilience. Continue…

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A limited company is by definition limited in its risk. Its legal status separates the business from its owner’s personal assets.  So for a limited company not to trade mark its company name and brand is to increase business risks that could be avoided relatively easily and cheaply.
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You see County Court Judgments, or CCJs, mentioned on debt-related adverts all the time, but what are they, and how do you enforce one?
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There is a wind of change blowing through employment law landscape.  Employers need to think carefully during all stages of the employment relationship before taking any steps.
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Before online shopping became the norm, fake goods were widespread but because you could see and feel the products before buying them you were able to ascertain their providence (or at least try to).  This is not the case anymore.  Anyone can sell on eBay or Amazon, for instance, and pass off fake goods as the real thing.

Companies selling online without a registered trade mark are therefore at a high risk of unscrupulous competitors stealing their identity to sell counterfeit products. Continue…

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If you own a small business you need to keep paper work to a minimum but not cut corners when it comes to employment law. But without any in-house HR support this can be easier said than done.
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Chris Hutchings, partner at Hamlins LLP, looks at the potential pitfalls and benefits of using social media sites for business purposes.
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Benjamin Hopps of Sykes Anderson LLP Solicitors gives advice on how to make sure your standard terms and conditions of business are incorporated into the agreement between you and your customers.
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If you are starting a new business, you shouldn’t underestimate the importance of securing trade mark protection.
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More and more business owners now have their own websites. With the amount of content now available online, how do you copyright the articles and words you publish on your business site?
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The UK’s 3 million family businesses account for over 30pc of gross domestic product, provide 65% of the 4.5 million private sector businesses, employ 9.5 million and hand the Government £47 billion in tax receipts a year, 10% of the annual total.
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How to manage and minimise the legal risks to small companies

October 11, 2011

In this article, Guy Hollebon from Bevans Solicitors looks at some key legal risks that can affect small businesses and how to manage and minimise such risks. Guy has approached the matter as an expert lawyer and also as a small business owner, providing both legal and practical tips.

Make sure your solicitor is qualified to take on your case

October 11, 2011

Following on from our recent article on how to find the right small business solicitor, Dr Yuri Rapoport, of the new consumer offering “Rapoport’s Directory”, believes that you shouldn’t be paying to educate your solicitor.

Choosing a solicitor for your business

October 11, 2011

When running your business, there may be times when you’ll need to obtain legal advice. Quite often, a solicitor will be called upon to review a contract, or to provide a legal opinion on a wide variety of business issues.

Passing the family business to the next generation – legal guide

October 11, 2011

Of all the many things that can disrupt or wreck a business, a change in ownership must be near the top of the list. When family politics are added to the mix of a process that is usually fraught with difficulties in any case, it can be an explosive combination.

Companies Act 2006 & derivative claims by shareholders

October 11, 2011

Stephan Weber of Sykes Anderson LLP discusses the new statutory provisions under the Companies Act 2006 in respect of derivative claims by shareholders

Trade Marks – The Basics

October 11, 2011

A trade mark is defined as: ‘Any sign which is capable of being represented graphically which is capable of distinguishing goods or services of one undertaking from those of other undertakings. A trade mark may, in particular, consist of words (including personal names), designs, letters, numerals or the shape of goods or their packaging.’

Charging interest in contractual relationships

October 11, 2011

Interest rates are important. They can substantially affect the return on investments and have a huge impact on inflation and the economy generally. In a highly geared economy like ours, they can be the difference between boom and bust.

Companies Act 2006 – Update

October 11, 2011

Tim Polding, Head of Commercial Department at Liverpool-based legal firm, Lees Lloyd Whitley, offers an overview of the Companies Act for Bytestart readers – and what to look out for.

E-commerce and E-commerce Regulations for Small Businesses

October 11, 2011

Peijun Xia, Solicitor of Sykes Anderson LLP’s Company Commercial Department discusses some of the basic legal requirements of the E-Commerce Regulations that businesses selling and advertising on line must be aware of and complied with

Companies Act 2006 and Directors Duties

October 11, 2011

This overview of the Companies Act 2006 and Directors Duties was first published in 2006, prior to the introduction of the Companies Act 2006.