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The Small Business, Enterprise and Employment Act 2015

Lawyer Philip Harmer, a Senior Partner at Stormcatcher Business Lawyers, takes you through this crucial piece of legislation, and what it means for your business

The timing of the Small Business, Enterprise and Employment Act 2015 – it gained Royal Assent on 26 March this year, and as such is now law – left cynics passing it off as little more than pre-election propaganda and lip service to the issues surrounding zero-hours contracts.

However, like it or not, the new law has far-reaching and important implications for small- and medium-sized retailers. Amongst the changes are those affecting employment law which include provisions for minimum wage, equal pay, employment tribunals and zero-hours contracts. The new rules are the latest in a plethora of changes to the employment law landscape which have been described as giving “nowhere to hide for firms who do not play by the rules, whether by abusing zero-hours contracts or not paying the minimum wage.”

Here are some of the things that owners and managers of independent health food stores should know.

Employment Related Issues

Minimum Wage: Prior to the new law, businesses that fail to pay employees the minimum wage are liable to a £20,000 fine, which has now been extended to up to £20,000 per underpaid employee.

Zero-Hours Contracts: Despite the mass publicity surrounding zero-hours contracts, and the fact that firms that use zero-hours contracts have been the subject of near continual public vilification, the new rules will only ban the use of exclusivity clauses – ie, a clause in a contract saying an employee can’t work anywhere else if they have a contract with you – which are rarely adopted anyway.

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