Running your business

Running your business

 

When you are running your business, you want to be focused on the things that make you money, and not worrying about non-core functions such as legal. That being said having an understanding is key. 

This section covers a number of different legal matters that might come up while you are running your business.

 

Hiring & Managing Employees

Software Development Agreement


What is it? Software is intellectual property. A software development agreement is an agreement between a business or an individual and a developer by which the individual or business hires the developer to create and deliver a specific piece of software. Why is it important? This agreement is important as it clarifies the relationship between the developer and the hirer or employer. Risks When you engage a software developer if you want the software created to belong to your company or to you, you must ensure that you agree and insert an ownership clause in the agreement. If there is no ownership clause the software created by the developer will automatically belong to the developer even if your company has spent millions of pounds developing the software.




Freelancer Agreement


What is it? You may use a self-employed freelancer to do a specific task eg work on a project, design your website or do your marketing for a specific period.The standard contract used to hire a freelancer is a consultancy agreement. This agreement clarifies the basic terms of your relationship with the freelancer eg the work to be done, fees payable and other terms of the agreement eg a non-solicitation clause, confidentiality clause, data protection, ownership of any intellectual property created by the freelancer, indemnification clause for any losses you incur due to the freelancer’s breaches of third party intellectual property. Etc. A company consultancy agreement is used to hire a freelancer who operates through their own limited company. An individual consultancy agreement is used to hire a freelancer directly. Why is it important? More specialist freelancers may want you to sign up to their own bespoke terms and conditions when you instruct them. If that is the case you must ensure that you check all the clauses carefully to ensure that they do not conflict with your requirements and that you are happy with the terms eg consultant to be liable for breaches of your Intellectual property and third party intellectual property, confidentiality, fee payable, data protection, indemnification clause etc. Risks You should also ensure that you are aware of the IR35 tax rules. If a freelancer is providing services to you through a company your arrangement may be subject to the IR35 tax rules. This means that the freelancer may have to pay tax and national insurance as if they were employed by you. HMRC has a useful tool at www.gov.uk to enable businesses check employment status for tax purposes. From April 2020 if you are a medium or large business the responsibility for determining whether the IR35 tax rules applies to the consultancy and for payment of the income tax and national insurance on behalf of the freelancer lies with the company to whom the freelancer provides the services. If you are a “small business” (i.e. a business which satisfies two or more of the following requirements – i) a turnover of £10.2 million or less, ii) no more than 50 staff and iii) a balance sheet f no more than £5.1million the responsibility for determining whether the IR35 tax rules apply and for payment of the tax and national insurance lies with the freelancer.




Internship Agreement


What is it? An intern may be a volunteer, a worker or an employee. An internship agreement is an agreement between an intern and an employer where the intern agrees to provide their services in exchange for training provided by the employer or business with no expectation that the internship will result in employment with the business. Why is it important? If your intern will just be shadowing staff and will be unpaid you won’t need a contract but it is good practice to send your intern a letter confirming the agreement terms. If you want your intern to work for your business rather than just shadow staff your intern will either be an employee or a casual worker. Risks You must have a proper contract for their status and treat them accordingly. If your intern is an employee or a casual work you must pay them the national minimum wage(NMW). If you do not pay them the NMW you are at risk of HMRC prosecuting you or the intern suing you in court.




Staff Handbook


What is it? A Staff handbook is an important living document for your employees that sets out your company’s operational policies, values and culture for current and future employees. There is no legal obligation to have a staff handbook, however as there are certain policies that you must give your employees by law (eg disciplinary and grievance policies and health and safety policies) it is best practice to start a handbook when you hire your first employee as it sets expectations for what behaviour is acceptable and desirable across your business and can protect you legally. Why is it important? A staff handbook can be contractual or non-contractual(i.e. binding or non-binding). It is best practice to make it non-contractual so that you can change it at your discretion without having to consult staff. Make sure you keep your handbook updated to reflect the law and ensure that the issue date is clearly shown on the handbook. Risks If you do not have a staff handbook and you are in dispute or engaged in legal proceedings with an employee it will be more difficult to verify your policies and procedures.




Job description


What is it? A job description sets out the scope of the role (i.e. duties and responsibilities), any skills, experience and qualifications required, the ethos and culture of your business, salary and other staff benefits. It is important as it helps you clarify what you are looking for and will also help candidates determine whether they have the skills and experience for the role. Why is it important? Always review your job description before every recruitment exercise to ensure it accurately describes the job in question. Failing to do so may dissuade suitable candidates from applying or encourage unsuitable candidates to apply. Risks It is essential that you avoid using discriminatory words in your job description eg “bright, energetic, young man” or “ an Italian” person when you actually require someone who speaks Italian as these would indicate a preference based on gender, disability, age and ethnicity.




Job offer letter


What is it? You should always confirm a job offer in writing and ask the candidate to confirm their acceptance of the offer. Why is it important? A job offer letter is a letter offering employment after an interview and summarising the basic terms of employment (if you are providing the employment contract with the offer letter) or summarising the main employment terms (if you will not be providing the employment contract until a later date) Risks Always ensure that the offer letter specifies the conditions to which the offer is subject eg “subject to satisfactory references” and that you retain a signed copy of the offer letter and contract in the staff member’s personnel records.




Non-executive director letter of appointment


What is it? This is a formal letter appointing a person as a non-executive director of a company. It sets out the key terms of the appointment and the director’s duties and responsibilities. Why is it important? As a director is more likely to be exposed to confidential information and have more responsibility this contract will include clauses which help to protect the business’s interests eg garden leave, confidentiality, non-solicitation clauses and restrictive covenants.




Senior employment contract


What is it? This is a more complex contract of employment between a senior employee or director/executive and an employer . It sets out the employment terms and conditions of employment and the standard areas of the employment. Why is it important? As a senior executive is more likely to be exposed to confidential information and have more responsibility this contract will include clauses which help to protect the business’s interests eg garden leave, confidentiality, non-solicitation clauses and restrictive covenants and ensure any intellectual property created by the employee belongs to the business.




Zero hours contract


What is it? This is a casual agreement between an individual and a business where the worker works “as and when” the employer needs the labour. There is no guarantee of any set hours and the worker is not obliged to work the hours offered. Why is it important? A zero-hours contract should be used where the business simply wishes to hire a worker on a casual basis and would benefit from not having to give the worker a guaranteed number of hours and days of work. This contract is useful for seasonal work or special events eg in the agriculture business, hospitality and catering business; when a business is entering a new market and is unsure of how many staff members it will need; in cases of unexpected absence from work eg to provide cover where there is sudden sickness or absence from work etc. They are often used in the healthcare, agriculture, hotels, restaurants and education sectors. In the UK workers operating under zero-hours contracts are entitled to rest breaks, annual leave, sick pay and protection from discrimination and must be paid the national minimum wage for hours worked. Risks Zero-hours contracts are controversial due to the uncertainty of the work and the fact there is no guaranteed employment. They do however serve a purpose by providing a flexible labour market and a route into more permanent employment. You should ensure that your zero-hours contract clearly sets out your employee’s employee status, rights and obligations.




Consultancy agreement


What is it? A consultancy agreement is a contract between a self-employed person (Consultant) and a customer requiring the consultant’s services.It is similar to the standard contract used to hire a freelancer. Why is it important? This agreement clarifies the basic terms of your relationship with the freelancer eg the work to be done, fees payable and other terms of the agreement eg a non-solicitation clause, confidentiality clause, data protection, ownership of any intellectual property created by the freelancer, indemnification clause for any losses you incur due to the freelancer’s breaches of third party intellectual property. Etc. More specialist freelancers may want you to sign up to their own bespoke terms and conditions when you instruct them. If that is the case you must ensure that you check all the clauses carefully to ensure that they do not conflict with your requirements and that you are happy with the terms eg consultant to be liable for breaches of your Intellectual property and third party intellectual property, confidentiality, fee payable, data protection, indemnification clause etc. Risks You should also ensure that you are aware of the IR35 tax rules. If a freelancer is providing services to you through a company your arrangement may be subject to the IR35 tax rules. This means that the freelancer may have to pay tax and national insurance as if they were employed by you. HMRC has a useful tool at www.gov.uk to enable businesses check employment status for tax purposes. From April 2020 if you are a medium or large business the responsibility for determining whether the IR35 tax rules applies to the consultancy and for payment of the income tax and national insurance on behalf of the freelancer lies with the company to whom the freelancer provides the services. If you are a “small business” (i.e. a business which satisfies two or more of the following requirements – i) a turnover of £10.2 million or less, ii) no more than 50 staff and iii) a balance sheet f no more than £5.1million the responsibility for determining whether the IR35 tax rules apply and for payment of the tax and national insurance lies with the freelancer.




Employment contract


What is it? An employment contract is an agreement between the employer and employee setting out the rights and duties of the employer and employee. An employment agreement is vital as it forms the legal relationship between the employer and the employee. Why is it important? If you have employees, you are legally obliged to provide them with a written statement of their basic terms of employment in writing no later than two months after they start work. From 6 April 2020 this obligation will extend to casual workers and all new employees must be provided with this written statement and additional information on or before the staff member’s first day of work. Risks If things go wrong an employment agreement will clarify the legal relationship between the employer and employee and will help the court or tribunal in providing a solution in the event of a dispute between the employer and employee. Think of an employment contract as your passport to nurturing good employment relations with your staff and running a good, progressive business. If your employee will be part-time do note that part-time staff and fixed term staff (temporary employees) must be treated equally with full-time staff. This means that a part-time or temporary employee on the same role must get the same pay or benefits as a comparable full-time member of staff pro-rated for the length of time they will be with you. Comparable employees are those doing the same or broadly similar work at the same place of work or at a different location.




Change to employment terms letter


What is it?

As an employer sometimes you may have business reasons that means you need to change your employees terms and conditions of employment (eg basic rate, overtime, bonus, working location, duties and responsibilities, hours/days of work, holiday or sick pay entitlement). This is called a “variation” of the contracts of employment.

Why is it important?

You can only do this if (a) you have a provision in the contract that allows the change. This clause is usually called a “flexibility clause” and may be in your contract or Company Handbook. (b) the employees agree the change or (c) the employees representative eg a Trade Union agrees the change.

Risks

You must have sound business reasons for making any change and follow a fair consultation procedure with your employees before you introduce the changes. If the employees do not agree the change and you believe that it is a reasonable change you can force a new contract on your employees. However, this should be used only as a last resort as it could lead to an employee raising a grievance and ultimately a claim to an Employment Tribunal. Once the change has been agreed you should ensure that each employee signs the new contract to confirm the employee has accepted the change and that you keep a copy.

Please contact our employment solicitors if you are thinking of making a change to your employment contracts.




Working time directive opt out letter


What is it? The Working Time Directive prevents employees from being forced to work more than 48 hours per week unless they freely agree to opt out of the directive. To opt out of the 48 hours limit your employees can sign an “Opt-out of the Working Time Directive Agreement”. Why is it important? This is an agreement between an employer and a worker or employee for the purposes of the Working Time Regulations 1998 whereby the employee or worker agrees to opt-out of the maximum weekly working time limit of 48 hours for a period or indefinitely. Such agreements are usually signed by doctors, police officers a, long-haulage truck drivers and others whose jobs necessitate long working hours. Risks You cannot sack or treat your employee unfairly if they refused to opt out.




Probation letter


What is it? A probation letter is a letter by which an employer informs an employee that their probation period has finished and tells them the outcome of the probation. The outcome may be threefold: (a) that the employee has successfully completed their probationary period and their employment will continue OR (b) the employee’s probation will be extended as the employee’s performance needs to improve OR (c) the employee’s employment is being terminated as the employee has not met the company’s performance requirements. Our employment solicitors can provided you with a suite of sample employment probation letters to use as a guide. Employers should adapt the content to suit their requirements and or contact us for further advice if required.




Flexible working request


What is it? An employee can make a “flexible working request” to their employer if they want to work part-time instead of full-time, change their start and finishing times, work compressed hours(i.e. do their standard hours over fewer days), job-share or do “flexi-time”. Flexitime is where an employee is granted permission to be flexible with their start and finish times. Why is it important? The law provides that an employee has the right to make a flexible working request if (a) the employee has worked for their employer for at least 26 weeks (b) the member of staff is legally classed as an employee and (c) the employee has not made any other flexible working request in the last 12 months. By law, if the employee has the right to make the request the employer is obliged to look at the request fairly in accordance with the Acas Code of Practice on flexible working requests and, make a decision within 3 months.




Grievance letter


What is it?

A grievance is a concern, problem or complaint raised by an employee in the workplace about their work, their manager, other staff member or the workplace. It could be about the employee’s pay and benefits, work conditions, workload, bullying or harassment. There is no legally binding process that an employer must follow when handling a grievance at work. However, it is best practice as an employer to have a grievance procedure.

Why is it important?

A grievance procedure is one of the ways to resolve a problem at work. This procedure can be set out in the employment contract, company handbook, HR intranet site or in your Human Resources manual.

Risks

If you do not have a grievance procedure you should ensure that you follow the Acas Code of Practice on Disciplinary and Grievance procedures if an employee comes to you with a grievance.

When an employee raises a workplace grievance you must take them seriously. Whether or not the grievance is valid you must investigate the grievance as it could be having a negative effect on the staff concerned and may lead to disgruntled staff and loss of valuable staff. Having an informal chat when an employee comes to you with an issue may be all that is needed. If the chat does not resolve the problem, you must investigate the problem .An employee should not be dismissed or treated unfairly for raising a genuine grievance.

An employee who is disadvantaged or dismissed for raising a grievance can raise a claim in the Employment Tribunal for unfair dismissal or automatic unfair dismissal. An employee would usually be expected to lodge a grievance before claiming constructive dismissal otherwise any damages awarded the employee at the Employment Tribunal could be reduced.

Avoid grievances in your workplace by contacting Pure Business law, your expert employment lawyers.





Managing licenses


Running an online business


Protecting your IP


Business Relationships


Writing a business plan


HR Policies

Trademark (UK, EU, US, China)


What is it? One of the best ways of protecting your business name, brand and logo from being copied is to register a trademark. A trademark is a distinctive sign eg name, brand, logo or tagline (or a combination of these) used by a business to distinguish its goods and or services from those sold by another business and to identify its business as the source of those goods and services. In the UK, trademarks are granted by the UK Intellectual Property Office (UK IPO) Registering a trademark increases the protection it receives and stops others from using it. You may be able to register a trademark over:

  • words (eg the trademark “Nandos”)
  • pictures and words (eg the Pure Business Law trademark).
  • slogans (eg the Lidl strap line “Big on quality, Lidl on price”)
  • colours (eg the Cadbury Dairy Milk purple as owned by Kraft ).
  • sounds (eg the Match of the Day theme song played when their logo appears at the beginning of football matches) and
  • Logos (eg the Mac OS logo);
  • 3D shapes (eg the Pepsi cola bottle shape)
Why is it important? Registering a name or a logo gives you the following three benefits: Allows you to object if someone else applies to register ay name or logo that is similar to your trademark for the same of similar goods or services. This protection does not cover an application to use the same name or branding for a different type of business. For instance if you register “Fast-Sports” for a trade mark for selling sports cars, no one could register “Fast-Spots” for anything to do with selling cars but they may be able to register it as a trade mark for a dry-cleaning business because that has nothing to do with cars. If another business tries to use the same or similar branding on similar goods or services thereby infringing your trademark you can take legal proceedings to stop them. Your business’s goodwill and reputation have commercial value so registering a trademark is an easy way to protect your hard work and creativity. Registering a trademark gives you the exclusive right to use it for 10 years, after which you must make an application to renew it to the Intellectual Property Office (IPO). Their website is at www.ipo.gov.uk. You can register your trademarks in the UK, the EU and or internationally. All registrations last for 10years and are renewable indefinitely in further 10-year periods. The most suitable registration for your brand will depend on where you do business eg UK, EU or internationally. Risks If you do not register your name, brand or logo as a trademark you will not be able to easily stop other people using your trademark and you may end up allowing other businesses to profit from your hard work.




Patent (Worldwide)


What is it? Protect your invention through a patent. A patent gives you an exclusive right over a novel invention that you have created. It gives you the exclusive right to use and reproduce your invention and stop people copying your invention without your permission. For instance, only Apple can make and sell Apple phones. In the UK, patents are granted by the UK Intellectual Property Office (UK IPO) To have a patent over something you have created, you must register it at the IPO. Patents generally last for up to twenty years. You can only patent a novel invention and cannot patent something that is already in the public domain. This means that your invention must be new (i.e. you cannot patent something which already exists eg a literary work, method of medical treatment, a diagnosis, scientific theory or a discovery) . You also cannot patent something which is already the subject of a patent application pre-dating your application. This means that you must carry out extensive market research examining trade journals and academic papers relevant to your industry market and searching for patents and patent applications on the patent registers worldwide. Obtaining a patent is expensive and time consuming. You should enlist the help of a professional eg lawyer or patent agent before starting an application for a patent. Why is it important?
Should I register my invention as a patent? Yes, you should if you believe that you have created a novel product or process which is so important to your business that you wish to pay a patent application fee to prevent others from using it. Risks Registering your invention as a patent ensures that:

  1. You can prevent others using your product or process if they intend to use it for commercial purposes.
  2. You can profit from your patent by only permitting certain people to use it for commercial purposes and only on condition that they pay you or give you a percentage of the profits they make from using your patent.
Risks If you do not register your invention as a patent, you will not be able to easily stop other people copying your ideas and you may end up allowing other businesses to profit from your hard work. You can use free online databases to search for patents eg Ipsum the UK IPO’s search facility, the Patents Journal (for UK applications that have been filed but not yet published), Espacenet – the European Patents Office’s (EPO’s) free database for worldwide patents including UK patents and Patentscope – the World Intellectual Property Organisation’s (WIPO’s ) free database for worldwide patents including UK patents. Note that these databases may not be up to date. As an alternative you may prefer to use professional search services such as:
  1. The PATLIB (patent library) centre
  2. A Patent attorney through the Chartered Institute of Patent Attorneys at www.cipa.org.uk




IP Assignment Agreement


What is it? An IP assignment agreement transfers rights and ownership in an IP created by one person to someone else or to a business. It can be used to transfer rights in a trademark, patent, logo, designs or any other IP. Why is it important? An IP assignment agreement is important when a business is sold, and the founder created intellectual property before becoming a part of the company or a company employs a someone whether consultant or employee to do some work.




Registering Designs


What is it? Register your design to stop someone else from using it. A design right is a right that you have which can protect your original design from being copied by someone else.There are two different types of design rights – registered and unregistered design rights which can protect the look or appearance of a product from being copied. Why is it important? Design rights can exist in computer icons, logos, graphic designs, packaging and clothing. The rights do not arise by reference to the particular product but rather in the shape or look of either the whole of the product or part of that product. For instance, a registered design right in a motif used on a book will be infringed if someone else uses the same design motif on a duvet cover. In the UK, design registrations are granted by the UK Intellectual Property Office (UK IPO). Risks Even if you do not register your design, it will still be automatically protected as an unregistered design right. However this right is more limited right because it only protects you against unauthorised copying and does not prevent other people creating similar designs independently. For businesses in the UK these unregistered design rights arise automatically in the UK and the EU for some designs under both UK and EU law if the relevant criteria are met. In the UK, unregistered design rights arise as soon as the relevant designs are recorded in some way eg in a drawing and in the UK as soon as they are made available to the public. However, the protection granted differs slightly in each jurisdiction. For instance in the UK unregistered design rights will automatically protect either the shape or configuration of the whole or part of an article for up to 15 years, whereas in the EU unregistered design rights will automatically protect not only the appearance of the whole or part of any industrial or handicraft product resulting from its features but also its lines, shape, texture, contours and materials but only for up to 3 years. You should therefor keep a watching brief and consider whether such a right has arisen as soon as you believe that either you or your employees (in the course of their employment) have created an original design. Brexit The UK and the EU have agreed that there will be an implementation period (ie transition period) from the date the UK left the EU i.e. 31 January 2020 until 31 December 2020 or a later date if the transition period is extended. During this period there will be no changes to unregistered design rights. UK unregistered design rights UK unregistered design rights will continue after the transition period and provide up to 15 years of protection. However, after the transition period the UK Government has advised that only UK residents or businesses incorporated in the UK will be eligible for UK registered designs. EU unregistered design rights From the end of the transition period unregistered design rights in the EU (ie unregistered Community designs) will no longer be valid in the IK. The government has advised that it will immediately replace the unregistered Community design rights with UK unregistered design rights ( to be known as UK continuing unregistered design rights) and which will offer protection in the EU and UK for the rest of the three year terms previously attached to the unregistered Community design right. This means you will continue to be protected in the EU and UK for unregistered Community designs that existed before the end of the transition period. If you are concerned about how to protect your unregistered design rights in the UK and EU after the transition period please contact our IP lawyers for further advice on 01234 938089.




Non-Disclosure Agreement (NDA)/Letter of confidentiality


What is it? This agreement protects confidential information belonging to your business including IP and other information which you do not want to be made public. Why is it important? It is important to have an NDA in place before sharing any confidential or sensitive information in business meetings with people with whom you intend to do business eg investors, prospective co-founders, suppliers, consultants and the like. A letter of confidentiality is similar to a non-disclosure agreement. The party disclosing confidential information imposes restrictions as to the use of this confidential information to the party receiving it. Risks If you do not have the required safeguards in place to protect your intellectual property during business meetings or negotiations you may have your designs, inventions or work stolen or copied by the person with whom you are negotiating. This could be disastrous for your business.




one-way confidentiality agreement


What is it? A one-way Confidentiality agreement is similar to a non-disclosure agreement but imposes restrictions as to the use of this confidential information only on one party.




Assignment of intellectual property


What is it? An IP assignment agreement transfers rights and ownership in an IP created by one-person eg trademark, patent, logo, designs or any other IP to someone else or to a business. Why is it important? An IP assignment agreement is important when a business is sold, and the founder created intellectual property before becoming a part of the company or a company employs a someone whether consultant or employee to do some work. If you assign IP rights to another business, you are transferring ownership of the IP. It is more common to licence intellectual property rights than to assign them in business. Licensing allows a third party to have rights over the IP and do certain acts with the IP that they would not otherwise have been able to do but you keep ownership of the IP. You can limit the licence to a certain area eg the UK, Middle East, Africa etc or to a certain period of time eg 1 year, 2 years etc. Risks If for example you assign your IP to a business and it fails, you would have lost your IP. If on the other hand you licence your IP to another business, you are in ultimate control and can stipulate how the IP should be used and when it has to be returned. You can also stipulate that the IP be returned to you if the business goes into liquidation or on the happening of certain events.




Copyright


What is it? Copyright is the exclusive right to use and reproduce in public any material you have created if it falls into one of the following categories: i) Written work such as books, plays film scripts, web content, articles, essays, professional opinions, tables, compilations and databases; ii)Artistic works such as paintings, drawings, photos, maps, charts, plan, diagrams etc; iii)sound recordings; iv)Films, music and broadcasts; or v) computer programs. Why is it important? Copyright arises automatically when you create the work so there is no need to register copyright to own a work that you have created. You should be wary of any person that asks you to pay them to register your copyright in a work that you have created as it will be a scam. Businesses as well as individuals can own copyright. Copyright usually lasts for 70 years. You can buy someone’s copyright via a document called a Deed of assignment or give them a licence to use your copyright. As a general rule if an employee creates a work in the course of their employment their employer (ie the business ) will own the work. However, if the work in question is not part of the agreed duties of the employee the employee will own the work. To ensure that copyright work created by employees is owned by the business you should include appropriate intellectual property clauses in your employment contracts. Risks If you commission a piece of work from a freelancer the copyright in the work will belong to the freelancer unless the parties have agreed otherwise. It is important to ensure that the position on ownership of the copyright in writing before work starts to ensure that the business owns the copyright in the work produced by the freelancer.





Protecting your IP

Trademark (UK, EU, US, China)


What is it? One of the best ways of protecting your business name, brand and logo from being copied is to register a trademark. A trademark is a distinctive sign eg name, brand, logo or tagline (or a combination of these) used by a business to distinguish its goods and or services from those sold by another business and to identify its business as the source of those goods and services. In the UK, trademarks are granted by the UK Intellectual Property Office (UK IPO) Registering a trademark increases the protection it receives and stops others from using it. You may be able to register a trademark over:

  • words (eg the trademark “Nandos”)
  • pictures and words (eg the Pure Business Law trademark).
  • slogans (eg the Lidl strap line “Big on quality, Lidl on price”)
  • colours (eg the Cadbury Dairy Milk purple as owned by Kraft ).
  • sounds (eg the Match of the Day theme song played when their logo appears at the beginning of football matches) and
  • Logos (eg the Mac OS logo);
  • 3D shapes (eg the Pepsi cola bottle shape)
Why is it important? Registering a name or a logo gives you the following three benefits: Allows you to object if someone else applies to register ay name or logo that is similar to your trademark for the same of similar goods or services. This protection does not cover an application to use the same name or branding for a different type of business. For instance if you register “Fast-Sports” for a trade mark for selling sports cars, no one could register “Fast-Spots” for anything to do with selling cars but they may be able to register it as a trade mark for a dry-cleaning business because that has nothing to do with cars. If another business tries to use the same or similar branding on similar goods or services thereby infringing your trademark you can take legal proceedings to stop them. Your business’s goodwill and reputation have commercial value so registering a trademark is an easy way to protect your hard work and creativity. Registering a trademark gives you the exclusive right to use it for 10 years, after which you must make an application to renew it to the Intellectual Property Office (IPO). Their website is at www.ipo.gov.uk. You can register your trademarks in the UK, the EU and or internationally. All registrations last for 10years and are renewable indefinitely in further 10-year periods. The most suitable registration for your brand will depend on where you do business eg UK, EU or internationally. Risks If you do not register your name, brand or logo as a trademark you will not be able to easily stop other people using your trademark and you may end up allowing other businesses to profit from your hard work.




Patent (Worldwide)


What is it? Protect your invention through a patent. A patent gives you an exclusive right over a novel invention that you have created. It gives you the exclusive right to use and reproduce your invention and stop people copying your invention without your permission. For instance, only Apple can make and sell Apple phones. In the UK, patents are granted by the UK Intellectual Property Office (UK IPO) To have a patent over something you have created, you must register it at the IPO. Patents generally last for up to twenty years. You can only patent a novel invention and cannot patent something that is already in the public domain. This means that your invention must be new (i.e. you cannot patent something which already exists eg a literary work, method of medical treatment, a diagnosis, scientific theory or a discovery) . You also cannot patent something which is already the subject of a patent application pre-dating your application. This means that you must carry out extensive market research examining trade journals and academic papers relevant to your industry market and searching for patents and patent applications on the patent registers worldwide. Obtaining a patent is expensive and time consuming. You should enlist the help of a professional eg lawyer or patent agent before starting an application for a patent. Why is it important?
Should I register my invention as a patent? Yes, you should if you believe that you have created a novel product or process which is so important to your business that you wish to pay a patent application fee to prevent others from using it. Risks Registering your invention as a patent ensures that:

  1. You can prevent others using your product or process if they intend to use it for commercial purposes.
  2. You can profit from your patent by only permitting certain people to use it for commercial purposes and only on condition that they pay you or give you a percentage of the profits they make from using your patent.
Risks If you do not register your invention as a patent, you will not be able to easily stop other people copying your ideas and you may end up allowing other businesses to profit from your hard work. You can use free online databases to search for patents eg Ipsum the UK IPO’s search facility, the Patents Journal (for UK applications that have been filed but not yet published), Espacenet – the European Patents Office’s (EPO’s) free database for worldwide patents including UK patents and Patentscope – the World Intellectual Property Organisation’s (WIPO’s ) free database for worldwide patents including UK patents. Note that these databases may not be up to date. As an alternative you may prefer to use professional search services such as:
  1. The PATLIB (patent library) centre
  2. A Patent attorney through the Chartered Institute of Patent Attorneys at www.cipa.org.uk




IP Assignment Agreement


What is it? An IP assignment agreement transfers rights and ownership in an IP created by one person to someone else or to a business. It can be used to transfer rights in a trademark, patent, logo, designs or any other IP. Why is it important? An IP assignment agreement is important when a business is sold, and the founder created intellectual property before becoming a part of the company or a company employs a someone whether consultant or employee to do some work.




Registering Designs


What is it? Register your design to stop someone else from using it. A design right is a right that you have which can protect your original design from being copied by someone else.There are two different types of design rights – registered and unregistered design rights which can protect the look or appearance of a product from being copied. Why is it important? Design rights can exist in computer icons, logos, graphic designs, packaging and clothing. The rights do not arise by reference to the particular product but rather in the shape or look of either the whole of the product or part of that product. For instance, a registered design right in a motif used on a book will be infringed if someone else uses the same design motif on a duvet cover. In the UK, design registrations are granted by the UK Intellectual Property Office (UK IPO). Risks Even if you do not register your design, it will still be automatically protected as an unregistered design right. However this right is more limited right because it only protects you against unauthorised copying and does not prevent other people creating similar designs independently. For businesses in the UK these unregistered design rights arise automatically in the UK and the EU for some designs under both UK and EU law if the relevant criteria are met. In the UK, unregistered design rights arise as soon as the relevant designs are recorded in some way eg in a drawing and in the UK as soon as they are made available to the public. However, the protection granted differs slightly in each jurisdiction. For instance in the UK unregistered design rights will automatically protect either the shape or configuration of the whole or part of an article for up to 15 years, whereas in the EU unregistered design rights will automatically protect not only the appearance of the whole or part of any industrial or handicraft product resulting from its features but also its lines, shape, texture, contours and materials but only for up to 3 years. You should therefor keep a watching brief and consider whether such a right has arisen as soon as you believe that either you or your employees (in the course of their employment) have created an original design. Brexit The UK and the EU have agreed that there will be an implementation period (ie transition period) from the date the UK left the EU i.e. 31 January 2020 until 31 December 2020 or a later date if the transition period is extended. During this period there will be no changes to unregistered design rights. UK unregistered design rights UK unregistered design rights will continue after the transition period and provide up to 15 years of protection. However, after the transition period the UK Government has advised that only UK residents or businesses incorporated in the UK will be eligible for UK registered designs. EU unregistered design rights From the end of the transition period unregistered design rights in the EU (ie unregistered Community designs) will no longer be valid in the IK. The government has advised that it will immediately replace the unregistered Community design rights with UK unregistered design rights ( to be known as UK continuing unregistered design rights) and which will offer protection in the EU and UK for the rest of the three year terms previously attached to the unregistered Community design right. This means you will continue to be protected in the EU and UK for unregistered Community designs that existed before the end of the transition period. If you are concerned about how to protect your unregistered design rights in the UK and EU after the transition period please contact our IP lawyers for further advice on 01234 938089.




Non-Disclosure Agreement (NDA)/Letter of confidentiality


What is it? This agreement protects confidential information belonging to your business including IP and other information which you do not want to be made public. Why is it important? It is important to have an NDA in place before sharing any confidential or sensitive information in business meetings with people with whom you intend to do business eg investors, prospective co-founders, suppliers, consultants and the like. A letter of confidentiality is similar to a non-disclosure agreement. The party disclosing confidential information imposes restrictions as to the use of this confidential information to the party receiving it. Risks If you do not have the required safeguards in place to protect your intellectual property during business meetings or negotiations you may have your designs, inventions or work stolen or copied by the person with whom you are negotiating. This could be disastrous for your business.




one-way confidentiality agreement


What is it? A one-way Confidentiality agreement is similar to a non-disclosure agreement but imposes restrictions as to the use of this confidential information only on one party.




Assignment of intellectual property


What is it? An IP assignment agreement transfers rights and ownership in an IP created by one-person eg trademark, patent, logo, designs or any other IP to someone else or to a business. Why is it important? An IP assignment agreement is important when a business is sold, and the founder created intellectual property before becoming a part of the company or a company employs a someone whether consultant or employee to do some work. If you assign IP rights to another business, you are transferring ownership of the IP. It is more common to licence intellectual property rights than to assign them in business. Licensing allows a third party to have rights over the IP and do certain acts with the IP that they would not otherwise have been able to do but you keep ownership of the IP. You can limit the licence to a certain area eg the UK, Middle East, Africa etc or to a certain period of time eg 1 year, 2 years etc. Risks If for example you assign your IP to a business and it fails, you would have lost your IP. If on the other hand you licence your IP to another business, you are in ultimate control and can stipulate how the IP should be used and when it has to be returned. You can also stipulate that the IP be returned to you if the business goes into liquidation or on the happening of certain events.




Copyright


What is it? Copyright is the exclusive right to use and reproduce in public any material you have created if it falls into one of the following categories: i) Written work such as books, plays film scripts, web content, articles, essays, professional opinions, tables, compilations and databases; ii)Artistic works such as paintings, drawings, photos, maps, charts, plan, diagrams etc; iii)sound recordings; iv)Films, music and broadcasts; or v) computer programs. Why is it important? Copyright arises automatically when you create the work so there is no need to register copyright to own a work that you have created. You should be wary of any person that asks you to pay them to register your copyright in a work that you have created as it will be a scam. Businesses as well as individuals can own copyright. Copyright usually lasts for 70 years. You can buy someone’s copyright via a document called a Deed of assignment or give them a licence to use your copyright. As a general rule if an employee creates a work in the course of their employment their employer (ie the business ) will own the work. However, if the work in question is not part of the agreed duties of the employee the employee will own the work. To ensure that copyright work created by employees is owned by the business you should include appropriate intellectual property clauses in your employment contracts. Risks If you commission a piece of work from a freelancer the copyright in the work will belong to the freelancer unless the parties have agreed otherwise. It is important to ensure that the position on ownership of the copyright in writing before work starts to ensure that the business owns the copyright in the work produced by the freelancer.





Business Relationships

Terms and conditions for supply of services to business customers


What is it? Terms and conditions set out the rules and specifications which apply in every supply of services that a seller makes and helps to make everyone aware of their rights and obligations from the outset. Why is it important? Make sure you protect your business interests with professionally prepared terms and conditions. When supplying services to a business your terms and conditions should cover issues such as timing and termination of supply, orders, specifications, obligations, pricing, payment, intellectual property, confidentiality, warranties, liability and termination.




Terms and conditions for sale of goods to business customers


What is it? Terms and conditions set out the rules and specifications which apply in every sale of goods that a seller makes and helps to make everyone aware of their rights and obligations from the outset. Why is it important? When selling goods to a business your terms and conditions should cover the nature of products to be sold, orders, delivery, pricing, payment, risk, warranties, defects, liability and confidentiality.




Terms and conditions for supply of services to consumers/businesses


What is it?

There are different terms and conditions for the supply of services to businesses (B2B contracts) and the supply of services to consumers(B2C contracts). When a business deals with a consumer (ie someone who buys goods or services for personal use, as opposed to buying the goods or services on behalf of a business) the consumer is given more legal protection than a business.

Why is it important?

Any business that is entering into a contract with a consumer must abide by a wide range of consumer law requirements such as the Consumer Rights Act 2015, the Sale of Goods Act and Supply of Goods and Services Act , the Consumer Contracts Regulations , the Misrepresentation Act and the Data Protection Act.

Risks

The T&Cs for supply of services to consumers should be used when

  • You are supplying services with or without goods to customers not acting in the course of a business (i.e. consumers).

The T&Cs for supply of services to businesses should be used when

  • You are supplying services with or without goods to customers acting in the course of a business (i.e. Businesses).




Consent Notices


What is it? The law provides that if your website is based in the EU or if you are targeting customers in the EU and your site uses one or more cookies you need to display a cookie consent notice. To comply with the law your need to do three things Let users to your website know that you are using cookies. Provide a link where they can learn more about how you use the data you gather. Provide a way for your website users to consent to the use of cookies. Consent can be explicit opt-in consent and implied consent. For explicit consent, users have to click a button, select a checkbox or complete some other specific activity to opt in to the use of cookies. The most common way to do this is to display a banner at the top or bottom of your website with a link to your Privacy policy and a button to consent to the use of cookies and hide the banner. For implied consent a clear notice must be provided, and the user must be made aware that a specific action will be understood to be implied consent to the use of cookies. One way that implied consent is obtained is by displaying a prominent cookie notice that ends with a statement like “By continuing to use this site you agree to the use of cookies”. The law applies whether a user is on a smartphone, tablet, a laptop, computer or other device. So when you set up your cookie notice you must ensure that the notice appears and functions well on all devices. There are also plugins for Cookie consent notices.




Terms and conditions for sale of goods to consumers/businesses


What is it?

There are different terms and conditions for the sale of goods to businesses (B2B) and the sale of goods to consumers(B2C).

Why is it important?

The T&Cs for sale of goods to consumers should be used when

  • You are supplying goods with or without services to customers not acting in the course of a business (i.e. consumers)

The T&Cs for sale of goods to businesses should be used when

  • You are supplying goods with or without services to customers acting in the course of a business (i.e. businesses)




Terms and conditions for sale of goods to consumers via a website





Terms and conditions for supply of services to consumers via a website





Heads of terms


What is it? This is similar to a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU)s, Term sheet or Letter of intent. The heads of terms set out the key terms agreed by the parties before entering a business transaction. It is not contractually binding. Heads of Terms are usually set out in a letter or document setting out the key terms agreed by parties who intend to enter a binding contract. It is also known as Letter of Intent, a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) or a Term Sheet. It is a useful tool when two or more parties intend to enter a future contract and want to identify, describe and agree, without it being contractually binding, the terms to be further negotiated and then recorded in a contractually binding contract. There will occasionally be statements in heads of terms which are exceptions to the general approach that heads of terms are not binding: this will occur if the parties put in statements which heads of terms expressly state are to be of legally binding effect until a definitive contract is signed. If that is the case those statements will generally be binding. Why is it important? Heads of terms are useful to set out the progress made during negotiations, reduce the potential for misunderstandings, indicate the major issues which still need to be resolved and make it clear what the parties intend when they enter into the contract. The disadvantage of Heads of terms is that it can take up a considerable amount of time and may distract the parties from working on negotiating a full and detailed binding contract. Risks There have been occasions when the parties to a proposed commercial arrangement never actually agree or sign a definite contract and have gone on to implement their deal based only on the Heads of terms. This creates a very uncertain legal position which may lead to disputes and legal problems.




Letter of intent (LOI)


What is it? A Letter of Intent is a pre-contract, non-binding document setting out the key terms agreed by parties who intend to enter into a binding contract. It is also known as Heads of Terms, a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) or a Term Sheet. It is a useful tool when two or more parties intend to enter into a future contract and want to identify, describe and agree, without it being contractually binding, the terms to be further negotiated and then recorded in a contractually binding contract. There will occasionally be statements in a letter of intent which are exceptions to the general approach that a letter of intent is not binding: this will occur if the parties put in statements which the letter of intent expressly states are to be of legally binding effect until a definitive contract is signed. If that is the case those statements will generally be binding. Why is it important? A letter of intent is useful to set out the progress made during negotiations, reduce the potential for misunderstandings, indicate the major issues which still need to be resolved and make it clear what the parties intend when they enter into the contract. The disadvantage of a letter of intent is that it can take up a considerable amount of time and may distract the parties from working on negotiating a full and detailed binding contract. Risks There have been occasions when the parties to a proposed commercial arrangement never actually agree or sign a definite contract and have gone on to implement their deal based only on the letter of intent. This creates a very uncertain legal position which may result in disputes and legal problems.




Invoice


What is it? An invoice is a statement setting out the goods and or services that have been supplied by a seller to a buyer and the money owed for those goods and or services. It is created by a seller or supplier to request payment for goods sold and or services provided. It is also called a bill. Why is it important? It identifies the trading partners, specifies the terms of the deal and provides information on the payment figure, the available methods of payment and the payment terms i.e. the maximum amount of time that a buyer had to pay for the goods and or services that they have purchased from the seller.




Sales of goods agreements


What is it?

A Sale of Goods Agreement (sometimes called a Sales Agreement or Sales Contract) is a contract entered into between a buyer and a seller of goods for the sale and purchase of specific goods by the buyer. When you sell goods, you create a sale of goods contract.

Why is it important?

The terms in a sale of goods contract may vary depending on whether it is a sale to a consumer (i.e. a B2C contract ) or a sale to a business (i.e. a “commercial” sale or B2B contract.) A consumer is someone who buys goods or services for personal use, as opposed to buying the goods or services on behalf of a business. Consumers who act as the buyer in a contract for a sale of goods are given more legal protection than businesses. The legal protection is given to help the party considered to be the more vulnerable party to the contract ie the consumer as opposed to the business.

The sale of goods agreement will set out the seller and buyer’s obligations, the terms on which the seller is willing to sell and transfer the goods to the buyer, the nature of the goods to be sold, the price, payment terms, shipping and collection details, delivery time and what happens at the end of the contract.

Risks

A Sale of Goods Agreement can be made orally or in writing. However, having a well-written Sale of Goods Agreement can help protect one or both of the parties if there is a problem with the sale eg goods are late in arriving or the goods have been damaged or destroyed.




Purchase order


What is it? A purchase order is prepared by a buyer when the buyer orders goods or services from a seller. The purchase order will indicate the type of goods, quantity of goods and the price the buyer is willing to pay for the products and or services. Once the seller accepts the purchase order it becomes a legally binding contract as the seller has agreed to sell the goods and or services at the prices put forward by the buyer. The seller will then issue an invoice to the buyer based on the purchase order. Why is it important? Purchase orders are important for businesses as it is instrumental in tracking expenditure, makes orders easier to track, helps avoid audit problems and provides contractual legal protection for the buyer and the supplier. Alongside a purchase order system, it is vital that a company has strong credit management practices to safeguard cash flow from bad debts and late payment. A strong debt collection process is vital to ensure payment is made when the goods or services have been delivered. Invoice promptly and accurately and chase up with reminders. If a customer will not pay or ignores payment requests take action – Appoint a debt collection agency, take debt recovery action through the courts or pass the debt to a solicitor. Pure Business Law has experienced debt collection lawyers who can assist you with debt recovery.




Services agreement


What is it? A Service agreement also known as a Service contract or Contract for Services is a written agreement between a service provider and a customer setting out agreed terms for the supply of services. The terms should include details of the services to be provided, location of provision of the services, payment. Limitation of liability clause, tools or materials to be used, termination of the agreement, ownership of intellectual property clause and dispute resolution clauses. Why is it important? A services agreement is required when a business wants to engage another business to supply services. If your business is the service provider, you should use a service contract whenever you are hired by a customer to complete a service. If you are the customer and the service provider does not supply the contract, you can use a Service agreement to ensure that the terms of the service relationship are clear.





Managing licenses


Running an online business


Protecting your IP


Business Relationships


Writing a business plan


Running an online business

Software Development Agreement


What is it? Software is intellectual property. A software development agreement is an agreement between a business or an individual and a developer by which the individual or business hires the developer to create and deliver a specific piece of software. Why is it important? This agreement is important as it clarifies the relationship between the developer and the hirer or employer. Risks When you engage a software developer if you want the software created to belong to your company or to you, you must ensure that you agree and insert an ownership clause in the agreement. If there is no ownership clause the software created by the developer will automatically belong to the developer even if your company has spent millions of pounds developing the software.




Freelancer Agreement


What is it? You may use a self-employed freelancer to do a specific task eg work on a project, design your website or do your marketing for a specific period.The standard contract used to hire a freelancer is a consultancy agreement. This agreement clarifies the basic terms of your relationship with the freelancer eg the work to be done, fees payable and other terms of the agreement eg a non-solicitation clause, confidentiality clause, data protection, ownership of any intellectual property created by the freelancer, indemnification clause for any losses you incur due to the freelancer’s breaches of third party intellectual property. Etc. A company consultancy agreement is used to hire a freelancer who operates through their own limited company. An individual consultancy agreement is used to hire a freelancer directly. Why is it important? More specialist freelancers may want you to sign up to their own bespoke terms and conditions when you instruct them. If that is the case you must ensure that you check all the clauses carefully to ensure that they do not conflict with your requirements and that you are happy with the terms eg consultant to be liable for breaches of your Intellectual property and third party intellectual property, confidentiality, fee payable, data protection, indemnification clause etc. Risks You should also ensure that you are aware of the IR35 tax rules. If a freelancer is providing services to you through a company your arrangement may be subject to the IR35 tax rules. This means that the freelancer may have to pay tax and national insurance as if they were employed by you. HMRC has a useful tool at www.gov.uk to enable businesses check employment status for tax purposes. From April 2020 if you are a medium or large business the responsibility for determining whether the IR35 tax rules applies to the consultancy and for payment of the income tax and national insurance on behalf of the freelancer lies with the company to whom the freelancer provides the services. If you are a “small business” (i.e. a business which satisfies two or more of the following requirements – i) a turnover of £10.2 million or less, ii) no more than 50 staff and iii) a balance sheet f no more than £5.1million the responsibility for determining whether the IR35 tax rules apply and for payment of the tax and national insurance lies with the freelancer.




Internship Agreement


What is it? An intern may be a volunteer, a worker or an employee. An internship agreement is an agreement between an intern and an employer where the intern agrees to provide their services in exchange for training provided by the employer or business with no expectation that the internship will result in employment with the business. Why is it important? If your intern will just be shadowing staff and will be unpaid you won’t need a contract but it is good practice to send your intern a letter confirming the agreement terms. If you want your intern to work for your business rather than just shadow staff your intern will either be an employee or a casual worker. Risks You must have a proper contract for their status and treat them accordingly. If your intern is an employee or a casual work you must pay them the national minimum wage(NMW). If you do not pay them the NMW you are at risk of HMRC prosecuting you or the intern suing you in court.




Staff Handbook


What is it? A Staff handbook is an important living document for your employees that sets out your company’s operational policies, values and culture for current and future employees. There is no legal obligation to have a staff handbook, however as there are certain policies that you must give your employees by law (eg disciplinary and grievance policies and health and safety policies) it is best practice to start a handbook when you hire your first employee as it sets expectations for what behaviour is acceptable and desirable across your business and can protect you legally. Why is it important? A staff handbook can be contractual or non-contractual(i.e. binding or non-binding). It is best practice to make it non-contractual so that you can change it at your discretion without having to consult staff. Make sure you keep your handbook updated to reflect the law and ensure that the issue date is clearly shown on the handbook. Risks If you do not have a staff handbook and you are in dispute or engaged in legal proceedings with an employee it will be more difficult to verify your policies and procedures.




Job description


What is it? A job description sets out the scope of the role (i.e. duties and responsibilities), any skills, experience and qualifications required, the ethos and culture of your business, salary and other staff benefits. It is important as it helps you clarify what you are looking for and will also help candidates determine whether they have the skills and experience for the role. Why is it important? Always review your job description before every recruitment exercise to ensure it accurately describes the job in question. Failing to do so may dissuade suitable candidates from applying or encourage unsuitable candidates to apply. Risks It is essential that you avoid using discriminatory words in your job description eg “bright, energetic, young man” or “ an Italian” person when you actually require someone who speaks Italian as these would indicate a preference based on gender, disability, age and ethnicity.




Job offer letter


What is it? You should always confirm a job offer in writing and ask the candidate to confirm their acceptance of the offer. Why is it important? A job offer letter is a letter offering employment after an interview and summarising the basic terms of employment (if you are providing the employment contract with the offer letter) or summarising the main employment terms (if you will not be providing the employment contract until a later date) Risks Always ensure that the offer letter specifies the conditions to which the offer is subject eg “subject to satisfactory references” and that you retain a signed copy of the offer letter and contract in the staff member’s personnel records.




Non-executive director letter of appointment


What is it? This is a formal letter appointing a person as a non-executive director of a company. It sets out the key terms of the appointment and the director’s duties and responsibilities. Why is it important? As a director is more likely to be exposed to confidential information and have more responsibility this contract will include clauses which help to protect the business’s interests eg garden leave, confidentiality, non-solicitation clauses and restrictive covenants.




Senior employment contract


What is it? This is a more complex contract of employment between a senior employee or director/executive and an employer . It sets out the employment terms and conditions of employment and the standard areas of the employment. Why is it important? As a senior executive is more likely to be exposed to confidential information and have more responsibility this contract will include clauses which help to protect the business’s interests eg garden leave, confidentiality, non-solicitation clauses and restrictive covenants and ensure any intellectual property created by the employee belongs to the business.




Zero hours contract


What is it? This is a casual agreement between an individual and a business where the worker works “as and when” the employer needs the labour. There is no guarantee of any set hours and the worker is not obliged to work the hours offered. Why is it important? A zero-hours contract should be used where the business simply wishes to hire a worker on a casual basis and would benefit from not having to give the worker a guaranteed number of hours and days of work. This contract is useful for seasonal work or special events eg in the agriculture business, hospitality and catering business; when a business is entering a new market and is unsure of how many staff members it will need; in cases of unexpected absence from work eg to provide cover where there is sudden sickness or absence from work etc. They are often used in the healthcare, agriculture, hotels, restaurants and education sectors. In the UK workers operating under zero-hours contracts are entitled to rest breaks, annual leave, sick pay and protection from discrimination and must be paid the national minimum wage for hours worked. Risks Zero-hours contracts are controversial due to the uncertainty of the work and the fact there is no guaranteed employment. They do however serve a purpose by providing a flexible labour market and a route into more permanent employment. You should ensure that your zero-hours contract clearly sets out your employee’s employee status, rights and obligations.




Consultancy agreement


What is it? A consultancy agreement is a contract between a self-employed person (Consultant) and a customer requiring the consultant’s services.It is similar to the standard contract used to hire a freelancer. Why is it important? This agreement clarifies the basic terms of your relationship with the freelancer eg the work to be done, fees payable and other terms of the agreement eg a non-solicitation clause, confidentiality clause, data protection, ownership of any intellectual property created by the freelancer, indemnification clause for any losses you incur due to the freelancer’s breaches of third party intellectual property. Etc. More specialist freelancers may want you to sign up to their own bespoke terms and conditions when you instruct them. If that is the case you must ensure that you check all the clauses carefully to ensure that they do not conflict with your requirements and that you are happy with the terms eg consultant to be liable for breaches of your Intellectual property and third party intellectual property, confidentiality, fee payable, data protection, indemnification clause etc. Risks You should also ensure that you are aware of the IR35 tax rules. If a freelancer is providing services to you through a company your arrangement may be subject to the IR35 tax rules. This means that the freelancer may have to pay tax and national insurance as if they were employed by you. HMRC has a useful tool at www.gov.uk to enable businesses check employment status for tax purposes. From April 2020 if you are a medium or large business the responsibility for determining whether the IR35 tax rules applies to the consultancy and for payment of the income tax and national insurance on behalf of the freelancer lies with the company to whom the freelancer provides the services. If you are a “small business” (i.e. a business which satisfies two or more of the following requirements – i) a turnover of £10.2 million or less, ii) no more than 50 staff and iii) a balance sheet f no more than £5.1million the responsibility for determining whether the IR35 tax rules apply and for payment of the tax and national insurance lies with the freelancer.




Employment contract


What is it? An employment contract is an agreement between the employer and employee setting out the rights and duties of the employer and employee. An employment agreement is vital as it forms the legal relationship between the employer and the employee. Why is it important? If you have employees, you are legally obliged to provide them with a written statement of their basic terms of employment in writing no later than two months after they start work. From 6 April 2020 this obligation will extend to casual workers and all new employees must be provided with this written statement and additional information on or before the staff member’s first day of work. Risks If things go wrong an employment agreement will clarify the legal relationship between the employer and employee and will help the court or tribunal in providing a solution in the event of a dispute between the employer and employee. Think of an employment contract as your passport to nurturing good employment relations with your staff and running a good, progressive business. If your employee will be part-time do note that part-time staff and fixed term staff (temporary employees) must be treated equally with full-time staff. This means that a part-time or temporary employee on the same role must get the same pay or benefits as a comparable full-time member of staff pro-rated for the length of time they will be with you. Comparable employees are those doing the same or broadly similar work at the same place of work or at a different location.




Change to employment terms letter


What is it?

As an employer sometimes you may have business reasons that means you need to change your employees terms and conditions of employment (eg basic rate, overtime, bonus, working location, duties and responsibilities, hours/days of work, holiday or sick pay entitlement). This is called a “variation” of the contracts of employment.

Why is it important?

You can only do this if (a) you have a provision in the contract that allows the change. This clause is usually called a “flexibility clause” and may be in your contract or Company Handbook. (b) the employees agree the change or (c) the employees representative eg a Trade Union agrees the change.

Risks

You must have sound business reasons for making any change and follow a fair consultation procedure with your employees before you introduce the changes. If the employees do not agree the change and you believe that it is a reasonable change you can force a new contract on your employees. However, this should be used only as a last resort as it could lead to an employee raising a grievance and ultimately a claim to an Employment Tribunal. Once the change has been agreed you should ensure that each employee signs the new contract to confirm the employee has accepted the change and that you keep a copy.

Please contact our employment solicitors if you are thinking of making a change to your employment contracts.




Working time directive opt out letter


What is it? The Working Time Directive prevents employees from being forced to work more than 48 hours per week unless they freely agree to opt out of the directive. To opt out of the 48 hours limit your employees can sign an “Opt-out of the Working Time Directive Agreement”. Why is it important? This is an agreement between an employer and a worker or employee for the purposes of the Working Time Regulations 1998 whereby the employee or worker agrees to opt-out of the maximum weekly working time limit of 48 hours for a period or indefinitely. Such agreements are usually signed by doctors, police officers a, long-haulage truck drivers and others whose jobs necessitate long working hours. Risks You cannot sack or treat your employee unfairly if they refused to opt out.




Probation letter


What is it? A probation letter is a letter by which an employer informs an employee that their probation period has finished and tells them the outcome of the probation. The outcome may be threefold: (a) that the employee has successfully completed their probationary period and their employment will continue OR (b) the employee’s probation will be extended as the employee’s performance needs to improve OR (c) the employee’s employment is being terminated as the employee has not met the company’s performance requirements. Our employment solicitors can provided you with a suite of sample employment probation letters to use as a guide. Employers should adapt the content to suit their requirements and or contact us for further advice if required.




Flexible working request


What is it? An employee can make a “flexible working request” to their employer if they want to work part-time instead of full-time, change their start and finishing times, work compressed hours(i.e. do their standard hours over fewer days), job-share or do “flexi-time”. Flexitime is where an employee is granted permission to be flexible with their start and finish times. Why is it important? The law provides that an employee has the right to make a flexible working request if (a) the employee has worked for their employer for at least 26 weeks (b) the member of staff is legally classed as an employee and (c) the employee has not made any other flexible working request in the last 12 months. By law, if the employee has the right to make the request the employer is obliged to look at the request fairly in accordance with the Acas Code of Practice on flexible working requests and, make a decision within 3 months.




Grievance letter


What is it?

A grievance is a concern, problem or complaint raised by an employee in the workplace about their work, their manager, other staff member or the workplace. It could be about the employee’s pay and benefits, work conditions, workload, bullying or harassment. There is no legally binding process that an employer must follow when handling a grievance at work. However, it is best practice as an employer to have a grievance procedure.

Why is it important?

A grievance procedure is one of the ways to resolve a problem at work. This procedure can be set out in the employment contract, company handbook, HR intranet site or in your Human Resources manual.

Risks

If you do not have a grievance procedure you should ensure that you follow the Acas Code of Practice on Disciplinary and Grievance procedures if an employee comes to you with a grievance.

When an employee raises a workplace grievance you must take them seriously. Whether or not the grievance is valid you must investigate the grievance as it could be having a negative effect on the staff concerned and may lead to disgruntled staff and loss of valuable staff. Having an informal chat when an employee comes to you with an issue may be all that is needed. If the chat does not resolve the problem, you must investigate the problem .An employee should not be dismissed or treated unfairly for raising a genuine grievance.

An employee who is disadvantaged or dismissed for raising a grievance can raise a claim in the Employment Tribunal for unfair dismissal or automatic unfair dismissal. An employee would usually be expected to lodge a grievance before claiming constructive dismissal otherwise any damages awarded the employee at the Employment Tribunal could be reduced.

Avoid grievances in your workplace by contacting Pure Business law, your expert employment lawyers.





Managing licenses


Running an online business


Protecting your IP


Business Relationships


Writing a business plan


Buying & Selling Goods & Services

Terms and conditions for supply of services to business customers


What is it? Terms and conditions set out the rules and specifications which apply in every supply of services that a seller makes and helps to make everyone aware of their rights and obligations from the outset. Why is it important? Make sure you protect your business interests with professionally prepared terms and conditions. When supplying services to a business your terms and conditions should cover issues such as timing and termination of supply, orders, specifications, obligations, pricing, payment, intellectual property, confidentiality, warranties, liability and termination.




Terms and conditions for sale of goods to business customers


What is it? Terms and conditions set out the rules and specifications which apply in every sale of goods that a seller makes and helps to make everyone aware of their rights and obligations from the outset. Why is it important? When selling goods to a business your terms and conditions should cover the nature of products to be sold, orders, delivery, pricing, payment, risk, warranties, defects, liability and confidentiality.




Terms and conditions for supply of services to consumers/businesses


What is it?

There are different terms and conditions for the supply of services to businesses (B2B contracts) and the supply of services to consumers(B2C contracts). When a business deals with a consumer (ie someone who buys goods or services for personal use, as opposed to buying the goods or services on behalf of a business) the consumer is given more legal protection than a business.

Why is it important?

Any business that is entering into a contract with a consumer must abide by a wide range of consumer law requirements such as the Consumer Rights Act 2015, the Sale of Goods Act and Supply of Goods and Services Act , the Consumer Contracts Regulations , the Misrepresentation Act and the Data Protection Act.

Risks

The T&Cs for supply of services to consumers should be used when

  • You are supplying services with or without goods to customers not acting in the course of a business (i.e. consumers).

The T&Cs for supply of services to businesses should be used when

  • You are supplying services with or without goods to customers acting in the course of a business (i.e. Businesses).




Consent Notices


What is it? The law provides that if your website is based in the EU or if you are targeting customers in the EU and your site uses one or more cookies you need to display a cookie consent notice. To comply with the law your need to do three things Let users to your website know that you are using cookies. Provide a link where they can learn more about how you use the data you gather. Provide a way for your website users to consent to the use of cookies. Consent can be explicit opt-in consent and implied consent. For explicit consent, users have to click a button, select a checkbox or complete some other specific activity to opt in to the use of cookies. The most common way to do this is to display a banner at the top or bottom of your website with a link to your Privacy policy and a button to consent to the use of cookies and hide the banner. For implied consent a clear notice must be provided, and the user must be made aware that a specific action will be understood to be implied consent to the use of cookies. One way that implied consent is obtained is by displaying a prominent cookie notice that ends with a statement like “By continuing to use this site you agree to the use of cookies”. The law applies whether a user is on a smartphone, tablet, a laptop, computer or other device. So when you set up your cookie notice you must ensure that the notice appears and functions well on all devices. There are also plugins for Cookie consent notices.




Terms and conditions for sale of goods to consumers/businesses


What is it?

There are different terms and conditions for the sale of goods to businesses (B2B) and the sale of goods to consumers(B2C).

Why is it important?

The T&Cs for sale of goods to consumers should be used when

  • You are supplying goods with or without services to customers not acting in the course of a business (i.e. consumers)

The T&Cs for sale of goods to businesses should be used when

  • You are supplying goods with or without services to customers acting in the course of a business (i.e. businesses)




Terms and conditions for sale of goods to consumers via a website





Terms and conditions for supply of services to consumers via a website





Heads of terms


What is it? This is similar to a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU)s, Term sheet or Letter of intent. The heads of terms set out the key terms agreed by the parties before entering a business transaction. It is not contractually binding. Heads of Terms are usually set out in a letter or document setting out the key terms agreed by parties who intend to enter a binding contract. It is also known as Letter of Intent, a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) or a Term Sheet. It is a useful tool when two or more parties intend to enter a future contract and want to identify, describe and agree, without it being contractually binding, the terms to be further negotiated and then recorded in a contractually binding contract. There will occasionally be statements in heads of terms which are exceptions to the general approach that heads of terms are not binding: this will occur if the parties put in statements which heads of terms expressly state are to be of legally binding effect until a definitive contract is signed. If that is the case those statements will generally be binding. Why is it important? Heads of terms are useful to set out the progress made during negotiations, reduce the potential for misunderstandings, indicate the major issues which still need to be resolved and make it clear what the parties intend when they enter into the contract. The disadvantage of Heads of terms is that it can take up a considerable amount of time and may distract the parties from working on negotiating a full and detailed binding contract. Risks There have been occasions when the parties to a proposed commercial arrangement never actually agree or sign a definite contract and have gone on to implement their deal based only on the Heads of terms. This creates a very uncertain legal position which may lead to disputes and legal problems.




Letter of intent (LOI)


What is it? A Letter of Intent is a pre-contract, non-binding document setting out the key terms agreed by parties who intend to enter into a binding contract. It is also known as Heads of Terms, a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) or a Term Sheet. It is a useful tool when two or more parties intend to enter into a future contract and want to identify, describe and agree, without it being contractually binding, the terms to be further negotiated and then recorded in a contractually binding contract. There will occasionally be statements in a letter of intent which are exceptions to the general approach that a letter of intent is not binding: this will occur if the parties put in statements which the letter of intent expressly states are to be of legally binding effect until a definitive contract is signed. If that is the case those statements will generally be binding. Why is it important? A letter of intent is useful to set out the progress made during negotiations, reduce the potential for misunderstandings, indicate the major issues which still need to be resolved and make it clear what the parties intend when they enter into the contract. The disadvantage of a letter of intent is that it can take up a considerable amount of time and may distract the parties from working on negotiating a full and detailed binding contract. Risks There have been occasions when the parties to a proposed commercial arrangement never actually agree or sign a definite contract and have gone on to implement their deal based only on the letter of intent. This creates a very uncertain legal position which may result in disputes and legal problems.




Invoice


What is it? An invoice is a statement setting out the goods and or services that have been supplied by a seller to a buyer and the money owed for those goods and or services. It is created by a seller or supplier to request payment for goods sold and or services provided. It is also called a bill. Why is it important? It identifies the trading partners, specifies the terms of the deal and provides information on the payment figure, the available methods of payment and the payment terms i.e. the maximum amount of time that a buyer had to pay for the goods and or services that they have purchased from the seller.




Sales of goods agreements


What is it?

A Sale of Goods Agreement (sometimes called a Sales Agreement or Sales Contract) is a contract entered into between a buyer and a seller of goods for the sale and purchase of specific goods by the buyer. When you sell goods, you create a sale of goods contract.

Why is it important?

The terms in a sale of goods contract may vary depending on whether it is a sale to a consumer (i.e. a B2C contract ) or a sale to a business (i.e. a “commercial” sale or B2B contract.) A consumer is someone who buys goods or services for personal use, as opposed to buying the goods or services on behalf of a business. Consumers who act as the buyer in a contract for a sale of goods are given more legal protection than businesses. The legal protection is given to help the party considered to be the more vulnerable party to the contract ie the consumer as opposed to the business.

The sale of goods agreement will set out the seller and buyer’s obligations, the terms on which the seller is willing to sell and transfer the goods to the buyer, the nature of the goods to be sold, the price, payment terms, shipping and collection details, delivery time and what happens at the end of the contract.

Risks

A Sale of Goods Agreement can be made orally or in writing. However, having a well-written Sale of Goods Agreement can help protect one or both of the parties if there is a problem with the sale eg goods are late in arriving or the goods have been damaged or destroyed.




Purchase order


What is it? A purchase order is prepared by a buyer when the buyer orders goods or services from a seller. The purchase order will indicate the type of goods, quantity of goods and the price the buyer is willing to pay for the products and or services. Once the seller accepts the purchase order it becomes a legally binding contract as the seller has agreed to sell the goods and or services at the prices put forward by the buyer. The seller will then issue an invoice to the buyer based on the purchase order. Why is it important? Purchase orders are important for businesses as it is instrumental in tracking expenditure, makes orders easier to track, helps avoid audit problems and provides contractual legal protection for the buyer and the supplier. Alongside a purchase order system, it is vital that a company has strong credit management practices to safeguard cash flow from bad debts and late payment. A strong debt collection process is vital to ensure payment is made when the goods or services have been delivered. Invoice promptly and accurately and chase up with reminders. If a customer will not pay or ignores payment requests take action – Appoint a debt collection agency, take debt recovery action through the courts or pass the debt to a solicitor. Pure Business Law has experienced debt collection lawyers who can assist you with debt recovery.




Services agreement


What is it? A Service agreement also known as a Service contract or Contract for Services is a written agreement between a service provider and a customer setting out agreed terms for the supply of services. The terms should include details of the services to be provided, location of provision of the services, payment. Limitation of liability clause, tools or materials to be used, termination of the agreement, ownership of intellectual property clause and dispute resolution clauses. Why is it important? A services agreement is required when a business wants to engage another business to supply services. If your business is the service provider, you should use a service contract whenever you are hired by a customer to complete a service. If you are the customer and the service provider does not supply the contract, you can use a Service agreement to ensure that the terms of the service relationship are clear.





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Managing a company

Communications and equipment policy


What is it? This policy explains to employees the rules and procedures to follow when using the employer’s IT resources and electronic communication systems at work. It sets out the extent to which the business allows the use of its IT resources and the use of PCs, laptops, internet, emails, software and passwords. Why is it important? Having such a policy ensures that your employees are aware of and comply with your rules regarding the use of IT resources and communication systems while at work.




Data protection and data security policy


What is it?

A data protection policy is an internal document that serves as the core of a business’s GDPR compliance practices.

It explains the GDPR’s requirements to employees and states the business’s commitment to compliance. The policy does not need to include specific details on how the business will meet the Regulation’s requirements, as these will be covered in the business’s procedures.

Why do you need a GDPR data protection policy?

  • to provide the groundwork from which your business can achieve GDPR compliance.

  • to make the GDPR understandable to your staff.

  • to prove that your business is committed to GDPR compliance.

Why is it important?

We highly recommend our clients to have the following data protection related policies :

a)Encryption policies

b)Acceptable use policies

c) Password policies

c)Email policies

d)Data-processing policies

Risks

Your business’s policies are at the heart of your business operations. They set out exactly how employees should handle certain issues, ensuring that everybody is following agreed best practices.

Effective policies are all the more important now that the Data Protection Act 2018 and the GDPR (General Data Protection Regulations) are in place. The DPA and the GDPR are not just about implementing technological and organisational measures to protect the information your business stores.

You also need to demonstrate your compliance, which is why data security policies are essential.

Employee training is vital to ensure each of these policies is maintained.

For advice and more information on Data Protection, contact your expert Data Protection solicitors at Pure Business Law.




Social media policy


What is it? A social media policy sets out how a business and its employees should conduct themselves on the internet and what is and is not appropriate for employees to post about their company on social networks. Why is it important? It helps protect your company’s online reputation. The policy must reflect the business culture and be designed to minimise risks such as employees making derogatory remarks about your business or workplace online.




Equal opportunities policy


What is it? This policy sets out the business’s commitment to treating its employees fairly and giving everyone the same opportunities for employment, pay and promotion without discriminating against anyone on the grounds of age, sex, race, gender, ethnic origins, gender etc (the nine protected characteristics”).




Flexible working policy


What is it? A flexible working policy is a policy that sets out different working arrangements where employees are given greater freedom in the hours they work and how they fulfil the obligations of their roles. You are legally obliged to provide your employees with details of your business’s flexible working policy and procedures Flexible working includes working from home, part-time working job sharing, compressed hours, flexible start and finish times and phased retirement. Why is it important? The Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service (ACAS) recommends that employers put in place a flexible working policy as best practice to ensure that you deal with flexible working requests consistently and to ensure that staff are all aware of how you deal with them. Flexible working has advantages and disadvantages. Is flexible working right for your business? Contact us to discuss!




Health and safety policy


What is it? A health and safety policy states the employer’s commitment to protect employees’ health and safety and to cooperate with other parties such as employees, supervisors, the health and safety representative to ensure a safe work environment.If you have five or more employees, you are legally required to have a written health and safety policy. Why is it important? If you do not have a written policy the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) can take action against you and prosecute you. Even if you do not have five employees it is best practice to have a written health and safety policy to make your health and safety arrangements clear. Consideration of the health, safety and welfare of staff is an integral part of the management process. The purpose of a Health and Safety policy is to establish general standards for health and safety at work and to distribute responsibility for their achievement to all managers, supervisors and other employees through the normal line management processes. Risks Managers must approach health and safety in a systematic way, by identifying hazards and problems, planning improvements, taking executive action and monitoring results. There should be an annual audit and regular risk assessments.




Grievance procedure


What is it? You are legally obliged to provide your employees with details of your business’s grievance and disciplinary procedures. The grievance procedure is a tool by which a member of staff may formally have a grievance (i.e. “complaint”) regarding any condition of their employment heard by the Company management. Your grievance procedure should set out the process to be followed, to whom a grievance should be reported and the right to appeal a finding. The employee has the right to representation by a Trade Union representative or a work colleague. Why is it important? Your disciplinary policy should include examples of the types of conduct or behaviour that will lead to disciplinary action as well as information about the process your business will follow in investigating and handling a disciplinary matter. You also need to set out the names of the people in your business who will deal with disciplinary matters and any appeals arising from the disciplinary process. It is also good practice to have a Whistleblowing policy, a Bullying and harassment policy and a smoking, drugs and alcohol policy alongside your standard grievance and disciplinary procedures.




Redundancy policy


What is it? A redundancy policy provides employers with detailed procedures to follow within a business when making staff redundant so avoiding possible unfair dismissal claims. The policy also provides employees with information regarding the procedures the employer must follow thereby helping to avoid uncertainty for staff. It sets out each step of the redundancy process and outlines the statutory settlements for redundant staff. Employees who are made redundant and have at least 2 or more years continuous service are entitled to statutory redundancy pay. Why is it important? Having a redundancy policy in place will provide an employer with a clear framework to carry out redundancies and provides employees with clear notice of how any redundancy would be undertaken.




Sickness policy


What is it? If you have employees, you are required to set out details of their sick pay and leave entitlements in their employment contracts. A sickness policy sets out your procedures for dealing with and managing employee sickness absences and return to work eg how you want your staff to notify you when they are sick, whether your company offers any enhanced sick pay (ie contractual sick pay) over the minimum statutory sick pay (SSP), what absence levels will trigger the beginning of the disciplinary procedure, your policy regarding time off for medical appointments. Why is it important? Having a sickness policy in place is not a legal requirement however it can be reassuring and can help to remove some of the stress and uncertainty associated with sickness absence. It can also help to ensure that sickness absences are handled fairly and consistently across your work force. Risks When writing your policy you must remember that if an employee is ill and or off work due to a disability you must make any reasonable adjustments to help that employee remain at work or return to work before imposing any sanction under your sickness absence policy. This could include agreeing to provide them with a special type of chair (if the employee has back pain), changing their working hours so they can attend work more easily or providing a phased return to work ie the employee works for 3 or 4 hours for the first few weeks and then increases their working hours gradually. If you do not have a sickness policy and you treat staff inconsistently you may end up being sued by an employee for discrimination.




Maternity policy


What is it? This is required by law. A maternity leave policy sets out the policies and procedures that your business has to manage pregnancy absence and return to work. Why is it important? You must ensure that written information about the rights and policies applicable to new and expectant parents is available to all staff members so that they are aware of their rights and obligations. Your maternity policy should also include information about time off work for antenatal or pre-adoption appointments, the rules about leave and pay during the child’s first 12 months and return to work rights of the expectant partner. Your policy should also include information about whether your business will offer the minimum statutory rights or an enhanced entitlement.




Parental leave policy


What is it? This is required by law .A parental leave policy sets out the policies and procedures that your business has to manage parental leave for reasons associated with childcare eg when a parent has to take time off to look after children for one reason or the other and return to work. Your parental leave policy should set out the policies and procedures that your business has to manage parental leave after pregnancy absence and return to work. Why is it important? You must ensure that written information about the rights and policies applicable to new and expectant parents is available to all staff members so that they are aware of their rights and obligations. Your parental leave policy should also include information about time off work for antenatal or pre-adoption appointments, the rules about leave and pay during the child’s first 12 months and return to work rights of the expectant partner. Your policy should also include information about whether your business will offer the minimum statutory rights or an enhanced entitlement.




Paternity policy


What is it? This is required by law . A paternity leave policy sets out the policies and procedures that your business has to manage paternity leave either when a father wants to take time off to look after his child after childbirth or adoption etc. and return to work. You must ensure that written information about the rights and policies applicable to new and expectant parents is available to all staff members so that they are aware of their rights and obligations. What is it important? Your paternity leave policy should also include information about time off work for antenatal or pre-adoption appointments, the rules about leave and pay during the child’s first 12 months and return to work rights of the expectant partner. Your policy should also include information about whether your business will offer the minimum statutory rights or an enhanced entitlement.




Shared parental leave policy


What is it? This is required by law. A shared parental leave policy sets out the policies and procedures that your business has to manage shared parental leave and return to work. Why is it important? Your shared parental leave policy should also include information about time off work for antenatal or pre-adoption appointments, the rules about leave and pay during the child’s first 12 months and return to work rights of the expectant partner. Your policy should also include information about whether your business will offer the minimum statutory rights or an enhanced entitlement.




Environmental policy


What is it? Although not a legal requirement it is good business practice to have an Environmental policy. An Environmental policy confirms that your company is committed to continuous improvement in managing environmental issues including proper management and monitoring of waste, reduction of pollution and emissions, compliance with environmental legislation and environmental codes of practice, training for staff and the monitoring of environmental performance. Why is it important? This will in turn assist you in building and maintaining good relations with the community and the general public. Once written it should be signed by the most senior director in the company to show that it is company policy and should be reviewed on a regular basis alongside your Health and Safety policies. Whilst not required by law an Environmental policy may also come in useful if you are bidding for medium-sized and large tenders. We are experienced in preparing such policies for offices, shops, construction, automotive workshops, hotels, transport ,logistics, parcel delivery, restaurants, manufacturing cleaning companies.





Settlement agreements & Ref

Trademark (UK, EU, US, China)


What is it? One of the best ways of protecting your business name, brand and logo from being copied is to register a trademark. A trademark is a distinctive sign eg name, brand, logo or tagline (or a combination of these) used by a business to distinguish its goods and or services from those sold by another business and to identify its business as the source of those goods and services. In the UK, trademarks are granted by the UK Intellectual Property Office (UK IPO) Registering a trademark increases the protection it receives and stops others from using it. You may be able to register a trademark over:

  • words (eg the trademark “Nandos”)
  • pictures and words (eg the Pure Business Law trademark).
  • slogans (eg the Lidl strap line “Big on quality, Lidl on price”)
  • colours (eg the Cadbury Dairy Milk purple as owned by Kraft ).
  • sounds (eg the Match of the Day theme song played when their logo appears at the beginning of football matches) and
  • Logos (eg the Mac OS logo);
  • 3D shapes (eg the Pepsi cola bottle shape)
Why is it important? Registering a name or a logo gives you the following three benefits: Allows you to object if someone else applies to register ay name or logo that is similar to your trademark for the same of similar goods or services. This protection does not cover an application to use the same name or branding for a different type of business. For instance if you register “Fast-Sports” for a trade mark for selling sports cars, no one could register “Fast-Spots” for anything to do with selling cars but they may be able to register it as a trade mark for a dry-cleaning business because that has nothing to do with cars. If another business tries to use the same or similar branding on similar goods or services thereby infringing your trademark you can take legal proceedings to stop them. Your business’s goodwill and reputation have commercial value so registering a trademark is an easy way to protect your hard work and creativity. Registering a trademark gives you the exclusive right to use it for 10 years, after which you must make an application to renew it to the Intellectual Property Office (IPO). Their website is at www.ipo.gov.uk. You can register your trademarks in the UK, the EU and or internationally. All registrations last for 10years and are renewable indefinitely in further 10-year periods. The most suitable registration for your brand will depend on where you do business eg UK, EU or internationally. Risks If you do not register your name, brand or logo as a trademark you will not be able to easily stop other people using your trademark and you may end up allowing other businesses to profit from your hard work.




Patent (Worldwide)


What is it? Protect your invention through a patent. A patent gives you an exclusive right over a novel invention that you have created. It gives you the exclusive right to use and reproduce your invention and stop people copying your invention without your permission. For instance, only Apple can make and sell Apple phones. In the UK, patents are granted by the UK Intellectual Property Office (UK IPO) To have a patent over something you have created, you must register it at the IPO. Patents generally last for up to twenty years. You can only patent a novel invention and cannot patent something that is already in the public domain. This means that your invention must be new (i.e. you cannot patent something which already exists eg a literary work, method of medical treatment, a diagnosis, scientific theory or a discovery) . You also cannot patent something which is already the subject of a patent application pre-dating your application. This means that you must carry out extensive market research examining trade journals and academic papers relevant to your industry market and searching for patents and patent applications on the patent registers worldwide. Obtaining a patent is expensive and time consuming. You should enlist the help of a professional eg lawyer or patent agent before starting an application for a patent. Why is it important?
Should I register my invention as a patent? Yes, you should if you believe that you have created a novel product or process which is so important to your business that you wish to pay a patent application fee to prevent others from using it. Risks Registering your invention as a patent ensures that:

  1. You can prevent others using your product or process if they intend to use it for commercial purposes.
  2. You can profit from your patent by only permitting certain people to use it for commercial purposes and only on condition that they pay you or give you a percentage of the profits they make from using your patent.
Risks If you do not register your invention as a patent, you will not be able to easily stop other people copying your ideas and you may end up allowing other businesses to profit from your hard work. You can use free online databases to search for patents eg Ipsum the UK IPO’s search facility, the Patents Journal (for UK applications that have been filed but not yet published), Espacenet – the European Patents Office’s (EPO’s) free database for worldwide patents including UK patents and Patentscope – the World Intellectual Property Organisation’s (WIPO’s ) free database for worldwide patents including UK patents. Note that these databases may not be up to date. As an alternative you may prefer to use professional search services such as:
  1. The PATLIB (patent library) centre
  2. A Patent attorney through the Chartered Institute of Patent Attorneys at www.cipa.org.uk




IP Assignment Agreement


What is it? An IP assignment agreement transfers rights and ownership in an IP created by one person to someone else or to a business. It can be used to transfer rights in a trademark, patent, logo, designs or any other IP. Why is it important? An IP assignment agreement is important when a business is sold, and the founder created intellectual property before becoming a part of the company or a company employs a someone whether consultant or employee to do some work.




Registering Designs


What is it? Register your design to stop someone else from using it. A design right is a right that you have which can protect your original design from being copied by someone else.There are two different types of design rights – registered and unregistered design rights which can protect the look or appearance of a product from being copied. Why is it important? Design rights can exist in computer icons, logos, graphic designs, packaging and clothing. The rights do not arise by reference to the particular product but rather in the shape or look of either the whole of the product or part of that product. For instance, a registered design right in a motif used on a book will be infringed if someone else uses the same design motif on a duvet cover. In the UK, design registrations are granted by the UK Intellectual Property Office (UK IPO). Risks Even if you do not register your design, it will still be automatically protected as an unregistered design right. However this right is more limited right because it only protects you against unauthorised copying and does not prevent other people creating similar designs independently. For businesses in the UK these unregistered design rights arise automatically in the UK and the EU for some designs under both UK and EU law if the relevant criteria are met. In the UK, unregistered design rights arise as soon as the relevant designs are recorded in some way eg in a drawing and in the UK as soon as they are made available to the public. However, the protection granted differs slightly in each jurisdiction. For instance in the UK unregistered design rights will automatically protect either the shape or configuration of the whole or part of an article for up to 15 years, whereas in the EU unregistered design rights will automatically protect not only the appearance of the whole or part of any industrial or handicraft product resulting from its features but also its lines, shape, texture, contours and materials but only for up to 3 years. You should therefor keep a watching brief and consider whether such a right has arisen as soon as you believe that either you or your employees (in the course of their employment) have created an original design. Brexit The UK and the EU have agreed that there will be an implementation period (ie transition period) from the date the UK left the EU i.e. 31 January 2020 until 31 December 2020 or a later date if the transition period is extended. During this period there will be no changes to unregistered design rights. UK unregistered design rights UK unregistered design rights will continue after the transition period and provide up to 15 years of protection. However, after the transition period the UK Government has advised that only UK residents or businesses incorporated in the UK will be eligible for UK registered designs. EU unregistered design rights From the end of the transition period unregistered design rights in the EU (ie unregistered Community designs) will no longer be valid in the IK. The government has advised that it will immediately replace the unregistered Community design rights with UK unregistered design rights ( to be known as UK continuing unregistered design rights) and which will offer protection in the EU and UK for the rest of the three year terms previously attached to the unregistered Community design right. This means you will continue to be protected in the EU and UK for unregistered Community designs that existed before the end of the transition period. If you are concerned about how to protect your unregistered design rights in the UK and EU after the transition period please contact our IP lawyers for further advice on 01234 938089.




Non-Disclosure Agreement (NDA)/Letter of confidentiality


What is it? This agreement protects confidential information belonging to your business including IP and other information which you do not want to be made public. Why is it important? It is important to have an NDA in place before sharing any confidential or sensitive information in business meetings with people with whom you intend to do business eg investors, prospective co-founders, suppliers, consultants and the like. A letter of confidentiality is similar to a non-disclosure agreement. The party disclosing confidential information imposes restrictions as to the use of this confidential information to the party receiving it. Risks If you do not have the required safeguards in place to protect your intellectual property during business meetings or negotiations you may have your designs, inventions or work stolen or copied by the person with whom you are negotiating. This could be disastrous for your business.




one-way confidentiality agreement


What is it? A one-way Confidentiality agreement is similar to a non-disclosure agreement but imposes restrictions as to the use of this confidential information only on one party.




Assignment of intellectual property


What is it? An IP assignment agreement transfers rights and ownership in an IP created by one-person eg trademark, patent, logo, designs or any other IP to someone else or to a business. Why is it important? An IP assignment agreement is important when a business is sold, and the founder created intellectual property before becoming a part of the company or a company employs a someone whether consultant or employee to do some work. If you assign IP rights to another business, you are transferring ownership of the IP. It is more common to licence intellectual property rights than to assign them in business. Licensing allows a third party to have rights over the IP and do certain acts with the IP that they would not otherwise have been able to do but you keep ownership of the IP. You can limit the licence to a certain area eg the UK, Middle East, Africa etc or to a certain period of time eg 1 year, 2 years etc. Risks If for example you assign your IP to a business and it fails, you would have lost your IP. If on the other hand you licence your IP to another business, you are in ultimate control and can stipulate how the IP should be used and when it has to be returned. You can also stipulate that the IP be returned to you if the business goes into liquidation or on the happening of certain events.




Copyright


What is it? Copyright is the exclusive right to use and reproduce in public any material you have created if it falls into one of the following categories: i) Written work such as books, plays film scripts, web content, articles, essays, professional opinions, tables, compilations and databases; ii)Artistic works such as paintings, drawings, photos, maps, charts, plan, diagrams etc; iii)sound recordings; iv)Films, music and broadcasts; or v) computer programs. Why is it important? Copyright arises automatically when you create the work so there is no need to register copyright to own a work that you have created. You should be wary of any person that asks you to pay them to register your copyright in a work that you have created as it will be a scam. Businesses as well as individuals can own copyright. Copyright usually lasts for 70 years. You can buy someone’s copyright via a document called a Deed of assignment or give them a licence to use your copyright. As a general rule if an employee creates a work in the course of their employment their employer (ie the business ) will own the work. However, if the work in question is not part of the agreed duties of the employee the employee will own the work. To ensure that copyright work created by employees is owned by the business you should include appropriate intellectual property clauses in your employment contracts. Risks If you commission a piece of work from a freelancer the copyright in the work will belong to the freelancer unless the parties have agreed otherwise. It is important to ensure that the position on ownership of the copyright in writing before work starts to ensure that the business owns the copyright in the work produced by the freelancer.





Commercial notices

Notice of breach of covenants


What is it?

This is popularly called a Section 146 Notice (it is a notice required to be served by section 146 of the Law of Property Act 1925 and relates solely to business tenants) that warns a tenant who is in breach of covenant (other than the covenant to pay rent) of the landlord’s intention to forfeit the lease on ground of the breach of covenant.

Why is it important?

“Forfeiture” is the right of the landlord to re-enter the commercial property and take back possession of the property if a covenant has been breached.

For the notice to be valid and binding the notice must specify the breach of covenant and if the breach is capable of remedy , require the tenant to remedy it and pay monetary compensation to the landlord for the breach.

A landlord can only serve such a notice if the lease contains a right to forfeit the lease (i.e. a right of re-entry). The notice must also contain certain prescribed information. If the tenant does not remedy the breach within a reasonable time the landlord can start forfeiture proceedings in the County Court.

Risks

A landlord who wants to forfeit the lease must avoid “waiving” the breach of covenant. Waiver occurs where a landlord becomes aware of a breach of the lease but does not take action against the tenant within a reasonable period or acknowledges the continuation of the lease by for example demanding rent or service charges or accepting rent payments from the tenant.




Break notice


What is it? A Break Notice, also known as a Break Clauses or a break option, is an important contractual provision in a lease which allows either a landlord or tenant to bring a Lease to an early end. Some landlords often have a vested interest in making life difficult for a tenant seeking to exercise its option to break the lease by making the option subject to stringent conditions. Why is it important?

Break Notices are akin to options and are therefore strictly construed by the courts . From the tenant’s perspective, a properly drafted Break Clause gives them the opportunity to avoid being tied into a lease that they can no longer afford. This is a safety-net for a tenant – especially if they are just starting out.

Understandably though, a landlord who is receiving a steady rental income may be reluctant to lose a tenant, particularly in tough economic times.

Risks

Any tenant seeking to exercise the option to break the lease must check the lease carefully and ensure they follow the landlord’s “break clause conditions” to the letter. It is crucial when taking a lease that a tenant understands that the conditions of the Break Clause can easily defeat an option to break unless followed to the letter. If the conditions are not strictly followed the termination is not valid and the tenant remains a lessee until the expiry of the lease, the next break clause date or until the tenant is able to assign the lease with the landlord’s consent if there is such a provision in the lease.

A properly advised tenant should refuse any condition, other than up-to date payment of principal rent and giving up occupation.




Tenant's agreement to exclude security of tenure


What is it?

The Landlord and Tenant Act 1954 provides tenants of business premises with rights of ‘security of tenure’. This means that once a business tenant’s lease expires, the tenant has the right to request a new lease on the same terms as the previous lease (subject to agreement on terms, such as the amount of rent, any legislative updates etc), except where the landlord has a statutory ground to refuse a new lease (for instance, if the tenant has failed to pay rent or the landlord wishes to redevelop the premises).

Why is it important?

When agreeing to enter into a commercial or business lease, one of the things that will be discussed when agreeing Heads of Terms is whether your lease will be ‘protected’ with security of tenure, or ‘contracted out’ i.e. excluded’ from security of tenure. It is quite common for landlords to require that security of tenure rights are excluded from a lease. They do this by asking the prospective tenant to sign a notice in front of an independent solicitor agreeing to the exclusion of security of tenure under the lease.

Risks

This notice means that a tenant of commercial premises will not have the automatic right to request a renewal of their lease at the end of the term of the lease, leaving the landlord free to let the property to another tenant at the end of the term. This is because landlords often wish to retain strict control over the occupation of their property. If security of tenure is excluded, you the tenant, must vacate the property at the end of the lease in accordance with its terms unless you have negotiated a new lease with the landlord separately.




Landlord's notice to exclude security of tenure





Section 25 Notice


What is it?

This is a notice by the landlord under s25 of the Landlord and Tenant Act 1954.

Why is it important?

It allows the landlord to start a procedure which will end either in the tenant being granted a new lease or in the tenant vacating. This notice cannot be given before the last year of the lease terms nor after the tenant has served a request for a new tenancy under s26 of the Act.

Risks

The s25 notice must state the date on which the landlord intends to bring the existing lease to an end.




Section 26 Notice


What is it?

This is a notice given by the tenant requesting a new tenancy upon the termination of the old tenancy.

Why is it important?

The s26 request must specify the date on which the existing lease is to end.

Risks

This notice cannot be served before the last year of the agreed lease term nor can it be served after the landlord has served a s25 notice.




Licence for alterations


What is it?

This is a licence from the landlord to the tenant giving the tenant the right to carry out specific works or alterations to the property that is being let. The alterations may be major or minor.

Why is it important?

The Licence should include provisions as to the manner in which the tenant will carry out the works, timescales, reinstatement and (to the extent applicable) the Construction (Design and Management) Regulations 2015. Drawings and specifications showing the proposed works should be attached to the Licence so that it is clear what the landlord is consenting to.

If the proposed alterations are not substantial (e.g. the erection of demountable partitioning or signage) you can use a simple Letter- Licence to Alter.




Section 27 Notice


What is it? A tenant has the right under s27 of the 1954 Act to bring the tenancy to an end by giving at least three months’ notice before the date on which the tenancy would otherwise expire. If the lease term has expired but the tenancy is still continuing under the 1954 Act the tenant may bring that continuing tenancy to an end by giving not less than three months’ notice in writing to the landlord.





Managing licenses


Running an online business


Protecting your IP


Business Relationships


Writing a business plan


Letting a commercial property

Invitation letter to a disciplinary appeal hearing for misconduct


What is it?

Make sure you do things right when you discipline an employee. Our employment solicitors can provide you with a disciplinary hearing letter/notice to be sent to the employee which sets out in clear and simple terms the disciplinary allegations, process to be followed, the employee's rights and potential sanctions.

Why is it important?

If you are formally disciplining an employee for misconduct, this letter ensures that you are complying with the unfair dismissal laws. It also meets the requirements of the statutory ACAS Code of Practice on Disciplinary and Grievance Procedures. It is always best practice to give the employee a right to appeal any misconduct decision. The letter should tell the employee they must appeal in writing with their grounds of appeal. If you accept an appeal by the employee, you should respond with a letter inviting the employee to an appeal hearing for misconduct.

Risks

Non-compliance with the ACAS Code of Practice on Disciplinary and Grievance Procedures will be taken into account by an employment tribunal when deciding whether an employee has been treated fairly and can also result in the tribunal increasing the amount of compensation awarded your employee if the case went to court.




Invitation letter to an appeal hearing for misconduct


What is it?

The right to appeal against the outcome of disciplinary action is an important element of a fair disciplinary process. Where an employee appeals against a disciplinary sanction, the employer should invite them to a disciplinary appeal hearing.

Why is it important?

The ACAS Code of Practice on Disciplinary and Grievance Procedures states that the employee should be given the right to appeal against any disciplinary sanction or decision.Our employment solicitors can provide you with an invitation letter to an appeal hearing that helps ensure that your processes are watertight. The invitation should include information about the employee's right to be accompanied at the appeal hearing.

Risks

Non-compliance with the ACAS Code of Practice on Disciplinary and Grievance Procedures will be taken into account by an employment tribunal when deciding whether an employee has been treated fairly and can also result in the tribunal increasing the amount of compensation awarded if the case went to court.




Disciplinary outcome letter for misconduct - warning or no action


What is it?

This is a letter that can be used to inform the employee of the outcome of the disciplinary meeting when the outcome is a warning or that no further action is to be taken by the employer.




Invitation letter to a performance appeal hearing


What is it?

This is a letter that should be used to invite an employee to a performance appeal hearing.




Invitation letter to a performance appraisal


What is it?

An appraisal is a formal process that allows you and a member of staff to assess the staff member’s performance over a period of time eg on a 6 month or 12 month basis. A detailed appraisal has a number of benefits for you and your employees.

Why is it important?

For example, it gives you the opportunity to:

1. review and provide feedback on their performance and set objectives to maximise performance.

2. It also gives the employee the opportunity to comment on their performance, suggest improvements and bring any problems to your attention.

3. It can therefore assist in motivating employees, resolution of problems and the prevention of legal disputes.

Our employment solicitors can provide you with an invitation to attend an appraisal meeting letter tailored to your specific requirements. This letter sets the date for the meeting, who will conduct the meeting and whether the member of staff needs to bring any particular documents or information to the meeting.

Contact our employment law solicitors on 01234 938089.




Poor performance outcome letter - warning or no action


What is it?

This is a letter that can be used to inform the employee of the outcome of the poor performance meeting when the outcome is a warning or no further action is to be taken.




Disciplinary procedure


What is it?

A disciplinary procedure is a formal way for an employer to deal with an employee’s unacceptable or improper behaviour (‘misconduct’) or performance (‘capability’).

Why is it important?

You should put your disciplinary procedure in writing and make it easily available to all staff. IIt should say what performance and behaviour might lead to disciplinary action and what action your employer might take.

It should also include the name of someone you can speak to if you do not agree with your employer’s disciplinary decision.

Disciplinary steps : Your disciplinary procedure should include the following steps:

  1. A letter setting out the issue.

  2. A meeting to discuss the issue.

  3. A disciplinary decision.

  4. A chance to appeal this decision.

Risks

Before starting a disciplinary procedure against a member of staff , you should first see whether the problem can be resolved in an informal way. This can often be the quickest and easiest solution.

If you need help in resolving an employment matter or dispute, please contact our employment solicitors on 01234 938089. We can provide you with advice on a fixed fee basis.




Suspension Letter


What is it? This is a letter that can be used to inform the employee that the employee will be suspended pending investigation of the disciplinary allegations.




Dismissal letter for misconduct


What is it? This Dismissal Letter should be used to inform the employee of the outcome of the disciplinary meeting when that outcome is dismissal on the grounds of misconduct falling short of Gross Misconduct. Why is it important? To comply with the ACAS Code of Practice on Disciplinary and Grievance Procedures the employee should be given the right to appeal against any disciplinary sanction or decision.




Dismissal letter for poor performance


What is it? This Dismissal Letter should be used to inform the employee of the outcome of the disciplinary meeting when that outcome is dismissal for poor performance. Why is it important? To comply with the ACAS Code of Practice on Disciplinary and Grievance Procedures the employee should be given the right to appeal against any disciplinary sanction or decision.




Gross misconduct dismissal letter


What is it? This Gross Misconduct Notice of Dismissal Letter should be used to inform the employee of the outcome of the disciplinary meeting when that outcome is dismissal on the ground of gross misconduct. An employee can be dismissed “on the spot” for gross misconduct eg fighting at work. Why is it important? However it is best practice to follow up a gross misconduct “on the spot dismissal” with a letter fully explaining the dismissal and the reasons for the dismissal. Risks To comply with the ACAS Code of Practice on Disciplinary and Grievance Procedures the employee should be given the right to appeal against any disciplinary sanction or decision.




Dismissal letter for employees without unfair dismissal rights


What is it? This Dismissal Letter should be used to inform the employee of their dismissal when they have under two years’ service with the employer. Why is it important? It is best practice to put an employee on a performance improvement plan(PIP) first before dismissing them irrespective of their length of service. This letter can be used where an employee is dismissed either with or without having been put on a performance improvement plan. In all cases, the employer should adopt a professional and respectful tone when communicating with the soon-to-be dismissed employee. Risks To comply with the ACAS Code of Practice on Disciplinary and Grievance Procedures the employee should be given the right to appeal against any disciplinary sanction or decision.




Appeal letter


What is it?

This is a letter from an employee against whom a disciplinary sanction has been imposed appealing against the dismissal.

If you need help in resolving an employment matter or dispute, please contact our employment solicitors on 01234 938089. We can provide you with advice on a fixed fee basis.





Sale and Purchase of Commerial Property

Invitation letter to a disciplinary appeal hearing for misconduct


What is it?

Make sure you do things right when you discipline an employee. Our employment solicitors can provide you with a disciplinary hearing letter/notice to be sent to the employee which sets out in clear and simple terms the disciplinary allegations, process to be followed, the employee's rights and potential sanctions.

Why is it important?

If you are formally disciplining an employee for misconduct, this letter ensures that you are complying with the unfair dismissal laws. It also meets the requirements of the statutory ACAS Code of Practice on Disciplinary and Grievance Procedures. It is always best practice to give the employee a right to appeal any misconduct decision. The letter should tell the employee they must appeal in writing with their grounds of appeal. If you accept an appeal by the employee, you should respond with a letter inviting the employee to an appeal hearing for misconduct.

Risks

Non-compliance with the ACAS Code of Practice on Disciplinary and Grievance Procedures will be taken into account by an employment tribunal when deciding whether an employee has been treated fairly and can also result in the tribunal increasing the amount of compensation awarded your employee if the case went to court.




Invitation letter to an appeal hearing for misconduct


What is it?

The right to appeal against the outcome of disciplinary action is an important element of a fair disciplinary process. Where an employee appeals against a disciplinary sanction, the employer should invite them to a disciplinary appeal hearing.

Why is it important?

The ACAS Code of Practice on Disciplinary and Grievance Procedures states that the employee should be given the right to appeal against any disciplinary sanction or decision.Our employment solicitors can provide you with an invitation letter to an appeal hearing that helps ensure that your processes are watertight. The invitation should include information about the employee's right to be accompanied at the appeal hearing.

Risks

Non-compliance with the ACAS Code of Practice on Disciplinary and Grievance Procedures will be taken into account by an employment tribunal when deciding whether an employee has been treated fairly and can also result in the tribunal increasing the amount of compensation awarded if the case went to court.




Disciplinary outcome letter for misconduct - warning or no action


What is it?

This is a letter that can be used to inform the employee of the outcome of the disciplinary meeting when the outcome is a warning or that no further action is to be taken by the employer.




Invitation letter to a performance appeal hearing


What is it?

This is a letter that should be used to invite an employee to a performance appeal hearing.




Invitation letter to a performance appraisal


What is it?

An appraisal is a formal process that allows you and a member of staff to assess the staff member’s performance over a period of time eg on a 6 month or 12 month basis. A detailed appraisal has a number of benefits for you and your employees.

Why is it important?

For example, it gives you the opportunity to:

1. review and provide feedback on their performance and set objectives to maximise performance.

2. It also gives the employee the opportunity to comment on their performance, suggest improvements and bring any problems to your attention.

3. It can therefore assist in motivating employees, resolution of problems and the prevention of legal disputes.

Our employment solicitors can provide you with an invitation to attend an appraisal meeting letter tailored to your specific requirements. This letter sets the date for the meeting, who will conduct the meeting and whether the member of staff needs to bring any particular documents or information to the meeting.

Contact our employment law solicitors on 01234 938089.




Poor performance outcome letter - warning or no action


What is it?

This is a letter that can be used to inform the employee of the outcome of the poor performance meeting when the outcome is a warning or no further action is to be taken.




Disciplinary procedure


What is it?

A disciplinary procedure is a formal way for an employer to deal with an employee’s unacceptable or improper behaviour (‘misconduct’) or performance (‘capability’).

Why is it important?

You should put your disciplinary procedure in writing and make it easily available to all staff. IIt should say what performance and behaviour might lead to disciplinary action and what action your employer might take.

It should also include the name of someone you can speak to if you do not agree with your employer’s disciplinary decision.

Disciplinary steps : Your disciplinary procedure should include the following steps:

  1. A letter setting out the issue.

  2. A meeting to discuss the issue.

  3. A disciplinary decision.

  4. A chance to appeal this decision.

Risks

Before starting a disciplinary procedure against a member of staff , you should first see whether the problem can be resolved in an informal way. This can often be the quickest and easiest solution.

If you need help in resolving an employment matter or dispute, please contact our employment solicitors on 01234 938089. We can provide you with advice on a fixed fee basis.




Suspension Letter


What is it? This is a letter that can be used to inform the employee that the employee will be suspended pending investigation of the disciplinary allegations.




Dismissal letter for misconduct


What is it? This Dismissal Letter should be used to inform the employee of the outcome of the disciplinary meeting when that outcome is dismissal on the grounds of misconduct falling short of Gross Misconduct. Why is it important? To comply with the ACAS Code of Practice on Disciplinary and Grievance Procedures the employee should be given the right to appeal against any disciplinary sanction or decision.




Dismissal letter for poor performance


What is it? This Dismissal Letter should be used to inform the employee of the outcome of the disciplinary meeting when that outcome is dismissal for poor performance. Why is it important? To comply with the ACAS Code of Practice on Disciplinary and Grievance Procedures the employee should be given the right to appeal against any disciplinary sanction or decision.




Gross misconduct dismissal letter


What is it? This Gross Misconduct Notice of Dismissal Letter should be used to inform the employee of the outcome of the disciplinary meeting when that outcome is dismissal on the ground of gross misconduct. An employee can be dismissed “on the spot” for gross misconduct eg fighting at work. Why is it important? However it is best practice to follow up a gross misconduct “on the spot dismissal” with a letter fully explaining the dismissal and the reasons for the dismissal. Risks To comply with the ACAS Code of Practice on Disciplinary and Grievance Procedures the employee should be given the right to appeal against any disciplinary sanction or decision.




Dismissal letter for employees without unfair dismissal rights


What is it? This Dismissal Letter should be used to inform the employee of their dismissal when they have under two years’ service with the employer. Why is it important? It is best practice to put an employee on a performance improvement plan(PIP) first before dismissing them irrespective of their length of service. This letter can be used where an employee is dismissed either with or without having been put on a performance improvement plan. In all cases, the employer should adopt a professional and respectful tone when communicating with the soon-to-be dismissed employee. Risks To comply with the ACAS Code of Practice on Disciplinary and Grievance Procedures the employee should be given the right to appeal against any disciplinary sanction or decision.




Appeal letter


What is it?

This is a letter from an employee against whom a disciplinary sanction has been imposed appealing against the dismissal.

If you need help in resolving an employment matter or dispute, please contact our employment solicitors on 01234 938089. We can provide you with advice on a fixed fee basis.





Buying & Selling a business

Terms and conditions for supply of services to business customers


What is it? Terms and conditions set out the rules and specifications which apply in every supply of services that a seller makes and helps to make everyone aware of their rights and obligations from the outset. Why is it important? Make sure you protect your business interests with professionally prepared terms and conditions. When supplying services to a business your terms and conditions should cover issues such as timing and termination of supply, orders, specifications, obligations, pricing, payment, intellectual property, confidentiality, warranties, liability and termination.




Terms and conditions for sale of goods to business customers


What is it? Terms and conditions set out the rules and specifications which apply in every sale of goods that a seller makes and helps to make everyone aware of their rights and obligations from the outset. Why is it important? When selling goods to a business your terms and conditions should cover the nature of products to be sold, orders, delivery, pricing, payment, risk, warranties, defects, liability and confidentiality.




Terms and conditions for supply of services to consumers/businesses


What is it?

There are different terms and conditions for the supply of services to businesses (B2B contracts) and the supply of services to consumers(B2C contracts). When a business deals with a consumer (ie someone who buys goods or services for personal use, as opposed to buying the goods or services on behalf of a business) the consumer is given more legal protection than a business.

Why is it important?

Any business that is entering into a contract with a consumer must abide by a wide range of consumer law requirements such as the Consumer Rights Act 2015, the Sale of Goods Act and Supply of Goods and Services Act , the Consumer Contracts Regulations , the Misrepresentation Act and the Data Protection Act.

Risks

The T&Cs for supply of services to consumers should be used when

  • You are supplying services with or without goods to customers not acting in the course of a business (i.e. consumers).

The T&Cs for supply of services to businesses should be used when

  • You are supplying services with or without goods to customers acting in the course of a business (i.e. Businesses).




Consent Notices


What is it? The law provides that if your website is based in the EU or if you are targeting customers in the EU and your site uses one or more cookies you need to display a cookie consent notice. To comply with the law your need to do three things Let users to your website know that you are using cookies. Provide a link where they can learn more about how you use the data you gather. Provide a way for your website users to consent to the use of cookies. Consent can be explicit opt-in consent and implied consent. For explicit consent, users have to click a button, select a checkbox or complete some other specific activity to opt in to the use of cookies. The most common way to do this is to display a banner at the top or bottom of your website with a link to your Privacy policy and a button to consent to the use of cookies and hide the banner. For implied consent a clear notice must be provided, and the user must be made aware that a specific action will be understood to be implied consent to the use of cookies. One way that implied consent is obtained is by displaying a prominent cookie notice that ends with a statement like “By continuing to use this site you agree to the use of cookies”. The law applies whether a user is on a smartphone, tablet, a laptop, computer or other device. So when you set up your cookie notice you must ensure that the notice appears and functions well on all devices. There are also plugins for Cookie consent notices.




Terms and conditions for sale of goods to consumers/businesses


What is it?

There are different terms and conditions for the sale of goods to businesses (B2B) and the sale of goods to consumers(B2C).

Why is it important?

The T&Cs for sale of goods to consumers should be used when

  • You are supplying goods with or without services to customers not acting in the course of a business (i.e. consumers)

The T&Cs for sale of goods to businesses should be used when

  • You are supplying goods with or without services to customers acting in the course of a business (i.e. businesses)




Terms and conditions for sale of goods to consumers via a website





Terms and conditions for supply of services to consumers via a website





Heads of terms


What is it? This is similar to a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU)s, Term sheet or Letter of intent. The heads of terms set out the key terms agreed by the parties before entering a business transaction. It is not contractually binding. Heads of Terms are usually set out in a letter or document setting out the key terms agreed by parties who intend to enter a binding contract. It is also known as Letter of Intent, a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) or a Term Sheet. It is a useful tool when two or more parties intend to enter a future contract and want to identify, describe and agree, without it being contractually binding, the terms to be further negotiated and then recorded in a contractually binding contract. There will occasionally be statements in heads of terms which are exceptions to the general approach that heads of terms are not binding: this will occur if the parties put in statements which heads of terms expressly state are to be of legally binding effect until a definitive contract is signed. If that is the case those statements will generally be binding. Why is it important? Heads of terms are useful to set out the progress made during negotiations, reduce the potential for misunderstandings, indicate the major issues which still need to be resolved and make it clear what the parties intend when they enter into the contract. The disadvantage of Heads of terms is that it can take up a considerable amount of time and may distract the parties from working on negotiating a full and detailed binding contract. Risks There have been occasions when the parties to a proposed commercial arrangement never actually agree or sign a definite contract and have gone on to implement their deal based only on the Heads of terms. This creates a very uncertain legal position which may lead to disputes and legal problems.




Letter of intent (LOI)


What is it? A Letter of Intent is a pre-contract, non-binding document setting out the key terms agreed by parties who intend to enter into a binding contract. It is also known as Heads of Terms, a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) or a Term Sheet. It is a useful tool when two or more parties intend to enter into a future contract and want to identify, describe and agree, without it being contractually binding, the terms to be further negotiated and then recorded in a contractually binding contract. There will occasionally be statements in a letter of intent which are exceptions to the general approach that a letter of intent is not binding: this will occur if the parties put in statements which the letter of intent expressly states are to be of legally binding effect until a definitive contract is signed. If that is the case those statements will generally be binding. Why is it important? A letter of intent is useful to set out the progress made during negotiations, reduce the potential for misunderstandings, indicate the major issues which still need to be resolved and make it clear what the parties intend when they enter into the contract. The disadvantage of a letter of intent is that it can take up a considerable amount of time and may distract the parties from working on negotiating a full and detailed binding contract. Risks There have been occasions when the parties to a proposed commercial arrangement never actually agree or sign a definite contract and have gone on to implement their deal based only on the letter of intent. This creates a very uncertain legal position which may result in disputes and legal problems.




Invoice


What is it? An invoice is a statement setting out the goods and or services that have been supplied by a seller to a buyer and the money owed for those goods and or services. It is created by a seller or supplier to request payment for goods sold and or services provided. It is also called a bill. Why is it important? It identifies the trading partners, specifies the terms of the deal and provides information on the payment figure, the available methods of payment and the payment terms i.e. the maximum amount of time that a buyer had to pay for the goods and or services that they have purchased from the seller.




Sales of goods agreements


What is it?

A Sale of Goods Agreement (sometimes called a Sales Agreement or Sales Contract) is a contract entered into between a buyer and a seller of goods for the sale and purchase of specific goods by the buyer. When you sell goods, you create a sale of goods contract.

Why is it important?

The terms in a sale of goods contract may vary depending on whether it is a sale to a consumer (i.e. a B2C contract ) or a sale to a business (i.e. a “commercial” sale or B2B contract.) A consumer is someone who buys goods or services for personal use, as opposed to buying the goods or services on behalf of a business. Consumers who act as the buyer in a contract for a sale of goods are given more legal protection than businesses. The legal protection is given to help the party considered to be the more vulnerable party to the contract ie the consumer as opposed to the business.

The sale of goods agreement will set out the seller and buyer’s obligations, the terms on which the seller is willing to sell and transfer the goods to the buyer, the nature of the goods to be sold, the price, payment terms, shipping and collection details, delivery time and what happens at the end of the contract.

Risks

A Sale of Goods Agreement can be made orally or in writing. However, having a well-written Sale of Goods Agreement can help protect one or both of the parties if there is a problem with the sale eg goods are late in arriving or the goods have been damaged or destroyed.




Purchase order


What is it? A purchase order is prepared by a buyer when the buyer orders goods or services from a seller. The purchase order will indicate the type of goods, quantity of goods and the price the buyer is willing to pay for the products and or services. Once the seller accepts the purchase order it becomes a legally binding contract as the seller has agreed to sell the goods and or services at the prices put forward by the buyer. The seller will then issue an invoice to the buyer based on the purchase order. Why is it important? Purchase orders are important for businesses as it is instrumental in tracking expenditure, makes orders easier to track, helps avoid audit problems and provides contractual legal protection for the buyer and the supplier. Alongside a purchase order system, it is vital that a company has strong credit management practices to safeguard cash flow from bad debts and late payment. A strong debt collection process is vital to ensure payment is made when the goods or services have been delivered. Invoice promptly and accurately and chase up with reminders. If a customer will not pay or ignores payment requests take action – Appoint a debt collection agency, take debt recovery action through the courts or pass the debt to a solicitor. Pure Business Law has experienced debt collection lawyers who can assist you with debt recovery.




Services agreement


What is it? A Service agreement also known as a Service contract or Contract for Services is a written agreement between a service provider and a customer setting out agreed terms for the supply of services. The terms should include details of the services to be provided, location of provision of the services, payment. Limitation of liability clause, tools or materials to be used, termination of the agreement, ownership of intellectual property clause and dispute resolution clauses. Why is it important? A services agreement is required when a business wants to engage another business to supply services. If your business is the service provider, you should use a service contract whenever you are hired by a customer to complete a service. If you are the customer and the service provider does not supply the contract, you can use a Service agreement to ensure that the terms of the service relationship are clear.





Managing licenses


Running an online business


Protecting your IP


Business Relationships


Writing a business plan


Operating as a Sole Trader

Trademark (UK, EU, US, China)


What is it? One of the best ways of protecting your business name, brand and logo from being copied is to register a trademark. A trademark is a distinctive sign eg name, brand, logo or tagline (or a combination of these) used by a business to distinguish its goods and or services from those sold by another business and to identify its business as the source of those goods and services. In the UK, trademarks are granted by the UK Intellectual Property Office (UK IPO) Registering a trademark increases the protection it receives and stops others from using it. You may be able to register a trademark over:

  • words (eg the trademark “Nandos”)
  • pictures and words (eg the Pure Business Law trademark).
  • slogans (eg the Lidl strap line “Big on quality, Lidl on price”)
  • colours (eg the Cadbury Dairy Milk purple as owned by Kraft ).
  • sounds (eg the Match of the Day theme song played when their logo appears at the beginning of football matches) and
  • Logos (eg the Mac OS logo);
  • 3D shapes (eg the Pepsi cola bottle shape)
Why is it important? Registering a name or a logo gives you the following three benefits: Allows you to object if someone else applies to register ay name or logo that is similar to your trademark for the same of similar goods or services. This protection does not cover an application to use the same name or branding for a different type of business. For instance if you register “Fast-Sports” for a trade mark for selling sports cars, no one could register “Fast-Spots” for anything to do with selling cars but they may be able to register it as a trade mark for a dry-cleaning business because that has nothing to do with cars. If another business tries to use the same or similar branding on similar goods or services thereby infringing your trademark you can take legal proceedings to stop them. Your business’s goodwill and reputation have commercial value so registering a trademark is an easy way to protect your hard work and creativity. Registering a trademark gives you the exclusive right to use it for 10 years, after which you must make an application to renew it to the Intellectual Property Office (IPO). Their website is at www.ipo.gov.uk. You can register your trademarks in the UK, the EU and or internationally. All registrations last for 10years and are renewable indefinitely in further 10-year periods. The most suitable registration for your brand will depend on where you do business eg UK, EU or internationally. Risks If you do not register your name, brand or logo as a trademark you will not be able to easily stop other people using your trademark and you may end up allowing other businesses to profit from your hard work.




Patent (Worldwide)


What is it? Protect your invention through a patent. A patent gives you an exclusive right over a novel invention that you have created. It gives you the exclusive right to use and reproduce your invention and stop people copying your invention without your permission. For instance, only Apple can make and sell Apple phones. In the UK, patents are granted by the UK Intellectual Property Office (UK IPO) To have a patent over something you have created, you must register it at the IPO. Patents generally last for up to twenty years. You can only patent a novel invention and cannot patent something that is already in the public domain. This means that your invention must be new (i.e. you cannot patent something which already exists eg a literary work, method of medical treatment, a diagnosis, scientific theory or a discovery) . You also cannot patent something which is already the subject of a patent application pre-dating your application. This means that you must carry out extensive market research examining trade journals and academic papers relevant to your industry market and searching for patents and patent applications on the patent registers worldwide. Obtaining a patent is expensive and time consuming. You should enlist the help of a professional eg lawyer or patent agent before starting an application for a patent. Why is it important?
Should I register my invention as a patent? Yes, you should if you believe that you have created a novel product or process which is so important to your business that you wish to pay a patent application fee to prevent others from using it. Risks Registering your invention as a patent ensures that:

  1. You can prevent others using your product or process if they intend to use it for commercial purposes.
  2. You can profit from your patent by only permitting certain people to use it for commercial purposes and only on condition that they pay you or give you a percentage of the profits they make from using your patent.
Risks If you do not register your invention as a patent, you will not be able to easily stop other people copying your ideas and you may end up allowing other businesses to profit from your hard work. You can use free online databases to search for patents eg Ipsum the UK IPO’s search facility, the Patents Journal (for UK applications that have been filed but not yet published), Espacenet – the European Patents Office’s (EPO’s) free database for worldwide patents including UK patents and Patentscope – the World Intellectual Property Organisation’s (WIPO’s ) free database for worldwide patents including UK patents. Note that these databases may not be up to date. As an alternative you may prefer to use professional search services such as:
  1. The PATLIB (patent library) centre
  2. A Patent attorney through the Chartered Institute of Patent Attorneys at www.cipa.org.uk




IP Assignment Agreement


What is it? An IP assignment agreement transfers rights and ownership in an IP created by one person to someone else or to a business. It can be used to transfer rights in a trademark, patent, logo, designs or any other IP. Why is it important? An IP assignment agreement is important when a business is sold, and the founder created intellectual property before becoming a part of the company or a company employs a someone whether consultant or employee to do some work.




Registering Designs


What is it? Register your design to stop someone else from using it. A design right is a right that you have which can protect your original design from being copied by someone else.There are two different types of design rights – registered and unregistered design rights which can protect the look or appearance of a product from being copied. Why is it important? Design rights can exist in computer icons, logos, graphic designs, packaging and clothing. The rights do not arise by reference to the particular product but rather in the shape or look of either the whole of the product or part of that product. For instance, a registered design right in a motif used on a book will be infringed if someone else uses the same design motif on a duvet cover. In the UK, design registrations are granted by the UK Intellectual Property Office (UK IPO). Risks Even if you do not register your design, it will still be automatically protected as an unregistered design right. However this right is more limited right because it only protects you against unauthorised copying and does not prevent other people creating similar designs independently. For businesses in the UK these unregistered design rights arise automatically in the UK and the EU for some designs under both UK and EU law if the relevant criteria are met. In the UK, unregistered design rights arise as soon as the relevant designs are recorded in some way eg in a drawing and in the UK as soon as they are made available to the public. However, the protection granted differs slightly in each jurisdiction. For instance in the UK unregistered design rights will automatically protect either the shape or configuration of the whole or part of an article for up to 15 years, whereas in the EU unregistered design rights will automatically protect not only the appearance of the whole or part of any industrial or handicraft product resulting from its features but also its lines, shape, texture, contours and materials but only for up to 3 years. You should therefor keep a watching brief and consider whether such a right has arisen as soon as you believe that either you or your employees (in the course of their employment) have created an original design. Brexit The UK and the EU have agreed that there will be an implementation period (ie transition period) from the date the UK left the EU i.e. 31 January 2020 until 31 December 2020 or a later date if the transition period is extended. During this period there will be no changes to unregistered design rights. UK unregistered design rights UK unregistered design rights will continue after the transition period and provide up to 15 years of protection. However, after the transition period the UK Government has advised that only UK residents or businesses incorporated in the UK will be eligible for UK registered designs. EU unregistered design rights From the end of the transition period unregistered design rights in the EU (ie unregistered Community designs) will no longer be valid in the IK. The government has advised that it will immediately replace the unregistered Community design rights with UK unregistered design rights ( to be known as UK continuing unregistered design rights) and which will offer protection in the EU and UK for the rest of the three year terms previously attached to the unregistered Community design right. This means you will continue to be protected in the EU and UK for unregistered Community designs that existed before the end of the transition period. If you are concerned about how to protect your unregistered design rights in the UK and EU after the transition period please contact our IP lawyers for further advice on 01234 938089.




Non-Disclosure Agreement (NDA)/Letter of confidentiality


What is it? This agreement protects confidential information belonging to your business including IP and other information which you do not want to be made public. Why is it important? It is important to have an NDA in place before sharing any confidential or sensitive information in business meetings with people with whom you intend to do business eg investors, prospective co-founders, suppliers, consultants and the like. A letter of confidentiality is similar to a non-disclosure agreement. The party disclosing confidential information imposes restrictions as to the use of this confidential information to the party receiving it. Risks If you do not have the required safeguards in place to protect your intellectual property during business meetings or negotiations you may have your designs, inventions or work stolen or copied by the person with whom you are negotiating. This could be disastrous for your business.




one-way confidentiality agreement


What is it? A one-way Confidentiality agreement is similar to a non-disclosure agreement but imposes restrictions as to the use of this confidential information only on one party.




Assignment of intellectual property


What is it? An IP assignment agreement transfers rights and ownership in an IP created by one-person eg trademark, patent, logo, designs or any other IP to someone else or to a business. Why is it important? An IP assignment agreement is important when a business is sold, and the founder created intellectual property before becoming a part of the company or a company employs a someone whether consultant or employee to do some work. If you assign IP rights to another business, you are transferring ownership of the IP. It is more common to licence intellectual property rights than to assign them in business. Licensing allows a third party to have rights over the IP and do certain acts with the IP that they would not otherwise have been able to do but you keep ownership of the IP. You can limit the licence to a certain area eg the UK, Middle East, Africa etc or to a certain period of time eg 1 year, 2 years etc. Risks If for example you assign your IP to a business and it fails, you would have lost your IP. If on the other hand you licence your IP to another business, you are in ultimate control and can stipulate how the IP should be used and when it has to be returned. You can also stipulate that the IP be returned to you if the business goes into liquidation or on the happening of certain events.




Copyright


What is it? Copyright is the exclusive right to use and reproduce in public any material you have created if it falls into one of the following categories: i) Written work such as books, plays film scripts, web content, articles, essays, professional opinions, tables, compilations and databases; ii)Artistic works such as paintings, drawings, photos, maps, charts, plan, diagrams etc; iii)sound recordings; iv)Films, music and broadcasts; or v) computer programs. Why is it important? Copyright arises automatically when you create the work so there is no need to register copyright to own a work that you have created. You should be wary of any person that asks you to pay them to register your copyright in a work that you have created as it will be a scam. Businesses as well as individuals can own copyright. Copyright usually lasts for 70 years. You can buy someone’s copyright via a document called a Deed of assignment or give them a licence to use your copyright. As a general rule if an employee creates a work in the course of their employment their employer (ie the business ) will own the work. However, if the work in question is not part of the agreed duties of the employee the employee will own the work. To ensure that copyright work created by employees is owned by the business you should include appropriate intellectual property clauses in your employment contracts. Risks If you commission a piece of work from a freelancer the copyright in the work will belong to the freelancer unless the parties have agreed otherwise. It is important to ensure that the position on ownership of the copyright in writing before work starts to ensure that the business owns the copyright in the work produced by the freelancer.





Ending or Assigning an Existing Agreement

Trademark (UK, EU, US, China)


What is it? One of the best ways of protecting your business name, brand and logo from being copied is to register a trademark. A trademark is a distinctive sign eg name, brand, logo or tagline (or a combination of these) used by a business to distinguish its goods and or services from those sold by another business and to identify its business as the source of those goods and services. In the UK, trademarks are granted by the UK Intellectual Property Office (UK IPO) Registering a trademark increases the protection it receives and stops others from using it. You may be able to register a trademark over:

  • words (eg the trademark “Nandos”)
  • pictures and words (eg the Pure Business Law trademark).
  • slogans (eg the Lidl strap line “Big on quality, Lidl on price”)
  • colours (eg the Cadbury Dairy Milk purple as owned by Kraft ).
  • sounds (eg the Match of the Day theme song played when their logo appears at the beginning of football matches) and
  • Logos (eg the Mac OS logo);
  • 3D shapes (eg the Pepsi cola bottle shape)
Why is it important? Registering a name or a logo gives you the following three benefits: Allows you to object if someone else applies to register ay name or logo that is similar to your trademark for the same of similar goods or services. This protection does not cover an application to use the same name or branding for a different type of business. For instance if you register “Fast-Sports” for a trade mark for selling sports cars, no one could register “Fast-Spots” for anything to do with selling cars but they may be able to register it as a trade mark for a dry-cleaning business because that has nothing to do with cars. If another business tries to use the same or similar branding on similar goods or services thereby infringing your trademark you can take legal proceedings to stop them. Your business’s goodwill and reputation have commercial value so registering a trademark is an easy way to protect your hard work and creativity. Registering a trademark gives you the exclusive right to use it for 10 years, after which you must make an application to renew it to the Intellectual Property Office (IPO). Their website is at www.ipo.gov.uk. You can register your trademarks in the UK, the EU and or internationally. All registrations last for 10years and are renewable indefinitely in further 10-year periods. The most suitable registration for your brand will depend on where you do business eg UK, EU or internationally. Risks If you do not register your name, brand or logo as a trademark you will not be able to easily stop other people using your trademark and you may end up allowing other businesses to profit from your hard work.




Patent (Worldwide)


What is it? Protect your invention through a patent. A patent gives you an exclusive right over a novel invention that you have created. It gives you the exclusive right to use and reproduce your invention and stop people copying your invention without your permission. For instance, only Apple can make and sell Apple phones. In the UK, patents are granted by the UK Intellectual Property Office (UK IPO) To have a patent over something you have created, you must register it at the IPO. Patents generally last for up to twenty years. You can only patent a novel invention and cannot patent something that is already in the public domain. This means that your invention must be new (i.e. you cannot patent something which already exists eg a literary work, method of medical treatment, a diagnosis, scientific theory or a discovery) . You also cannot patent something which is already the subject of a patent application pre-dating your application. This means that you must carry out extensive market research examining trade journals and academic papers relevant to your industry market and searching for patents and patent applications on the patent registers worldwide. Obtaining a patent is expensive and time consuming. You should enlist the help of a professional eg lawyer or patent agent before starting an application for a patent. Why is it important?
Should I register my invention as a patent? Yes, you should if you believe that you have created a novel product or process which is so important to your business that you wish to pay a patent application fee to prevent others from using it. Risks Registering your invention as a patent ensures that:

  1. You can prevent others using your product or process if they intend to use it for commercial purposes.
  2. You can profit from your patent by only permitting certain people to use it for commercial purposes and only on condition that they pay you or give you a percentage of the profits they make from using your patent.
Risks If you do not register your invention as a patent, you will not be able to easily stop other people copying your ideas and you may end up allowing other businesses to profit from your hard work. You can use free online databases to search for patents eg Ipsum the UK IPO’s search facility, the Patents Journal (for UK applications that have been filed but not yet published), Espacenet – the European Patents Office’s (EPO’s) free database for worldwide patents including UK patents and Patentscope – the World Intellectual Property Organisation’s (WIPO’s ) free database for worldwide patents including UK patents. Note that these databases may not be up to date. As an alternative you may prefer to use professional search services such as:
  1. The PATLIB (patent library) centre
  2. A Patent attorney through the Chartered Institute of Patent Attorneys at www.cipa.org.uk




IP Assignment Agreement


What is it? An IP assignment agreement transfers rights and ownership in an IP created by one person to someone else or to a business. It can be used to transfer rights in a trademark, patent, logo, designs or any other IP. Why is it important? An IP assignment agreement is important when a business is sold, and the founder created intellectual property before becoming a part of the company or a company employs a someone whether consultant or employee to do some work.




Registering Designs


What is it? Register your design to stop someone else from using it. A design right is a right that you have which can protect your original design from being copied by someone else.There are two different types of design rights – registered and unregistered design rights which can protect the look or appearance of a product from being copied. Why is it important? Design rights can exist in computer icons, logos, graphic designs, packaging and clothing. The rights do not arise by reference to the particular product but rather in the shape or look of either the whole of the product or part of that product. For instance, a registered design right in a motif used on a book will be infringed if someone else uses the same design motif on a duvet cover. In the UK, design registrations are granted by the UK Intellectual Property Office (UK IPO). Risks Even if you do not register your design, it will still be automatically protected as an unregistered design right. However this right is more limited right because it only protects you against unauthorised copying and does not prevent other people creating similar designs independently. For businesses in the UK these unregistered design rights arise automatically in the UK and the EU for some designs under both UK and EU law if the relevant criteria are met. In the UK, unregistered design rights arise as soon as the relevant designs are recorded in some way eg in a drawing and in the UK as soon as they are made available to the public. However, the protection granted differs slightly in each jurisdiction. For instance in the UK unregistered design rights will automatically protect either the shape or configuration of the whole or part of an article for up to 15 years, whereas in the EU unregistered design rights will automatically protect not only the appearance of the whole or part of any industrial or handicraft product resulting from its features but also its lines, shape, texture, contours and materials but only for up to 3 years. You should therefor keep a watching brief and consider whether such a right has arisen as soon as you believe that either you or your employees (in the course of their employment) have created an original design. Brexit The UK and the EU have agreed that there will be an implementation period (ie transition period) from the date the UK left the EU i.e. 31 January 2020 until 31 December 2020 or a later date if the transition period is extended. During this period there will be no changes to unregistered design rights. UK unregistered design rights UK unregistered design rights will continue after the transition period and provide up to 15 years of protection. However, after the transition period the UK Government has advised that only UK residents or businesses incorporated in the UK will be eligible for UK registered designs. EU unregistered design rights From the end of the transition period unregistered design rights in the EU (ie unregistered Community designs) will no longer be valid in the IK. The government has advised that it will immediately replace the unregistered Community design rights with UK unregistered design rights ( to be known as UK continuing unregistered design rights) and which will offer protection in the EU and UK for the rest of the three year terms previously attached to the unregistered Community design right. This means you will continue to be protected in the EU and UK for unregistered Community designs that existed before the end of the transition period. If you are concerned about how to protect your unregistered design rights in the UK and EU after the transition period please contact our IP lawyers for further advice on 01234 938089.




Non-Disclosure Agreement (NDA)/Letter of confidentiality


What is it? This agreement protects confidential information belonging to your business including IP and other information which you do not want to be made public. Why is it important? It is important to have an NDA in place before sharing any confidential or sensitive information in business meetings with people with whom you intend to do business eg investors, prospective co-founders, suppliers, consultants and the like. A letter of confidentiality is similar to a non-disclosure agreement. The party disclosing confidential information imposes restrictions as to the use of this confidential information to the party receiving it. Risks If you do not have the required safeguards in place to protect your intellectual property during business meetings or negotiations you may have your designs, inventions or work stolen or copied by the person with whom you are negotiating. This could be disastrous for your business.




one-way confidentiality agreement


What is it? A one-way Confidentiality agreement is similar to a non-disclosure agreement but imposes restrictions as to the use of this confidential information only on one party.




Assignment of intellectual property


What is it? An IP assignment agreement transfers rights and ownership in an IP created by one-person eg trademark, patent, logo, designs or any other IP to someone else or to a business. Why is it important? An IP assignment agreement is important when a business is sold, and the founder created intellectual property before becoming a part of the company or a company employs a someone whether consultant or employee to do some work. If you assign IP rights to another business, you are transferring ownership of the IP. It is more common to licence intellectual property rights than to assign them in business. Licensing allows a third party to have rights over the IP and do certain acts with the IP that they would not otherwise have been able to do but you keep ownership of the IP. You can limit the licence to a certain area eg the UK, Middle East, Africa etc or to a certain period of time eg 1 year, 2 years etc. Risks If for example you assign your IP to a business and it fails, you would have lost your IP. If on the other hand you licence your IP to another business, you are in ultimate control and can stipulate how the IP should be used and when it has to be returned. You can also stipulate that the IP be returned to you if the business goes into liquidation or on the happening of certain events.




Copyright


What is it? Copyright is the exclusive right to use and reproduce in public any material you have created if it falls into one of the following categories: i) Written work such as books, plays film scripts, web content, articles, essays, professional opinions, tables, compilations and databases; ii)Artistic works such as paintings, drawings, photos, maps, charts, plan, diagrams etc; iii)sound recordings; iv)Films, music and broadcasts; or v) computer programs. Why is it important? Copyright arises automatically when you create the work so there is no need to register copyright to own a work that you have created. You should be wary of any person that asks you to pay them to register your copyright in a work that you have created as it will be a scam. Businesses as well as individuals can own copyright. Copyright usually lasts for 70 years. You can buy someone’s copyright via a document called a Deed of assignment or give them a licence to use your copyright. As a general rule if an employee creates a work in the course of their employment their employer (ie the business ) will own the work. However, if the work in question is not part of the agreed duties of the employee the employee will own the work. To ensure that copyright work created by employees is owned by the business you should include appropriate intellectual property clauses in your employment contracts. Risks If you commission a piece of work from a freelancer the copyright in the work will belong to the freelancer unless the parties have agreed otherwise. It is important to ensure that the position on ownership of the copyright in writing before work starts to ensure that the business owns the copyright in the work produced by the freelancer.





Health & Safety

Software Development Agreement


What is it? Software is intellectual property. A software development agreement is an agreement between a business or an individual and a developer by which the individual or business hires the developer to create and deliver a specific piece of software. Why is it important? This agreement is important as it clarifies the relationship between the developer and the hirer or employer. Risks When you engage a software developer if you want the software created to belong to your company or to you, you must ensure that you agree and insert an ownership clause in the agreement. If there is no ownership clause the software created by the developer will automatically belong to the developer even if your company has spent millions of pounds developing the software.




Freelancer Agreement


What is it? You may use a self-employed freelancer to do a specific task eg work on a project, design your website or do your marketing for a specific period.The standard contract used to hire a freelancer is a consultancy agreement. This agreement clarifies the basic terms of your relationship with the freelancer eg the work to be done, fees payable and other terms of the agreement eg a non-solicitation clause, confidentiality clause, data protection, ownership of any intellectual property created by the freelancer, indemnification clause for any losses you incur due to the freelancer’s breaches of third party intellectual property. Etc. A company consultancy agreement is used to hire a freelancer who operates through their own limited company. An individual consultancy agreement is used to hire a freelancer directly. Why is it important? More specialist freelancers may want you to sign up to their own bespoke terms and conditions when you instruct them. If that is the case you must ensure that you check all the clauses carefully to ensure that they do not conflict with your requirements and that you are happy with the terms eg consultant to be liable for breaches of your Intellectual property and third party intellectual property, confidentiality, fee payable, data protection, indemnification clause etc. Risks You should also ensure that you are aware of the IR35 tax rules. If a freelancer is providing services to you through a company your arrangement may be subject to the IR35 tax rules. This means that the freelancer may have to pay tax and national insurance as if they were employed by you. HMRC has a useful tool at www.gov.uk to enable businesses check employment status for tax purposes. From April 2020 if you are a medium or large business the responsibility for determining whether the IR35 tax rules applies to the consultancy and for payment of the income tax and national insurance on behalf of the freelancer lies with the company to whom the freelancer provides the services. If you are a “small business” (i.e. a business which satisfies two or more of the following requirements – i) a turnover of £10.2 million or less, ii) no more than 50 staff and iii) a balance sheet f no more than £5.1million the responsibility for determining whether the IR35 tax rules apply and for payment of the tax and national insurance lies with the freelancer.




Internship Agreement


What is it? An intern may be a volunteer, a worker or an employee. An internship agreement is an agreement between an intern and an employer where the intern agrees to provide their services in exchange for training provided by the employer or business with no expectation that the internship will result in employment with the business. Why is it important? If your intern will just be shadowing staff and will be unpaid you won’t need a contract but it is good practice to send your intern a letter confirming the agreement terms. If you want your intern to work for your business rather than just shadow staff your intern will either be an employee or a casual worker. Risks You must have a proper contract for their status and treat them accordingly. If your intern is an employee or a casual work you must pay them the national minimum wage(NMW). If you do not pay them the NMW you are at risk of HMRC prosecuting you or the intern suing you in court.




Staff Handbook


What is it? A Staff handbook is an important living document for your employees that sets out your company’s operational policies, values and culture for current and future employees. There is no legal obligation to have a staff handbook, however as there are certain policies that you must give your employees by law (eg disciplinary and grievance policies and health and safety policies) it is best practice to start a handbook when you hire your first employee as it sets expectations for what behaviour is acceptable and desirable across your business and can protect you legally. Why is it important? A staff handbook can be contractual or non-contractual(i.e. binding or non-binding). It is best practice to make it non-contractual so that you can change it at your discretion without having to consult staff. Make sure you keep your handbook updated to reflect the law and ensure that the issue date is clearly shown on the handbook. Risks If you do not have a staff handbook and you are in dispute or engaged in legal proceedings with an employee it will be more difficult to verify your policies and procedures.




Job description


What is it? A job description sets out the scope of the role (i.e. duties and responsibilities), any skills, experience and qualifications required, the ethos and culture of your business, salary and other staff benefits. It is important as it helps you clarify what you are looking for and will also help candidates determine whether they have the skills and experience for the role. Why is it important? Always review your job description before every recruitment exercise to ensure it accurately describes the job in question. Failing to do so may dissuade suitable candidates from applying or encourage unsuitable candidates to apply. Risks It is essential that you avoid using discriminatory words in your job description eg “bright, energetic, young man” or “ an Italian” person when you actually require someone who speaks Italian as these would indicate a preference based on gender, disability, age and ethnicity.




Job offer letter


What is it? You should always confirm a job offer in writing and ask the candidate to confirm their acceptance of the offer. Why is it important? A job offer letter is a letter offering employment after an interview and summarising the basic terms of employment (if you are providing the employment contract with the offer letter) or summarising the main employment terms (if you will not be providing the employment contract until a later date) Risks Always ensure that the offer letter specifies the conditions to which the offer is subject eg “subject to satisfactory references” and that you retain a signed copy of the offer letter and contract in the staff member’s personnel records.




Non-executive director letter of appointment


What is it? This is a formal letter appointing a person as a non-executive director of a company. It sets out the key terms of the appointment and the director’s duties and responsibilities. Why is it important? As a director is more likely to be exposed to confidential information and have more responsibility this contract will include clauses which help to protect the business’s interests eg garden leave, confidentiality, non-solicitation clauses and restrictive covenants.




Senior employment contract


What is it? This is a more complex contract of employment between a senior employee or director/executive and an employer . It sets out the employment terms and conditions of employment and the standard areas of the employment. Why is it important? As a senior executive is more likely to be exposed to confidential information and have more responsibility this contract will include clauses which help to protect the business’s interests eg garden leave, confidentiality, non-solicitation clauses and restrictive covenants and ensure any intellectual property created by the employee belongs to the business.




Zero hours contract


What is it? This is a casual agreement between an individual and a business where the worker works “as and when” the employer needs the labour. There is no guarantee of any set hours and the worker is not obliged to work the hours offered. Why is it important? A zero-hours contract should be used where the business simply wishes to hire a worker on a casual basis and would benefit from not having to give the worker a guaranteed number of hours and days of work. This contract is useful for seasonal work or special events eg in the agriculture business, hospitality and catering business; when a business is entering a new market and is unsure of how many staff members it will need; in cases of unexpected absence from work eg to provide cover where there is sudden sickness or absence from work etc. They are often used in the healthcare, agriculture, hotels, restaurants and education sectors. In the UK workers operating under zero-hours contracts are entitled to rest breaks, annual leave, sick pay and protection from discrimination and must be paid the national minimum wage for hours worked. Risks Zero-hours contracts are controversial due to the uncertainty of the work and the fact there is no guaranteed employment. They do however serve a purpose by providing a flexible labour market and a route into more permanent employment. You should ensure that your zero-hours contract clearly sets out your employee’s employee status, rights and obligations.




Consultancy agreement


What is it? A consultancy agreement is a contract between a self-employed person (Consultant) and a customer requiring the consultant’s services.It is similar to the standard contract used to hire a freelancer. Why is it important? This agreement clarifies the basic terms of your relationship with the freelancer eg the work to be done, fees payable and other terms of the agreement eg a non-solicitation clause, confidentiality clause, data protection, ownership of any intellectual property created by the freelancer, indemnification clause for any losses you incur due to the freelancer’s breaches of third party intellectual property. Etc. More specialist freelancers may want you to sign up to their own bespoke terms and conditions when you instruct them. If that is the case you must ensure that you check all the clauses carefully to ensure that they do not conflict with your requirements and that you are happy with the terms eg consultant to be liable for breaches of your Intellectual property and third party intellectual property, confidentiality, fee payable, data protection, indemnification clause etc. Risks You should also ensure that you are aware of the IR35 tax rules. If a freelancer is providing services to you through a company your arrangement may be subject to the IR35 tax rules. This means that the freelancer may have to pay tax and national insurance as if they were employed by you. HMRC has a useful tool at www.gov.uk to enable businesses check employment status for tax purposes. From April 2020 if you are a medium or large business the responsibility for determining whether the IR35 tax rules applies to the consultancy and for payment of the income tax and national insurance on behalf of the freelancer lies with the company to whom the freelancer provides the services. If you are a “small business” (i.e. a business which satisfies two or more of the following requirements – i) a turnover of £10.2 million or less, ii) no more than 50 staff and iii) a balance sheet f no more than £5.1million the responsibility for determining whether the IR35 tax rules apply and for payment of the tax and national insurance lies with the freelancer.




Employment contract


What is it? An employment contract is an agreement between the employer and employee setting out the rights and duties of the employer and employee. An employment agreement is vital as it forms the legal relationship between the employer and the employee. Why is it important? If you have employees, you are legally obliged to provide them with a written statement of their basic terms of employment in writing no later than two months after they start work. From 6 April 2020 this obligation will extend to casual workers and all new employees must be provided with this written statement and additional information on or before the staff member’s first day of work. Risks If things go wrong an employment agreement will clarify the legal relationship between the employer and employee and will help the court or tribunal in providing a solution in the event of a dispute between the employer and employee. Think of an employment contract as your passport to nurturing good employment relations with your staff and running a good, progressive business. If your employee will be part-time do note that part-time staff and fixed term staff (temporary employees) must be treated equally with full-time staff. This means that a part-time or temporary employee on the same role must get the same pay or benefits as a comparable full-time member of staff pro-rated for the length of time they will be with you. Comparable employees are those doing the same or broadly similar work at the same place of work or at a different location.




Change to employment terms letter


What is it?

As an employer sometimes you may have business reasons that means you need to change your employees terms and conditions of employment (eg basic rate, overtime, bonus, working location, duties and responsibilities, hours/days of work, holiday or sick pay entitlement). This is called a “variation” of the contracts of employment.

Why is it important?

You can only do this if (a) you have a provision in the contract that allows the change. This clause is usually called a “flexibility clause” and may be in your contract or Company Handbook. (b) the employees agree the change or (c) the employees representative eg a Trade Union agrees the change.

Risks

You must have sound business reasons for making any change and follow a fair consultation procedure with your employees before you introduce the changes. If the employees do not agree the change and you believe that it is a reasonable change you can force a new contract on your employees. However, this should be used only as a last resort as it could lead to an employee raising a grievance and ultimately a claim to an Employment Tribunal. Once the change has been agreed you should ensure that each employee signs the new contract to confirm the employee has accepted the change and that you keep a copy.

Please contact our employment solicitors if you are thinking of making a change to your employment contracts.




Working time directive opt out letter


What is it? The Working Time Directive prevents employees from being forced to work more than 48 hours per week unless they freely agree to opt out of the directive. To opt out of the 48 hours limit your employees can sign an “Opt-out of the Working Time Directive Agreement”. Why is it important? This is an agreement between an employer and a worker or employee for the purposes of the Working Time Regulations 1998 whereby the employee or worker agrees to opt-out of the maximum weekly working time limit of 48 hours for a period or indefinitely. Such agreements are usually signed by doctors, police officers a, long-haulage truck drivers and others whose jobs necessitate long working hours. Risks You cannot sack or treat your employee unfairly if they refused to opt out.




Probation letter


What is it? A probation letter is a letter by which an employer informs an employee that their probation period has finished and tells them the outcome of the probation. The outcome may be threefold: (a) that the employee has successfully completed their probationary period and their employment will continue OR (b) the employee’s probation will be extended as the employee’s performance needs to improve OR (c) the employee’s employment is being terminated as the employee has not met the company’s performance requirements. Our employment solicitors can provided you with a suite of sample employment probation letters to use as a guide. Employers should adapt the content to suit their requirements and or contact us for further advice if required.




Flexible working request


What is it? An employee can make a “flexible working request” to their employer if they want to work part-time instead of full-time, change their start and finishing times, work compressed hours(i.e. do their standard hours over fewer days), job-share or do “flexi-time”. Flexitime is where an employee is granted permission to be flexible with their start and finish times. Why is it important? The law provides that an employee has the right to make a flexible working request if (a) the employee has worked for their employer for at least 26 weeks (b) the member of staff is legally classed as an employee and (c) the employee has not made any other flexible working request in the last 12 months. By law, if the employee has the right to make the request the employer is obliged to look at the request fairly in accordance with the Acas Code of Practice on flexible working requests and, make a decision within 3 months.




Grievance letter


What is it?

A grievance is a concern, problem or complaint raised by an employee in the workplace about their work, their manager, other staff member or the workplace. It could be about the employee’s pay and benefits, work conditions, workload, bullying or harassment. There is no legally binding process that an employer must follow when handling a grievance at work. However, it is best practice as an employer to have a grievance procedure.

Why is it important?

A grievance procedure is one of the ways to resolve a problem at work. This procedure can be set out in the employment contract, company handbook, HR intranet site or in your Human Resources manual.

Risks

If you do not have a grievance procedure you should ensure that you follow the Acas Code of Practice on Disciplinary and Grievance procedures if an employee comes to you with a grievance.

When an employee raises a workplace grievance you must take them seriously. Whether or not the grievance is valid you must investigate the grievance as it could be having a negative effect on the staff concerned and may lead to disgruntled staff and loss of valuable staff. Having an informal chat when an employee comes to you with an issue may be all that is needed. If the chat does not resolve the problem, you must investigate the problem .An employee should not be dismissed or treated unfairly for raising a genuine grievance.

An employee who is disadvantaged or dismissed for raising a grievance can raise a claim in the Employment Tribunal for unfair dismissal or automatic unfair dismissal. An employee would usually be expected to lodge a grievance before claiming constructive dismissal otherwise any damages awarded the employee at the Employment Tribunal could be reduced.

Avoid grievances in your workplace by contacting Pure Business law, your expert employment lawyers.





Managing licenses


Running an online business


Protecting your IP


Business Relationships


Writing a business plan


 
 
 
 

Planning & Highways

Invitation letter to a disciplinary appeal hearing for misconduct


What is it?

Make sure you do things right when you discipline an employee. Our employment solicitors can provide you with a disciplinary hearing letter/notice to be sent to the employee which sets out in clear and simple terms the disciplinary allegations, process to be followed, the employee's rights and potential sanctions.

Why is it important?

If you are formally disciplining an employee for misconduct, this letter ensures that you are complying with the unfair dismissal laws. It also meets the requirements of the statutory ACAS Code of Practice on Disciplinary and Grievance Procedures. It is always best practice to give the employee a right to appeal any misconduct decision. The letter should tell the employee they must appeal in writing with their grounds of appeal. If you accept an appeal by the employee, you should respond with a letter inviting the employee to an appeal hearing for misconduct.

Risks

Non-compliance with the ACAS Code of Practice on Disciplinary and Grievance Procedures will be taken into account by an employment tribunal when deciding whether an employee has been treated fairly and can also result in the tribunal increasing the amount of compensation awarded your employee if the case went to court.




Invitation letter to an appeal hearing for misconduct


What is it?

The right to appeal against the outcome of disciplinary action is an important element of a fair disciplinary process. Where an employee appeals against a disciplinary sanction, the employer should invite them to a disciplinary appeal hearing.

Why is it important?

The ACAS Code of Practice on Disciplinary and Grievance Procedures states that the employee should be given the right to appeal against any disciplinary sanction or decision.Our employment solicitors can provide you with an invitation letter to an appeal hearing that helps ensure that your processes are watertight. The invitation should include information about the employee's right to be accompanied at the appeal hearing.

Risks

Non-compliance with the ACAS Code of Practice on Disciplinary and Grievance Procedures will be taken into account by an employment tribunal when deciding whether an employee has been treated fairly and can also result in the tribunal increasing the amount of compensation awarded if the case went to court.




Disciplinary outcome letter for misconduct - warning or no action


What is it?

This is a letter that can be used to inform the employee of the outcome of the disciplinary meeting when the outcome is a warning or that no further action is to be taken by the employer.




Invitation letter to a performance appeal hearing


What is it?

This is a letter that should be used to invite an employee to a performance appeal hearing.




Invitation letter to a performance appraisal


What is it?

An appraisal is a formal process that allows you and a member of staff to assess the staff member’s performance over a period of time eg on a 6 month or 12 month basis. A detailed appraisal has a number of benefits for you and your employees.

Why is it important?

For example, it gives you the opportunity to:

1. review and provide feedback on their performance and set objectives to maximise performance.

2. It also gives the employee the opportunity to comment on their performance, suggest improvements and bring any problems to your attention.

3. It can therefore assist in motivating employees, resolution of problems and the prevention of legal disputes.

Our employment solicitors can provide you with an invitation to attend an appraisal meeting letter tailored to your specific requirements. This letter sets the date for the meeting, who will conduct the meeting and whether the member of staff needs to bring any particular documents or information to the meeting.

Contact our employment law solicitors on 01234 938089.




Poor performance outcome letter - warning or no action


What is it?

This is a letter that can be used to inform the employee of the outcome of the poor performance meeting when the outcome is a warning or no further action is to be taken.




Disciplinary procedure


What is it?

A disciplinary procedure is a formal way for an employer to deal with an employee’s unacceptable or improper behaviour (‘misconduct’) or performance (‘capability’).

Why is it important?

You should put your disciplinary procedure in writing and make it easily available to all staff. IIt should say what performance and behaviour might lead to disciplinary action and what action your employer might take.

It should also include the name of someone you can speak to if you do not agree with your employer’s disciplinary decision.

Disciplinary steps : Your disciplinary procedure should include the following steps:

  1. A letter setting out the issue.

  2. A meeting to discuss the issue.

  3. A disciplinary decision.

  4. A chance to appeal this decision.

Risks

Before starting a disciplinary procedure against a member of staff , you should first see whether the problem can be resolved in an informal way. This can often be the quickest and easiest solution.

If you need help in resolving an employment matter or dispute, please contact our employment solicitors on 01234 938089. We can provide you with advice on a fixed fee basis.




Suspension Letter


What is it? This is a letter that can be used to inform the employee that the employee will be suspended pending investigation of the disciplinary allegations.




Dismissal letter for misconduct


What is it? This Dismissal Letter should be used to inform the employee of the outcome of the disciplinary meeting when that outcome is dismissal on the grounds of misconduct falling short of Gross Misconduct. Why is it important? To comply with the ACAS Code of Practice on Disciplinary and Grievance Procedures the employee should be given the right to appeal against any disciplinary sanction or decision.




Dismissal letter for poor performance


What is it? This Dismissal Letter should be used to inform the employee of the outcome of the disciplinary meeting when that outcome is dismissal for poor performance. Why is it important? To comply with the ACAS Code of Practice on Disciplinary and Grievance Procedures the employee should be given the right to appeal against any disciplinary sanction or decision.




Gross misconduct dismissal letter


What is it? This Gross Misconduct Notice of Dismissal Letter should be used to inform the employee of the outcome of the disciplinary meeting when that outcome is dismissal on the ground of gross misconduct. An employee can be dismissed “on the spot” for gross misconduct eg fighting at work. Why is it important? However it is best practice to follow up a gross misconduct “on the spot dismissal” with a letter fully explaining the dismissal and the reasons for the dismissal. Risks To comply with the ACAS Code of Practice on Disciplinary and Grievance Procedures the employee should be given the right to appeal against any disciplinary sanction or decision.




Dismissal letter for employees without unfair dismissal rights


What is it? This Dismissal Letter should be used to inform the employee of their dismissal when they have under two years’ service with the employer. Why is it important? It is best practice to put an employee on a performance improvement plan(PIP) first before dismissing them irrespective of their length of service. This letter can be used where an employee is dismissed either with or without having been put on a performance improvement plan. In all cases, the employer should adopt a professional and respectful tone when communicating with the soon-to-be dismissed employee. Risks To comply with the ACAS Code of Practice on Disciplinary and Grievance Procedures the employee should be given the right to appeal against any disciplinary sanction or decision.




Appeal letter


What is it?

This is a letter from an employee against whom a disciplinary sanction has been imposed appealing against the dismissal.

If you need help in resolving an employment matter or dispute, please contact our employment solicitors on 01234 938089. We can provide you with advice on a fixed fee basis.





 

Managing employee performance

Invitation letter to a disciplinary appeal hearing for misconduct


What is it?

Make sure you do things right when you discipline an employee. Our employment solicitors can provide you with a disciplinary hearing letter/notice to be sent to the employee which sets out in clear and simple terms the disciplinary allegations, process to be followed, the employee's rights and potential sanctions.

Why is it important?

If you are formally disciplining an employee for misconduct, this letter ensures that you are complying with the unfair dismissal laws. It also meets the requirements of the statutory ACAS Code of Practice on Disciplinary and Grievance Procedures. It is always best practice to give the employee a right to appeal any misconduct decision. The letter should tell the employee they must appeal in writing with their grounds of appeal. If you accept an appeal by the employee, you should respond with a letter inviting the employee to an appeal hearing for misconduct.

Risks

Non-compliance with the ACAS Code of Practice on Disciplinary and Grievance Procedures will be taken into account by an employment tribunal when deciding whether an employee has been treated fairly and can also result in the tribunal increasing the amount of compensation awarded your employee if the case went to court.




Invitation letter to an appeal hearing for misconduct


What is it?

The right to appeal against the outcome of disciplinary action is an important element of a fair disciplinary process. Where an employee appeals against a disciplinary sanction, the employer should invite them to a disciplinary appeal hearing.

Why is it important?

The ACAS Code of Practice on Disciplinary and Grievance Procedures states that the employee should be given the right to appeal against any disciplinary sanction or decision.Our employment solicitors can provide you with an invitation letter to an appeal hearing that helps ensure that your processes are watertight. The invitation should include information about the employee's right to be accompanied at the appeal hearing.

Risks

Non-compliance with the ACAS Code of Practice on Disciplinary and Grievance Procedures will be taken into account by an employment tribunal when deciding whether an employee has been treated fairly and can also result in the tribunal increasing the amount of compensation awarded if the case went to court.




Disciplinary outcome letter for misconduct - warning or no action


What is it?

This is a letter that can be used to inform the employee of the outcome of the disciplinary meeting when the outcome is a warning or that no further action is to be taken by the employer.




Invitation letter to a performance appeal hearing


What is it?

This is a letter that should be used to invite an employee to a performance appeal hearing.




Invitation letter to a performance appraisal


What is it?

An appraisal is a formal process that allows you and a member of staff to assess the staff member’s performance over a period of time eg on a 6 month or 12 month basis. A detailed appraisal has a number of benefits for you and your employees.

Why is it important?

For example, it gives you the opportunity to:

1. review and provide feedback on their performance and set objectives to maximise performance.

2. It also gives the employee the opportunity to comment on their performance, suggest improvements and bring any problems to your attention.

3. It can therefore assist in motivating employees, resolution of problems and the prevention of legal disputes.

Our employment solicitors can provide you with an invitation to attend an appraisal meeting letter tailored to your specific requirements. This letter sets the date for the meeting, who will conduct the meeting and whether the member of staff needs to bring any particular documents or information to the meeting.

Contact our employment law solicitors on 01234 938089.




Poor performance outcome letter - warning or no action


What is it?

This is a letter that can be used to inform the employee of the outcome of the poor performance meeting when the outcome is a warning or no further action is to be taken.




Disciplinary procedure


What is it?

A disciplinary procedure is a formal way for an employer to deal with an employee’s unacceptable or improper behaviour (‘misconduct’) or performance (‘capability’).

Why is it important?

You should put your disciplinary procedure in writing and make it easily available to all staff. IIt should say what performance and behaviour might lead to disciplinary action and what action your employer might take.

It should also include the name of someone you can speak to if you do not agree with your employer’s disciplinary decision.

Disciplinary steps : Your disciplinary procedure should include the following steps:

  1. A letter setting out the issue.

  2. A meeting to discuss the issue.

  3. A disciplinary decision.

  4. A chance to appeal this decision.

Risks

Before starting a disciplinary procedure against a member of staff , you should first see whether the problem can be resolved in an informal way. This can often be the quickest and easiest solution.

If you need help in resolving an employment matter or dispute, please contact our employment solicitors on 01234 938089. We can provide you with advice on a fixed fee basis.




Suspension Letter


What is it? This is a letter that can be used to inform the employee that the employee will be suspended pending investigation of the disciplinary allegations.




Dismissal letter for misconduct


What is it? This Dismissal Letter should be used to inform the employee of the outcome of the disciplinary meeting when that outcome is dismissal on the grounds of misconduct falling short of Gross Misconduct. Why is it important? To comply with the ACAS Code of Practice on Disciplinary and Grievance Procedures the employee should be given the right to appeal against any disciplinary sanction or decision.




Dismissal letter for poor performance


What is it? This Dismissal Letter should be used to inform the employee of the outcome of the disciplinary meeting when that outcome is dismissal for poor performance. Why is it important? To comply with the ACAS Code of Practice on Disciplinary and Grievance Procedures the employee should be given the right to appeal against any disciplinary sanction or decision.




Gross misconduct dismissal letter


What is it? This Gross Misconduct Notice of Dismissal Letter should be used to inform the employee of the outcome of the disciplinary meeting when that outcome is dismissal on the ground of gross misconduct. An employee can be dismissed “on the spot” for gross misconduct eg fighting at work. Why is it important? However it is best practice to follow up a gross misconduct “on the spot dismissal” with a letter fully explaining the dismissal and the reasons for the dismissal. Risks To comply with the ACAS Code of Practice on Disciplinary and Grievance Procedures the employee should be given the right to appeal against any disciplinary sanction or decision.




Dismissal letter for employees without unfair dismissal rights


What is it? This Dismissal Letter should be used to inform the employee of their dismissal when they have under two years’ service with the employer. Why is it important? It is best practice to put an employee on a performance improvement plan(PIP) first before dismissing them irrespective of their length of service. This letter can be used where an employee is dismissed either with or without having been put on a performance improvement plan. In all cases, the employer should adopt a professional and respectful tone when communicating with the soon-to-be dismissed employee. Risks To comply with the ACAS Code of Practice on Disciplinary and Grievance Procedures the employee should be given the right to appeal against any disciplinary sanction or decision.




Appeal letter


What is it?

This is a letter from an employee against whom a disciplinary sanction has been imposed appealing against the dismissal.

If you need help in resolving an employment matter or dispute, please contact our employment solicitors on 01234 938089. We can provide you with advice on a fixed fee basis.





Reorganisation & Redundancies

מה עושים עם התוצאות של הסקר?


הסקרים נועדו לבדיקת דעת הקהל בנושא מסוים (פוליטי, מסחרי ועוד), כדי להפיק מכך מידע לצרכי מחקר, פיתוח, מסחר, מדיני ועוד. התוצאות מסייעות לגוף שהזמין את הסקר ולמקבלי ההחלטות, לפעול לשינוי נהלים ומדיניות מסויימת בתחום הסקר.




למה משלמים לי כסף כדי למלא סקרים?


הגופים שמזמינים את הסקרים, הם חברות או מוסדות גדולים. הסקרים מסייעים להם לקבל החלטות בנושאים חשובים. לכן, כדי לתמרץ אנשים למלא סקרים, הם נותנים סכומים קטנים על מילוי של כל סקר.




מתי מקבלים את הכסף שהרווחתי מהסקרים?


את הכסף מקבלים אחרי שעוברים רף מסויים שקבע אתר פאנל הסקרים. לרוב יש צורך בצבירה של מינימום 50 ש"ח, אך מומלץ להסתכל בדפי המידע של האתר שאליו אתם נרשמים. למשל באתר סקר-נט הרף הוא 55₪ ובפאנל מדגם הרף הוא 50₪.




איך מקבלים את הכסף ממילוי הסקרים?


זה משתנה ועובד לפי התקנון של כל אתר. רוב האתרים משלמים בגיפטקארד לרשתות נבחרות ואחרות מעבירות כסף לחשבון הפייפאל. יש כאלו שגם מעבירות לחשבון הבנק. למשל פאנל מדגם משלם במס' דרכים לבחירת המשתמש - פייפאל, שובר דיגיטלי לאתר BuyMe, נופשונית דיגיטלי ועוד.




האם שומרים על אבטחת המידע והסודיות של ממלאי הסקר?


ובכן, התשובה תלויה באתר אליו נרשמתם. מומלץ וכדאי לעיין בתקנון ובתנאי השימוש, לפני שאתם נרשמים לאתר מסוים. למשל, בפאנל מדגם, ההרשמה והפרטים המזהים, מועברים תוך שימוש בפרוטוקול תקשורת מאובטח (SSL). הנתונים עצמם של המשתמש, נשמרים באופן מוצפן במסד הנתונים. הכניסה של הפאנליסטים היא ע''י שימוש בשם משתמש והסיסמא. שחזור הסיסמאות מחייב מענה נכון על שאלת אימות כדי להבטיח שהחשבון לא נפרץ. לבסוף - הנתונים הנמסרים לחברות שמזמינות את הסקר, אינם כוללים פרטים מזהים על המשתמש.




נרשמתי, אבל אני בקושי מקבל סקרים, מה עושים?


מומלץ וכדאי לוודא שמילאתם את כל הפרטים בשאלון ההרשמה. הסקרים נשלחים למועמדים המתאימים לביצוע הסקר. משתמש שלא ממלא את מלוא הפרטים, פשוט מחמיץ סקרים רבים.




איך אוכל להרוויח כמה שיותר ממילוי של סקרים?


קודם כל, חשוב לציין שהסקרים נשלחים באמצעות הדואר האלקטרוני. וודאו שאתם מקבלים אותם (לפעמים כדאי לעשות בדיקה בתיבת הספאם במייל). רצוי למלא את הסקר מייד עם קבלתו, מאחר והסקר מוגבל לכמות משתתפים מסוימת. כמו כן, למרבית אתרי הסקרים, ישנה תכנית שיווק שותפים שבה אם הפניתם חבר מסוים תוכלו לקבל תגמול נוסף על כך.




האם ניתן להפסיק את החברות באתר מילוי הסקרים לאחר שכבר נרשמתי?


כן, בכל עת ניתן להפסיק את החברות. בכל אתר ישנו כפתור ייעודי להפסקת החברות ומחיקת פרטיכם מהאתר. אם לא מצאתם אותו, תמיד ניתן לשלוח מייל לשירות הלקוחות של האתר.




האם יש סקרים בתשלום גבוה?


האתרים שסיקרנו באתר הם האתרים הנחשבים והאמינים ביותר בענף. הם משלמים סכומים יחסית גבוהים.





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Pure Business Law is the trading name for Pure Business Law Ltd-a private limited company registered in England & Wales with company registration number 10405413. Registered office and Principal place of business : Excel House, 3 Duke Street, Bedford. MK40 3HR. VAT number 265 5386 75.

 

 

Pure Business Law is authorised and regulated by the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA number 635679)- we are governed by the SRA's  professional rules which may be found at www.rules.sra.org.uk. A list of our directors is available on request.  The term "director" denotes a shareholder or director of the company or an employee or consultant who is a lawyer with equivalent standing and qualifications. Calls may be recorded for security and training purposes.

 

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