We generally associate entrepreneurship with coming up with innovative ideas, but that’s actually the easiest part. What’s hard is turning those ideas into reality.
There’s a lot that goes into starting a business, and some aspects can be quite complex such as choosing a business structure, buying insurance, recruiting employees and knowing how to draft their contracts and what benefits you need to offer, complying with health and safety regulations – the list goes on.
Are you a new business owner who wants to know how to manage your staff? Are you apprehensive about enforcing disciplinary measures? These are exactly the kind of things that an employment solicitor can help you with.
Employment law is a collective term that refers to all the laws and regulations that serve to protect relationships between employers, employees and the government. It covers issues like occupational health and safety, equal pay, discrimination, minimum wage, worker rights, and employer responsibilities.
Employment solicitors provide invaluable insight and counsel into some of the most pressing business issues. They recognize that there is no one-size-fits-all solution. They first take the time to properly familiarize themselves with all relevant aspects of your business so they can help you by spotting potential issues with your policies and procedures.
Starting Your Business
There’s no denying that legal guidance is extremely beneficial when starting a business. A solicitor can help you choose the right business structure, register your business, negotiate lease agreements and get trade licenses.
The size, complexity, and goals of the business you’re starting will all play a role in determining whether or not you’ll need legal counsel when deciding on the right legal structure. The most common legal structures are:
- Sole trader: A straightforward approach to running your business without the involvement of partners or stockholders. It has the advantage of requiring minimal setup and accounting. On the other hand, you are personally responsible for any debts and paying taxes.
- General partnership: You’ll work with others to manage the company’s day-to-day operations and share responsibilities. Profits are taxable as personal income and, similarly to sole trader, all partners are personally liable for debts.
- Limited partnerships: LPs are mostly used to set up and administer funds. It’s rare for a company to choose this business structure. They’re similar to general partnerships, but at least one partner needs to be a general partner, meaning they run the company, and at least one needs to be a limited partner, meaning their debt liability is limited to their contribution to the business.
- Limited liability partnerships (LLPs): This business structure further restricts debt liability for all partners. LLPs are mostly used for businesses such as accounting and law firms. Each partner pays taxes on the profits.
- Limited companies: This business structure allows a company to be regarded as a separate legal entity capable of owning property, entering into contracts, and incurring debts. It is managed by directors and owned by members or shareholders. A company limited by shares is the most prevalent type, and it can be private, meaning shares can’t be traded openly, or public, meaning anybody can buy and sell shares. The company itself is liable for its debt, and shareholders only have to pay for their shares.
- Social enterprises: These are businesses meant to help individuals or communities and are usually set up as charities. However, they can also take the form of co-operatives or community interest companies.
To choose the right legal structure for your company, you can consult an accountant, business adviser or solicitor. If you want to find a solicitor to help you, you can look for reviews on platforms like ReviewOfSolicitors.co.uk.
Drafting contracts is another area where you can benefit from the services of an employment solicitor. Since these are legally binding documents, you’ll want to make sure that all relevant issues are addressed in the terms and conditions to protect both yourself and the other party.
An employment solicitor can also help you review contracts you receive before you sign them. They are experienced with this sort of documents, and they can tell you if they were drafted in good faith, or signing would be to your disadvantage.
Contracts are vital when recruiting staff. They must address the following topics:
- Job description: New hires need to know what their duties and responsibilities are. This information must be included in the contract alongside the department and job title.
- Compensation and benefits: You must break down the salary calculation for each employee in order to avoid any misunderstandings. This section should also provide a list of their benefits.
- Paid leave policies: Paid sick leave and vacation days must also be included in the contract. Employees should be well-informed on sick-day policy, such as what constitutes a legitimate emergency.
- Employee classification: The contract needs to specify if the employee is a full-time worker, part-time worker or contractor since this classification has an impact on tax and insurance requirements.
- Employment period: You should also mention in the contract whether the new hire’s employment will be project-based or can last until retirement, provided they don’t resign or are dismissed.
Prior to 6 April 2020, an employee could be presented with a written statement after they had already started working. However, starting with this date, the information we discussed above needs to be provided before the employment start date in the form of a written statement of employment particulars.
There is no longer a one-month service minimum before an employee or worker is eligible for a written statement. They will be eligible from day one.
Health and Safety
Employers are legally responsible for the occupational health and safety of their employees. This extends to contractors, interns, volunteers and visitors. You can read more about your duties and responsibilities on the HSE official website, where you’ll find very useful and detailed guides for employers.
You might also want to review the legislation that governs your responsibilities, including the Health and Safety At Work Act 1974, Workplace (Health, Safety and Welfare) Regulations 1992 and Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999.
The authority that enforces these regulations will depend on the type of business you run. It could be the HSE or the local authority.