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An Entrepreneur’s Guide to Understanding UK Business Laws

If you are looking to start a business in the UK, it is essential that you have a thorough understanding of the laws of the land in order to keep your new business practices legal and avoid potential lawsuits against you and subsequent financial loss. There are rules and regulations governing every aspect of business across each industry, from consumer rights and data protection to health & safety guidelines and employment law. For guidance on the latest business laws and how they affect your operations, it can be helpful to get expert advice from professional consultants who can combine legal insights with an entrepreneurial outlook. If you are in the process of creating your company, bear in mind these main elements of business law and and how they impact upon companies trading in the UK.

Consumer Laws

Consumer laws are designed to protect the rights of customers who have purchased products or services. This covers quality control, financial security, and delivery of goods. According to the Consumer Rights Act 2015, customers may seek a refund, repair or replacement if the product or service purchased is neither: of satisfactory quality, fit for purpose, or sold as described. Customers also have the right to enforce terms about goods, the right to reject goods, and the right to price reduction. When you’re setting up shop, ensure that you write thorough terms and conditions with refund and return policies for your employees to follow when dealing with any customer complaints.

Employment Laws

There are numerous employment laws in the UK which are designed to safeguard both businesses and employees. Employment law covers everything from hiring practices and workplace rules to working hours, wages, holiday entitlement and notice periods. Employment laws which may be particularly relevant to you when starting a new business include the Equality Act 2010 (which prohibits the discrimination of employees based on characteristics including age, race and gender), National Minimum Wage legislation, and the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974. You must also check that your employees have the right to work in the UK.   

Health & Safety Laws

While the health and safety measures you will need to implement in your business will largely depend on your specific industry, all employers in the UK are obliged to provide their staff with a safe working environment, adequate training related to health and safety protocols, and adequate welfare provisions. Whether your line of business is in catering, construction, or the automotive industry, you will need to follow HASAW guidelines and complete thorough risk assessments for your workplace before launching your business.  

Data Protection Laws

With more customers making transactions online, data protection is increasingly important. If you fail to follow the regulations outlined in the Data Protection Act 2018 – such as handling data with security measures in place, safely disposing of data within a reasonable timeframe, and only using data lawfully, fairly and transparently – you could face financial loss and be liable for prosecution. Always ensure that you and your employees handle any data received according to the DPA guidelines.