Running your business

Running your business

 

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

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

 

Hiring & Managing Employees

Software Development Agreement


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




Freelancer Agreement


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




Internship Agreement


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




Staff Handbook


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




Job description


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




Job offer letter


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




Non-executive director letter of appointment


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




Senior employment contract


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




Zero hours contract


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




Consultancy agreement


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




Employment contract


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




Change to employment terms letter


What is it?

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

Why is it important?

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

Risks

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

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




Working time directive opt out letter


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




Probation letter


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




Flexible working request


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




Grievance letter


What is it?

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

Why is it important?

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

Risks

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

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

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

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





Managing licenses


Running an online business


Protecting your IP


Business Relationships


Writing a business plan


HR Policies

Letter ending a contract


What is it? A letter terminating a contract also known as a Notice of Contract Termination, Notice of Cancellation of Contract or a Contract Termination Letter is a formal declaration indicating your intention to terminate a contract with the other party to the contract. When writing a letter terminating a contract ensure that you have the legal right to terminate the contract in the particular circumstances and keep your tone formal,straightforward, courteous and professional. Risks You should also ensure that :

  • The letter contains a clear description of the reasons for the termination of the contract.
  • The date of termination is mentioned.
  • The letter thanks the other party for their services.

Our contract solicitors can provide you with a bespoke letter for a reasonable fixed fee that you can use to cancel a contract or agreement.




Letter assigning a contract


What is it?

Transferring a contract from one party to another is known as ‘assigning’ a contract or ‘an assignment’ of the contract. An assignment ends one party’s involvement in the contract and transfers their contractual rights, benefits and interests to a new party.

Risks

Some contracts may contain a clause prohibiting assignment; other contracts may require the other party to consent to the assignment. Unless assignment is prohibited in a contract, a party may assign their rights to third party without the consent of the other party to the agreement. A letter of assignment is used to effect the assignment and will be signed by the outgoing party and the incoming party.





Protecting your IP

Letter ending a contract


What is it? A letter terminating a contract also known as a Notice of Contract Termination, Notice of Cancellation of Contract or a Contract Termination Letter is a formal declaration indicating your intention to terminate a contract with the other party to the contract. When writing a letter terminating a contract ensure that you have the legal right to terminate the contract in the particular circumstances and keep your tone formal,straightforward, courteous and professional. Risks You should also ensure that :

  • The letter contains a clear description of the reasons for the termination of the contract.
  • The date of termination is mentioned.
  • The letter thanks the other party for their services.

Our contract solicitors can provide you with a bespoke letter for a reasonable fixed fee that you can use to cancel a contract or agreement.




Letter assigning a contract


What is it?

Transferring a contract from one party to another is known as ‘assigning’ a contract or ‘an assignment’ of the contract. An assignment ends one party’s involvement in the contract and transfers their contractual rights, benefits and interests to a new party.

Risks

Some contracts may contain a clause prohibiting assignment; other contracts may require the other party to consent to the assignment. Unless assignment is prohibited in a contract, a party may assign their rights to third party without the consent of the other party to the agreement. A letter of assignment is used to effect the assignment and will be signed by the outgoing party and the incoming party.





Business Relationships

Joint Venture Agreement


What is it? This agreement is needed when two or more parties decide to engage in a business collaboration to deal with a particular project. There are two main types of joint ventures: i) A contractual joint venture is a contract between two parties who are looking to work together on a commercial project and pool their resources but do not want to create a separate legal entity such as a joint venture company or an LLP.(eg two businesses collaborating to bid for a contract or carry out research and development) . The collaboration will be generally be short term or for a defined period and will be of restricted scope with a well-defined purpose. ii)A corporate joint venture is a contract between two parties looking to work together on a commercial project where they will both set up a separate company (“a joint venture company”) separate from their current operations, own shares in it, have representatives from each of the companies sitting on its board and or want their company to have limited liability for the debts and obligations of the joint venture. This type of joint venture is usually suitable if you will be collaboration on a longer term project and or your collaboration will be more risky and complex and therefore justifies the time and effort of setting up a separate company.




Manufacturing Agreement


What is it? This agreement is needed if you want to employ the services of another company an individual to manufacture goods/products for you for your business. The agreement should cover a number of key areas including manufacture of the goods, materials, specification, quality control, packaging, storage, confidentiality, data protection, insurance, pricing, payment, delivery, title and risk, intellectual property, disputes, force majeure, service of notices, liability and indemnity clauses.




Memorandum of Understanding


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




Agency Agreement


What is it? The term “agent” is often used as shorthand in a business or legal context to mean a person authorised to act for or on behalf of another who is sometimes called the “principal” As a business you need to be able to distinguish whether or not a particular arrangement amounts to a commercial agency rather than another kind of agency or relationship. This is vital if you are to understand the various legal obligations, duties and liabilities that you owe your contractors/ agents and vice versa. There are different types of individuals and companies which describe themselves as “agents”. These include for instance – commercial agents, sales agents. Employment agents, escrow agents etc. Why is it important? A commercial agent is a kind of sales agent whose relationship with their principal is largely governed by the Commercial Agents (Council Directive) Regulations 1993 whereas the relationship between any other type of sales and their principal is largely governed by the common law and not by the Regulations. A “commercial agent” is defined by the Regulations as a “…self-employed intermediary who has continuing authority to negotiate the sale or purchase of goods on behalf of their principal or to negotiate and conclude such transactions on behalf of and in the name of that principal”. Risks All commercial agency arrangements must comply with the Commercial Agents Regulations 1993. In accordance with the European Withdrawal Act 2018( ad subject to the terms of any final Brexit deal) the Regulations will remain in force post-Brexit.In contrast a sales agent is a freelance self-employed individual or contractor who may or may not work for numerous clients. You need an Agency Agreement if you want to appoint a third party to act on your behalf, marketing and selling your products and services – generally in exchange for commission on any sales. An agency agreement sets out the terms and conditions of the relationship, the commission or fees the notice period and any exclusivity rights. Other ways in which a business can expand without considerable outlay are via a distributorship and a franchise. In contrast to a distributorship, an agent earns commission on sales but does not pay for the goods, own the goods or set the sale price charged to the customer.




Referral Agreement


What is it? A referral agreement is used where, in order to obtain more customers and sales and widen Business A’s customer base or sell into a new market, a supplier of goods or services (Business A) wishes to engage another person or business (Individual B or Business B) to effect an introduction/referral of new customers to Business A in return for which the agent receives a fee for the introduction/referral itself or for the introduction/referral where it results in a sale within a stated period after the introduction/referral. It is also known as an Introduction agreement. Examples of referrers/introducers are agents who introduce a seller of a business to a potential buyer or who introduce a potential investor to a business. Why is it important? If a business colleague is referring work to you or you are the referrer you should get a referral agreement that sets out the terms of your agreement. This will help avoid problems. A referral agreement can also be used where an e-commerce website wishes to increase its sales by allowing other websites to refer customers to them in return for a commission on sales obtained through such referrals. The fees can be either a fixed fee or percentage basis with payment when the referral is made or upon the first transaction or both. The fees and payment clause can be drafted so that if the refer fails to introduce any new business they will not get a fee.There are specific referral agreements for the introduction of clients for financial services eg investment advice and insurance products.




Licensing Agreement


What is it? There are numerous types of licensing agreements eg IP licensing agreement eg a trademark licence agreement, a licence to occupy property, a software licence agreement etc.A software licence agreement is an agreement between a software licensor (generally a software developer and/or owner) and licensee who will be using the licensed software in the course of a business or personally. Why is it important? We always recommend that our clients get a licensing agreement if for example they want to give a person or another business the right to use their technology, software or any other type of intellectual property. A software licence will set out what the user may or may not do with a piece of software thereby helping developers ensure that they maximise returns on their investments, restrict others from free use of their creative and inventive work and product software that remains stable across a broad range of computer systems.




End User Licence Agreement


What is it? This is a licence agreement between a software provider and a user where software is distributed en-masse through retailers or electronically eg Microsoft and people who use its software. The different types of end-user licences include a Web Wrap software licence (designed for use with software that is distributed electronically via download ) Click Wrap Licence (designed for use with software that can be distributed electronically via download or on physical media such as a CD or DVD-Rom, Shrink Wrap Licence (designed for use in or on the packaging of software that is distributed on physical media such as a CD or DVD-Rom).




Service Level Agreement


What is it? Businesses often seek to obtain services from other businesses for various reasons. In some cases, a simple service agreement is all that is needed especially where the services in question are to be provided over a short term.However, in some cases a long-term relationship and the need for service consistency is essential. In such cases a business owner may prefer to enter into a Service Level Agreement with the service provider. Why is it important? Commonly used in the IT & Technology industries, but also applicable in other areas of business especially where large-scale or complex services are involved Service Level Agreements set out the services to be provided under a contract and also sets out the levels of performance to which those services must be provided. Detailed provisions govern the monitoring of the performance of the services and the agreement. Risks The service provider is thereby incentivised to consistently provide services in line with the agreed performance levels. If it fails to meet the agreed service levels it is subject to penalties. Service level agreements are preferable to standard service agreements as they contain much more detail, enhanced clarity and accountability over and above standard service agreements.




Partnership agreement


What is it? There are 2 main types of partnership agreements: An unlimited partnership – This is a relationship between two or more parties carrying on business together to make a profit. It is usually referred to as a “partnership” or a “general partnership” to distinguish it from other types of partnership such as a limited liability partnership. A partnership can arise by law even if there is no agreement in writing and even if the parties did not intend to create a partnership. An unlimited partnership is not a separate legal entity unlike a company or a limited liability partnership. Therefore, its partners have unlimited liability for the partnership’s debts. A limited liability partnership – Unlike an unlimited partnership a limited liability partnership (LLP) requires the establishment of a separate corporate body through which the collaboration will be conducted. The partners will have limited liability in the same way as shareholders in a company. The partners will usually sign a member’s agreement setting out how the LLP will be run.




LLP agreement


What is it? This agreement applies when you have a limited liability partnership. Unlike an unlimited partnership a limited liability partnership (LLP) requires the establishment of a separate corporate body through which the collaboration will be conducted. Why is it important? The partners will have limited liability in the same way as shareholders in a company. The partners will usually sign a member’s agreement (LLP Agreement) setting out how the LLP will be run.




Distribution agreement


What is it? A distributor buys goods from a supplier to sell on to customers. They can earn a profit margin based on the “mark-up” they add to the original sale price. A Distributorship agreement is an agreement whereby the manufacturer appoints the distributor on a “sole” or “non-exclusive” basis) to resell the manufacturer’s products in a particular territory/ies. In this case, the ownership of the goods is transferred to the distributor prior to the marketing and sale of the goods which means that the distributor may hold stocks of goods which they pay for and own – they therefore bear the risk as to whether they can resell the goods. There are different types of distribution agreements eg exclusive, sole and selective distribution agreements. Business relationships can sour if based on verbal agreements. Protect your rights by ensuring you have a written distribution agreement.




Model release letter


What is it? A signed Model Release Form protects your profit margin and your copyright. Whether you work in a marketing business graphic design or are a commercial vlogger or blogger you need to ensure that any photographs that you use in your business has a properly signed release form. Whilst you do not generally need written permission to take photos, if you take photos and wish to publish the photos on the internet or in any other way or if you are starting a photography business you can protect yourself from any liability or legal proceedings by using a Model Release Form or Letter. A Model Release Form is the contract between the photographer or User and the “model” (i.e. the subject or owner of the image or photograph). Designed to protect both parties it specifies the ways in which the images or models can or cannot be used (eg for advertising, to make prints, post on social media etc), the media formats, the use or not of the model’s name, the model’s rights (or not) to inspect the end product before publication and the expiry (or not) of the release. Why is it important? A Model Release Form is not about obtaining permission to take photographs – it is about obtaining signed consent to publish the photographs for commercial purposes. Whilst it is generally okay to take pictures of a person or people in a public place without written permission if you want to use that photo for specific commercial purposes eg to promote a product on the internet or elsewhere it is best to be safe and get a signed release form from the “model” or owner of the “model”. Risks But do get legal advice before you use a release form template as it may need adapting to fit your particular needs.And remember! If you want to use images for a purpose not originally agreed, you MUST get further signed consent.




Sales agency agreement


What is it? If you are a business selling products you may decide to employ the services of a sales agent. A sales agent is a freelance self-employed business or contractor who might or might not work for several clients. The term “sales agent” includes a “commercial agent” but it is usual to distinguish the two forms of agency by referring to someone as a sales agent only if they are not a “commercial agent” as the legal position of a “commercial agent” differs substantially from other forms of “sales agency”. The business that owns the products will be called the “Principal” and the sales agent will be called the “Agent”. The sales agent is paid commission only and so is motivated to make as many sales as possible to maximise their income.Central to the relationship between a business and their sales agent will be the “Agency Agreement”. The Sales Agency agreement will set out the product the agent will be selling, where the agent will be selling those products, how the sales are to take place, commission payable on all sales and the key rights and responsibilities of the parties. Why is it important? The use of sales agents as opposed to an employed sales team has a number of benefits for the business (i.e. the “Principal”) since commission is only payable on achieved sales, there are no fixed employment costs, and the agent will often already have a network of contacts ie established customer base, will know the market in their area and will have credibility with their customer base.




Sub-contracting agreement


What is it? Many business contracts allow one or both parties to sub-contract all or part of their obligations under a contract. This can be done via a letter termed a “Notice of Intention to Sub-contract” from the main contractor to the other party to the main contract or via a formal “Sub-contracting” agreement. Where a “Notice of intention to sub-contract” letter is used, the main contractor (ie sender of the letter) would inform the other party to the contract (ie the recipient of the letter) that the main contractor intends to subcontract certain of their obligations under a contract and will provide details of the subcontractor(s) to whom the obligations will be sub-contracted, a detailed description of the obligations to be sub-contracted with cross-references to the relevant parts of the Contract agreement between the main contractor and the other party to the contract agreement. The recipient will also be reminded that they are not a party to the sub-contract and that the main contractor will remain their primary contact person and will also remain liable for any acts of omissions of the subcontractors. As an option, the main contractor may also decide to enter into a formal “Sub-contracting” agreement with the sub-contractor and send a copy of this to




Franchise Agreement


What is it? Franchising your business lets you licence your business model to companies or individual in particular geographical areas and allows you to increase your profits while maintaining a significant degree of control over your brand. A Franchise agreement is an agreement under which the owner of a business grants a licence or licences to others (the “franchisees”) to operate that business in a particular area within the UK or internationally either on a “sole” or “non-exclusive” basis, for a fee therefore spreading their corporate identity and products or services without the expense of setting up new establishments. All franchisees will use a common identity including the name, trademarks, goodwill, other intellectual property and or products of the franchisor. The franchisor will also provide a “Quality Manual” which in effect is a rule book setting out all the relevant detail needed for the successful day-to-day running of the franchised business eg minimum standards and insurance requirements. The agreement will usually include a confidentiality clause protecting all commercially sensitive information and trade secrets from unauthorised disclosure thereby protecting the interests of the franchisor. Why is it important? Franchising has benefits for the franchisor and the franchisee. The franchisor can grow its business without having to open, staff and manage new premises or branches itself whilst the franchisee can manage his/her own business which has been already tested by the franchisor and has access to the franchisor’s experience and expertise. McDonalds and Kentucky Fried Chicken (KFC) operate their own restaurants and food outlets but also grant franchises to others to operate McDonalds and KFC businesses using their logos with McDonalds and Kentucky Fried Chicken exercising tight quality control over the restaurants, their location, food, health and safety etc.





Managing licenses


Running an online business


Protecting your IP


Business Relationships


Writing a business plan


Running an online business

Cookie Policy


What is it? A cookie is a small text file that that is stored on a website user’s computer to collect information. Why is it important? If you have cookies on your website you should have a cookie policy that informs users to your website what the cookies do, why you are collecting the information and how they can turn off cookies within their computer browser. Risks You must also get their consent and the consent must be clearly given.




Terms of Business


What is it? Your Terms of Business set out the terms and conditions on which you conduct your business and is the contract between you and your customer. Why is it important? Written terms and conditions of business are important especially when there is a dispute between your business and a customer or supplier. Written terms of business will clarify the scope of your services or the goods you agreed to sell or supply and certainty as to the agreed price, payment method, guarantees, warranties, remedies of the buyer if there is a dispute. Risks When selling goods and services online you must comply with certain legal requirements including the distance selling regulations.




Commission Linking Agreement


What is it? If you are linking your website to another website in order to share commission with the other website owner or to benefit from extra sales you need a Website Commission Linking Agreement.




Consent Notices


What is it? The law provides that if your website is based in the EU or if you are targeting customers in the EU and your site uses one or more cookies you need to display a cookie consent notice. To comply with the law your need to do three things:

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




GDPR Compliance


What is it? The Data Protection Act 2018 and the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) regulates the processing of personal data by companies in the UK, specifying, for example, that data must be kept accurate and secure. A data protection policy is a statement of how you handle personal information given to you by your customers. The Privacy and Electronic Communications Regulations set out a variety of rules which apply to the use of email marketing campaigns and regulates the use of cookies. Pure Business Law can assist you with all your data compliance matters.




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


What is it? Your Terms of Business or Terms and Conditions sets out the rights and obligations of the buyer and the seller in any sale of goods. Standard terms and conditions for the sale of goods help to make each party to the contract (whether a business or consumer) aware of their rights and obligations from the start. Why is it important? If you are dealing with a consumer there is a considerable amount of legislation eg the Consumer Rights Act 2015 aimed at protecting consumers which must be taken into account when preparing your terms and conditions. Make sure you do things right when creating your terms and conditions.




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


What is it? Your Terms of Business or Terms and Conditions sets out the rights and obligations of the buyer and the seller in any supply of services. Standard terms and conditions for the supply of services help to make each party to the contract (whether a business or consumer) aware of their rights and obligations from the start. Why is it important? If you are dealing with a consumer there is a considerable amount of legislation eg the Consumer Rights Act 2015 aimed at protecting consumers which must be taken into account when preparing your terms and conditions. Make sure you do things right when creating your terms and conditions.




Email footer and disclaimer


What is it? An email footer sets out information required by law about limited companies and limited liability partnerships. The Companies Act 1985 requires all business emails from a private or public limited company to include the company’s registered name, registered number, place of registration and its registered office address. Why is it important? An email disclaimer is a notice or warning added to an email designed to protect the email sender from breaches of confidentiality, contractual claims. Virus propagation and employee liability. An email disclaimer is optional.




Website terms and conditions


What is it? If you have a website it is a good idea to create website terms and conditions as it helps to ensure that customers and users know how a website can and cannot be used. They set out the legal rights and obligations between you and users of your website. They cover the acceptable uses of the website, prohibited use of the website, registration, password and security, linked websites, disclaimers and limitation of liability.




Privacy policy


What is it? A website privacy policy is a statement of how you handle personal information given to you by your customers. When you trade on the internet you will most likely be handling personal information because you keep records of your customers or website users. Why is it important? A website privacy policy helps build trust in your website and informs your visitors how their personal data is protected. In the UK the main legislation governing the collection, processing and distribution of personal data is the Data Protection Act 2018 and the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR).




Website Terms of Use or Online Terms of Use


What is it? Your Website terms of use set out the legal rights and obligations between you and users of your website. Even if you do not sell goods on your website, you should have a written set of terms and conditions to cover all permitted and prohibited uses of your website, including any registration requirements, linked websites, disclaimers, limitation of liability and associated subscription fees.





Managing licenses


Running an online business


Protecting your IP


Business Relationships


Writing a business plan


Buying & Selling Goods & Services

Letter ending a contract


What is it? A letter terminating a contract also known as a Notice of Contract Termination, Notice of Cancellation of Contract or a Contract Termination Letter is a formal declaration indicating your intention to terminate a contract with the other party to the contract. When writing a letter terminating a contract ensure that you have the legal right to terminate the contract in the particular circumstances and keep your tone formal,straightforward, courteous and professional. Risks You should also ensure that :

  • The letter contains a clear description of the reasons for the termination of the contract.
  • The date of termination is mentioned.
  • The letter thanks the other party for their services.

Our contract solicitors can provide you with a bespoke letter for a reasonable fixed fee that you can use to cancel a contract or agreement.




Letter assigning a contract


What is it?

Transferring a contract from one party to another is known as ‘assigning’ a contract or ‘an assignment’ of the contract. An assignment ends one party’s involvement in the contract and transfers their contractual rights, benefits and interests to a new party.

Risks

Some contracts may contain a clause prohibiting assignment; other contracts may require the other party to consent to the assignment. Unless assignment is prohibited in a contract, a party may assign their rights to third party without the consent of the other party to the agreement. A letter of assignment is used to effect the assignment and will be signed by the outgoing party and the incoming party.





Managing a company

Software Development Agreement


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




Freelancer Agreement


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




Internship Agreement


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




Staff Handbook


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




Job description


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




Job offer letter


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




Non-executive director letter of appointment


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




Senior employment contract


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




Zero hours contract


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




Consultancy agreement


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




Employment contract


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




Change to employment terms letter


What is it?

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

Why is it important?

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

Risks

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

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




Working time directive opt out letter


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




Probation letter


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




Flexible working request


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




Grievance letter


What is it?

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

Why is it important?

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

Risks

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

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

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

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





Managing licenses


Running an online business


Protecting your IP


Business Relationships


Writing a business plan


Settlement agreements & Ref

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.





Commercial notices

Invitation letter to a disciplinary appeal hearing for misconduct


What is it?

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

Why is it important?

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

Risks

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




Invitation letter to an appeal hearing for misconduct


What is it?

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

Why is it important?

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

Risks

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




Disciplinary outcome letter for misconduct - warning or no action


What is it?

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




Invitation letter to a performance appeal hearing


What is it?

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




Invitation letter to a performance appraisal


What is it?

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

Why is it important?

For example, it gives you the opportunity to:

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

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

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

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

Contact our employment law solicitors on 01234 938089.




Poor performance outcome letter - warning or no action


What is it?

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




Disciplinary procedure


What is it?

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

Why is it important?

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

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

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

  1. A letter setting out the issue.

  2. A meeting to discuss the issue.

  3. A disciplinary decision.

  4. A chance to appeal this decision.

Risks

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

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




Suspension Letter


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




Dismissal letter for misconduct


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




Dismissal letter for poor performance


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




Gross misconduct dismissal letter


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




Dismissal letter for employees without unfair dismissal rights


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




Appeal letter


What is it?

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

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





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

Software Development Agreement


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




Freelancer Agreement


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




Internship Agreement


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




Staff Handbook


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




Job description


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




Job offer letter


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




Non-executive director letter of appointment


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




Senior employment contract


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




Zero hours contract


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




Consultancy agreement


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




Employment contract


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




Change to employment terms letter


What is it?

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

Why is it important?

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

Risks

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

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




Working time directive opt out letter


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




Probation letter


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




Flexible working request


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




Grievance letter


What is it?

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

Why is it important?

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

Risks

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

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

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

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





Managing licenses


Running an online business


Protecting your IP


Business Relationships


Writing a business plan


Buying & Selling a business

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.





Operating as a Sole Trader

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.





Ending or Assigning an Existing Agreement

Letter ending a contract


What is it? A letter terminating a contract also known as a Notice of Contract Termination, Notice of Cancellation of Contract or a Contract Termination Letter is a formal declaration indicating your intention to terminate a contract with the other party to the contract. When writing a letter terminating a contract ensure that you have the legal right to terminate the contract in the particular circumstances and keep your tone formal,straightforward, courteous and professional. Risks You should also ensure that :

  • The letter contains a clear description of the reasons for the termination of the contract.
  • The date of termination is mentioned.
  • The letter thanks the other party for their services.

Our contract solicitors can provide you with a bespoke letter for a reasonable fixed fee that you can use to cancel a contract or agreement.




Letter assigning a contract


What is it?

Transferring a contract from one party to another is known as ‘assigning’ a contract or ‘an assignment’ of the contract. An assignment ends one party’s involvement in the contract and transfers their contractual rights, benefits and interests to a new party.

Risks

Some contracts may contain a clause prohibiting assignment; other contracts may require the other party to consent to the assignment. Unless assignment is prohibited in a contract, a party may assign their rights to third party without the consent of the other party to the agreement. A letter of assignment is used to effect the assignment and will be signed by the outgoing party and the incoming party.





Health & Safety

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.





 
 
 
 

Planning & Highways

Letter ending a contract


What is it? A letter terminating a contract also known as a Notice of Contract Termination, Notice of Cancellation of Contract or a Contract Termination Letter is a formal declaration indicating your intention to terminate a contract with the other party to the contract. When writing a letter terminating a contract ensure that you have the legal right to terminate the contract in the particular circumstances and keep your tone formal,straightforward, courteous and professional. Risks You should also ensure that :

  • The letter contains a clear description of the reasons for the termination of the contract.
  • The date of termination is mentioned.
  • The letter thanks the other party for their services.

Our contract solicitors can provide you with a bespoke letter for a reasonable fixed fee that you can use to cancel a contract or agreement.




Letter assigning a contract


What is it?

Transferring a contract from one party to another is known as ‘assigning’ a contract or ‘an assignment’ of the contract. An assignment ends one party’s involvement in the contract and transfers their contractual rights, benefits and interests to a new party.

Risks

Some contracts may contain a clause prohibiting assignment; other contracts may require the other party to consent to the assignment. Unless assignment is prohibited in a contract, a party may assign their rights to third party without the consent of the other party to the agreement. A letter of assignment is used to effect the assignment and will be signed by the outgoing party and the incoming party.





 

Managing employee performance

Invitation letter to a disciplinary appeal hearing for misconduct


What is it?

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

Why is it important?

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

Risks

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




Invitation letter to an appeal hearing for misconduct


What is it?

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

Why is it important?

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

Risks

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




Disciplinary outcome letter for misconduct - warning or no action


What is it?

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




Invitation letter to a performance appeal hearing


What is it?

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




Invitation letter to a performance appraisal


What is it?

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

Why is it important?

For example, it gives you the opportunity to:

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

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

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

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

Contact our employment law solicitors on 01234 938089.




Poor performance outcome letter - warning or no action


What is it?

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




Disciplinary procedure


What is it?

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

Why is it important?

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

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

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

  1. A letter setting out the issue.

  2. A meeting to discuss the issue.

  3. A disciplinary decision.

  4. A chance to appeal this decision.

Risks

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

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




Suspension Letter


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




Dismissal letter for misconduct


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




Dismissal letter for poor performance


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




Gross misconduct dismissal letter


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




Dismissal letter for employees without unfair dismissal rights


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




Appeal letter


What is it?

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

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





Reorganisation & Redundancies

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.





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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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