Thinking about starting your own business? First, let me ask you whether you know anything about the law. Specifically, legal regulations relating to employees, copyright and contracts. If the answer is no, you can still set up a company. However, you will have to get a legal advisor on staff or on call. They will help you if any issues with laws or regulations arise while you’re running the company. You may also want to learn a little about the law yourself. This will help you stay on the right side of legality and avoid any issues. Typically, employers don’t need to worry about criminal charges running a company. This is quite rare. Damage claims happen far more frequently, and this will present an issue for your business. It could cost you a lot of time and money as you defend your business against different claims. It will weaken your business position on the market and may well damage your reputation. Let’s look at some of the most common legal issues and how to handle them effectively.
Issues With Employees
We imagine you will encounter three main legal issues with employees while running your business. The first is premises liability. Premises liability dictates that you have a duty of care to any employee working in a property you own. Or, that you may rent and use as a business address. You must ensure that you protect the health and safety of your employees. Make sure that they are not exposed to physical or emotional harm. There are numerous ways to do this. Health and safety officers can be appointed to ensure that there are no potential hazards in the office. As well as this, you may want to hire an HR team. They will monitor any emotional issues in your business. In particular, they will check on employee stress levels. Employee stress and anxiety can cause serious issues in your company.
You might wonder whether you are held accountable for premises liability if you are working from home. The answer is no. However, that does not mean you don’t have a duty of care to your employees. Their safety and welfare may still be considered your responsibility in certain situations. There is precedence for this type of action, and you need to be aware of it.
You may also encounter an issue of discrimination in your business. Usually, this occurs when the employer is hiring employees for the company. At this point, you have to be very careful about your choices and reasons for not hiring someone. If you dismiss someone because of a social group or ethnicity, they may have evidence of discrimination. Particularly, if they were better qualified for the job when compared to the person that you did hire. That’s why you need to use an HR team when hiring candidates. They can alert you if there is any issue with your choice.
If your business is being sold in the future or exchanging hands, you may face an issue with TUPE law. TUPE protects employees from losing their job when ownership of a business changes. Many small business owners build up their company and then sell it for a great price on the market. If you do this, you have to check whether you are held under TUPE law. If you are, employees can not be let go as a result of the change in employer. You must alert the new owner of this before you sell. Otherwise, you could be held accountable.
Contractual Legal Issues
A contractual legal issue is one of the main reasons that you should have a skilled legal advisor on staff. They will be able to a) protect you from any bad contracts and b) fight back against any breaches. For small business owners, a breach of contract will usually be a failure to supply. You may have agreed with a company to buy a product from them that you need for your business. If they don’t deliver, they have breached the contract. The contract you sign with a company in this situation must be iron clad. Otherwise, they might be able to break it without any legal issues at all.
Bad contracts tend to include stipulations that are unmanageable by your business. You might be expected to deliver your service, even during conditions of economic instability. A legal advisor may recommend that you don’t enter into a contract such as this. Contract disputes are quite rare in the business world, particularly between small companies. However, they do happen on occasion.
Another common breach of contract will be between a business and a consumer. A consumer may claim that you have not met your side of the seller’s contractual obligations. Typically, this means you have not provided the product advertised under the conditions promised. In this situation, they may implement a chargeback to get their money returned. Avoid this legal issue is just matter of keeping good relations with your customers.
Copyright And Patenting
Without an attorney or legal advisor, it’s easy to fall on the wrong side of copyright law and patenting. Many businesses have fallen victim to this in the past, accidentally copying the design of another company. Or, intentionally, depending on which side you believe. A copyright lawsuit could potentially be a business-ending action. It can cost businesses millions in damages, particularly if they have fallen under the claim of a large corporation. You have to be particularly careful working online because it’s so easy to unintentionally use someone else’s design.
The best way to avoid this problem is to do everything by the book. Before you use a logo, design or a trademark for your business, check with a legal advisor. Make sure that it isn’t too similar to another company to the point where they might be able to bring a legal action forward. Remember, it is also crucial that you patent any of your own designs. Otherwise, there is no legal protection, and they could be used by anyone.
These are just some of the legal issues that you must be prepared for when running a company.