Running a business can be one of the most emotionally and financially rewarding processes a person goes through in life. That’s not to say it’s not without its stresses however – and legal issues have the potential to cause a professional headache like no other.
Only 14% of UK SMEs cite regulation as one of their biggest concerns. While some companies may knowingly act in contravention of the law, many others get in to trouble through sheer ignorance.
Simply not knowing any better won’t get you off the hook, however. Here are four key legal areas to keep a keen eye on.
They say no idea is an original idea. When it comes to intellectual properties such as music, literature, designs and images however, it needs to be – otherwise you could be unlawfully stealing what isn’t yours.
It’s important to carry out in-depth research before you launch a new product, service or campaign to make sure you’re not unknowingly violating intellectual property law. While it’s perfectly okay to celebrate your influences, try to avoid directly copying them.
Even with the best of intentions, you’re unlikely to get every hiring decision right. You might take a chance on someone with less knowledge and experience than they claimed to have on their CV, or find that they’re putting the rest of your team out of turn.
There are steps you can take to lessen the likelihood of legal repercussions in the event that you do get rid, however. This could include documenting any disciplinary action you take, or hiring a risk advisory expert to make sure you’re acting within your rights.
We’re living and working in a more transparent world than we used to, and that’s very much a positive thing. It does however mean that your HR team needs to be prepared if any allegations of discrimination or harassment should come your company’s way, as failing to adequately investigate and address these issues could have serious ramifications.
While the best-case scenario will be that you don’t receive any allegations in the first place, the next best will always be reaching a conclusion internally rather than legally.
It’s unlikely that any company will purposefully set out to wrong their customers – but it does happen. Many regulations fall in favour of the customer in order to protect them against faulty products, poor services or misleading information, and facing lawsuits from dissatisfied customers could seriously damage your reputation.
Try to be as proactive as possible with customer service issues to avoid driving them to legal action.
Are you fully across the legal issues facing your business? While you’ll hopefully never need to be, it’s best to be prepared should anything crop up in the future.