Buying a businessAfter understanding the business acquisition process, preparing the projected costs and expenses and creating the business and marketing plans, it is now time to understand some of the key legislative requirements businesses and their owners must comply with.

Whether you are starting a business from scratch or have acquired an existing one, as a business owner you need to be aware of the legal environment you are operating in. Here are some laws you may need to know about so you can legally operate your business, regardless of what line of business you are in:

Employment Agreements

Employing staff automatically creates legal obligations for the employer and the employee. The acts relevant to this are The Employment Relations Act 2000 and the Holidays Act 2003.

All employees are required to have a written employment agreement which should contain details of employment including a job description, work location, work hours, salary, holiday and other leave entitlements, and more. Wages cannot fall below the minimum guaranteed hourly rate, currently $15.25 per hour for adults.

Employers must keep accurate records for all employees of the hours worked each day in a pay period and the pay for those hours, as well as leave accrued, entitled leave and leave taken.

Fair Trading Act

This act covers the prohibition of misleading or deceptive conduct and trade as well as false representation of goods, services, land and employment. Any entity proven to violate this act is subject to civil remedies such as injunctions, damages, corrective advertising at the defendant's expense and other orders of the court directing compensation or restitution. The most important section of this act that business owners need to remember is:

Fair Trading Act Section 9 - No person shall in trade, engage in conduct that is misleading or deceptive or that is likely to mislead or deceive.

Commerce Act

Commerce Act protects the vendor and the consumer by fair pricing. It also covers fair market competition by prohibiting the abuse of market position, contract provisions that lessen competition in the market and restriction of goods or services to another competitor, among others.

Consumer Guarantees Act

This act aims to provide consumer protection in the supply of goods and services to ensure they are fit for the intended purpose. A set of statutory standards called "guarantees" are attached to any goods and services being sold to consumers, acquired for domestic or personal use. It does not apply when goods and services are acquired for re-supply in trade, or to be consumed in production or manufacture.

Health and Safety in Employment Act

This act covers all work situations. It aims to promote excellence in terms of health and safety performance. It also aims to improve hazard identification and control methods, health and safety training and education and regulation of specific hazardous situations, to name a few.

Furthermore, employers must take all necessary practicable steps to ensure safety of employees while they are at work. Employers must be able to provide and maintain a safe working environment. This also applies to external contractors working on your site.

Privacy Act

This act aims to proactively require businesses to be wary of sharing information. A breach may arise when information is shared for the purpose that is not intended or without express permission.

The act covers the collection of information, storage and security of information, access by the individual and correction of the information, updating and disposal of information, as well as the use and disclosure of information and unique identifiers.

Business owners should comply with these and other legislative requirements for the protection of their business, their employees and their customers. Non-compliance may result in costly consequences for the business.

As business advisors, we discuss legal requirements with business owners and point them in the right direction to ensure all relevant areas are addressed. We provide a comprehensive risk review service in which we analyse compliance with these and other statutory requirements and business risks to ensure you are adequately covered should an adverse event ever occur.

Our next blog will discuss business survival and provide tips that will keep you in the game.

If you want to know more about these laws, or are in need of business strategy or business planning advice, request an appointment online via out website or call our team on (09) 576 4166.

If you want to catch up on the rest of this blog series, check the previous discussions here.

Please note this information is a guide only and should not be used in place of comprehensive legal advice.