From ambitious startups to multinational corporations, every business owner should be aware of their responsibilities and legal obligations. In this guide, we’ll discuss key legal issues to consider in 2021.
Health and safety
As an employer or the owner of a business that provides access to premises or services for members of the public, it’s essential to understand the importance of health and safety. There are rules and regulations in place across all industries to protect employees and customers. If you run a business, and you don’t adhere to the guidelines, you run the risk of ending up paying fines and even facing legal action.
If an employee is injured at work and the accident resulted from negligence on your behalf, for example, you would be held liable. Always ensure that you are up to date with health and safety regulations, implement robust, effective policies, provide staff with the relevant safety equipment and training, and address any issues raised by employees or during risk assessment procedures as swiftly as possible.
Copyright and intellectual property
Laws related to intellectual property are designed to protect innovative businesses and entrepreneurs and prevent others from copying or stealing ideas and creations. Rules around copyright, patenting and trademarking can be complex, and it’s hugely beneficial for business owners to seek legal advice so that they take the necessary steps to protect brand names, product designs, technological innovations, and bright ideas.
Advances in technology can make the law, particularly copyright code for software businesses and companies that utilize coding, even more, difficult to understand and interpret. This is why having an experienced lawyer in your corner is essential.
Employee rights and disputes
Every employer wants to be respected and to have strong relationships with their employees. Unfortunately, managing a team isn’t always plain sailing and many company bosses have to deal with complaints and disputes. The first step to take to minimize the risk of issues linked to mistreatment, unfair dismissal, or contract disputes is to ensure that you have detailed contracts in place outlining employee rights and responsibilities.
It’s also crucial to make sure that you are familiar with the latest guidelines and labor laws. Seek legal advice to help you draw up employment contracts, make sure you abide by health and safety guidelines and introduce policies to promote wellbeing and create safe, welcoming, inclusive, diverse workplaces.
Be clear about what is expected from employees and encourage anyone who has any concerns to come to you to discuss them. Listen to your employees and try to address any problems that arise promptly. If there is a dispute, and you believe that you have acted within the legal framework, speak to your legal representatives.
Late payments and outstanding invoices
Many businesses struggle to stay afloat as a result of cash flow issues. One of the main problems companies face is chasing missed or late payments and outstanding invoices. If you are reliant on money coming in from customers to pay your own bills, you may find yourself in a situation where your business and your reputation are at risk through no fault of your own.
There are steps you can take to minimize the risk of cash flow problems linked to late payments. The first is to be clear when setting deadlines and to issue reminders as the date approaches. The second is to communicate openly with customers and to get in touch if the payment is missed.
You can allow a period of grace, but specify a new deadline if you are granting an extension. If a client still hasn’t paid after the deadline has passed, or they are refusing to take calls or respond to emails, get in touch with an experienced, reputable law firm that has expertise in dealing with business law. It may be possible to take legal action against businesses or customers that won’t pay as well as finding solutions to help you manage your finances while you are still awaiting payment.
Running a business doesn’t just involve balancing the books, keeping customers happy, and trying to generate as much money in sales as possible. Company owners have a legal responsibility to adhere to and comply with rules and regulations and they can also benefit from having legal experts in their corner to protect their business and their reputation.
If you run a business, no matter how small or large, it’s important to understand your legal obligations and to ensure that you take the necessary steps to minimize risks and keep your business, your employees, and your customers safe.