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Many small business owners are now tackling Auto-Enrolment for the first time. The subject is throwing up lots of questions, and with deadlines looming, small businesses need to ensure they get their Auto-Enrolment Pension Scheme in place in time.

To help, we asked Paul Budgen of NEST, which has been set up by the government especially for auto enrolment, to answer 5 of the most common questions small businesses are asking about auto-enrolment pensions; Continue…

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When you start taking on employees you will be faced with a fair amount of legal responsibilities. It’s important you understand all your obligations as an employer as if you don’t comply with UK employment law you can easily find yourself in front of an employment tribunal.

As a small business owner, your legal responsibilities when taking on staff can be somewhat daunting but with a little help you can soon get your head around what’s needed.

One of your first duties as a new employer is to ensure you comply with employment contract law. To help you understand your legal obligations, here’s a guide to employment contracts for small business owners;

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New start-ups and small businesses often fail to give much thought to their standard “Terms and Conditions of Business” (T&Cs). That is, until there is a dispute with a customer, by which time it may be too late.

Business owners who are unaware of the importance of T&Cs can even find that they are conducting business on their customer’s Terms and Conditions of Business. This can happen when a customer successfully substitutes their own T&Cs for yours. If this is the case, you could be in for a very nasty shock when a customer complains.

To help make sure you protect your business, and only work on the basis of your Terms and Conditions of Business, we asked Sheren Thiara, of Wright Hassall Solicitors, to explain why T&Cs are so crucial for businesses and to give some practical advice on how you make sure the work you do is under your standard T&Cs.
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From 1st April, 2016 all employers will need to comply with the new National Minimum Wage regulations.

To help you understand exactly what the National Living Wage is, and what you need to do to comply with the new legislation, here’s a guide to the National Living Wage for small business owners;

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As all businesses and traders selling to consumers should know, the Consumer Rights Act 2015 (CRA) came into force on 1 October 2015 and overhauled the UK’s legislation on selling goods and services to consumers.

It also introduced legislation on the sale of digital content for the first time (distinguishing digital content from goods and services) and re-clarified contractual terms that could be considered unfair when dealing with consumers.

In response to the Consumer Rights Act, all businesses should be updating their terms and conditions to ensure they reflect the new legislation. Other key points those selling to consumers need to consider, include;

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This guide explains exactly what a trade mark is, how you can use one to protect your business and how to go about registering a trade mark for your business;

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Mental health problems are often misunderstood, but as an employer it’s your responsibility to ensure that your employees are treated fairly.

Some people may recover from a mental health condition such as anxiety or depression, or it may only have a minor effect, but if an employee’s mental health issues are severe enough to count as a disability, you will also have to consider your legal responsibilities towards them.

This guide outlines your duties and responsibilities to any staff with mental health problems, and helps to ensure that you don’t inadvertently discriminate against them.

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Whether you’re just starting up or currently running a small business, you may be feeling overwhelmed by the issues that you face on a daily basis.

With so much to do, one area that is often neglected by many is the law. A report last year found that 25% of SME’s have no idea they’re breaking the law, with many stating that the ever changing legislation and jargon filled manuscripts make it a confusing task.

But ignorance of the law could see you facing crippling fines or even a jail sentence, putting a painful dent into you finances and damaging your company’s reputation.

So with several good reasons for you to get to grips with business laws, this guide gives you practical advice on the major new legislation set to affect small businesses in 2016, and what you need to do to stay on the right side of the law. Continue…

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Having to dismiss an employee is something many employers dread, due to the possibility that the dismissed employee may take them to an employment tribunal if they feel they weren’t treated fairly. This is why you should take care to act reasonably towards employees throughout the dismissal procedure.

So if you have a member of staff that you feel you may have to dismiss, this guide will hep you to understand how you can do this legally and without the unwanted fear, distraction or costs of appearing before an employment tribunal.

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Data protection is now a more onerous regime for small businesses, and this will only increase when the EU General Data Protection Regulation is implemented.

The Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO), which regulates the Data Protection Act 1998 (DPA), can impose penalties of up to £500,000. A glance at the ICO website will tell you how seriously they view failures to comply, so it’s crucial that small businesses understand their obligations under the DPA when dealing with any personal data, whether it relates to customers, clients or employees.

But for start-ups and small businesses, who can’t afford the luxury of a dedicated data protection officer it’s hard to know where to start. We therefore asked Clare Edwards, of Hill Dickinson, to distil some of the complexities of the Data Protection Act, and to offer some practical tips for start-ups and small businesses when dealing with personal data;

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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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A change is afoot for the UK’s self-employed workers, and it’s good news for some 1.7million one-man bands!

From 1st October 2015, if you are self-employed and your work activity poses no potential risk to the health and safety of other workers or members of the public, then Health and Safety law will not apply to you.

So are you one of the sole traders that no longer has to worry about complying with Health & Safety legislation? Continue…

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When you are starting a business, sitting down and grappling with Health & Safety legislation isn’t one of your top priorities. It’s fair to say that it’s not one of the more exciting parts of running your own business, and it doesn’t bring in any money.

However, with the average fine for Health & Safety prosecutions being over £30,000, it can be very costly if you don’t stay on the right side of the law. With so much at stake, we asked Louise Hosking of Hosking Associates to explain what small businesses need to do; Continue…

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In April 2016 the National Living Wage legislation will come in to force. From this date all employers will be required to pay staff over the age of 25, a minimum rate of £7.20 per hour.

With experts suggesting that National Living Wage (NLW) could be a step into the unknown, many business owners are rightly feeling nervous about the new legislation.

Lord Wolfson, the boss of Next, for example has stated that prices at the retailer could be driven up by the legislation, which would mean an extra £27million being spent on wages each year. Similar soundings have come from businesses like Whitbread, owner of Costa Coffee and Premier Inn, too – warning that the National Living Wage would cost them an extra £20million.

All businesses with employees will be affected, but those that employ staff with pay rates at, or near the existing minimum wage will be hit hardest. So what can employers do to prepare themselves for the National Minimum Wage legislation? Continue…

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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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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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Why it is important to have a Partnership Agreement

October 11, 2014

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 […]

Employers’ guide to employee holiday and leave entitlement

July 3, 2014

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 […]

Don’t let a divorce ruin your business

June 26, 2014

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.

Trade Marks – Limit your risk by protecting your brand

December 19, 2012

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.

How to enforce a County Court Judgment

July 25, 2012

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?

Discrimination law – the winds of change

April 3, 2012

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.

The importance of a trade mark if you’re selling online

March 28, 2012

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 ‘must’ and ‘should’ of good employment relations

March 26, 2012

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.

Commercial use of Facebook and Twitter – risks and rewards

March 19, 2012

Chris Hutchings, partner at Hamlins LLP, looks at the potential pitfalls and benefits of using social media sites for business purposes.

Top trade mark tips for small business owners

October 11, 2011

If you are starting a new business, you shouldn’t underestimate the importance of securing trade mark protection.