All businesses start somewhere – a great idea, a special skill, a need for cash, redundancy – but the one thing they have in common is the need to start as you mean to go on. Ensuring that your new small business has a good sound business plan and you are aware of what may seem like a jungle of laws, that you need to comply with, is part of the ladder to success!

When setting up a small business one of the key aspects of success is making sure you are up to date with all legislative issues. Employment Law covers many aspects from equal opportunities, absence policies, maternity leave, redundancy and a duty of care for health and safety at work, and these laws are for protection of employers and employees alike. Providing adequate Insurance policies will help protect you, your business and employees e.g. Employers Liability Insurance. Keeping up to scratch with the specific legal requirements necessarily means setting up and constantly restructuring management policies which will cover you and your team for any eventuality.

Small businesses are often popular to employees as they are more personal and it is easier to negotiate and discuss any problems with someone you know to be friendly and approachable. From an employers point of view having staff which are loyal and honest can be key to a smooth running business. So it seems sensible to make sure your team is healthy and happy by considering every angle of staff well being.

From the employers' viewpoint:

One of the key issues today is the provision of work place pension policies. As an employer or sole trader you may undertake to contribute to a personal/private pension plan just for yourself. Your employees however will find employment with you much more stable and attractive if you have a suitable work place pension scheme to offer.

The law is changing but presently as from October 2012 only larger businesses e.g. Tesco, have had to provide a workplace pension. The Pension Regulator now has set up a system called 'automatic enrolment' which basically stipulates that as an employer with staff in the UK you must enrol certain staff into a pension scheme. All employers will eventually have to undertake to provide a pension scheme but this change is gradual and it is estimated it will take at least 6 years to fully implement. At the moment all businesses have been given a staging date as to when they legally must enrol in the work place pension scheme and it is up to you as an employer to find out when your own staging day is set.

From an employee's viewpoint:

Under the automatic work place pension plan, launched in October 2012, employees are automatically put into a pension scheme unless they choose to opt out.

The Office of Fair Trading (OFT) in a press release (September 19th, 2013) discusses concerns over good value pensions. It has identified a number of practices that it thinks will lead to savers losing out without action by the Government. Consequently it has recommended that consultations with the DWP are necessary if the pension law legislation is to be fair and successful.

My Pension Pot © The Economic VoiceAs an employee if you are worried about your pension deal being a good one you need to find out if your employer is reviewing the pension scheme regularly and check that it seems well managed and competitive. The OFT is currently recommending a series of reforms, including new powers for the Pensions Regulator to try and prevent mismanagement of funds.

The idea of the work place pension is to make it easier for everyone to start saving – and just as the television advertisment states; you put in money, your boss contributes some and so does the government. This ensures that you will have a good pension when you retire.

So there we have it – employees get a more secure deal, and employers providing smart and up to date work place environments will get a dedicated happier work force. ….the ladder to success! However it may be noted that the Work Place Pension scheme is a piece of legislation which is likely to continue to grow and change before it is finalised in the next few years – as the government and regulating bodies continue to analyse the statistics of its use and misuse. In the meantime keep up to date with all the current laws and policies, it may be a good idea to consult a solicitor or HR specialist to help you draw up your policies. Yes, you will have to pay for this but mistakes in this area can be very costly for you and the well being of any employees.

By James Scott on behalf of www.asksolicitors.co.uk.

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