Common Legal Mistakes Business Owners Make: Part 2

Continuing from Common Legal Mistakes Business Owners Make: Part 1, there are still many common legal mistakes that are being made. Though entrepreneurs may think that their biggest concerns should be marketing their products or spreading the word about their brands, they should be cautious as to what legal mistakes they could be making. Many startups just want to get their businesses up and started as quickly as possible and may forget about important legal issues. Don’t let make mistakes that could be easily avoided if you would consult a lawyer before beginning.

 

Inaccurate Contracts

Businesses have many contracts. One of the most important contracts is with your vendors. If you need to purchase raw materials or outside services, you need to have a well-written contract. Lawyers can help draft your contract and provide you with the information that needs to be included. This also helps inform business owners on behaviors to avoid and what to keep their eye out for in the future. Do not enter into an agreement without a proper legally-binding contract.

 

Failure to create nondisclosure and non-compete agreements

Your company is going to have proprietary information that gives you a competitive advantage. Whether it is your customer list or an idea or formula for a new product or service, you want to make sure it is protected. Anyone who has access to this information must be legally bound to not reveal any projects your company may be working on. This will also protect your company if an employee leaves, they cannot take their clients with them.

 

Copyright, Patents, and Trademarks

Creating a business is a huge step. You built this idea from scratch and you put so much time and money into creating this company. You want to protect your name, products, and your intellectual property from being stolen. Know the specific laws on protecting the different types of intellectual property you could have. Avoid losing your business name or your blueprints for a new product.

 

You have worked hard to get to where you are at. Not having a legal professional helping you in your business endeavors could make your company’s future much harder. Take the initiative and hire a lawyer to help with business proceedings such as contracts, policies, and more.

 

**This article is for informational purposes only and is not intended to be legal advice. In relation to your individual situation, always seek advice specific to your circumstances from a lawyer.

Common Legal Mistakes Business Owners Make: Part 1

Starting up a business is difficult. Even the most successful businesses to date have had bumps in the road. Business owners need to be aware that when creating a new entity in the business world, there is going to be red tape stopping them at almost every turn. Being prepared and having the right resources can make it easier for businesses to create success. Amongst the common mistakes that are made, many of them are legal mistakes.

 

Not Using a Lawyer

Many new businesses face the mistake of waiting too long before bringing in legal representation. They believe that they do not have similar legal obligations that established businesses have. They believe that legal issues will only come when the business scales and they have time before they have to hire a lawyer. This is a huge mistake. You want to hire a lawyer from the very beginning. This can save you massives costs down the road. If you have a lawyer right off the bat, they can help you establish your business correctly from the start.

 

Not Placing Terms and Conditions Policies

When you’re on websites, it is common for a “Terms and Conditions” checkbox to pop up. By checking this box, customers are agreeing to specific uses of your products and services and the obligations that come with being a customer. If you do not have these policies written and published, you have set yourself up for a lawsuit if a customer would choose to proceed with legal action.

 

Lack of Privacy Policy

Your privacy policy is to be public. Your customers and business partners have a right to know what you will be doing with the information they supply to you. If you are sharing your customer list, your customers have a legal right to know what is happening. The privacy policy will lay out the information it does and doesn’t share.

 

Business Tax Laws

Tax laws are complex no matter where your business is located. You should hire a legal professional to answer questions about what taxes your business is subject to, when you must file your tax returns, how often you need to make payments, and more. A lawyer can help keep your records and help file your taxes when it is required.

 

**This article is for informational purposes only and is not intended to be legal advice. In relation to your individual situation, always seek advice specific to your circumstances from a lawyer.

Employment Laws: Employer’s Perspective Part 2

There are more to list of employment laws that are viewed as the most important. Continuing with the article Employment Laws: Employer’s Perspective: Part 1, we dive into the clauses regarding termination, dress code, remuneration, and behavior.

 

Termination

Employment can end for many unique reasons. Employees may resign or they could be terminated. There are certain rules that must be followed when terminating an employee which include a notice and their final pay. For termination, it depends on how long an employee has been with the current company. The time spent with the company and age can help determine how much in advance the notice period must be.

 

Dress code

Depending on what type of company the employee is working with, there could be a dress standard set in place. Employees will have to abide by the dress code during their employment. Not adhering to the dress code could result in probationary periods or termination  

 

Remuneration

Businesses can decide on the system they want to use to determine remuneration, as long as they comply with the laws. Payment should not be based on their race, gender, or religious affiliations. As long as employees are doing the same work, equal pay should be distributed to avoid discrimination lawsuits.

 

Behavior

Though it is an employee’s right to have a social life outside of work, companies can enforce certain behaviors outside of the workplace. With social media continuing to be a growing aspect in society, companies want to make sure their employees are representing the company culture properly. If an employee has a negative social media presence, it could affect how the company looks to consumers.

 

When drafting an employee contract, make sure to have a legal professional review or help draft it. There are many clauses that should be added in your contracts and should not be overlooked to protect the company and the employees. Having proper contracts drafted can save employers legal situations in the future and should be taken seriously.

 

**This article is for informational purposes only and is not intended to be legal advice. In relation to your individual situation, always seek advice specific to your circumstances from a lawyer.

 

Employment Law: Employees Perspective

There are some of the strongest protections for workers when it comes to Australian employment laws. It ensures their safety from being exploited and allows them to be compensated in certain unfair situations that can arise in the workplace. When dealing with a legal matter in the workplace, it is recommended to consult a legal professional for proper and knowledgable advice. Usually, companies have their own legal team prepared for handling situations, but if an employee feels their rights have been breached, they should contact a lawyer.

 

What are employees protected from?

 

Adverse Action

Employees should not be afraid to make requests for information or the change of something within the company due to repercussions that an employer may threaten. Employers who threaten:

  • Terminating employment
  • Injury to an employment
  • Demoting employees
  • Discrimination

Unless the employee is not following the employment contract, it is unlawful to take adverse action against them.

 

For example:

If an employee feels they are not receiving the proper compensation so they request assistance from the Fair Work Ombudsman. If the employer finds out and demotes the employee, this is viewed as unlawful since the employer took adverse action against the employee.

 

Coercion

Employers do not have the right to make employees do something they do not want to do through intimidation or threats. Many of the adverse actions fall into the coercion category. The difference is that the employee did not take action first.

 

For example:

If an employee does not want to do something against their will (out of the scope of their job description) and the employer threatens to terminate the employee so they will do the task. That is coercive behavior and is counted as unlawful behavior.  

 

Misrepresentation

Employers are not able to give false information to employees. The employment contract should be available for employees to access and hold all the information employees need to know about their position. Whether it contains their annual leave, sick and carer’s leave and compensations, employers have to be forthcoming.

 

For example:

If an employee asks an employer about leave and the employer does not give the correct information to try and mislead the employee. The employer could give the employer the wrong number of weeks they get annually or for sick leave and it is considered misrepresentation.

 

As an employee, if you feel that you have lost your job for an unfair reason, feel as though you’re being coerced, or feel that your rights are being violated, seek out legal help. Determine whether or not this is a situation that can be handled with just your employer or if legal action is necessary. Even going to a lawyer for advice on the situation can help determine what actions should be taken to resolve the issue.

 

**This article is for informational purposes only and is not intended to be legal advice. In relation to your individual situation, always seek advice specific to your circumstances from a lawyer.

 

 

Employment Laws: Employer’s Perspective Part 1

Starting a business is not an easy task. There are many legal, financial, and personal hurdles you need to overcome before launching a successful business. With legal issues, you have to not only focus on the immediate preparations but you also have to prepare for future situations. Many businesses, when they become successful, hire employees to help with the incoming waves of work. The business needs to protect themselves with clearly written contracts that help not only the business but also the employees. Whether the business is a fresh new startup or an established company, you will want to seek legal advice to draft employment contracts containing necessary clauses.

 

Restraint of trade clause

This clause will protect the employer’s interests after an employee leaves the current company. The two main types that are included are non-competition and non-clauses. It restricts employees from using confidential information and trade secrets from the previous company, working for a competitor after a certain period of time, and stealing customers or staff from their previous employer.

 

Annual Leave

This allows employees to be paid while taking time off of work. Based on ordinary work hours, full-time and part-time employees get four weeks of annual leave. Annual leave accumulates from the first day the employee is employed. Figuring out the correct way to calculate the annual leave of your employees can ensure future success if a situation comes up.

 

Sick or Carer’s Leave

Sick leave is when an employee takes paid time off because of an illness or injury. Carer’s leave is to take care of or support a family member or member of their household when they’re sick or has an unexpected emergency occur. It should be noted employees may have to give notice or even evidence of their sick or carer’s leave. Like annual leave, employees start accumulating sick and carer’s leave during the beginning of their employment.

 

Probation

Employers have the right to put their employees on a probationary period to assess if the employee is suitable for the position in the company. During the probationary period, employees will receive the same benefits as an employee not on the probation period. If an employee doesn’t pass the evaluation during the probationary period, they will receive notice when their employment will end and the accumulated annual leave hours that will be paid out.

 

**This article is for informational purposes only and is not intended to be legal advice. In relation to your individual situation, always seek advice specific to your circumstances from a lawyer.

Business Standards in Australia

Companies function differently in all parts of the world. Whether you are just starting out in a career path, looking to move overseas for work, or doing business with a foreign country. Australia has different business standards than other countries.

 

Businesses in Australia typically follow the work schedule of 8:30 am to 4:30 pm or around 38 hours per week. Australians consider punctuality to be of high importance and it reflects poorly if you are tardy. They are clear and concise when it comes to their business communication. When presenting, they will not focus on any unnecessary details. They get to the point and stress the facts without any exaggeration.

 

During meetings, they will arrive early, especially if they are leading the meeting. They will make appointments a few days in advance and have the objectives planned out with an agenda to share during the meeting. Business cards are handed out at the beginning during the introductions. When introducing yourself in a business situation, you can state your full name but your first name will most likely be used during the rest of the meeting.

 

Since the agenda has already been set with focused objectives, you should lead the meeting as stated. This will help others determine your trustworthiness. Meetings may seem casual in a sense but they are taken very seriously.

 

Though there is a hierarchy in Australian businesses, it does not reflect during meetings. No matter the position or level an employee is at, they will express their opinions on the matter. It is frowned upon to leverage your position to make negotiations. Managers in a company will typically seek advice from employees and share information regarding any decisions that need to be made. The employees and managers share mutual respect from each other to accommodate the needs of the company.

 

Gifts in a business situation are not necessary and sometimes time can be looked upon as bribery. During the closing of a deal or due to negotiations being closed, gifts can be appreciated. Gifts that employees receive from government-funded organizations have some restrictions and cannot be accepted if they have a high-dollar value.

 

**This article is for informational purposes only and is not intended to be legal advice. In relation to your individual situation, always seek advice specific to your circumstances from a lawyer.

Industries Lawyers Have Expertise In

There has been a stigma created for lawyers by the television industry. Many lawyers depicted on television are specialist in criminal law. There is a lack of understanding of the demand in other industries legal professionals can get involved with. Law firms are in high demand for legal roles such as the following.

 

Commercial Property

Commercial property transactions typically require legal assistance. Buying or leasing commercial properties can be one of the biggest decisions that owners have to make for their business. Without proper help, the decision can have a huge negative impact on the success of the business. Commercial property lawyers can assist businesses whether they are buying or selling commercial property, preparing and reviewing leases, and handling disputes as they arise.

 

Conveyancing

Conveyance is a written document transferring real estate property or interests from one party to the next. A notary must be present and the conveyance than must be put into the Recorder of Deeds. Lawyers can provide services for both commercial and residential transactions. During the client and lawyer’s relationship, lawyers can provide pre-contractual advice, explain the legal terms, and inform the client of their rights and responsibilities involved in the contracts.

 

Employment

Representation in employment matters for either the employer’s or employee’s side could occur at any point of a business’s life. For the employer’s viewpoint, whether you are an established business or a start-up, you will need precautions set in place to protect your business. Having employment lawyers draft employment contracts ensure that necessary clauses are included such as sick leave, annual leave, probation, grounds for termination, dress standard, representation of the company, and many more. The other side is at some point while working for the company, employees may need representation. Employment lawyers can help employees protect their rights and assist in unfair situations.

 

Commercial Litigators

The demand in Australia for litigators with experience with commercial contracts is constantly increasing. Clients are looking for lawyers who can negotiate, draft and review agreements, and procurement. Skills involving insolvency and construction has been growing. Many litigation lawyers try to seek out resolutions before the disputes need to be taken to a higher court. Using techniques such as mediation, conciliation, and arbitration are the steps they take to resolve the disputes.

 

**This article is for informational purposes only and is not intended to be legal advice. In relation to your individual situation, always seek advice specific to your circumstances from a lawyer.

 

What Businesses Should Know About Cyber Security

With the world transforming digitally every day, businesses have to be aware of the risk of cyber attacks. Cybersecurity can make or break your business. If your company does get hacked, not only could you lose information about your customers but you could also lose your customers as well. If a company’s security is in question, consumers are not going to trust them with their information which means the company will lose business opportunities. Companies’ databases can include a lot of sensitive information. If the company does not have the proper protective procedures in place, they could be at risk for cyber attacks. Plenty of large corporations have had their data systems breached, you do not want to follow in those newsworthy footsteps.

 

 

Password Management

Setting a password for a new account or email can be daunting once you’ve already had to make ten other passwords. You might want to reuse a password on more than one account because it will be easier to remember. This might be easier to remember but it is also easy for hackers to log into multiple accounts. Mix your characters and try not to store your passwords online or even on paper. You don’t know if they could fall into the wrong hands.

 

Protecting Devices

Having passcodes and logins on your devices may seem like just another password you have to remember. It can be beneficial if your device is ever unattended or lost. It ensures the person that finds your device cannot easily unlock it and find personal data and information. Another way to protect your device is by being aware of malware that can spread through flash drives, external hard drives, and even your personal phone. Make sure you set up the protect firewall protections in your devices.

 

Clicking Links

If you do not know where or who an email is coming from, do not click on it! If anything in an email seems suspicious or unusual and you don’t know the sender, delete the email without opening it. If you know the person who the message is supposedly sent from and it looks unusual, contact the person to verify that it was, in fact, them who sent it.

 

Unsecured Networks

Be aware when you are working on unsecured networks. You want to use caution if you are working remotely. Make sure your employees know that they should not access private information when they are on unsecured networks. Browsing on these untrusted networks can lead to the interception of sensitive information.

 

Technology is constantly improving. The world is not only finding new ways to protect information but there are also people out there finding new ways to steal information. Improve your business’s cybersecurity.

 

**This article is for informational purposes only and is not intended to be legal advice. In relation to your individual situation, always seek advice specific to your circumstances from a lawyer.

 

 

More Tips About Buying a Business

In my last article, I gave three tips about buying a business. Though research, buying assets, and hiring a professional are very important tips, there are more. Sales and payroll taxes, prepaid expenses, and letter of intent are some more aspects to focus on when buying a business.

 

Sales and Payroll Taxes

Asking about sales taxes and payroll taxes before buying a business can save you troubles in the future. Even if you buy a business’s assets, the state tax authority may have the ability to hold you liable if the previous owner owed sales, use, payroll, or any other business taxes. If the previous owner has other employees, you should ask if they were using a payroll service. This will give you the ability to confirm they are currently in employment tax payments. Once you get the current records, have the state tax authority issue a clearance letter proving the previous owner is up-to-date with the sales taxes by the closing date of the deal. This may extend the buying process but it will safeguard you down the road if anything happens with previous tax statements.

 

Prepaid Expenses

Expenses that the business has paid for upfront, might not be added to the purchase price. The previous owner may want to be reimbursed for the portion of the year that you will be running the business and benefiting from those prepaid expenses. These expenses can be added on at the time of closing the agreement. Ask for a seller for a list of closing adjustments which include the previous owner’s prepaid expenses. This will give you the opportunity to budget correctly and won’t be surprised at the closing of the deal. You can be prepared with all the information and it could mean you no longer want to purchase the business.

 

Letter of Intent

The letter of intent is an agreement between the buyer and the seller of the business. This agreement will lay out the important terms and conditions of the sale of the business. It typically includes the purchase price, how the business will be paid for, when the business deal will be paid for, the assets that are included with the business, the seller’s non compete agreement, and much more. Though the letter of intent is not legally binding, it is worth the time to discover any issues before lawyers begin drafting legal contracts that will make the sale a binding agreement. A letter of intent is meant to negotiate any terms and condition before legal documents are drafted and have to be redrafted. This can save the costs of legal fees.

 

**This article is for informational purposes only and is not intended to be legal advice. In relation to your individual situation, always seek advice specific to your circumstances from a lawyer.

 

Keeping Information Within Your Company

No matter what type of business you are involved in, there is information that must be protected. You wouldn’t want competitors obtaining your client list or schematics of a new product. The business could not gain a competitive edge if all of its information was released. Information can be protected by legal remedies that prevent from misappropriation and unauthorized disclosure of the company’s information. If your business secures a trade secret protection it can benefit the company in the long run. Trade secrets can be difficult to keep confidential over a long period of time and when many people in your company know about it. There are many different methods that can be taken to protect your companies trade secrets but it also depends on the situation.

 

Contractual Protections

If members that are outside of your company have access to your trade secret information, you want to include a condition about confidentiality protections in your business with them. You can customize a non-disclosure agreement that includes some of the following:

  • Acknowledgment that the information given is considered a trade secret,
  • Agree not to share the information with anyone who is unauthorized,
  • The individual could not attempt to reverse engineer the information,
  • And any other protections that may be deemed necessary.

 

Employee Policies

Employees that have access to the company’s trade secrets should be subject to policies that regard the disclosure and security of information. Employees should be clear on protecting the confidential information that is produced within the company. Having employees know what information is considered to be along the lines of confidential is also a very important implementation. Even if the employee does not have access to the information, they are still expected to abide by these rules.

 

Control Over Information

The company should implement controls over the trade secrets to decrease the risk of the information getting released to employees and others who do not have a need-to-know requirement. Keycards and keycode access can help restrict certain areas of the building that are marked as secure locations for documents or materials that are specified as trade secrets. Since technology is always improving, your company most likely has electronic files of your trade secrets. To ensure safety, make sure your company’s data is secured and that only certain individuals have access to the information or codes.

 

**This article is for informational purposes only and is not intended to be legal advice. In relation to your individual situation, always seek advice specific to your circumstances from a lawyer.