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Legal Documents - 8 Situations When Your Business Needs Them

Aug 14, 2008
If you are the owner of a Small to Medium Enterprise, it's likely that the last thing you want to do is worry about the fine details of legal documents, contracts, business agreements, and similar pieces of paperwork. You may want to get on with the running of your business, but if you don't have the correct legal documents in certain situations you pay a high price, whether it is in legal fees, settlement costs or simply lost business. Here are eight common business situations in which you should have accurate legal documents, either through consultation with a lawyer or by using business document templates.

You are moving into new offices...

To fully comply with health and safety regulations, you'll need a number of legal documents if you move into new premises, including a fire safety assessment and a health and safety risk assessment.

You are dealing with an outside company...

In addition to a clear and accurate business contract, giving clear descriptions of the product or service that you expect to receive, you may also want to consider getting a confidentiality agreement if you are working with other companies and independent contractors, especially if they are likely to have access to sensitive company information as part of their work.

You are hiring...

You need to make sure that your employee contracts are properly drawn up legal documents that clearly define the responsibilities, expectations and conditions of employment.

...or firing...

If one of your employees isn't pulling their weight, you might want to show them the door straight away. But it isn't that simple - ignore the legal requirements for dismissing an employee and you could leave yourself open to costly litigation. You need to follow a clear process of official verbal and written warnings - these warnings and the dismissal need to be carefully worded business documents.

You need a written company policy...

Discrimination against age, religion, gender and sexual orientation can all cause businesses a serious legal headache; a clear and comprehensive equal opportunities policy is a vital document to refer to in any dispute or disciplinary issue you have with your staff. Equally important can be company policy documents concerning maternity leave, harassment and bullying, and drugs and alcohol.

You receive a flexible working request...

Any adult carer or parent with a child who is 16 or under has the legal right to apply for flexible working if they've worked for your company for more than six months. If you do reject an application, you must give a legitimate business reason for the refusal, and give them the right to appeal. Make sure any communication you have with the employee is compliant with the laws on flexible working.

You need a disclaimer...

Whatever your product or service, it is likely that you will need some kind of disclaimer to protect yourself if this product or service is misused or causes injury. Even a single legal loophole in a document like this can be highly damaging to a business - make sure any disclaimer that you have is a carefully worded legal document that fully protects your business.

You need to make a complaint...

Complaints to other companies need to be carefully worded. If the dispute becomes serious, any correspondence you send or receive may become vital and if you make a mistake early on it could come back to haunt you.
About the Author
Iain Mackintosh is the managing director of Simply-Docs. The firm provides over 1100 legal documents covering all aspects of business from holiday entitlement to non-disclosure agreements. By providing these legal documents (with content provided by leading commercial lawyers, HR and health & safety consultants) at an affordable price, the company intends to help small businesses avoid costly breaches of regulation and legal action.
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