Product Features Download How to Order Support Useful Info Home

This section contains information on Legal Information. As with the other sections it is in no particular order.

Q. Inspectors concerned with Health & Safety can enter a premises:

A. Anywhere in which business is being conducted.

You have to provide a reasonably safe and healthy environment for your employees, any visitors and for members of the general public who may be affected by what you do. This applies to both the premises you work from and the work itself. An inspector has the right to enter your premises to examine it and enforce legal requirements if your standards fall short in any way.

Once you have employees you must take some or all of the following additional measures dependent on the number of people you employ. However a prudent employer should take all these measures whether or not required by law. Doing so sets the standard of behaviour that is common in the very best firms.

Inform the organisation responsible for health and safety at work for your business of where you are and what you do. For most small business this will be the Environmental Health Department of your local authority and in some cases it will be the Health and Safety Executive.

Get employer's liability insurance to cover you for any physical injury or disease your employees may get as a result of their work. The amount of cover must be at least £2 million and the insurance certificate must be displayed at all your places of work.

If you have five or more employees you must have a written statement on your policy for health and safety at work and you must bring it to your employees notice. You must also make any breach of that safety policy a subject of your disciplinary procedure.

Display the Health and Safety Law Poster or hand out to employees the equivalent leaflet.

Make an assessment of the fire risk of your workplace and keep a written record if you have five or more employees.

Ensure you have a safe place to work with safe systems, safe access, adequate materials and protection from unnecessary risks. This is a wide ranging requirement and includes things such as fire exits, fire extinguishers, electrical fittings, storage, machinery and equipment, hygiene, clothing and first aid.

Make sure all your employees are given adequate instruction and training so that they competent and not a hazard to themselves or others.

If you have ten or more employees you must keep an accident book to record accidents at work. If you have a "factory", you have to keep an accident book regardless of the number of employees. Also for all businesses certain types of accidents must be notified to the authority which regulates your business.

Q. Copyright protection only comes into effect when you:

A. Put this © symbol with the authors name and date

There is no official register for copyright. It is an unregistered right (unlike patents, registered designs or trade marks). So, there is no official action to take, no application to make, forms to fill in or fees to pay. Copyright comes into effect immediately, as soon as something that can be protected is created in some way, e.g. on paper, on film, via sound recording, as an electronic record on the internet, etc.

The type of works that copyright protects are:

  • original literary works, e.g. novels, instruction manuals, computer programs, lyrics for songs, articles in newspapers, some types of databases, but not names or titles which come under Trade Mark law.
  • original dramatic works, including works of dance or mime.
  • original musical works.
  • original artistic works, e.g. paintings, engravings, photographs, sculptures, collages, works of architecture, technical drawings, diagrams, maps, logos.
  • published editions of works, i.e. the typographical arrangement of a publication.
  • sound recordings, which may be recordings on any medium, e.g. tape or compact disc, and may be recordings of other copyright works, e.g. musical or literary.
  • films, including videos.
  • broadcasts and cable programmes.

The above works are protected by copyright, regardless of the medium in which they exist which includes the internet. You should also note that copyright does not protect ideas. It protects the way the idea is expressed in a piece of work, but it does not protect the idea itself.

It is sensible for you to mark your copyright work with the copyright symbol © followed by your name and the date, to warn others against copying it, but it is not legally necessary in the UK.

Q. Partnerships occur:

A. If people working together give the appearance of being "partners".

Partnerships are effectively collections of sole traders or proprietors. It is a common structure used by people who started out on their own, but want to expand.

There are very few restrictions to setting up in business with another person (or persons) in partnership, and several definite advantages. By pooling resources you may have more capital; you will be bringing, hopefully, several sets of skills to the business; and if you are ill the business can still carry on.

The legal regulations governing partnerships in essence assume that competent businesspeople should know what they are doing.

The law merely provides a framework of agreement which applies "in the absence of agreement to the contrary". It follows from this that many partnerships are entered into without legal formalities and sometimes without the parties themselves being aware that they have entered a partnership! Just giving the impression that you are partners may be enough to create an "implied partnership" In the absence of an agreement to the contrary these rules apply to partnerships:

  • All partners contribute capital equally.
  • All partners share profits and losses equally.
  • No partner shall have interest paid on their capital.
  • No partner shall be paid a salary.
  • All partners have an equal say in the management of the business.

It is unlikely that all these provisions will suit you so you would be well advised to get a partnership agreement drawn up in writing before trading.

Partnerships have three serious financial drawbacks that merit particular attention.

First, if your partner makes a business mistake, perhaps by signing a disastrous contract, without your knowledge or consent, every member of the partnership must shoulder the consequences. Under these circumstances your personal assets could be taken to pay the creditors even though the mistake was no fault of your own.

Second, if your partner goes bankrupt in their personal capacity, for whatever reason, their share of the partnership can be seized by their creditors. As a private individual you are not liable for your partner's private debts, but having to buy them out of the partnership at short notice could put you and the business in financial jeopardy.

Third, if your partnership breaks up for any reason, those continuing with it want to recover control of the business, and those who remain shareholders will want to buy back shares; the leaver wants a realistic price. The agreement you have on setting up the business should specify the procedure and how to value the leaver's share, otherwise resolving the situation will be costly.

Q. Which is the minimum size of business that has to register under the Data Protection Act?

A. Every business and organisation irrespective of size is governed by the Data Protection Act

The first Data Protection Act was passed in 1984 and grew out of public concern about personal privacy in the face of rapidly developing computer technology. However, even at the time it was passed it was virtually inconceivable that computers would permeate every sector of business and society to the extent to which they now have.

The Act was also passed to enable the United Kingdom to ratify the Council of Europe Convention on Data Protection, allowing data to flow freely between the United Kingdom and other European countries with similar laws, preventing damage to the economy and international trade which might other-wise have occurred.

The latest Data Protection Act, 1998, came into effect on 1 March 2000.

Every business and organisation irrespective of size is governed by the Data Protection Act, so the answer is fairly straightforward: if you hold personal information about living individuals on computer or have such information processed on computer by others (for example, by a computer bureau or your accountant), then you probably do need to register under the Data Protection Act. This need not be particularly sensitive information and can be as little as a name and address.

The Data Protection Act 1998 also covers some records held in paper form. These records do not have to be notified to the Commissioner, but should be handled in accordance with the data protection principles. Manual records are covered by the Act if they form part of a relevant filing system. The Act defines a relevant filing system as "any set of information relating to individuals and structured, either by reference to individuals or by reference to criteria relating to individuals, in such a way that specific information relating to a particular individual is readily accessible".

The maximum penalty for non-registration is £5,000 plus costs in the Magistrates' Court and an unlimited fine in the Higher Courts. This amount has not changed since the 1984 Act came into force.

Q. Employees have to be given job descriptions:

A. Everyone must have one within two months of starting work

All employees have to be given a written statement of a defined list of terms and conditions of their employment within two months of starting working for you. You should also keep written records on all employment matters, which will be invaluable in case of dispute.

The list of items which go into a job description will include the following.

  • The names of the employer and the employee.
  • The date the employee's employment began.
  • The date the employee's period of continuous employment began.
  • The scale or rate of remuneration or the method of calculating it.
  • The intervals at which remuneration is paid.
  • Any terms and conditions relating to hours of work (including normal working hours).
  • Any terms and conditions relating to holidays, including public holidays, and holiday pay (sufficient to enable the employee’s entitlement, including entitlement to accrued holiday pay on termination of employment, to be precisely calculated).
  • The employee's job title or a brief description of his or her work.
  • The employee's place of work or, where the employee is required or permitted to work at various places, an indication of that fact and of the address of the employer.
  • Where the employment is not intended to be permanent, the period for which it is expected to continue.
  • Where the employment is for a fixed term, the date when it is to end.
  • Any collective agreements which directly affect the terms and conditions of the employment including, where the employer is not a party, the persons by whom they were made.
  • The person (specified by description or otherwise) to whom the employee can apply if dissatisfied with any disciplinary decision, and the manner in which the application should be made.
  • The person (specified by description or otherwise) to whom the employee can apply for the purpose of seeking redress of any grievance relating to his or her employment, and the manner in which the application should be made.
  • Any terms and conditions relating to incapacity for work due to sickness or injury, including any provision for sick pay.
  • Any terms and conditions relating to pensions and pension schemes.
  • Any disciplinary rules applicable to the employee.
  • Requirements to work away from the employees home country including details of pay, any additional benefits , the duration of any overseas work and the terms and conditions of their return.
  • The period of notice required, which increases with length of service. A legal minimum of one week's notice per year of service is required up to a maximum of 12 weeks. This may be overridden by express terms in the contract.

Site Map Download How to Order Support Contact Us About VA
Contact JQL
Tech Support
©2004 JQL All Rights Reserved