Businesses are required to follow various rules set out by the government. Breaking one of these rules could land you with an expensive fine. But just what are these rules?
Some are obvious such as filing your taxes every year and paying staff a fair wage. Others are less obvious such as applying to specialist permits and following specialist health and safety laws. To list them all would be impossible. This makes it very difficult to know exactly what rules you should be following.
Many businesses break rules without realising. This usually doesn’t matter until you get caught. The following guide explains why you shouldn’t take the risk and where to find information on which rules to follow.
Examples of laws that businesses commonly (and unknowingly) break
- Not giving employees enough notice when dismissing them: For every year that an employee has worked at a company, they must be given 1 week of notice (e.g. an employee that has worked at a company for 5 years should be given five weeks notice). Failure to give the right amount of notice is classified as wrongful dismissal – and yet many employers are guilty of it.
- Not providing an adequate rest break for employees: While many companies are aware that they must provide a 20 minute break for each 6 hour period, many employers forget that they must provide 11 hours of rest between shifts.
- Not providing a company health and safety policy to employees: A survey of 2000 employees working at companies of over five employees found that 65% of them had not received any information on health and safety policy – despite being the law.
- Failing to provide basic fire safety features: There are many rules when it comes to fire safety that are often overlooked. For instance, do you know how many fire extinguishers you should have on your premises? Do you know what type of fire extinguisher you need to use?
- Using copyrighted images without permission: Copyrighted images should only ever be used with the permission of the creator and should be referenced. This includes website content, social media content and even public PowerPoint presentations.
- Breaking the CAN-SPAM Act: Do you use clickbaity headers in your emails? Have you not provided a clear unsubscribe button from your mailing list? If so, you could be breaking the CAN-SPAM Act.
The dangers of breaking the law
Most business laws are in place to protect the rights of others. Not only could you be fined for not following a law, but you could also be sued by an employee, customer or other third-party for breaking a law repeatedly. Fines and lawsuits may not just cause financial damage – they could potentially also cause damage to your reputation if word leaks out. This could further impact your revenue by potentially deterring customers.
As for laws regarding health and safety, such laws are often there to protect you from harm. Not having adequate fire safety practices or not having a first aid kit on site may not only put your employees and customers at risk but also yourself at risk.
How to educate yourself
Following the law is important – but how do you know which business laws to follow? The best solution is to seek out a professional legal advisor who specialises in your industry. They will know exactly which laws you should be putting in place. Other advisors such as financial advisors may be able to offer support with taxes, while health and safety consultants may be able to offer advice that is specific to health and safety. You may even be able to organize audits that involve assessing your entire business before recommending improvements.
On top of educating yourself, you may be able to find a compliance training course for your employees to take. It is not just you who may inadvertently break the law – your employees may accidentally break the law too.
Business laws are always changing and it pays to keep your eyes on the news. By following business new sites and blogs that are related to your industry, you can find out information about upcoming new regulations before they come into practice so that you can prepare early. Having a legal advisor on call can also be handy in case you have a concern. Don’t feel that you have to work it all out yourself.