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

At risk of redundancy letter


What is it? This is a letter that can be used to inform the employee that the employee is at risk of being made redundant.




Dismissal for redundancy letter


What is it? This is a letter that can be used to inform the employee that the employee is being dismissed for redundancy reasons. Why is it important? It is best practice for the employee to be given the right of appeal against redundancy.




Invitation to a redundancy appeal meeting


What is it? This is a letter to an employee inviting them to a redundancy appeal meeting.




Redundancy consultation letter


What is it? This is a letter to an employee informing them of the redundancy consultation procedure. Why is it important? The letter should contain details of the consultation procedure.





Protecting your IP

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


Business Relationships

Notice of breach of covenants


What is it?

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

Why is it important?

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

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

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

Risks

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




Break notice


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

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

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

Risks

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

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




Tenant's agreement to exclude security of tenure


What is it?

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

Why is it important?

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

Risks

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




Landlord's notice to exclude security of tenure





Section 25 Notice


What is it?

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

Why is it important?

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

Risks

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




Section 26 Notice


What is it?

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

Why is it important?

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

Risks

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




Licence for alterations


What is it?

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

Why is it important?

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

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




Section 27 Notice


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





Managing licenses


Running an online business


Protecting your IP


Business Relationships


Writing a business plan


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

Commercial lease


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




Home office rental agreement


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




Office sharing agreement


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




Rent deposit deed


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




Lease Agreement


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




Building works/Construction Agreement


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




Co-working Agreement


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





Managing a company

Company formation


What is it?

Companies House is the UK’s ‘registrar of companies. A UK company can’t be formed without approval from Companies House therefore all company formation requests need to go through Companies House. You can apply directly or via company formation agents – who may charge slightly more than Companies House and are able to offer everything that Companies House offer, plus extra associated services.

Why is it important?

Company formation documents are the key pieces of documentation (i.e. the certificate of incorporation, memorandum of association and articles of association) that you will need to keep and refer to following your registration of your company with Companies

House. If you have access to a computer, you can form your company online in a matter of hours The prices vary but Companies House charge £12 if the formation is done online. Using the paper method via the actual IN01 form sent via post costs £40 for the standard 5-10 da service or £100 for the same-day service.

To form a company, you need the following information:

  • Proposed company name
  • The proposed Registered office address
  • Shareholder(s) details
  • Company director(s) details
  • The share capital information and the particulars relating to each class of shares
  • Details of the people with significant control details

You also need Articles of association – These set out the rules for the running of the company, including internal management affairs and legal responsibility and a Memorandum of association – This document will contain the names of the subscribers (initial shareholders) or guarantors agreeing to forming the company.

If forming your company online, the Articles of Association and Memorandum will be automatically created for you although you still have the option to create your own ‘Articles of association’ if you wish. If using the paper method, you will still have the opportunity to use prepared ‘Articles of association’ but you will need to include your own ‘Memorandum of association’ when posting your completed IN01.




Directors' service agreement


What is it?

This is a more complex contract of employment between a director/executive and an employer.

Why is it important?

It sets out the employment terms and conditions of employment and the standard areas of the employment.

Risks

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 and ensure any intellectual property created by the employee- director belongs to the business..




Articles of Association


What is it?

Every company formed in England and Wales is required to have articles, without which a company cannot legally be formed. This requirement applies whether or not the company is public or private and whether limited by shares or by guarantee.

Why is it important?

The Articles of Association set out the rules for the running of the company, including internal management affairs and legal responsibility agreed by the shareholders or guarantors, directors.

The articles generally cover five essential areas:

  • Limited liability of shareholders – a fixed sum limited to the nominal value of their shares.
  • Shares and distributions – rights attaching to particular shares, issues and transfers of shares, payments of dividends and another share dealings;
  • Shareholder decision making – quorum and voting at general meetings of shareholders and various decision-making options.
  • Directors and decision making – number of directors, their powers and responsibilities and procedures for decision making; and
  • Administrative arrangements.

Our corporate solicitors can provide you with legal advice on reviewing, drafting, or amending your articles of association and other constitutional documents. We can also provide you with bespoke articles of association.




Board Resolutions


What is it? A resolution is written documentation describing an action authorized by the board of directors of a company.




EMI Schemes


What is it?

An Enterprise Management Incentive (“EMI”) scheme is an approved employee share scheme designed for smaller companies and accessible to most trading companies.

Why is it important?

It allows employers to attract and retain key staff by rewarding them with share options (equity participation ) in the business in a tax efficient way, as a reward for their efforts within the business and/or to incentivise key staff, It is ideal for smaller entrepreneurial businesses that might not be able to match salaries paid elsewhere.




Board Minutes


What is it? The minutes are a written document that describes items discussed by the directors during a board meeting, including actions taken and resolutions passed.




Share Certificates


What is it?

A Share Certificate (or stock certificate) is a written document which is evidence of a shareholder's ownership of shares in the company. The share certificate is generally issued by companies to shareholders after a transfer or transmission of shares or an allotment has been made.

Why is it important?

The share certificate will include the name of the company issuing the shares, its registration number, the details of the holders of the shares, the certificate number, the class(es) of shares being issued, date of issue, the amount paid on each share etc.

A share certificate can be issued by a private limited, public limited and unlimited liability company but cannot be issued by a company limited by guarantee as the company does not have shares.




Shareholders Agreement


What is it?

We always recommend that you put a shareholders’ agreement in place if your company has more than one shareholder.A shareholder agreement sets out the rights and obligations of each shareholder. The purpose of a shareholder agreement is to cover the most important issues in a business relationship:

  • How the shareholders will run the company
  • The mechanism for resolution of disputes between the shareholders(i.e. a “Deadlock” clause)
  • The process for valuation of the company
  • The transmission of shares in the event of the death or departure of a shareholder.

Why is it important?

A Shareholders agreement has several benefits:

  • It provides each member with clear details of their responsibilities, financial input, voting arrangements and share transfers thereby making it a strong safeguard against legal disputes and disagreements.
  • If carefully thought out and drafted it can protect individual shareholders and give them more protection that they would receive under the Model Articles of Association eg by giving each individual member a veto if the business is considering important changes
  • It is an essential agreement to have when a company has more than one shareholder as there is nothing to regulate what happens if the shareholders have a dispute or a shareholder dies.
  • It greatly reduces the risk of a shareholders’ dispute occurring and if it does it will be quicker to resolve.
  • If a shareholder is not pulling their weight or is damaging the business’s reputation the to her shareholders can vote to remove him or her and buy his or her shares for a fair price. This would be difficult to do without a shareholder’s agreement and if just relying on the standard Articles.

Our Shareholders Agreement solicitors can provide you with a professionally drafted shareholders agreement at reasonable fixed fees. Contact us today!





Managing licenses


Running an online business


Protecting your IP


Business Relationships


Writing a business plan


Settlement agreements & Ref

Settlement agreement


What is it?

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

Why is it important?

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

Risks?

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

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

For more information on settlement agreements, contact our employment solicitors




Reference letter


What is it?

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

Why is it important?

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

Risks

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

Need some advice? Contact our employment solicitors.





Commercial notices

Notice of breach of covenants


What is it?

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

Why is it important?

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

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

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

Risks

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




Break notice


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

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

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

Risks

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

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




Tenant's agreement to exclude security of tenure


What is it?

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

Why is it important?

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

Risks

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




Landlord's notice to exclude security of tenure





Section 25 Notice


What is it?

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

Why is it important?

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

Risks

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




Section 26 Notice


What is it?

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

Why is it important?

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

Risks

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




Licence for alterations


What is it?

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

Why is it important?

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

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




Section 27 Notice


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





Managing licenses


Running an online business


Protecting your IP


Business Relationships


Writing a business plan


Letting a commercial property

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

Licence to assign


What is it? If you are a landlord of commercial property, and your lease to your tenant includes a provision that says that your tenant cannot assign the lease to another (the “assignee”) without your consent and your tenant wants to assign or transfer their lease obligations to another commercial tenant you need a licence to assign to give them your consent. Why is it important? If the lease absolutely prevents assignment, then you can refuse consent without stating a reason. However, if the lease prohibits assignment without the landlord’s consent the landlord must have a good reason for refusing consent. If the tenant considers that the landlord’s reason is unreasonable the tenant can challenge the refusal in court. A tenant’s request to assign the lease may be made orally, by letter or by email as there is no prescribed form for a tenant’s application for consent to assign. A landlord can charge a tenant a fee to register an assignment. Landlords generally insist that the tenant or lessee gives a guarantee (Authorised Guarantee Agreement “AGA”) in the lease to be responsible for any breaches of covenants by the assignee so that the landlord can claim against the original tenant if the assignee breaches any of its obligations under the lease.




Licence to sublet


What is it? A licence to sublet is an agreement between a landlord and a tenant that gives the tenant the right to sublet part or the whole of the property to another tenant (the “sub-tenant”). If the lease absolutely prevents sub-letting, then you can refuse consent without stating a reason. However, if the lease prohibits sub-letting without the landlord’s consent the landlord must have a good reason for refusing consent. If the tenant considers that the landlord’s reason is unreasonable the tenant can challenge the refusal in court. Why is it important? Where there is a sub-lease the sub-lessee’s landlord is the tenant or lessee so if the sub-lessee breaches its obligations under the sub-lease the lessee or tenant is the only person entitled to take action against the sub-lessee. Landlords generally insist that the sub-tenant joins in the licence to sublet so that the landlord can claim against the sub-tenant if there is any breach of its obligations under the sub-lease.




Sale Agreement


What is it? If you are selling a commercial property, we will prepare the sale contract and related documents, deal with all enquiries raised by the buyer’s solicitors, report to you and advise you and once the contract has been agreed, complete the transaction as quickly and effectively as possible.




Purchase Agreement


What is it? If you are buying a commercial property we will review, amend and advise you on the contract, raise all relevant enquiries, conduct searches, report to you, advise you and then once the parties have agreed the contract complete and register the conveyance as quickly and effectively as possible





Buying & Selling a business

Notice of breach of covenants


What is it?

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

Why is it important?

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

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

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

Risks

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




Break notice


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

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

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

Risks

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

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




Tenant's agreement to exclude security of tenure


What is it?

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

Why is it important?

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

Risks

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




Landlord's notice to exclude security of tenure





Section 25 Notice


What is it?

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

Why is it important?

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

Risks

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




Section 26 Notice


What is it?

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

Why is it important?

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

Risks

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




Licence for alterations


What is it?

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

Why is it important?

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

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




Section 27 Notice


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





Managing licenses


Running an online business


Protecting your IP


Business Relationships


Writing a business plan


Operating as a Sole Trader

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. 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.

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.




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.

Risks

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.




Purchase order


What is it?

A purchase order is prepared by a buyer when the buyer orders goods or A purchase order is prepared by a buyer when the buyer orders goods or services from a seller. The purchase order will indicate the type of goods, quantity of goods and the price the buyer is willing to pay for the products and or services.

Once the seller accepts the purchase order it becomes a legally binding contract as the seller has agreed to sell the goods and or services at the prices put forward by the buyer. The seller will then issue an invoice to the buyer based on the purchase order.

Why is it important?

Purchase orders are important for businesses as it is instrumental in tracking expenditure, makes orders easier to track, helps avoid audit problems and provides contractual legal protection for the buyer and the supplier.

Risks

Alongside a purchase order system, it is vital that a company has strong credit management practices to safeguard cash flow from bad debts and late payment.A strong debt collections process is vital to ensure payment is made when the goods or services have been delivered.

Invoice promptly and accurately and chase up with reminders. If a customer will not pay or ignores payment requests take action – Appoint a debt collection agency, take debt recovery action through the courts or pass the debt to a solicitor.

Pure Business Law has experienced debt collection lawyers who can assist you with debt recovery.





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

Commercial lease


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




Home office rental agreement


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




Office sharing agreement


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




Rent deposit deed


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




Lease Agreement


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




Building works/Construction Agreement


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




Co-working Agreement


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





 
 
 
 

Planning & Highways

Commercial lease


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




Home office rental agreement


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




Office sharing agreement


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




Rent deposit deed


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




Lease Agreement


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




Building works/Construction Agreement


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




Co-working Agreement


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





 

Managing employee performance

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


Reorganisation & Redundancies

At risk of redundancy letter


What is it? This is a letter that can be used to inform the employee that the employee is at risk of being made redundant.




Dismissal for redundancy letter


What is it? This is a letter that can be used to inform the employee that the employee is being dismissed for redundancy reasons. Why is it important? It is best practice for the employee to be given the right of appeal against redundancy.




Invitation to a redundancy appeal meeting


What is it? This is a letter to an employee inviting them to a redundancy appeal meeting.




Redundancy consultation letter


What is it? This is a letter to an employee informing them of the redundancy consultation procedure. Why is it important? The letter should contain details of the consultation procedure.





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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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