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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!

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!

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?

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?

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?

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.

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.

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.

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.


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.


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.

Why it Never Pays to Skimp on Health and Safety

There’s no doubting that conditions are tough for UK businesses right now. Costs are high, credit is hard to access and, in many sectors, demand remains subdued.

However, this is not a reason to skimp on safety. There may be certain areas that your firm can cut back on, but protecting the well-being of your personnel isn’t one of them. Lapses in risk management can lead to devastating consequences and it’s not worth taking the chance.

The human cost

It’s impossible to put a price tag on the human suffering than can result from safety lapses. People can suffer painful and lasting physical damage and their lives may even be placed at risk. As well as those directly involved in workplace accidents, victims’ families may also pay a hefty price.

In addition, if a preventable accident was to occur within your organisation, you’d have to live with the guilt.

Legal action

Then there is the potential for legal action to consider. If you don’t live up to your responsibilities as an employer and someone is hurt as a result, you might face a court case or even criminal prosecution. Also, the individuals involved may decide to make a personal injury claim against you.

All of a sudden any savings you made by avoiding safety measures may pale into insignificance. In the worst case scenarios, your organisation could face financial ruin.


It’s also important to consider your organisation’s reputation. If it emerges that you neglected your safety duties, your image is bound to suffer, and this could have long-term consequences in terms of your customer base.

Make your life easier

If you’re determined to avoid these problems and maintain rigorous health and safety policies, we can help. Here at Simply-Docs we know how important it is to uphold high standards and our Health and Safety Documents Folder could help you to achieve this.

It contains a wide range of professionally drafted and simple to edit health and safety documents that facilitate the management of this issue. The templates include risk assessment forms, health and safety statements and much more.

More details

For a small fee, you can subscribe to this folder and, for the period of a year, you will be able to download any of our health and safety templates at any time. This unlimited download access includes form updates and additions, meaning you will always be fully up-to-date.


Having these forms at your disposal can help you to achieve structure in terms of your health and safety procedures. A lot of risk management is simple common sense, but it helps to know exactly where you should be focusing your attention. Especially when you have lots of other issues on your mind, it’s easy to overlook crucial safety points.

However, with the aid of our document templates, you should be able to stay on track.

If you’d like more information about our services, just take a look around the rest of our website or get in touch with our friendly and helpful team by phone or email.

Why Job Application Forms Are the Best Option For Recruiting New Personnel

Recruiting new staff is an integral part of running a small business. Indeed, you cannot hope to operate a competitive business if you do not have the right personnel in key positions to help make good things happen.

Like most other employers in the UK, you may well see employment application forms as being an integral part of the recruitment process. The key strength of job application forms is that they don’t just furnish you with pertinent information about prospective employees; they enable you to view it in a truly uniform format. This means that you can compare and contrast candidates’ credentials completely impartially (this is nowhere near as easy to do when looking through CVs and cover letters).

Of course, this is not the only benefit. Indeed, relying on application forms to recruit new staff also affords employers one other key advantage – peace of mind.

The fact that employment application forms require applicants to sign a declaration that confirms all of the information they have provided is true is often very reassuring to potential employers. A signed declaration means that you have a document which can serve as evidence of the claims made by an employee or potential employee.

Any background checks via references can be very useful in this day and age, as the increasingly competitive nature of the job hunting market as well as the relative scarcity of jobs in some sectors is encouraging more and more applicants to be “flexible” with the details of their credentials and work history.

So, now that you know why application forms are the best option for recruiting new staff, you simply need to make sure you have some suitably comprehensive variants of your own to hand when you next need to fill a vacancy.

Fortunately this is very easy to achieve when you come to us here at Simply-Docs, as we have a wide array of employment application form templates available for you to download from the Employment Document Folder here on our website. These high-quality templates have been designed by expert legal teams and HR professionals so you can be sure they will capture all of the pertinent information which you, as an employer, need to garner from prospective employees. In addition, all of our application form templates are compliant with current employment legislation so you can rest assured that this element of the recruitment processes will adhere fully to the Equality Act 2010.

To find out more and view samples of our high-quality document templates and legal forms, simply take a few moments to browse our pages.

Why Your Fledgling Small Business Needs To Provide Comprehensive Employment Contracts

Running a small business isn’t for the faint hearted. Starting a fledgling enterprise from nothing and then developing it into a fully functional company that is profitable and competitive takes a huge amount of effort.

Of course, there are a lot of legal issues to consider when undertaking a task of this kind, so it is important to make yourself fully aware of any and all legal aspects which may affect the way your company operates.

Although there are a great deal of issues that will need your attention (company formation, insurance and health & safety, to name but a few), arguably the most important legal aspects of all are those which pertain to your employees. After all, if you aren’t able to recruit and retain personnel, your business prospects could be hindered.

As an employer, you are legally obliged to provide all of your employees with a “written statement of employment particulars” within two months of their start date. This statement can be included in an employment contract.

But how do you go about this exactly?

Well you could take the path which many people looking for a solution take these days and use an online search engine to find a website which will let you download employment contract templates for free. However, you need to be very careful when going down this route as many of these offerings will not cover particular aspects which you, as an employer, need to include in your contracts.

With this in mind you may well find it more beneficial to come to us here at Simply-Docs. Whilst our contracts, templates and other documents are not free to download, they are guaranteed to be fully compliant with the latest legislation and they should be comprehensive enough to meet your needs. In essence, this means that you will be able to provide your employees with legal contracts that will specify their exact duties and responsibilities. This is important as, unlike a generic contract, it will ensure each and every person working for you is 100 percent aware of what is expected of them.

All of our contracts and templates have been drafted by legal professionals who are experts in their fields so you can be sure that any documents you download from us will fully address the particular needs of the roles they represent, as well as reinforce the staff seniorities which are implicit in the titles of the contracts.

As well as our comprehensive employment contracts and templates, you may also find our Staff Handbook Policies to be an invaluable addition to your business as they can provide your company with employment policies and documents which will help to ensure your contracted staff members comply fully with your firm’s employment regulations and codes of conduct.

To find out more and view samples of our high-quality offerings in greater detail, simply take a few moments to browse our web pages.