Trading Legally

As a new business owner, it’s essential to understand any legal obligations or duties you might have. Important things to consider include:

Health and safety

Under the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974, employers and self-employed people in the UK have a legal duty to protect the health and safety of anyone affected by their business and work activities, such as employees, contract workers, volunteers, suppliers and members of the public.

To comply with this requirement, you must identify risks at work, take all measures that are ‘reasonably practicable’ to control those risks and ensure that the workplace meets the health, safety and welfare needs of all employees.

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Data protection

The General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), which came into force in May 2018, prohibits organisations (including all businesses and not-for-profit organisations) from processing personal data unless they have a lawful basis for doing so. It also requires organisations to comply with data protection principles that give individuals greater control over their personal data.

If your business handles personal data, you should:

  • Familiarise yourself with the Data Protection Act 2018 and the General Data Protection Regulation.
  • Identify which data protection principles apply to your business.
  • Always have a lawful basis for collecting, storing and processing personal data.

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Consumer rights

Consumer rights in the UK when buying goods, services and digital content are protected by various pieces of legislation and enforcement authorities. The legislation applies to all business-to-consumer contracts whether a transaction takes place at the trader’s premises, off the premises, online, by phone, on paper or verbally.

All traders must ensure they fully comprehend consumers’ statutory rights and comply with their obligations. For example, all traders must only sell products and services that are of satisfactory quality, fit for purpose and as described.

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