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

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.





HR Policies

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.





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

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.





Running an online business

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.





Buying & Selling Goods & Services

Commercial lease


What is it? A commercial lease is an agreement between a landlord and a business for the rental of a property for business purposes for a set period in return for the business paying rent to the landlord. It sets out the rights and obligations of the landlord and the business in relation to the property. The law relating to business leases differs from the law relating to residential leases. You will need a business lease if you have a business and wish to carry on your business from the commercial property. A properly written commercial lease is vital to carry on your business.




Home office rental agreement


What is it? A home office rental agreement is an agreement between an owner or lessee of property to share their home office space with another person. These agreements are usually used by start-ups and home-based businesses and will be in the form of a licence agreement. The licensor will be the owner or tenant of the property and the licensee will be the sharer who may be an individual or a company. If more than one individual sharer it is essential that they be all named on the agreement so that they remain jointly and severally liable under the rental agreement. The licence fee should be inclusive of the service costs eg internet, utilities, etc. Why is it important? If your business is a lessee, you must check your lease and check with your landlord to ensure that the grant of a licence to the sharers will not be a breach of your obligations as a tenant.




Office sharing agreement


What is it? Office space can be expensive in city centres and town centres. An office sharing agreement is an agreement between an owner of office space and another business which wants to share its office space. It is used where the owner of the property or lessee wants to share their office space with a business or individual or where two businesses or sole traders want to share the same office space. This agreement will be in the form of a licence agreement. If the office space is one room the licence will not grant each business or individual a defined and fixed space within the room but will grant the businesses and individuals the office space. The licence fee should be inclusive of the service costs eg internet, utilities, etc. Why is it important? If your business does not own the property you must check your lease and check with your landlord to ensure that your grant of a licence to the sharers will not be a breach of your obligations under your business tenancy.




Rent deposit deed


What is it? A rent deposit is a sum of money paid by a commercial tenant as security to their landlord prior to or at the grant of a commercial lease in respect of a commercial property rental. A rent deposit deed is the document which sets out how the landlord will safeguard a commercial tenant’s deposit. It works in a similar manner to rent deposits for residential lettings however in this case the deposit is usually held by the commercial landlord and not by a government- backed tenancy deposit scheme as in the case of residential rent deposits. Why is it important? A rent deposit deed protects the landlord and the tenant. Under the rent deposit deed, the deposit remains the property of the tenant however if the tenant does not pay the rent or breaches any fundamental term of the lease the landlord can take money out of the deposit in recompense. Rent deposit deeds are standard in commercial leases and provide peace of mind to a commercial landlord especially if the prospective tenant eg a start-up business or a sole trader cannot prove his/her trading credentials and creditworthiness. It gives a guarantee of easy access to funds should the tenant default. It is also beneficial for the tenant as it is akin to “savings” which will be returned to the tenant in future with any accrued interest if there is no breach of covenant and it is also a fund which the landlord may use to set off any breach of covenant by the tenant without the tenant having to incur further expense.




Lease Agreement


What is it? A lease is an agreement between a landlord and a business for the rental of a property for a set period in return for the tenant paying rent to the landlord. It sets out the rights and obligations of the landlord and the tenant in relation to the property. A lease can be for business or residential use. Why is it important? A commercial or business lease is an agreement between a landlord and a business for the rental of a property for business purposes. A residential lease is an agreement between a landlord and an individual for the rental of a property for residential use. The law relating to business leases differs from the law relating to residential leases. You will need a business lease if you have a business and wish to carry on your business from the commercial property. You will need a residential lease if you wish to rent property from a landlord for residential purposes.




Building works/Construction Agreement


What is it? Before you get building work done, check if you need permission or approval. Get quotes, check there is insurance in place and get a written contract. A building works/construction contract is a written agreement between the parties involved in the building or alteration of any structure. It sets out the rights and obligations of the parties and other parties involved eg sub-contractors, the administration procedures and the contract administrator if there is one. Why is it important? If you are a builder or a contractor doing work for a client or you are the client, you must ensure that the work arrangement is clear and that your contract sets out your work rights and obligations as well as the obligations of your client or the builder/contractor. A contract can be created for a specific project or you may wish to use a standard contract with amendments to fit the project. An example of a standard works contract is the JCT minor works building contract, which is designed for small, basic construction projects where the work is of a simple nature. Risks When checking the contract ensure that the contract describes the purpose of the contract; the work that will be done; the financial information eg the contract prices, deposit, schedule of progress payments, snagging, final payment and interest; payment due date and fees; project description; the handling of variations to the work order; dispute resolution; insurances and a signature line. Always ensure that your client signs the contract before you begin the work. Our construction solicitors can provide you with guidance on the different types of construction contracts and on which type of agreement is best for you. We can also help you negotiate a contract to protect your rights, assist you in reviewing contracts before you sign and provide you with representation in case of a breach of contract. Give us a call today at 01234 938089 or contact us online to learn more about the legal assistance we can provide.




Co-working Agreement


We help you prepare co-working agreements if you are setting up a business hub.





Managing a company

Settlement agreement


What is it?

A Settlement Agreement is a binding contract between an employer and employee which settles claims that an employee may have against their employer. Whilst such an agreement is usually used in relation to be ending the employment it may also be used to settle a dispute that has arisen between an employer and employee where there is no intention by either party to end the employment.

Why is it important?

The terms of the settlement agreement must be mutually agreed between the employer and employee and must include a waiver of the specific claims which the employee has or could have. The agreement should contain a breakdown of the payments which have been agreed and should also state whether any of the payments are to be paid to the employee free of tax. Payments of up to £30k compensation can often be paid without deduction of tax if the payment is being made on an “ex gratia basis” (i.e. it is a payment you have voluntarily decided to make rather than one that you are legally obliged to make) or as compensation damages for a breach of contract.

Risks?

For a settlement agreement to be legally binding it must meet a number of statutory requirements eg it must be in writing, must specify the particular claims or complaints which the agreement is settling and the employee must have received advice on the terms and effect of the agreement from an independent solicitor or a trade union official whose advice is covered by insurance.

If the settlement agreement does not meet all of the statutory requirements, it will not be binding and the employee can still bring claims against the employer relating to the claims allegedly “settled” by the settlement agreement.It is a good idea to take proper legal advice before you decide to enter into a settlement agreement.

For more information on settlement agreements, contact our employment solicitors




Reference letter


What is it?

A Reference letter is a letter that is usually written to testify to a person’s or (sometimes) a company’s skills, experience, character and or achievements. It is used in various circumstances eg when a candidate applies for a job and needs a reference to support their application, if a job candidate is made a job offer and is asked to provide a reference letter before the contract can be signed, a landlord asks a prospective tenant to provide a reference letter testifying to their character and good financial statues, a student applies for funding and is asked to provide a reference letter or a company applies for a tender and is asked to provide reference letters testifying to their ability to do the job and their trustworthiness.

Why is it important?

A Reference letter is a formal document and should be written in a business-like style. Do not mention any weaknesses that the candidate has or say anything that could be construed as derogatory or libel. If you honestly feel that the applicant has no good qualities or if you have had a dispute with them in the past you should tell them to get a reference letter from someone else. An employer must give a reference if there was a written agreement to do so and they are in a regulated industry such as Financial services.

Risks

You are under no obligation to give a work reference but if you do it must be fair and accurate. Your employee may be able to sue you in court and claim damages if you give a reference, they think is misleading or unfair. To do so the employee must be able to show that (a ) the reference is misleading or inaccurate and (b) they suffered a loss eg a job offer was withdrawn.It is essential that you do not lie in it or you could be sued.

Need some advice? Contact our employment solicitors.





Settlement agreements & Ref

Settlement agreement


What is it?

A Settlement Agreement is a binding contract between an employer and employee which settles claims that an employee may have against their employer. Whilst such an agreement is usually used in relation to be ending the employment it may also be used to settle a dispute that has arisen between an employer and employee where there is no intention by either party to end the employment.

Why is it important?

The terms of the settlement agreement must be mutually agreed between the employer and employee and must include a waiver of the specific claims which the employee has or could have. The agreement should contain a breakdown of the payments which have been agreed and should also state whether any of the payments are to be paid to the employee free of tax. Payments of up to £30k compensation can often be paid without deduction of tax if the payment is being made on an “ex gratia basis” (i.e. it is a payment you have voluntarily decided to make rather than one that you are legally obliged to make) or as compensation damages for a breach of contract.

Risks?

For a settlement agreement to be legally binding it must meet a number of statutory requirements eg it must be in writing, must specify the particular claims or complaints which the agreement is settling and the employee must have received advice on the terms and effect of the agreement from an independent solicitor or a trade union official whose advice is covered by insurance.

If the settlement agreement does not meet all of the statutory requirements, it will not be binding and the employee can still bring claims against the employer relating to the claims allegedly “settled” by the settlement agreement.It is a good idea to take proper legal advice before you decide to enter into a settlement agreement.

For more information on settlement agreements, contact our employment solicitors




Reference letter


What is it?

A Reference letter is a letter that is usually written to testify to a person’s or (sometimes) a company’s skills, experience, character and or achievements. It is used in various circumstances eg when a candidate applies for a job and needs a reference to support their application, if a job candidate is made a job offer and is asked to provide a reference letter before the contract can be signed, a landlord asks a prospective tenant to provide a reference letter testifying to their character and good financial statues, a student applies for funding and is asked to provide a reference letter or a company applies for a tender and is asked to provide reference letters testifying to their ability to do the job and their trustworthiness.

Why is it important?

A Reference letter is a formal document and should be written in a business-like style. Do not mention any weaknesses that the candidate has or say anything that could be construed as derogatory or libel. If you honestly feel that the applicant has no good qualities or if you have had a dispute with them in the past you should tell them to get a reference letter from someone else. An employer must give a reference if there was a written agreement to do so and they are in a regulated industry such as Financial services.

Risks

You are under no obligation to give a work reference but if you do it must be fair and accurate. Your employee may be able to sue you in court and claim damages if you give a reference, they think is misleading or unfair. To do so the employee must be able to show that (a ) the reference is misleading or inaccurate and (b) they suffered a loss eg a job offer was withdrawn.It is essential that you do not lie in it or you could be sued.

Need some advice? Contact our employment solicitors.





Commercial notices

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.





Letting a commercial property

Commercial lease


What is it? A commercial lease is an agreement between a landlord and a business for the rental of a property for business purposes for a set period in return for the business paying rent to the landlord. It sets out the rights and obligations of the landlord and the business in relation to the property. The law relating to business leases differs from the law relating to residential leases. You will need a business lease if you have a business and wish to carry on your business from the commercial property. A properly written commercial lease is vital to carry on your business.




Home office rental agreement


What is it? A home office rental agreement is an agreement between an owner or lessee of property to share their home office space with another person. These agreements are usually used by start-ups and home-based businesses and will be in the form of a licence agreement. The licensor will be the owner or tenant of the property and the licensee will be the sharer who may be an individual or a company. If more than one individual sharer it is essential that they be all named on the agreement so that they remain jointly and severally liable under the rental agreement. The licence fee should be inclusive of the service costs eg internet, utilities, etc. Why is it important? If your business is a lessee, you must check your lease and check with your landlord to ensure that the grant of a licence to the sharers will not be a breach of your obligations as a tenant.




Office sharing agreement


What is it? Office space can be expensive in city centres and town centres. An office sharing agreement is an agreement between an owner of office space and another business which wants to share its office space. It is used where the owner of the property or lessee wants to share their office space with a business or individual or where two businesses or sole traders want to share the same office space. This agreement will be in the form of a licence agreement. If the office space is one room the licence will not grant each business or individual a defined and fixed space within the room but will grant the businesses and individuals the office space. The licence fee should be inclusive of the service costs eg internet, utilities, etc. Why is it important? If your business does not own the property you must check your lease and check with your landlord to ensure that your grant of a licence to the sharers will not be a breach of your obligations under your business tenancy.




Rent deposit deed


What is it? A rent deposit is a sum of money paid by a commercial tenant as security to their landlord prior to or at the grant of a commercial lease in respect of a commercial property rental. A rent deposit deed is the document which sets out how the landlord will safeguard a commercial tenant’s deposit. It works in a similar manner to rent deposits for residential lettings however in this case the deposit is usually held by the commercial landlord and not by a government- backed tenancy deposit scheme as in the case of residential rent deposits. Why is it important? A rent deposit deed protects the landlord and the tenant. Under the rent deposit deed, the deposit remains the property of the tenant however if the tenant does not pay the rent or breaches any fundamental term of the lease the landlord can take money out of the deposit in recompense. Rent deposit deeds are standard in commercial leases and provide peace of mind to a commercial landlord especially if the prospective tenant eg a start-up business or a sole trader cannot prove his/her trading credentials and creditworthiness. It gives a guarantee of easy access to funds should the tenant default. It is also beneficial for the tenant as it is akin to “savings” which will be returned to the tenant in future with any accrued interest if there is no breach of covenant and it is also a fund which the landlord may use to set off any breach of covenant by the tenant without the tenant having to incur further expense.




Lease Agreement


What is it? A lease is an agreement between a landlord and a business for the rental of a property for a set period in return for the tenant paying rent to the landlord. It sets out the rights and obligations of the landlord and the tenant in relation to the property. A lease can be for business or residential use. Why is it important? A commercial or business lease is an agreement between a landlord and a business for the rental of a property for business purposes. A residential lease is an agreement between a landlord and an individual for the rental of a property for residential use. The law relating to business leases differs from the law relating to residential leases. You will need a business lease if you have a business and wish to carry on your business from the commercial property. You will need a residential lease if you wish to rent property from a landlord for residential purposes.




Building works/Construction Agreement


What is it? Before you get building work done, check if you need permission or approval. Get quotes, check there is insurance in place and get a written contract. A building works/construction contract is a written agreement between the parties involved in the building or alteration of any structure. It sets out the rights and obligations of the parties and other parties involved eg sub-contractors, the administration procedures and the contract administrator if there is one. Why is it important? If you are a builder or a contractor doing work for a client or you are the client, you must ensure that the work arrangement is clear and that your contract sets out your work rights and obligations as well as the obligations of your client or the builder/contractor. A contract can be created for a specific project or you may wish to use a standard contract with amendments to fit the project. An example of a standard works contract is the JCT minor works building contract, which is designed for small, basic construction projects where the work is of a simple nature. Risks When checking the contract ensure that the contract describes the purpose of the contract; the work that will be done; the financial information eg the contract prices, deposit, schedule of progress payments, snagging, final payment and interest; payment due date and fees; project description; the handling of variations to the work order; dispute resolution; insurances and a signature line. Always ensure that your client signs the contract before you begin the work. Our construction solicitors can provide you with guidance on the different types of construction contracts and on which type of agreement is best for you. We can also help you negotiate a contract to protect your rights, assist you in reviewing contracts before you sign and provide you with representation in case of a breach of contract. Give us a call today at 01234 938089 or contact us online to learn more about the legal assistance we can provide.




Co-working Agreement


We help you prepare co-working agreements if you are setting up a business hub.





Sale and Purchase of Commerial Property

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.





Buying & Selling a business

Settlement agreement


What is it?

A Settlement Agreement is a binding contract between an employer and employee which settles claims that an employee may have against their employer. Whilst such an agreement is usually used in relation to be ending the employment it may also be used to settle a dispute that has arisen between an employer and employee where there is no intention by either party to end the employment.

Why is it important?

The terms of the settlement agreement must be mutually agreed between the employer and employee and must include a waiver of the specific claims which the employee has or could have. The agreement should contain a breakdown of the payments which have been agreed and should also state whether any of the payments are to be paid to the employee free of tax. Payments of up to £30k compensation can often be paid without deduction of tax if the payment is being made on an “ex gratia basis” (i.e. it is a payment you have voluntarily decided to make rather than one that you are legally obliged to make) or as compensation damages for a breach of contract.

Risks?

For a settlement agreement to be legally binding it must meet a number of statutory requirements eg it must be in writing, must specify the particular claims or complaints which the agreement is settling and the employee must have received advice on the terms and effect of the agreement from an independent solicitor or a trade union official whose advice is covered by insurance.

If the settlement agreement does not meet all of the statutory requirements, it will not be binding and the employee can still bring claims against the employer relating to the claims allegedly “settled” by the settlement agreement.It is a good idea to take proper legal advice before you decide to enter into a settlement agreement.

For more information on settlement agreements, contact our employment solicitors




Reference letter


What is it?

A Reference letter is a letter that is usually written to testify to a person’s or (sometimes) a company’s skills, experience, character and or achievements. It is used in various circumstances eg when a candidate applies for a job and needs a reference to support their application, if a job candidate is made a job offer and is asked to provide a reference letter before the contract can be signed, a landlord asks a prospective tenant to provide a reference letter testifying to their character and good financial statues, a student applies for funding and is asked to provide a reference letter or a company applies for a tender and is asked to provide reference letters testifying to their ability to do the job and their trustworthiness.

Why is it important?

A Reference letter is a formal document and should be written in a business-like style. Do not mention any weaknesses that the candidate has or say anything that could be construed as derogatory or libel. If you honestly feel that the applicant has no good qualities or if you have had a dispute with them in the past you should tell them to get a reference letter from someone else. An employer must give a reference if there was a written agreement to do so and they are in a regulated industry such as Financial services.

Risks

You are under no obligation to give a work reference but if you do it must be fair and accurate. Your employee may be able to sue you in court and claim damages if you give a reference, they think is misleading or unfair. To do so the employee must be able to show that (a ) the reference is misleading or inaccurate and (b) they suffered a loss eg a job offer was withdrawn.It is essential that you do not lie in it or you could be sued.

Need some advice? Contact our employment solicitors.





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

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.





Health & Safety

Commercial lease


What is it? A commercial lease is an agreement between a landlord and a business for the rental of a property for business purposes for a set period in return for the business paying rent to the landlord. It sets out the rights and obligations of the landlord and the business in relation to the property. The law relating to business leases differs from the law relating to residential leases. You will need a business lease if you have a business and wish to carry on your business from the commercial property. A properly written commercial lease is vital to carry on your business.




Home office rental agreement


What is it? A home office rental agreement is an agreement between an owner or lessee of property to share their home office space with another person. These agreements are usually used by start-ups and home-based businesses and will be in the form of a licence agreement. The licensor will be the owner or tenant of the property and the licensee will be the sharer who may be an individual or a company. If more than one individual sharer it is essential that they be all named on the agreement so that they remain jointly and severally liable under the rental agreement. The licence fee should be inclusive of the service costs eg internet, utilities, etc. Why is it important? If your business is a lessee, you must check your lease and check with your landlord to ensure that the grant of a licence to the sharers will not be a breach of your obligations as a tenant.




Office sharing agreement


What is it? Office space can be expensive in city centres and town centres. An office sharing agreement is an agreement between an owner of office space and another business which wants to share its office space. It is used where the owner of the property or lessee wants to share their office space with a business or individual or where two businesses or sole traders want to share the same office space. This agreement will be in the form of a licence agreement. If the office space is one room the licence will not grant each business or individual a defined and fixed space within the room but will grant the businesses and individuals the office space. The licence fee should be inclusive of the service costs eg internet, utilities, etc. Why is it important? If your business does not own the property you must check your lease and check with your landlord to ensure that your grant of a licence to the sharers will not be a breach of your obligations under your business tenancy.




Rent deposit deed


What is it? A rent deposit is a sum of money paid by a commercial tenant as security to their landlord prior to or at the grant of a commercial lease in respect of a commercial property rental. A rent deposit deed is the document which sets out how the landlord will safeguard a commercial tenant’s deposit. It works in a similar manner to rent deposits for residential lettings however in this case the deposit is usually held by the commercial landlord and not by a government- backed tenancy deposit scheme as in the case of residential rent deposits. Why is it important? A rent deposit deed protects the landlord and the tenant. Under the rent deposit deed, the deposit remains the property of the tenant however if the tenant does not pay the rent or breaches any fundamental term of the lease the landlord can take money out of the deposit in recompense. Rent deposit deeds are standard in commercial leases and provide peace of mind to a commercial landlord especially if the prospective tenant eg a start-up business or a sole trader cannot prove his/her trading credentials and creditworthiness. It gives a guarantee of easy access to funds should the tenant default. It is also beneficial for the tenant as it is akin to “savings” which will be returned to the tenant in future with any accrued interest if there is no breach of covenant and it is also a fund which the landlord may use to set off any breach of covenant by the tenant without the tenant having to incur further expense.




Lease Agreement


What is it? A lease is an agreement between a landlord and a business for the rental of a property for a set period in return for the tenant paying rent to the landlord. It sets out the rights and obligations of the landlord and the tenant in relation to the property. A lease can be for business or residential use. Why is it important? A commercial or business lease is an agreement between a landlord and a business for the rental of a property for business purposes. A residential lease is an agreement between a landlord and an individual for the rental of a property for residential use. The law relating to business leases differs from the law relating to residential leases. You will need a business lease if you have a business and wish to carry on your business from the commercial property. You will need a residential lease if you wish to rent property from a landlord for residential purposes.




Building works/Construction Agreement


What is it? Before you get building work done, check if you need permission or approval. Get quotes, check there is insurance in place and get a written contract. A building works/construction contract is a written agreement between the parties involved in the building or alteration of any structure. It sets out the rights and obligations of the parties and other parties involved eg sub-contractors, the administration procedures and the contract administrator if there is one. Why is it important? If you are a builder or a contractor doing work for a client or you are the client, you must ensure that the work arrangement is clear and that your contract sets out your work rights and obligations as well as the obligations of your client or the builder/contractor. A contract can be created for a specific project or you may wish to use a standard contract with amendments to fit the project. An example of a standard works contract is the JCT minor works building contract, which is designed for small, basic construction projects where the work is of a simple nature. Risks When checking the contract ensure that the contract describes the purpose of the contract; the work that will be done; the financial information eg the contract prices, deposit, schedule of progress payments, snagging, final payment and interest; payment due date and fees; project description; the handling of variations to the work order; dispute resolution; insurances and a signature line. Always ensure that your client signs the contract before you begin the work. Our construction solicitors can provide you with guidance on the different types of construction contracts and on which type of agreement is best for you. We can also help you negotiate a contract to protect your rights, assist you in reviewing contracts before you sign and provide you with representation in case of a breach of contract. Give us a call today at 01234 938089 or contact us online to learn more about the legal assistance we can provide.




Co-working Agreement


We help you prepare co-working agreements if you are setting up a business hub.





 
 
 
 

Planning & Highways

Settlement agreement


What is it?

A Settlement Agreement is a binding contract between an employer and employee which settles claims that an employee may have against their employer. Whilst such an agreement is usually used in relation to be ending the employment it may also be used to settle a dispute that has arisen between an employer and employee where there is no intention by either party to end the employment.

Why is it important?

The terms of the settlement agreement must be mutually agreed between the employer and employee and must include a waiver of the specific claims which the employee has or could have. The agreement should contain a breakdown of the payments which have been agreed and should also state whether any of the payments are to be paid to the employee free of tax. Payments of up to £30k compensation can often be paid without deduction of tax if the payment is being made on an “ex gratia basis” (i.e. it is a payment you have voluntarily decided to make rather than one that you are legally obliged to make) or as compensation damages for a breach of contract.

Risks?

For a settlement agreement to be legally binding it must meet a number of statutory requirements eg it must be in writing, must specify the particular claims or complaints which the agreement is settling and the employee must have received advice on the terms and effect of the agreement from an independent solicitor or a trade union official whose advice is covered by insurance.

If the settlement agreement does not meet all of the statutory requirements, it will not be binding and the employee can still bring claims against the employer relating to the claims allegedly “settled” by the settlement agreement.It is a good idea to take proper legal advice before you decide to enter into a settlement agreement.

For more information on settlement agreements, contact our employment solicitors




Reference letter


What is it?

A Reference letter is a letter that is usually written to testify to a person’s or (sometimes) a company’s skills, experience, character and or achievements. It is used in various circumstances eg when a candidate applies for a job and needs a reference to support their application, if a job candidate is made a job offer and is asked to provide a reference letter before the contract can be signed, a landlord asks a prospective tenant to provide a reference letter testifying to their character and good financial statues, a student applies for funding and is asked to provide a reference letter or a company applies for a tender and is asked to provide reference letters testifying to their ability to do the job and their trustworthiness.

Why is it important?

A Reference letter is a formal document and should be written in a business-like style. Do not mention any weaknesses that the candidate has or say anything that could be construed as derogatory or libel. If you honestly feel that the applicant has no good qualities or if you have had a dispute with them in the past you should tell them to get a reference letter from someone else. An employer must give a reference if there was a written agreement to do so and they are in a regulated industry such as Financial services.

Risks

You are under no obligation to give a work reference but if you do it must be fair and accurate. Your employee may be able to sue you in court and claim damages if you give a reference, they think is misleading or unfair. To do so the employee must be able to show that (a ) the reference is misleading or inaccurate and (b) they suffered a loss eg a job offer was withdrawn.It is essential that you do not lie in it or you could be sued.

Need some advice? Contact our employment solicitors.





 

Managing employee performance

Settlement agreement


What is it?

A Settlement Agreement is a binding contract between an employer and employee which settles claims that an employee may have against their employer. Whilst such an agreement is usually used in relation to be ending the employment it may also be used to settle a dispute that has arisen between an employer and employee where there is no intention by either party to end the employment.

Why is it important?

The terms of the settlement agreement must be mutually agreed between the employer and employee and must include a waiver of the specific claims which the employee has or could have. The agreement should contain a breakdown of the payments which have been agreed and should also state whether any of the payments are to be paid to the employee free of tax. Payments of up to £30k compensation can often be paid without deduction of tax if the payment is being made on an “ex gratia basis” (i.e. it is a payment you have voluntarily decided to make rather than one that you are legally obliged to make) or as compensation damages for a breach of contract.

Risks?

For a settlement agreement to be legally binding it must meet a number of statutory requirements eg it must be in writing, must specify the particular claims or complaints which the agreement is settling and the employee must have received advice on the terms and effect of the agreement from an independent solicitor or a trade union official whose advice is covered by insurance.

If the settlement agreement does not meet all of the statutory requirements, it will not be binding and the employee can still bring claims against the employer relating to the claims allegedly “settled” by the settlement agreement.It is a good idea to take proper legal advice before you decide to enter into a settlement agreement.

For more information on settlement agreements, contact our employment solicitors




Reference letter


What is it?

A Reference letter is a letter that is usually written to testify to a person’s or (sometimes) a company’s skills, experience, character and or achievements. It is used in various circumstances eg when a candidate applies for a job and needs a reference to support their application, if a job candidate is made a job offer and is asked to provide a reference letter before the contract can be signed, a landlord asks a prospective tenant to provide a reference letter testifying to their character and good financial statues, a student applies for funding and is asked to provide a reference letter or a company applies for a tender and is asked to provide reference letters testifying to their ability to do the job and their trustworthiness.

Why is it important?

A Reference letter is a formal document and should be written in a business-like style. Do not mention any weaknesses that the candidate has or say anything that could be construed as derogatory or libel. If you honestly feel that the applicant has no good qualities or if you have had a dispute with them in the past you should tell them to get a reference letter from someone else. An employer must give a reference if there was a written agreement to do so and they are in a regulated industry such as Financial services.

Risks

You are under no obligation to give a work reference but if you do it must be fair and accurate. Your employee may be able to sue you in court and claim damages if you give a reference, they think is misleading or unfair. To do so the employee must be able to show that (a ) the reference is misleading or inaccurate and (b) they suffered a loss eg a job offer was withdrawn.It is essential that you do not lie in it or you could be sued.

Need some advice? Contact our employment solicitors.





Reorganisation & Redundancies

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.





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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.

 

 

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