A Guide to Data protection for small businesses and start-ups

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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Guide to Auto Enrolment – 12 key facts small businesses need to know

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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What the changes in Health & Safety regulations from 1st October 2015 means for the self-employed

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? (more…)

Health & Safety compliance for small businesses – where do you start?

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; (more…)

What small businesses can do to manage the extra costs of the National Living Wage

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? (more…)

How to prepare for and handle an employee grievance

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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What is a confidentiality agreement or ‘NDA’ and when might a small business use one?

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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Automatic Enrolment – small businesses urged to act

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. (more…)

What does ‘Shared Parental Leave’ mean for your business?

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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Intellectual Property – A summary of IP law for small businesses

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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Guide to Copyright Law – What is protected?

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

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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Employers’ guide to employee holiday and leave entitlement

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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Don’t let a divorce ruin your business

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. (more…)

Trade Marks – Limit your risk by protecting your brand

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

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. (more…)

How to manage and minimise the legal risks to small companies

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.
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Choosing a solicitor for your business

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.
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Charging interest in contractual relationships

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.
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Companies Act 2006 – Update

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.
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How to comply with the Data Protection Act

Not only is compliance with the DPA a legal requirement, there are good business reasons for doing so – for example, using out of date or bad data could result in customer complaints. Also, using bad data costs money and time.
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Data Protection and the Data Protection Act – An Overview

The Data Protection Act (1998) was drafted to ensure the privacy of personal information stored electronically on computers nationwide. The Act aims to “promote high standards in the handling of personal information, and so to protect the individual’s right to privacy”.
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Companies Act 2006 and private companies

The Companies Bill, formerly called Company Law Reform Bill, received Royal Assent on the 8th November 2006. The Companies Act 2006 (‘the Act’) consists of 1300 sections and is the single largest piece of legislation ever made.
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Are your ready for The Bribery Act?

By now you’ll have already heard a bit about the Bribery Act but you’re probably wondering what it really means for your business. In this article, Helen Besant-Roberts, business services partner at accountancy firm, Hurst provides some background to the Act, and what what you need to be aware of when conducting business.
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