New business laws are nigh

On 1 October a number of changes to legislation come into effect that will affect growing businesses. These include an increase to the minimum wage, a clarification of the Sex Discrimination Act and alterations to the Patent Act.

Last year, as part of its bid to offer certainty and stability to growing firms, the Government announced that all new legislation would be introduced on two dates a year: 6 April and 1 October. The latter is now upon us and the legislation about to come into force is provided by BusinessLink below.

Minimum wage

  • £5.05 an hour to adult workers aged 22 and above.
  • £4.25 an hour will be the new development rate for all workers aged 18-21. The development rate also applies to workers aged 22 and above during their first 6 months in a new job and who are receiving accredited training.
  • The hourly rate for workers aged 16-17 remains at £3.00.

Sex Discrimination Act

Businesses should be aware that the law has been made clearer on:

  • Discrimination in recruitment, employment or vocational training because of a person’s sex or gender reassignment.
  • Treating women less favourably because of pregnancy or maternity leave.
  • Allowing harassment or sexual harassment by managers or colleagues or vocational training providers.
  • Discrimination in selecting employees for all further and higher education courses.

Patent Act

The new rules will shift the payment period and other patent procedures to the end of the month. You will be able to:

  • Pay patent renewal fees at the end of the calendar month in which the anniversary of filing occurs.
  • Pay any late payment fees at the end of the relevant month.
  • Apply until the end of the appropriate calendar month for restoration of a patent that has lapsed through non-payment.

In addition, a new opinions procedure means you will be able to apply in writing to the Patent Office for a quick, impartial opinion on issues concerning patent validity or infringement. You will be able to request an opinion about your own patent and about someone else’s patent, without having to say why you are interested.

The opinion is not binding but could help you resolve issues in dispute without going to court. It will cost £200 and take around three months.

Product safety best practice

Regulations will further clarify and extend current safety rules for products intended for or likely to be used by consumers. You will be required to adopt best practice. This could involve:

  • Taking appropriate action to make sure that a product will remain safe throughout its working life under all likely conditions in which it could be used.
  • Keeping yourself informed about potential risks.
  • Maintaining paperwork so you can track product origin and destination.
  • Carrying out sample testing on products.
  • Keeping a register of complaints received.
  • Giving customers relevant product information and any warnings necessary to make sure it is used safely.
  • Batch-marking products where appropriate.

Marc Barber

Marc Barber

Marc was editor of GrowthBusiness from 2006 to 2010. He specialised in writing about entrepreneurs, private equity and venture capital, mid-market M&A, small caps and high-growth businesses.

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