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Setting up a business involves complying with a range of legal requirements. Find out which ones apply to you and your new enterprise.

What particular regulations do specific types of business (such as a hotel, or a printer, or a taxi firm) need to follow? We explain some of the key legal issues to consider for 200 types of business.

While poor governance can bring serious legal consequences, the law can also protect business owners and managers and help to prevent conflict.

Whether you want to raise finance, join forces with someone else, buy or sell a business, it pays to be aware of the legal implications.

From pay, hours and time off to discipline, grievance and hiring and firing employees, find out about your legal responsibilities as an employer.

Marketing matters. Marketing drives sales for businesses of all sizes by ensuring that customers think of their brand when they want to buy.

Commercial disputes can prove time-consuming, stressful and expensive, but having robust legal agreements can help to prevent them from occurring.

Whether your business owns or rents premises, your legal liabilities can be substantial. Commercial property law is complex, but you can avoid common pitfalls.

With information and sound advice, living up to your legal responsibilities to safeguard your employees, customers and visitors need not be difficult or costly.

As information technology continues to evolve, legislation must also change. It affects everything from data protection and online selling to internet policies for employees.

Intellectual property (IP) isn't solely relevant to larger businesses or those involved in developing innovative new products: all products have IP.

Knowing how and when you plan to sell or relinquish control of your business can help you to make better decisions and achieve the best possible outcome.

From bereavement, wills, inheritance, separation and divorce to selling a house, personal injury and traffic offences, learn more about your personal legal rights.

Ten ways to avoid legal problems when recruiting

Recruitment can be a legal minefield unless you keep your working practices under review. Here are ten ways to make sure you are recruiting within the law so you avoid costly claims.

1. Prepare a detailed job description

Before you advertise a role, make sure the job description is up-to-date, that it fits the role you are advertising and is not a generic description that has been recycled from previous ads.

If the job could be done part-time, full-time or as a job share, this should be considered and stated. As well as avoiding discrimination, it is also useful to see if the role could be amalgamated into another position thereby avoiding the costs of recruiting for another role.

2. Draft an appropriate job advert

All job advertisements are covered by the Equality Act. Employers should be careful about the content of adverts. Whether the job is advertised externally or internally, an advert cannot discriminate on the basis of any "protected characteristics" - including race, sex, disability, pregnancy and maternity, religion or age. The wording should not be discriminatory in any way - for example requesting applicants of a particular age.

3. Consider advertising internally

Companies often fail to consider their current workforce when recruiting for a new role; with training and guidance an existing employee could be a good fit for the role. Internal recruitment can also cut the cost of employing job agencies and it encourages brand and company loyalty.

4. Be careful using tests

In the wrong hands, psychological profiling can be too prescriptive in defining a personality type and it can create an unconscious bias about what makes the perfect employee. Any test should correspond as closely as possible to the job that is being advertised. These tests could also discriminate against certain individuals so an employer must consider whether a disabled person needs more time to complete a test, for example.

5. Interviews

Make sure that all job applicants are assessed objectively and that you keep notes of your evaluation in the event that it is disputed. It may be helpful if all staff are provided with training before they carry out interviews because they may have a pre-conceived bias to recruit certain types of employees. While it is important to recruit a person who fits in with the rest of the team, assumptions should not be made about age and experience.

6. Check references

It may sound simple but businesses should make sure that all references are checked because otherwise you do not have an objective perspective on the candidate’s capabilities.

7. Job offers

Obtain advice if you are unsure about whether a written job offer contains legally-binding obligations.

8. Be careful not to mishandle feedback

It is good practice to provide unsuccessful candidates with feedback and this also reflects well on the company. If it is requested, feedback should be handled sensitively because it could be used in an employment tribunal claim. Any feedback should not be too personal or negative and it should relate to comments about the person’s failure to meet the specific requirements of the role in question.

9. Be careful when withdrawing offers

An employee may have a claim if you withdraw an offer; and even though the employee may not have two years’ continuous employment a company may risk allegations of discrimination. The withdrawal letter should therefore be carefully written.

10. Consider probationary periods

If using probationary periods, employers should gather information from objective sources before considering an employee’s suitability for a role. It may be advisable to follow a fair dismissal procedure even if there may be no contractual requirement to do so.

If you are unsure at any point, it is always sensible to seek advice before you take any action - either when recruiting or if a candidate is found to be unsuitable for the role.

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Copyright © 2017 Jane Crosby is an associate at law firm Hart Brown.

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