New Act designed to make business life easier

Wide-ranging measures designed to support UK businesses have passed into law after the Small Business, Enterprise and Employment Act received Royal Assent.

Following granting of the assent on 26 March, Business Minister Matthew Hancock, whose parents set up a computer software company, said: “Coming from a small business background myself, I know first-hand how cumbersome bureaucracy can stifle your ambitions to grow.

“The Small Business Act is the first set of laws specifically to help level the playing field for small business. There really has never been a better time to start and grow a business in the UK.”

Measures to support businesses in the Act include:

  • requiring banks to pass on details of small and medium-sized businesses they decline for a loan, with the firm’s permission, to online platforms that can help match them with alternative finance providers
  • introducing cheque imaging – allowing cheques to be paid in via smartphone, tablets or other devices – to speed up cheque clearing times and increase customer choice in ways to pay
  • increasing transparency on payment practices and policies through new reporting requirement for the UK’s largest companies, providing small firms with information to help them negotiate fairer deals and exposing poor practice
  • ensuring that regulations affecting business are reviewed frequently and remain effective. The government is also introducing a target for the removal of regulatory burdens to be published in each parliamentary term
  • introducing a Pubs Code and Adjudicator to govern the relationship between large pub-owning companies and tied tenants
  • preventing abuse of zero hours contracts by banning exclusivity clauses, which stop individuals from working for another employer, even if the current employer is offering no work
  • deterring employers from breaking National Minimum Wage legislation by introducing the calculation of the maximum penalty for under-payment on a per worker basis
  • strengthening the rules on director disqualifications to widen the misconduct issues courts must take into account when disqualifying along with measures to help creditors recoup losses resulting from director misconduct
  • streamlining insolvency law to remove unnecessary costs and ensure effective oversight of insolvency practitioners, so they deliver services at a fair cost reflecting work carried out.

Palmers’ comprehensive legal services enables us to provide support on all aspects of the new legislation and businesses seeking clarification on its implications may find it helpful to seek expert advice.

For guidance on matters relating to company law and directors’ responsibilities please contact BJ Chong for guidance on employment issues, please contact Lara Murray. For insolvency matters, please contact Andrew Skinner.