Small Business & the law – 8 to watch out for!

15 Aug


I have been amazed at how many Directors / owners & just people in general are not aware of the myriad of laws there are governing small business, its ventures, its finances, its employees – Basically everything.

Here’s a few I think are VERY important & you should at the very least be aware of.

1) UK Cookie Law

Practically every business has a website of some sort now – on 26th May 2011 the UK Government gave us 1 year to implement some very important changes to all business websites.

A cookie is a small piece of information that many websites use to store information on a viewer’s computer. This is usually perfectly legitimate information such as what’s in your shopping basket. However due to worries that they can also be used for more unscrupulous reasons – such as tracking your way around the web as you browse;  The EU directive aims to protect web users by ensuring they are reminded upon visiting sites, that cookies are being used.

Implementation of the EU Cookie Law was delayed in the UK by a year to allow businesses to get up to speed with the new legislation and add the required changes to their websites.  These changes mean you should inform and ask permission of your users if they are happy for you to use cookies as part of their browsing experience.

2) Health & Safety at Work

When you are responsible for a business, as far as practicable you have a duty to ensure the Health, Safety & wellbeing of not only your employees, but visitors & tradespeople at your place of work.

3) Sex Discrimination & Equal Pay act

This prohibits less favourable treatment / pay of a person based on gender – It sounds like common sense, but believe me some small businesses fall foul of this, purely because of “this is how it’s always been done”. Remember for the purpose of this act the term pay is interpreted in a broad sense to include, on top of wages, things like holidays, pension rights, company perks and some kinds of bonuses.

4) Part-Time workers regulations

From 2000, it has been illegal to treat a part-time worker differently to a full-time worker. They should receive the same rates of pay, same training opportunities, Holiday entitlement (pro-rata) & also be included in any career break schemes offered, such as maternity /paternity scheme.

5) Companies Act 2006

Although a company is a separate legal entity from you as a director, you still have a legal obligation to act in an appropriate manner. This law was instigated to compel directors to act in good faith in the best interest of the company and to exercise their powers for a proper purpose.

This includes section S172 to promote the success of the company – directors must continue to act in a way that benefits the shareholders as a whole, but there is now an additional list of non-exhaustive factors to which the directors must have regard. – this can be interpreted in many ways.

6) Sale of Goods Act

This is concerned with the buying and selling of goods. It lays out a number of terms of sale that are implied unless the contract between the buyer and seller specifies differently. Of particular interest to a small business entrepreneur is the responsibility to repair, replace or refund goods sold to consumers for a period of six months if the goods were not in accordance with the contract. Again, I know of a number of small businesses that have fallen foul of this.

7) Data Protection Act

Please see previous blog – Data Protection

8) Minimum wage & Statutory Pay Obligation’s

Regulations covering minimum wages and statutory pay apply to almost every business.

It is illegal to pay less than the National Minimum Wage, so you need to be clear about your responsibilities as an employer if you are going to prevent disputes arising.

There is NO OPT OUT of National Minimum Wage!

Employees are also protected against an employer making deductions from wages. Should you do this, they are able to make a claim for breach of contract & the outstanding payment under the employment contract.

Before making any deductions, as an employer, you must tell your employee in writing the full amount they owe and why and make a demand for the payment.

Wages must be paid as agreed in their contract if hours are worked.

You are only able to make legal deductions, such as agreed deductions for tax & NI or repayments of student loans etc. without the aforementioned written confirmation of such deduction.

You are at risk of the employee taking you to court & winning (with costs & interest) & your company/you receiving a County Court Judgment – UK employment law is very clear!

Please note – Im not a lawer, I have just been amazed & a little shocked at some of the things Ive seen & heard over the last few months & suggest anyone reading this check out –


Lastly, if you are a small business wanting a professional yet personal approach to Social Media.

Rocoja is for you!


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