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Yearly Archives: 2014

New Rules Are in Force For The Labelling Of Allergens in Food and Drink

Image by Marco Arment

Image by Marco Arment

What is the new legislation?

It’s possible that you may have missed the recent new law on allergen labelling for food and drink products sold to consumers. From 13th December 2014 strict new rules apply to how businesses must notify consumers about food and drink products containing allergens. The Regulations include a list of 14 allergen groups and the presence of any of these listed allergens in the food product must be clearly communicated to the consumer. It’s estimated that over 2 million people in the UK have a food allergy, and the new legislation is designed to make it easier for consumers to make safe food choices when buying food and eating out.

This may mean considerable changes to the way you run your food business at the moment but you really can’t afford to ignore these changes as the penalties include fines and criminal prosecution.

What products do the rules apply to?

The rules apply to prepacked food, non-prepacked food and food that is prepacked for direct sale to consumers such as in a deli or canteen, so most Food Business Operators are going to be affected by these new Regulations. The Regulations also apply to the use of processing aids which contain an allergen from the list of 14 allergen groups, such as wheat flour used to roll out dough made from rye flour. So as well as reviewing your own labelling procedures you also need to ensure that your suppliers are providing you with the necessary information on their products.

For some businesses providing non-prepacked food it is possible to give the information to consumers orally. This should make compliance with the Regulations easier to cope with for some businesses. For more information on the provision of allergen notification orally please click here for Allergen Notification Requirements For Businesses Providing Non-prepacked Foods.

What should you do now?

If you have not yet acted on these Regulations you need to act fast and Simply-docs can help you with this by providing;

• Free information on what you need to do, including a detailed list of the 14 key allergen groups. Click here for Simply-docs free information pages on allergen notification.

A Simply-docs subscription will give you access to;

Guidance Notes to take you through the issues to consider click here.

• An Allergen Policy  click here.

• Simply-docs also provides key templates to use on a day to day basis to manage and monitor the allergens present in your food products, for a Recipe Allergen Checklist, a Supplier Allergen Checklist and a Delivered Product – Supplier Notification of Allergens Form click here.

Simply-docs documents are easy to use and as well as helping you to establish good legal compliance procedures we also have straight forward templates that can be used on a day to day basis to manage and monitor your processes. A subscription to Simply-docs includes the above documents and also gives you access to thousands of straight forward business documents in 5 portfolios; Business, Corporate, Employment, Property and Health and Safety. To download any of these documents click here if you already subscribe to Simply-Docs or to get started today, register with Simply-Docs by clicking here.

We always welcome suggestions for new documents for our site, so do let us know if there are additional allergen related documents that would help out your business. We will give our full consideration to any new document suggestions.

By Iain Mackintosh

Iain Mackintosh

Author / Iain Mackintosh

Current:

Founder and MD of Simply-4-Business Ltd, t/a Simply-docs.co.uk

Experience:

20 years experience in the financial sector structuring and negotiating transactions, and 15 years in online legal document publishing

Area of Expertise:

Business, Employment and Company Law, and Online Marketing

Education:

Lincoln College, Oxford University. BA History & Economics

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Summary:

I have worked principally in the finance sector ranging from leasing to venture capital and investment in a wide range of industries. Being involved in structuring and negotiating transactions, drafting and amending documents to fit each deal/circumstance has always been part of my job specifications.

From such experiences I learnt that huge saving could be made for businesses of all sizes to draft their own documents (especially for standard business and employment relationships) by combining up-to-date and simply drafted legal document templates with the commercial knowledge of business owners and managers so that they can be empowered to negotiate and produce their own documents without the costs associated with using solicitors.

Uniquely, we have always maintained a subscription model, producing hundreds of documents for the price of one! Since 2003, Simply-docs have quadrupled the size of the portfolio of legal business templates, at the same time constantly reviewing and updating that portfolio, without an increase in prices. This determination to provide enhanced value from the subscriptions is integral to the development and success of the Simply-docs service. All our documents are drafted by our in-house team of experienced solicitors, HR and Health & Safety experts.

Simply-docs has grown steadily by maintaining a very simple philosophy of always delivering value.

How To Perform Effective Health and Safety Management In Five Easy Steps

How To Perform Effective Health and Safety Management In Five Easy Steps

Image by Pascal

According to the Health and Safety Executive, 27 million working days were lost last year in the UK through illness or injury caused by an event at their workplace.

In this context, it’s easy to argue that effective Health and Safety Management is at the core of workplace productivity. Not only that, but if you are a business owner you have a legal responsibility for the health and safety of everyone in your workplace.

Despite this, managing workplace Health and Safety does not need to be as complicated as it may first seem. In fact, by keeping the following five steps in mind you can make the task simple.

Step One: Let Simply-Docs Provide A Helping Hand

To help you create effective Health and Safety management, we’ve created A Guide To Making Health & Safety Simple. In this guide, we’ve broken down the basics of managing workplace Health and Safety step by step and in a way that is clear and easy to understand.

Step Two: Write A Clear Health and Safety Policy

Writing a policy is a great way to start creating a culture of workplace Health and Safety compliance. This is because it defines a set of rules and a clear direction for the employees of your business to follow.

Moreover, writing a clear Health and Safety policy indicates to your staff that you take their well-being seriously. In turn, this can help encourage the adoption of good working practices that have a positive impact upon all areas of your business’s performance.

Step three: Adopt A Systematic Approach To Minimising Risks

The biggest aim of your business’s Health and Safety policy should be to manage risk. In order minimise risks, first you will need to identify them.

To do this you will need to perform a risk assessment of your workplace. Our notes ‘How to Carry Out A Risk Assessment’ will help you with this. Once you have done that, you can ask your employees for their input, as they may notice something you miss.

After you have completed a risk assessment of your business, you can start planning the measures needed to control or ideally eliminate potential risks – for example, introducing new facilities, equipment or tweaking your processes. If risks cannot be controlled through different equipment or a change of the process, you may need to consider introducing protective clothing – PPE.

Make sure that you record the information in one of our Risk Assessment documents and keep a log of every work-related accident or illness, as this will help with spotting any trends.

Step Four: Communicate With Your Employees

Communicating with your employees about health and safety is a legal requirement, but it’s also a great idea, as often they will know more about what goes on in the workplace than you do. In addition, involving your staff in matters regarding health and safety will help to motivate them to work safely and avoid accidents.

Training should form a major part of your Health and Safety-related communications in the workplace. In order for your employees to receive the training that benefits them the most, you may want to consider asking them their opinion on how they think the training should be provided.

Providing your staff with training and communicating with them on a regular basis will help develop a common understanding of the expectation for Health and Safety compliance in your workplace.

Step Five: Review Your Performance

A regular review of your workplace’s overall performance allows you to establish whether your approach to Health and Safety management has been effective.

No workplace stays the same. Whether it’s a change of processes, the use of different equipment or a changeover in staff, things will inevitably change over time. Therefore, reviewing your performance allows you to assess whether the Health and Safety policy reflects your current working environment.

Referring to your risk assessment document and accident book should also be a vital part of reviewing your performance. Reviewing both of these documents will allow you to evaluate the success of the measures you have put in place to manage risk and identify areas where you need to improve.

Do You Need More Help Managing Workplace Health & Safety?

If you find the administrative side of Health and Safety compliance daunting, the Simply-Docs portfolio of business and legal templates can help. Using our portfolio of professionally drafted documents is a cost effective solution for implementing workplace Health and Safety guidelines with speed and accuracy.

So if you need help structuring a Health and Safety Policy/risk assessment, or you need access to template documents for other Health and Safety procedures such as hygiene and fire safety, let Simply-Docs provide a helping hand.

All you need to do is register with Simply-Docs today, subscribe to our Health & Safety document folder for just £35.00 (+ VAT) and then you enjoy a year’s unlimited access to every Health & Safety document template you will need.

By Iain Mackintosh

 

 

 

More Red Tape or Less? Are you ready for the Small Business, Enterprise & Employment Bill?

Changes to company law and corporate administration are due at the end of the year as part of the Small Business, Enterprise and Employment Bill (the Bill). The intention of the Bill is to help small and medium sized businesses compete and grow. By promoting accountability and transparency it is hoped that further investment will be attracted to the UK: Trust and integrity are deemed integral to enhancing Britain’s reputation as a place to do business.

The Bill is wide ranging – covering issues such as the regulation of pubs and childcare as well as minimum wage and zero hours abuses. So far publicity has focused primarily on invalidating exclusivity clauses in zero hours contracts. Other significant changes for SME’s in the Bill and on which we will provide greater detail in due course include:

– SME access to finance;
– Government to frequently review the burden of red tape:
– Providing greater simplicity and consistency to public sector procurement;
– Streamlining insolvency law;
– Reforming whistleblowing procedures; and
– Reducing delays in Employment Tribunals;

Below are the prime changes to company law and corporate administration.

1. More streamlined process to company registration and filings
2. A new register in respect of beneficial ownership (Persons with Significant Control – 25%) of private    limited companies by shares
3. Abolition of bearer shares
4. Abolition of Corporate Directors
5. Updating of director disqualification regime
6. Statutory duties of directors to be applied to shadow directors.

Please click for full details.

These changes and their implementation are/will be complex so there may yet be delays and there will be significant costs.

The assessment of the Department for Business, Innovation and Skill (BIS) projected a minor cost to the Government but the cost to business in the first year is estimated at £500m followed by £80m each year thereafter. Hopefully, these changes to company law and administration will improve transparency, but does this tally with the Government’s claims to reduce red tape and be supportive to small business?

Please add your comments below.

Does Flexible Working benefit your business?

At Simply-docs we are great fans of flexible working. Core to our business is our Content Team, who draft and update our document portfolio and related information. Our flexible working patterns combine part-time work and homeworking, allowing for the employees’ home locations, their childcare needs and their other interests. This has enabled us to recruit and retain a talented team of experienced solicitors and other professionals. By offering flexible working, small businesses can attract high quality employees in a cost effective manner, where the affordabilty of such a rich resource of talent becomes apparent not only through their efficiency, knowledge and experience but also the improved levels of productivity associated with such work patterns.

Reduction in travel time and costs, and reduction of office and infrastructure  costs also contribute, but the main winner for us is productivity and the security of knowing that we can sustain our workflow of new and updated documents. The Content Team, all of whom are employed applying a flexible working profile to suit each individual, each have responsibility for different parts of the document portfolio, but work together to check each others’ work and share intellectual input.  Trust levels between employer and employees are extremely high and, accordingly, generate great staff morale. They are able to maintain an improved life/work balance and make better use of their time with less stress. They are focused and motivated, responding favourably to the additional responsibilities that derive from working away from the office or having flexible working hours in the office.

BT, for instance, have found that home workers are 20% more productive than their office based colleagues, and that, though absenteeism could be expected to be higher for homeworkers than office based workers , absenteeism amongst home workers is 63% lower than  office based colleagues.  Their return to work figures for flexible workers post maternity leave are 93% compared to a UK averagge of 47%. Whilst we cannot be so specific with our productivity statistics, it is clear that our workflow and content targets are consistently maintained and improved, and that our support services and response time to customers’ queries are enhanced by our flexible working patterns.

The Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD) 2012 Survey found that the top 5 benefits of flexible working were:

– improved employee retention,
– greater staff motivation,
– improved employee engagement,
– better recruitment,
– and increased productivity.

These 5 benefits are inter-related and their contribution will differ for each business.  For some businesses part-time work may be possible but homeworking non-applicable. At Simply-docs the mix is simple – Flexible working first enabled us to improve our selection for recruitment, and then improve retention with greater staff motivation and employee engagement, all of which has delivered increased productivity.

Can or has flexible working benefited your business? Please add your comment below. Click here for more information.

Flexible Working Rights Extended to all Employees

As of 30th June 2014, any employees who have worked at a company for at least 26 weeks of continuous service will be covered by the legal right to request flexible working arrangements. Previously the legislation only extended to parents or those with caring responsibilities. The new rules, which are being implemented by The Children and Families Act 2014, mean that employers will need to consider flexible working requests made by any of their employees who meet the 26 week threshold in a “reasonable manner” and notify them of their decision within three months.

How will the changes affect employers in practice?

A YouGov survey commissioned by Croner suggested that over a quarter of employees plan to make requests for flexible working arrangements, potentially leading to a deluge of work for employers in keeping on top of their duties to deal with this surge in the volume of requests. However, the grounds on which an employer can reject any such requests remain the same (under the Employment Rights Act 1996), namely: the burden of additional costs; detrimental effect on ability to meet customer demand; inability to re-organise work among existing staff; inability to recruit additional staff; detrimental impact on quality; detrimental impact on performance; insufficiency of work during the periods the employee proposes to work and planned structural change

The wide ambit of these grounds means that the right to request flexible working by employees is very much a right to “request” – not a right to demand. Although employers may have more red tape to deal with as a result of the extension of this right, and will need to update their Flexible Working Policy accordingly, they will still be able to determine their company policy with regards to flexible working. Furthermore, under the changes, employers will no longer be required to follow a statutory procedure when considering such requests. Instead, they will simply need to consider each request in a reasonable manner (objectively and fairly) and to notify each employee of their decision within three months of the request being made (subject to any agreed extension).

How are employment contracts affected by flexible working?

If you agree to an employee’s request for flexible working, it will often be necessary to make changes to their contract of employment to take account of their new working pattern. A variation of employment deed or alteration letter for employment Ts and Cs can be used for this purpose. Where the changes are more extensive, you may need to form a new employment contract altogether, possibly adopting a part time, compressed hours, zero hours or other more suitable contract.

Is your business prepared for the flexible working changes – and do you think it’s a move in the right direction?

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For more information on your responsibilities regarding flexible working, take a look at some of these pages:

World Cup Absenteeism

Every major sports tournament has serious implications for businesses and the World Cup in Brazil will inevitably cause reduced attendance at work. Rather than fight it, plan for it and provide flexibility in order to maintain workforce productivity. Organising events can also enhance employee engagement. Employers, however, should also remember that not all staff are football fans and be aware of the high emotions that can get stimulated by “results on the field”. We all hope our team does well and progresses, but it is important that celebration and disappointment does not take over business workflow.

Please click on World Cup 2014 for more information and guidance.

How much disruption do you expect to your business?

Distance and Doorstep Selling Update

On 13th June 2014 new EU business to consumer selling regulations come into force covering distance and doorstep selling. The changes will require amendments to terms and conditions allowing for a new cooling off period, provision of a model cancellation form, and tighter delivery periods: Businesses must ensure consumers have access to transaction information in a “durable medium”: New rules will apply to 0845 and 0870 telephone lines in respect of customer service help-lines. For e-commerce sites, customers will now have to acknowledge that placing an order incurs an obligation to pay, and optional extra boxes that incur costs must be not be pre-checked. Please click on Changes to Distance and Doorstep Selling Regulations for more info. Many businesses will have to revise their business processes, especially web based operations which will need to instruct their web developers to apply the requisite amendments. How easy and costly will this be to implement?

Please click on Changes to Distance and Doorstep Selling Regulations for more info.

Terms and Conditions Templates

Struggling with legislation? Where to begin? 

Classic job post faux pas

Everyone knows how difficult it can be to apply for work these days. Just ask all the people currently on the hunt for their perfect jobs. However, what’s often skipped over is just how tricky it can be for firms to post vacancies successfully. There is a real art form to generating appropriate and effective job ads, and there are also a variety of legal pitfalls to avoid.

Thinking about this inspired us to draw attention to some examples of when things go wrong, and to offer some advice covering what to avoid when creating job posts.

Don’t take your cue from these firms!

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There are some bad job ads out there. Highlighting this fact, the Daily Edge compiled a list of some classic recruitment faux pas. Among the epic fails were: “Apply today, pizza cook. Qualifications: Not be a crybag,” and “Now hiring: Fried Turkeys”. Other blunders included “Now hiring: 1 pretty & 2 ugly dancers”, “Help Wanted. Must dominate the English language” and “Now hiring: Must have clue”.

We’re not quite sure what was going through the heads of the individuals who came up with these ads. To help ensure you don’t end up red-faced thanks to your recruitment efforts, take a look at these top tips.

 

The 90s have been and gone

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It’s always tempting to take shortcuts when you’re busy at work, and so you might consider cutting and pasting job ads that were created by your firm in years gone by. If you do this, make sure you update the information and make it relevant to now. You don’t want to come across like a bona fide troglodyte!

For example, perhaps remove the section where it says “Fax, post or email CV to…”.

 

The law is the law

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The last thing you want when trying to hire new staff is to end up in an altercation with the law. This means you have to stay on the right side of anti-discrimination legislation. Phrases to avoid include “young and dynamic” (the dynamic bit’s fine, just not the young), “able-bodied” or anything that implies a gender bias, such as “salesman”. Also, take care not to accidentally discriminate on the basis of religion, race or sexuality.

 

Unnecessary jargon’s a no no

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Stay away from unnecessary jargon too. Phrases like “blue sky thinking” and “laser focussed” have been overused and they can really put potential candidates off. Studies suggest that six in ten job seekers consider jargon annoying. Stick to the facts and you should be OK.

 

Double and triple check your spelling, and then get someone else to!

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After you’ve written job specs and ads, it’s vital that you double and triple check them for typos and spelling mistakes. It also pays off to get someone else to have a look. When you’ve been staring at a document for a long time, it can be impossible to see your mistakes. Remember, you’re representing your organisation, so it’s really important that your text is professional and accurate.

Some of the most ridiculous Ts and Cs you’ll ever see

End User Licensing Agreements are some of the most pointless things on the face of the earth; they’re up there with fridge magnets and Justin Bieber. So let’s celebrate them in all of their ridiculous glory by writing an entire blog post on them. Some of them prevent us from carrying out lifelong ambitions like taking over the war with nuclear weapons (iTunes) whereas others deal in trivial matters like Google’s complete and utter ownership of your digital soul. Let’s look at some of the ‘best’ in the world of EULAs and wonder at our own stupidity for handing over our souls to the digital ether.

iTunes

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iTunes take the proverbial biscuit with this one. There you are wanting to take over the world like that over ambitious mouse from Pinky and the Brain and then you realise you can’t. That last Nickelback album you downloaded has stopped you in your tracks. Time to put the iPod down and put the missiles away then.

 

PC Pitstop

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Here’s one you wish you had read. Whoever read this first and claimed won $1,000. It makes you want to go back through all of the agreements you’ve ever read to recover the fortune you may have had. This EULA is also kind of smart-assed. It’s literally saying ‘You didn’t read me, so I’m going to punish you’ Not cool PC Pitstop. Not cool. It also took someone four months to win the prize. So there’s a lot of other ignorant users out there too, how comforting.

 

Google

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Mephistopheles has been trading as Google for years and we didn’t even know it. We’re handing over our souls to Google? That’s a clause we really should have paid attention to. It’s the use of the words ‘perpetual’ and ‘irrevocable’ it sounds so Shakespearean. I irrevocably disagree, in a state of perpetuum.

 

Far Cry 2

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Video games have slowly been taking over our lives since they invented Sonic the Hedgehog. Now it seems these games are trying to direct our collective moral compass. Whilst this may not necessarily be a bad thing, it may be hard to draw a line in Far Cry 2. What counts as an immoral act? Playing a violent video game might be, best to avoid Far Cry 2 then.

 

The Fallout

So what’s the backlash of all of this ridiculous demanding from anonymous companies? A documentary, that’s what. Some geniuses made a documentary that highlights the power of our personal information and how it is used to make huge amounts of money. And points out that we agreed to it all. Watch the trailer to get yourself thinking.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yzyafieRcWE

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