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Small business owners are expected to be compliant with many rules and regulations. It’s important to understand the laws that apply to your business, along with the means to ensure profitability isn’t compromised. There are licences, contracts and registrations, plus work health and safety (WHS) requirements for satisfying government guidelines. With so many dos and don’ts to consider, you may wish to consult a legal expert for advice that will save you time and money in the long run.
Getting started – business registration
Starting a small business requires dedication, commitment and financial investment. You will also need to register your business correctly. Registering your business name is a fun first step, but there are also various tax registrations that will apply, such as:
- Australian Business Number (ABN);
- Tax File Number (TFN);
- Goods and Services Tax (GST);
- Pay as you go (PAYG) withholding.
You will also need to register your business name as a ‘trade mark’ if you want exclusive rights to the name.
Protecting yourself and your customers with fair trading laws
So you are all set up and ready to hit the ground running – well not quite. It’s essential to operate your business in line with fair trading laws, and there is a lot to learn. Small business legal requirements aren’t necessarily complex, although you should understand the laws that apply to your operation, preferably in consultation with legal professionals such as those at Taylor & Scott Lawyers. Here are some important considerations worth discussing.
Fair trading laws: Rights and responsibilities under the Competition and Consumer Act 2010 (Cth).
Australian standards: Products and services that are safe, reliable and fit for purpose.
Codes of practice: Mandatory or voluntary practices that provide protection to consumers.
Trade measurement laws: Selling weighed, measured, imported and pre-packaged products.
Pricing regulations: recommended retail price; price fixing; predatory pricing; unit pricing.
Displaying prices: Displaying the total price including taxes, duties, levies, fees and charges.
Product labelling: Avoiding false, misleading or deceptive product information.
Warranties and refunds: Laws applying to both sales and service orientated businesses.
The above considerations are an overview, with each category comprised of various legal requirements that may or may not apply to your small business. An experienced lawyer can clarify everything and get you started without confusion or delay.
Understanding small business contracts
Contracts are a significant feature of most small business enterprises, and they need to be structured correctly for maximising profit and avoiding legal repercussions. It may be daunting at first, but appropriate advice and direction from a highly experienced lawyer will simplify matters in language you can understand.
It’s also important to understand that commercial contracts are different to ‘employment’ contracts between employers and employees.
Legal obligations for employing people
Anyone who is paid a wage or should be paid a wage by your small business is considered an employee. Even if they are a close friend or family member, there are legal obligations to consider, including:
- Paying employees correct wages according to the National Employment Standards and relevant Awards;
- Following all work health and safety (WHS) regulations and codes of practice;
- Reimbursing employees for work-related expenses;
- Ensuring employees are covered by workers compensation insurance;
- Behaving appropriately with all employees.
Hopefully, the picture is becoming clear regarding the dos and don’ts of your small business legal requirements. But wait – there’s more. Your Taylor & Scott Lawyer can give you the heads-up regarding the privacy act, anti-bullying laws, unfair dismissal, intellectual property, importing and exporting, franchising, environmental obligations and marketing regulations.
Obviously, not everything mentioned above will apply to your small business, but with knowledge on your side, supported by highly-regarded legal expertise, you will be able to commence with the best possible chance of turning a profit. Starting a small business is exciting, but cutting corners and ignoring legal requirements is a no-no that will come back to bite you, so do yourself and your business a favour by contacting Taylor & Scott Lawyers for the best advice moving forward.
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