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Yearly Archives: 2013

Top Five Health and Safety Myths

We’ve all heard the ridiculous stories of things being banned or changed under the banner of ‘health and safety’, but are all these things true? Many bizarre changes attributed to health and safety are actually down to personal choice rather than official regulations. HSE (Health and Safety Executive) has set up a Myth Busters Challenge Panel to shed light on which rules are sincere and which are either greatly exaggerated or blatantly untrue.

Below, we’ve compiled five of the best health and safety myths:

1) No Goggles, No Conkers!

Image courtesy of The Daily Mail

Stories of schools banning pupils from playing conkers first hit the news some years back, causing many people to blame health and safety laws for ruining a long-held tradition. However, HSE has no official mandate on playing conkers—they recommend that common sense should prevail, and believe children deliberately hitting each other with conkers is a disciplinary issue, not a health and safety one. While goggles are an effective precaution for those concerned about damage to the eyes during a game, this is a personal choice rather than regulation.

2) Want Christmas Decorations in the Workplace? Yule be Lucky!

Image courtesy of upenn.edu

HSE often receives complaints about companies refusing to allow their employees to decorate the workplace for the festive season, citing “health and safety risks”. While Christmas decorations may not be to the taste of the management, there is no need for such bans from a regulatory standpoint—employees should exercise caution where step ladders, scissors, glue and other items are required, but good judgement and caution should be relied upon where appropriate.

3) Do Trapeze Artists need Hard Hats?

Image courtesy of www.hse.gov.uk

While this story gained widespread attention when it was first reported way back in 2003, this is one of HSE’s top myths. While it’s certainly ridiculous enough to be believable, there were never any regulations requiring trapeze artists to don hard hats whilst performing. Besides, surely the prospect of a solid hat falling towards the spectators would prove a larger H&S issue?

4) Is the Traditional Tie too Dangerous for Schoolchildren?

Image courtesy of BBC News

Another story involving H&S at school involved claims of the traditional tie being too dangerous for children, with calls for clip-ons to be worn instead. While there’s some likelihood that two children fighting may actually grab each other’s tie or indulge in ‘peanutting’, HSE is keen to point out that, as with the conkers, this is down to discipline rather than specific H&S issues.

5) Flip-flops in the Workplace: Fatal or Fun?

Image courtesy of The Daily Mail

Working in an office during the summer can be horrendous if there are no desk fans or the air-conditioning is on the blink—to stay cool, most people choose to wear shorts, sleeveless tops or even flip-flops. However, there are some reports that health and safety regulations forbid flip-flops on the grounds of them proving risky. Is this true? Of course not. Whatever the footwear, employees need to be sure they have a good grip, and—where possible—floors are kept dry and clean.
At Simply-Docs, we have a wide range of Health & Safety document templates and legal documents available for download, all of which will help you and your employees stay abreast of all (real) relevant health and safety regulations in your specific work environment.

Simply-Docs Newsletter: Updates and Additions

The focus of our most recent newsletter is the additions and updates to all of the document folders available on the website.

The Business folder has some new Hire & Rentals Terms and Conditions concerning Clothing, Bike Hire and Marquee Hire amongst others. The Car, Van & Truck, Tool Hire and Venue Hire T&C’s have all been updated also.

For those requiring Partnership & LLP documents, the Corporate folder now has some Guidance Notes to help guide you in choosing the right structure for you. There is also the addition of a Basic LLP Agreements, a LLP Checklist and a Transfer of Business by Partnership to LLP template. For further guidance, our Partnership and LLP Comparison Matrix has been updated to provide greater assistance.

The Property folder’s expansion continues with it benefitting from the addition of two new subfolders; Company Lets and Contractual Tenancies.

The COSHH policy in Health & Safety has also been updated to provide greater clarity when dealing with hazardous materials that may affect the health of staff or others.

And finally there are a number of Employment documents that have been added that cover grievances and HR policies such as an Outside Business Interest policy and a Uniform Policy.

There have been a significant number of changes and addition to the folders. You can read our November newsletters to find out more:   

http://simply-docs.co.uk/NewsletterArchive

Whistle Blowing

Whistle blowing is making the news again with officers, past and present, of the Metropolitan police giving evidence at the Commons public administration committee that crime figures have been manipulated to account for lower crime rates than were actually true.

This is not the first time whistle blowing has made headlines, after Julie Bailey exposed the rampant neglect at Mid Staffordshire hospital that had led to hundreds of unnecessary deaths. Whilst Bailey’s revelation led to a public inquiry report damning the lack of “care, compassion, humanity and leadership” at the hospital, she unfortunately suffered a backlash that saw her being bombarded by hate mail and her mother’s grave vandalised.

Although Bailey’s whistle blowing has led to significant changes in the NHS which would see gross neglect of patients become a criminal offence, her quest to seek greater protection for whistle blowers by prosecuting Managers who ignored or silenced them was unsuccessful.

This protection seems ever more warranted after officers at the Metropolitan Police claiming that those who attempted to come forward about the manipulation of crime figures were treated unfairly and often persecuted.  Peter Barron told the committee that whistle blowers were “marginalised” and “judged not to be a team player.”

Another officer, PC Patrick, was also ordered after whistle blowing “not to have contact with the public, external agencies or stakeholders.” Karen Todner, his lawyer, said “He is a whistleblower and what this is about is freedom of expression. This is someone who has tried to raise his concerns through the legitimate channels but was not able to do so.”

In both cases it would appear that the whistleblowers involved had suffered to their detriment when speaking out against practices they felt endangered the public. Patrick notes that there were “serious consequences” of maintaining the status quo. Perhaps Bailey is correct in demanding better protection for whistle blowers if the consequence of failing to do so allows malpractice to go unchecked.

Should you wish to ensure your business has a Whistle blowing Policy that sets out your company’s guidelines and methods in relation to this please see the one available on our website for further guidance.

6 of the Most Important Documents in World History

The world we live in today has been fundamentally shaped by the use of legally-bound documentation.

In fact, it’s safe to say that the majority of the most fundamental laws enforced across the modern world have been influenced and even directly dictated by documents created, agreed to, and signed decades and centuries ago.

Below we have listed just 6 of what we believe are amongst the most important documents in living memory; surviving to inspire modern-day laws, regulations and legal agreements within and between Western and European countries.

1. The Declaration of Independence

Image source

On July 4th 1776, the United States of America was born. The Continental Congress adopted the Declaration of Independence, officially declaring the thirteen American colonies, then at war with Great Britain, as states no longer part of the British Empire.

The committee who drafted the Declaration included ex-Presidents Thomas Jefferson and Benjamin Franklin.

Bonus fact: John Hancock, the President of the Congress, signed the copy of the Declaration with a bold, pronounced signature, which led to  the modern-day synonym ‘John Hancock’ for ‘signature’.

 

2. Treaty of Versailles

Image source

The Treaty of Versailles is one of the peace treaties declared at the end of the first World War, ending the state of war between Germany and the Allied Powers.

One of the provisions in the treaty required “Germany to accept the responsibility of Germany and her allies for causing all the loss and damage” during the war.

The Treaty required Germany to disarm, make territorial concessions, and pay compensation (equivalent to £284 billion in 2013) to numerous Central European countries; liberating many nationalities from German rule.

 

3. Magna Carta

Image source

The Magna Carta is a Latin charter originally issued in 1215. It was the first document forced upon an English monarch to show that the royal family, too, is bound by the law of the land.

The document was integral in influencing the rule of constitutional law in English-speaking countries, offering particular inspiration during the creation of the United States Constitution.

Perhaps the most pivotal consequence of the Magna Carta was its requirement for monarchs to accept that “freemen” can only be punished according to the law of the land, a right that still exists today in Great Britain, the USA, and various other countries across the globe.

 

4. Germany’s WWII Surrender

Image source

Germany’s “Instrument of Surrender” was the single document which officially, unconditionally ended World War II in Europe.

The document was signed on 8 May 1945 by representatives of the three armed services of the OKW and the Allied Expeditionary Force, together with the Supreme High Command of the Red Army, and French and US representatives.

This pivotal date is now known in the West as “Victory in Europe Day”.

 

5. Universal Declaration of Human Rights

Image source

The Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) is a declaration adopted by the United Nations General Assembly on 10 December 1948, representing the first global adherence to a set of rights to which all people are entitled.

The document includes 30 articles which have been extracted and used in treaties, human rights instruments, constitutions, and laws on a global scale.

The UDHR is currently in practice in over 193 different countries worldwide, including African, Asian-Pacific, Eastern European, Latin American, Caribbean, and Western European countries.

 

6. Beveridge Report

Image source

The Report of the Inter-Departmental Committee on Social Insurance and Allied Services, also known as the Beveridge Report, was a document instrumental in the founding of the United Kingdom’s “welfare state” after WWII.

The creation of the Report was chaired by William Beveridge, an economist who identified five “Giant Evils” in society which he believed were the source of its problems at the time: squalor, ignorance, want, idleness, and disease.

The Report proposed post-war reforms to address these evils, which formed the basis for the Welfare State as the UK knows it today; leading to the founding of the National Insurance system and the National Health Service (NHS).

Five Reasons Why Document Services Could be in Greater Demand Over the Next Few Months

UK businesses need access to a wide range of business documents throughout the year, but there are certain times when that need is greater than usual. Here we present five reasons why document services businesses may experience a surge in demand over the coming months.

#1 – Letters from HMRC

November 5th is the date from which employers will start receiving letters from the HMRC informing them of their obligations for filing tax documents for the 2012-2013 tax year. Though this is generally done using HMRC’s own forms and online systems, these letters also serve as a reminder to businesses that they need to get their financial records and other key business documents in order.

#2 – New hires for a new year

Many companies choose to recruit extra staff in January and February and for some this may push them from being a small firm to a larger one. In order to comply with employment law and keep their house in order they may then need a range of employment documents and legal contracts, from job application forms to equal opportunity policies.

#3 – Holidays

During December and January, many people choose to take additional holidays on top of their days off for Christmas and New Year. This extra demand for annual leave request forms and associated documents may provide a spur for businesses to acquire document templates to ease the workload.

#4 – Filing documents with Companies House

30th December is the date that limited companies are required to file their records with Companies House by for the year ending 31st March 2013. This may trigger a rise in demand for corporate document services.

#5 – New businesses

The beginning of a new year is a time when many people decide that it’s time to start a business. During this embryonic period, a wide range of document templates are needed.

SMEs Look Ahead to a Year of Growth

Small to medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) are anticipating a year of growth in 2014, according to figures from Yorkshire and Clydesdale Banks, with 97% – 4.5 million SMEs in total – planning to invest in growth. The statistics make for promising reading for the UK economy, with SMEs often described as the lifeblood of the nation’s business sector as a whole, and build on reports of substantial new companies being launched in 2013.

Earlier in 2013, Direct Line noted the number of Brits who were launching businesses of their own as a way of boosting their income from a day job – around 800,000 new launches in local areas throughout the UK in the first half of the year. The insurer’s research found that 36% of people undertake some activity to boost their primary income each month, even if it only involves selling items on online auction sites, and across the board they average annual earnings of over £2,500.

For those going the extra mile to launch a new business as their primary means of employment, having all of the right legal contracts in place could help to protect any additional income earned, as well as to ensure there can be no doubt about customers’ obligation to pay for work done.

Looking to the future

Looking ahead to 2014 and the Cydesdale/Yorkshire Bank report, it seems many businesses are likely to need further business documents in place to ensure the legality of new recruitment measures or other types of expansion. The survey found an almost unanimous 97% of SMEs plan to invest in some way in their own expansion in 2014, with 60% saying they are doing so to keep pace with growing demand, reversing the effects you might expect to see due to austerity measures.

A majority (57%) said they are taking an optimistic approach to investing, putting funds into their business as they hope to see growth over the coming 12 months – and a reassuring 43% said they currently perceive no barriers of any kind to their investment.

Promisingly, while many SME managers face the challenge of performing both their primary task and all of the necessary admin, the main barriers to investment that were identified by the survey did not relate to red tape or burdensome paperwork. Instead, one in four SMEs were worried about the availability of funding, and 18% said their largest current challenge is finding new customers.

 Again, for those whose customer base is growing rapidly, paper client contracts are one way to ensure that the level of service that is required is set out from the start, along with any specific rules regarding payment. SMEs venturing into employing a workforce for the first time, as their order books become overwhelming for an individual, should also ensure they have contracts of employment in place that spell out employees’ duties, any obligations regarding confidentiality of data, and potential grounds for dismissal.

With this kind of focus on any issues that arise during investment and expansion, SMEs can protect themselves against unwanted shocks, and give themselves the best possible chance of capitalising on the potential of the coming 12 months. In amongst all this enthusiasm for business and entrepreneurial spirit, the importance of getting the paperwork right must never be underestimated.

Robin Thicke sued by Marvin Gaye’s family for Copyright Infringement

“Blurred Lines” may be Robin Thicke’s greatest success to date, peaking at No.1 in 27 countries and topping the Billboard 100 for 12 consecutive weeks, but it appears Thicke may have blurred the lines a little too far between drawing inspiration and copyright infringement.

The children of the late Marvin Gaye have filed papers alleging that Thicke, Pharrell Williams and T.I copied elements of Gaye’s ‘Got to Give It Up.’ They are calling for damages as well as a percentage of the profits from Blurred Lines.

Whilst Thicke, Williams and T.I have claimed that the songs are in no way similar but for “…commonplace musical elements” the Gaye family point to an earlier admission by Thicke to support their claim. “Pharrell and I were in the studio and I told him that one of my favourite songs of all time was Marvin Gaye’s Got to Give It Up,” Thicke told GQ. “I was like, ‘Damn, we should make something like that, something with that groove.’ Then he started playing a little something and we literally wrote the song in about a half-hour and recorded it.”

A court will now need to decide whether Blurred Lines infringes Gaye’s copyright or whether the songs are dissimilar as to make the claim for infringement baseless. The saga continues.

Should you believe that your own copyright is being infringed and want to take the first steps to stopping this, consider looking at our Intellectual Property Cease and Desist Letters. These can assist you in taking the necessary action to protect your rights in the event of any suspected infringement.

Getting the Most from Your Staff Appraisals

Your personnel might be your most valuable resource. It’s largely thanks to their hard work and skill that your organisation is able to continue running. This is why it’s so important to pull out all the stops when it comes to motivating and training your employees.

An eager and talented workforce is an enviable thing and it could help to set you apart from rival organisations. In many cases, a carrot and stick approach is required to ensure personnel are performing optimally. This is where staff appraisals come in handy. These analyses can provide you with a great chance to see the areas in which your employees are performing well and those which require improvement. You can then issue any reprimands or rewards as appropriate.

Delays

However, as important as these exercises are, their implementation is often delayed. It’s one thing to intend to conduct thorough and valuable appraisals and another thing to actually make this desire a reality. After all, in the pressure of the working day, it’s easy to get waylaid and distracted, meaning appraisals fall to the bottom of your to-do list.

Also, if you’re not careful, the assessments can become a tick-box exercise, which is no good to anyone. Honest and insightful analysis is required in order to achieve positive results.

Time to rethink?

If you feel as though the appraisal system in your firm needs a revamp, now could be the perfect time to set about this task. After all, there are lots of reasons why it pays to get this right. For instance, by clarifying key objectives with employees, you can help ensure everyone is aiming for the same goals. Also, personal development plans are a great way of encouraging people to improve.

Meanwhile, by recognising any advances workers have made, you can reward them and this provides instant motivation. On the flipside, you will find it easier to identify and correct any problems.

Also, feedback from your personnel can be used to improve your business and ensure it’s running exactly as it should.

Some help

It’s important that your appraisal system is fair and clear, otherwise workers won’t respond to it. Here at Simply-Docs we offer a range of staff appraisal form templates that could help you fine tune your analyses.

These staff appraisal template documents are part of our Employment Document Folder and they are easy to use. Being able to refer to the templates could help ensure you avoid many of the pitfalls of improvised appraisals.

Your bottom line

Ultimately, this could boost your bottom line. After all, by having an effective system of rewards and checks in place, and by communicating properly with your personnel, you stand to bolster productivity and efficiency.

It really is worth putting some effort into this aspect of employee management. You may be surprised by how quickly you start to see results.

See for yourself

If you’re interested in these templates and think they could benefit your organisation, just take a look around our website. You might also benefit from other templates in our range of legal documents.

Templates that Make Starting a New Business Easier

Starting a new business can be exhilarating. You’ll get to be your own boss and, providing your idea’s good and you have the necessary skills and dedication, you stand to make potentially large sums of money. Then there’s all the career satisfaction you can get from heading up your own company.

However, there are so many issues to consider when you launch an enterprise and, particularly if you have limited or no prior experience in such tasks, you could easily find you get lost. At the same time, you might not have access to mentors to help you or be able to afford costly bespoke legal and business advice.

A helping hand

The good news is, you don’t have to shell out a fortune in order to benefit from expert guidance. Here at Simply-Docs it’s our mission to provide the full spectrum of business documents and, with these templates at your disposal, you should find it much easier to navigate your way through the initial phases of establishing your business.

The best thing is, our documents can continue giving you a helping hand in the long-term. By subscribing to our documents each year, you can ensure you always have access to up-to-date, accurate templates.

Plus points

One of the major plus points of our business document templates is the fact they’re so affordable. For hardly any money at all, you can access the information you need. This may be especially important during the launch period of your company. After all, money may be in short supply as you’re getting your firm off the ground.

Also, once you’ve subscribed to the folders, you can access them 24/7. The business world never sleeps and you’ll no doubt find yourself working late into the night and early in the morning from time to time. Luckily, you won’t have to wait for regular office hours to access the expertise you need. Our documents will be ready and waiting at all times.

You might also be pleased to note that our portfolios are constantly updated. After all, it’s no good using a template that looks and sounds great if it’s no longer relevant. In fact, this could get you into trouble.

Different areas

We provide business document templates in a number of areas, namely: business, corporate, employment, health and safety and property.

If you need guidance on any of these topics, or indeed on all of them, just take a look around our website. You might be pleasantly surprised by how little our services cost and how comprehensive they are.

Maximising your chance of success

OK, so you’ll have to spend a little money to benefit from our expertise, but this should prove to be a shrewd investment. After all, our templates may prevent you from making potentially damaging mistakes and thereby help to secure your long-term success.

It’s certainly well worth taking a look at the options available to you. With our help, launching your enterprise should be that bit smoother and less stressful.

Getting to Grips with Employment Contracts

If your firm is going through a period of expansion, you should be commended. After all, business conditions remain tough and so it’s no mean feat to achieve and maintain success.

Taking on new personnel can be exciting. Your enterprise might be entering a new phase and many opportunities no doubt lie ahead. However, there are certain pitfalls to avoid. For example, it’s really important that you get to grips with employment contracts. These documents play a vital role in establishing the rights and responsibilities of both workers and employers and, if they aren’t drawn up correctly, all sorts of issues can arise further down the line.

You’re not alone

One thing’s for sure; you’re not alone in taking on additional members of staff. According to a Small Business Index produced by the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB), confidence among small companies is rising. The index reached 15.9 points during the second quarter of 2013. This was 9.6 points higher than the previous three-month period and it was the second highest reading since the index began in 2010. Financial service firms reported the highest confidence levels and small manufacturers were also among those noting they have high hopes for coming months.

Meanwhile, more firms expected their turnover to increase during the third quarter and a larger number of businesses planned to increase staffing levels over the three-month period.

Here to help

Here at Simply-Docs we know that periods of expansion can be thrilling and daunting in equal measure and we go out of our way to make the process of taking on new personnel that bit easier. Our Employment Documents Folder contains a complete range of contracts, policies, forms and letter templates to help you recruit and manage staff with greater confidence.

A team of lawyers and HR professionals

You might not have the resources to use an in-house team of lawyers and HR professionals, but the good news is, you don’t need to. Our contract templates have been drafted by a team of experts from these fields and they address the specific needs of the jobs and staff seniority that are implied by their titles.

A full year

By subscribing to our Employment Documents Folder, you can ensure you have access to all the documents it contains, including employment contracts, for a full year. Whenever you need to draw on the relevant expertise, you can do so quickly and easily.

Efficient

Having access to these legal documents can make the process of recruitment much more efficient. Given that you may want to move quickly to take advantage of market conditions, this could be welcome news.

Also, by using our templates you can provide yourself with a confidence boost. Knowing that your documents are up-to-date, accurate and authoritative can be a big relief. There is plenty to stress about when you’re heading up a company, so it’s important to make your life easier wherever you can.

For more information about our documents, just take a look around our website or get in touch with our friendly and helpful team.

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