'Paradigm shift': How investors' retreat from coal is gathering pace

The coal industry’s biggest cheerleader is about to be ousted from the White House and now leading infrastructure players are pledging to no longer provide infrastructure for coal fired power plants

The long term outlook for the coal market has been gloomy for some time, but in the past week the full scale of the existential threat facing the sector has been hammered home on multiple fronts.

President Trump famously failed to deliver on his promise to end the war on coal. He may have rolled back environmental regulations on the sector, but he could not negate the competitive pressures on the US coal industry from low cost renewables and gas. Coal company bankruptcies continued under the Trump administration and the US famously shuttered more coal power capacity under Trump’s first term than it did under Obama’s second term. But Trump did attempt to throw a lifeline to the embattled sector. President-elect Joe Biden has made no such promises and instead talks openly of multi-trillion dollar clean energy investment and a transition away from fossil fuels. The coal industry is arguably the biggest loser from Biden’s victory.

And Presidential disapproval is the least of the industry’s problems. The past week has seen a wave of coal divestment and withdrawal announcements from prominent infrastructure and investment firms, providing further evidence of the coal sector’s increasingly precarious position in the minds of investors and business leaders.

In the past few days engineering giants Siemens and Toshiba have pledged to stop building components for new coal-fired power plants, joining General Electric and Black & Veatch as companies that have recently confirmed they will end their investments in the coal sector. Meanwhile, South Korea’s largest conglomerate, Samsung Group, announced it would stop all types of funding for coal projects made by its insurance and investment businesses, delivering a further blow to the ailing sector.

As Toshiba president Nobuaki Kuramatani put it, players across the energy sector supply chain are gearing up for a major paradigm shift as demand for coal plummets, renewables capacity expands, and world leaders are increasingly united behind the need to tackle emissions. Recent net zero emission announcements from China, South Korea, and Japan in the past month, paired with Joe Biden’s pledge to return the US to the Paris Agreement, are all expected to usher in a wave of policies that should benefit green energy development and sideline carbon intensive projects – investors and manufacturers are taking note.

“Clearly, there will be a paradigm shift in the energy sector globally,” Kuramatani observed as he announced the company’s new direction. “As a result, we have decided to stop receiving orders for coal-fired thermal power plants that emit large amounts of carbon dioxide.”

Toshiba said on Wednesday that it will instead accelerate its pivots towards cleaner, renewable energy and focus on a new goal of halving greenhouse gas emissions related to its business by 2030. Kuramatani said the firm expected business opportunities to emerge as countries worked to meet decarbonisation commitments under the Paris Agreement and as such the company would be targeting a three-fold increase in its renewable business over the next 10 years.

The Japanese firm’s announcement came just one day after turbine manufacturer Siemens Energy announced it would similarly stop taking new business from coal-fired power plants.

Chief executive Christian Bruch said new investments in coal were at odds with the company’s commitment to sustainability. “Sustainability is at the core of our actions,” he said. Both Siemens and Toshiba have said they will respect existing contracts, however, and the German firm said that existing technology partnerships would be also be “addressed” in light of its withdrawal from coal.

However, again there is a sense of a company recognising where market forces are heading. Siemens’ gas and renewables focused operations look to offer far better long term opportunities than a sector that multiple governments want to phase out.

And yet another blow to the ailing coal sector was delivered this week, as South Korean conglomerate Samsung Group pledged to stop all investment in coal projects through its insurance arms, Samsung Life and Samsung Fire & Marine, and its asset management business.

The move comes after the company was criticised by investors and green groups following research that suggested the companies, the largest property and life insurers in South Korea, had provided $14bn for coal projects in the last decade.

The insurance firms have not directly financed coal projects since June 2018, but this week’s announcement will mean they no longer underwrite insurance policies for such projects or invest in corporate bonds backed by coal projects, Samsung Group said.

In addition, Samsung Securities and Samsung Asset Management, the conglomerate’s brokerage and fund management businesses, also committed to drafting investment guidelines that would mandate a ban on fresh investments in coal mining and coal power plants.

Samsung Group’s withdrawal from coal is expected to have a ripple affect across other companies and financial groups in South Korea, which currently derives just five per cent of its electricity from renewable sources, according to the IEA.

Meanwhile, a smattering of financial updates from the US further planted another nail in the coffin of the coal sector, with the world’s largest private sector coal miner Peabody revealing it was teetering on the verge of bankruptcy after its coal sales volumes plummeted by 23 per cent, and energy company American Electric Power Co announing plans to ditch 1.6GW of coal capacity in Texas by 2028 in a bid to meet federal regulations.

The Covid-19 crisis has undoubtedly played a major role in highlighting and accelerating the coal sector’s decline, as plumetting energy demand during the pandemic saw cheaper forms of power such as wind and solar shouldering the lion’s share of electricity demand in regions with high clean energy capacity. This week’s developments provide yet further evidence that investing and partnering with the coal sector is not only reputationally risky due to its devastating impact on the environment and climate, but an enterprise that can undermine companies’ potential for long term growth and financial security.

Original Source: businessgreen.com

Launched in 2014, StoryBites is a weekly feature from YourStory, featuring notable quotable quotes in our recent articles. Share these gems and insights from the TechSparks speakers with your colleagues and networks, and check back to the original articles for more insights.

In Part IV of our special collection of quotes from YourStory’s TechSparks 2020 coverage, we present insights on the roles and responsibilities of founders (see Part II and Part III) as well). Check out our earlier quotes compilations from conference editions in 2019, 2018, 2017, 2016, 2015, and 2014.

See also our compilation of quotes from the top Tech30 startup founders of 2020, and profiles of the Tech30 startups over the years: 2020, 2019, 2018, 2017, 2016, 2015, 2014, 2013, 2012, and 2011.

When you become the first to break the code, you also become the reference. – Chef Vikas Khanna

When you’re category-defining, you’ve to see if you’re helping shape an ecosystem. – Shailendra Singh, Sequoia Capital

We have to develop knowledge, and humility is absolutely essential for that. – Sridhar Vembu, Zoho

Clarity of thought is as important or even more important than performance today – and it has to be well articulated too. – Anu Hariharan, Y Combinator

A lot of tech entrepreneurs get so involved in algorithms and science…it is all very important, but we need to focus on what you present to the world. – Rajashree R, TCS

The narrative strikes a chord on the other side. It has to come from the heart and has to mix with the substance of your business plan effortlessly – so that it becomes a part of you. – Anup Jain, Orios Venture Partners

Good startup founders are good storytellers. Unless you have a good story, you won’t be able to pique any interests. – Saurabh Jain, Paytm

If you look at companies with the best culture in the world, they have a history of treating their employees the same way as their customers. – Anoop Suresh, Springworks

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Although the number of women-founded and co-founded startups are on the increase, investors are still sceptical about investing in women tech entrepreneurs. – Nikhil Rungta, Verizon Media

Success is common, but enduring success that can last for decades is rare. – Shailendra Singh, Sequoia Capital

Brand strategy IS business strategy because it involves purpose, company culture, brand behaviour, and experience design. – Mohit Jayal, Motherland Joint Ventures

You will doubt yourself, you will doubt your abilities, and you will doubt your decisions and actions. But it's important to persevere and not lose sight of your dreams. – Sonu Sood, actor and humanitarian

Be very brave. Do not compromise on vision. – PB Venugopal, Lexus India

You go through a lot of ups and downs and you really need someone who can be a friend, not just a business partner. – Vibhore Goyal, CoCubes

The more you chase a money goal, the more the goal post keeps shifting. You are always in an unsatisfied zone. – Nithin Kamath, Zerodha

Founders need to keep the board and investors aligned, and then be honest with themselves as this requires both short term and long term goals. – Shweta Bhatia, Eight Roads Ventures India

Be in the driver seat of your own life and not let anyone else drive the direction of your life. – Aaksha Meghawat, Apple

The last-mile human touch always helps. People giving their time, knowledge, and energy…passion matters. – Suniel Shetty

You can’t have strategy doing the work all the time. You've to let the odds and serendipity take over sometimes. – Shailendra Singh, Sequoia Capital

COVID-19 has been the mother of all wake-up calls. – Sarbvir Singh, PolicyBazaar

We are all not in the same boat, but we’re all in the same storm. – Suniel Shetty

The post-pandemic business environment will be one represented by growing geopolitical complexity, a more polarised society, and the chance for backlash if the popular sentiment is hurt. – Madan Bahal, Adfactors PR

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Meet the man who stands by the Godavari to prevent people from polluting the river

The most enduring companies gain dominance because of their unique understanding of market asymmetry or inflection point. – Pieter Kemps, Sequoia Capital India

High winds doesn’t make great sailors, light wind sailing makes great sailors…they equalise everything. – Ashish Hemrajani, BookMyShow

We need to slowly start changing complainers to entrepreneurs…because complainers will have problems and can be problem solvers. – Gururaj ‘Desh’ Deshpande

The best time to do something new is today. – FM Nirmala Sitharaman

The system makes it extremely hard for young entrepreneurs to succeed. If, as a country, we keep ridiculing risk-takers, we will always be a nation of job seekers. – Kunal Shah, CRED

The day you think there is no scope for improvement, the game is over. – Byju Raveendran

India has a valuable talent pool, and this is a very powerful mechanism to create opportunities within India and develop products of value for the world. – Karan Bajaj, WhiteHat Jr.

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Stressed your cup is half-empty not full? Remember you always need to stay grateful. – Tahira Kashyap Khurrana, ‘The 12 Commandments of Being a Woman’

You deal with the world the way it is, not the way you wish it was. This is where you develop character. – John Chambers, JC2

We must ask ourselves, can we make a difference? Can we be innovative and creative and not just look at the money value of what we've done but the contribution it has made to our humanity and our human population in India? – Ratan Tata

YourStory has also published the pocketbook ‘Proverbs and Quotes for Entrepreneurs: A World of Inspiration for Startups’ as a creative and motivational guide for innovators (downloadable as apps here: Apple, Android).

Edited by Suman Singh

Original Source: yourstory.com

The participation of insurers from rural areas is abysmally low in our country. And life insurers, especially private companies, have always been focussed more towards the urban population. For a long time now, the sector has not found many takers from rural areas due to several reasons such as low literacy rates, low incomes, etc. 

According to IRDAI, the insurance tech is a business that is yet to penetrate more than five percent of India’s population in the life segment, and in the non-life segment it is only 15 percent of the total viable market of $100 billion.

Spotting a gap in the segment, Abhishek Tiwari founded iAssure in 2015. The Jaipur-based startup aims to increase insurance penetration in semi-urban and rural areas, and is providing a platform for people to buy all general insurance products with point of sales persons (POSPs). 

“While working in Tier-II and III markets, we realised there was a huge gap in distribution as far as insurance is concerned. For example, Rajasthan has 33 districts and 300 plus tehsils. The presence of private insurers is not more than ten districts, whereas public players have their presence in all 33 districts and another 30 tehsils. It implies that rest of the market is served by individual or corporate agents who have their own limitations when it comes to offer choice of product and servicing,” says Abhishek. 

“We decided to solve this problem of distribution by digitising the insurance services, create mass level networks, create employment, and serve the unserved and underserved consumers in semi urban and rural markets of Bharat,” he adds. 

According to the company, it is helping individuals sign up with the right insurance plans at affordable price. At present, the startup is providing services in the northern regions of the country, and is currently present in ten states.

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The journey

A law and CA graduate, Abhishek worked with the ICICI Bank for a decade. He also served as the CEO at Au Insurance broking, and it was here the idea of iAssure was born. 

Abhishek says his mission statement is simple – he wants iAssure to insure 5,600 tehsils of India and become a one-stop solution for all financial protection needs of the customers in the next five years. 

“iAssure aims to solve the problem of lack of awareness, trust, digitisation, and distribution in semi urban and rural markets, which is home to eighty percent of the Indian population. iAssure also aims to bridge the deficit of trust by getting the transaction executed through a hyper local trusted resource who talks to the customer in his own language. It’s a sociable, sustainable, and scalable business model,” says Abhishek. 

“When I started out, there were difficulties. Like any startup, there was lack of trust initially among customers. Building a team, creating a model, and establishing a PoC with the technology platform was difficult. Three years down the line, we realised it’s a natural path, which any business or entrepreneur has to travel,” says Abhishek.

iasureThe product

The startup appoints point of sales people (POSP) who travel to towns and use digital means to show different products and pricing to customers that suits their needs. They assist individuals in choosing the right product and also help people with digital payments. 

“We recruit people with basic qualifications from remote areas, provide training to these individuals, and enable them to sell insurance in semi urban and rural markets. These people enjoy the trust of local customers as they belong to the same place, thus helping in the creation of employment/self-employment in these markets as well,” says Abhishek. 

IAssure’s point of sales person can use the phone to access products from multiple insurers, and compare and advise people about the best insurance plan to suit their needs. Since all this happens on a digital platform, it is easy for them to explain the product to the customers. They can also cross sell/upsell to same customer along with a motor insurance and the POSPs can also pitch a health insurance.

The company claims to be having 5,500 POSP counters in the last three years and has issued close to half a million policies.

The insurance market in India

In FY-16, the Insurance Regulatory and Development Authority of India (IRDAI) introduced and came up with guidelines for Point of Sale Persons, which was aimed at increasing penetration of insurance products by spreading distribution. Under these guidelines, intermediaries were allowed to appoint point of sales people under them who could sell pre underwritten products.

iAssure

Iassure founder Abhishek

Speaking about the current scenario, Abhishek says: “In the life insurance space, about 65 percent market is dominated by individual agents, 25 percent by corporate agents, five percent by insurance companies directly, and the rest is distributed among others. Only five percent sell online. So 95 percent of the market in life insurance is B2B and only five percent is B2C.”

According to the startup, in the non-life insurance segment ,about 30 percent is contributed by individual agents, 12 percent by corporate agents, 28 percent is direct, and 22 percent by brokers. Therefore 80 percent market is B2B and 20 percent B2C.

With the advent of technology and the release of POSP guidelines by IRDAI, the model is now evolving to assisted sales, where there will be physical touch points (individual advisors) with digital enablement. That’s where iAssure’s sweet spot is. 

The business and plans ahead

The bootstrapped startup, which is funded by family and friends, has made a total investment of close to Rs 12 crore in the company till date. 

The startup follows a revenue sharing model. iAssure shares 75 percent of the revenue with the POSP who sources the business and retains a margin of 25 percent on each transaction. 

Till date, the startup, which competes insurtech startups like Acko, Policy Bazaar, and Artivatic, claims to have served half a million customers. The startup clocked a revenue of Rs 9 crore in FY-20, and is eyeing Rs 15 crore in revenue by FY-21. However, the company is yet to become profitable. 

“Q-1 has been encouraging so far owing to the all-time high risk recognition among customers due to the COVID-19 outbreak. There has been a positive shift in the product mix and we have booked more business in health and life insurance vertical as compared to motor insurance,” says Abhishek. 

In the next 18 months, the startup wants to cover 1,400 tehsils in 10 states in its current area of operation and penetrate vertically. So far, it has covered 500 tehsils in North India. 

The government and IRDAI are also relentlessly working on reforms to improve the situation. Recently, the government increased FDI to 100 percent in the insurance intermediation business, and this alone means that iAssure can scale up in the future. 

Edited by Megha Reddy

Original Source: yourstory.com

Starting a new business is a busy time for an entrepreneur. You’re developing a business plan, getting your financial plan in order, and possibly pitching to investors or seeking funding. One thing that can be overlooked but is incredibly vital, is ensuring all legal obligations are met. The failure to do so can result in fines or possibly even court proceedings.

This guide should help you tackle the legal aspects of starting a business in the UK, from choosing a name for your business right at the start all the way to employing staff later on. You can work the relevant legal points into your traditional business plan, or even draw up a separate legal plan or checklist to ensure you have covered everything. 

While the legal processes covered are specific to the UK, the general categories are likely applicable no matter where your business located. That being said, let’s dive in.

Naming your business

You need to choose a unique name for your business, that is not being used already, to avoid running

into problems. If the name is too similar to other businesses, it can suggest there is a connection between the companies and you could be seen as trying to pass your company off as theirs, taking business from them as a result. If they complain or file for trademark infringement, you could be required to change your business name, possibly pay damages, and spend extra time and money re-doing signs, stationery, advertising, etc.

You can easily check to see if your name idea has been taken yet using Made Simple and it’s also wise to verify if a similar trademark already exists.

Choosing the legal status of your business

The legal status you choose determines whether you need to register your business with Companies House, which is the UK’s registrar of companies. The legal status also affects the records and accounts that you have to keep, the amount of tax and National Insurance (NI) you will pay, and your financial liability if the business were to go under. 

It’s also worth noting that in the UK employees pay NI contributions to qualify for certain state benefits and a state pension when they retire. This total will vary based on the legal status of your business. Here are the most common types of legal business structures to choose from when setting up a new business.

Sole trader 

This is the easiest option if you are the only owner (you can still employ people). There is no business registration with Companies House required and keeping records and accounts is simple. Many businesses start off as sole traders and change their legal status later on.

You can benefit from full profit retention and you can complete your own self-assessment tax return online each year, or get an accountant to do it for you. There will be more about paying taxes in the next section. 

If you want to protect the name of your business, you will still need a trademark as no formal registration happens. You will need to weigh up the cost of this to see if it is worth doing.

The downside of being a sole trader is that you have unlimited liability, meaning you are liable for any debts the business has. You could risk your own personal assets, such as your house and savings if the business got into financial difficulty. Sole traders also find it harder to get the funding they need from banks, but it could be the right option for you if your business is low-risk and does not need finance. 

Some people prefer to deal with sole traders over limited companies as the business tends to feel more personal, particularly if the nature of the work is sensitive.

Partnership 

This is the easiest option when there is more than one business owner, and two or more people share the costs, risks, and responsibilities. You do not have to have equal shares and each person’s liability is proportionate to their share.

The downside is that like being a sole trader, partners are not protected financially. If the business goes under you could become liable for your partner’s share of the debt. To avoid this scenario, you can become a Limited Liability Partnership (LLP) so that the LLP is then responsible for any debt and not the business owners.

Limited company 

Most limited companies in the UK are limited by shares. Setting the business up as a limited company means it is a separate legal entity that protects you financially, as the company finances are separate from your own personal finances.

It is more complicated than becoming a sole trader as you need to register the business with Companies House, submit accounts and annual returns to them, and adhere to their record-keeping requirements.

There can be financial advantages in terms of paying tax by becoming a limited company, and it can also be easier to obtain financing. It is best to discuss these specific benefits with an accountant before registering your business.

Paying tax and National Insurance

All businesses must be registered with HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) as soon as you start trading so that you can pay income tax on your profit and Class 2 and 4 national insurance (NI).

This can be done online and the HMRC will set up an account for you to do your self-assessment. Once complete, they will contact you with a ten-digit Unique Taxpayer Reference (UTR) and send a letter in 2-3 weeks giving you an activation code to access the account.

In order to complete your self-assessment properly, you will need to keep records of your business sales and expenses. To help me stay organized, I have a separate business account that I use to buy the things I need for business operations.

Accepting payment by cash makes keeping track of earnings a bit trickier, and may require keeping and uploading receipts. You can also manage this with your accounting software and add the information to your business financial statements on a monthly basis.

If you are moving to the UK to start a business, you will need to apply for an NI number and can give this number a ring to apply: 0800-141-2075.

Value Added Tax (VAT)

Value Added Tax (VAT) is a tax added to most goods and services. You only need to register for VAT if your VAT taxable turnover is going to exceed the current limit in any rolling 12-month period. The limit is currently is £85,000, and you do not need to include any values from sales that are VAT exempt.

For example, VAT is not added to most food and children’s clothes. Additionally, a lower rate of 5% applies to certain goods and services such as home energy and children’s car seats. The standard VAT rate is 20%.

If you need to register for VAT, there is further information available via www.gov.uk/vat-registration.

Insurance

Some insurance policies are legally required, whereas others are available if you want to protect your business against certain risks. Parts of the business that you can insure include your vehicle, equipment, premises, employees, your products and services, your business idea, and even yourself.

Motor insurance 

Insuring vehicles is always required by law. If you are going to be using your vehicle for work, you will need to make sure you have insured the vehicle for the correct class of use. Any claims would be rejected if you use the vehicle for business purposes without amending your policy to reflect this.

There are other motor insurances available to cover things like tools in a van, that would require Goods in Transit cover. You can compare the costs of these policies via www.confused.com/van-insurance/goods-in-transit.

Professional indemnity 

This insurance is required for certain professions such as accountants and financial advisors. This protects them against claims for losses suffered by customers as a result of mistakes or negligence. Often other professional advisors decide to take this cover out for their own peace of mind in case their customers want to sue them.

Employer’s Liability Insurance

This is mandatory for all businesses with employees. This is to protect you from any claims an employee could make following an accident or illness suffered as a result of working for you.

Additional insurance coverage to consider

Here are some other insurance policies you may want to explore depending on the nature of your business:

Buildings and contentsBusiness Interruption —These policies typically cover any instance where you are unable to operate due to external factors such as inclement weather. The extent of policy coverage fully depends on limitations laid out in your insurance contract. Cyber cover — If you have access to information that would be valuable to fraudsters, this will help manage the cost of the incident and deal with enforcement against you from industry regulators.Employment ProtectionKeyman insuranceMoney in transitProduct LiabilityPublic LiabilityShop insuranceTheft

It is worth remembering that all business insurances are tax-deductible expenses.

As there are so many insurances to think about, it is helpful to go and speak to a local insurance broker to check you have the cover you need. The Association of British Insurers (ABI) website contains a section to help you choose the right insurance for your business.

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Acquire industry-specific licensing

Certain businesses require a license from the local authority to be allowed to trade legally. Some examples include hotels, hairdressers, street traders, boarding kennels, and food outlets.

Contact your local authority and ask to speak to Local Planning or the Building Control Office to find out if you need to register or obtain a license, as failure to do so may qualify as a criminal offense.

Local authorities also have Trading Standards departments who help you understand how to be legally compliant in your business area. You will need to know who the regulator of your industry is and then find a way to keep your knowledge up to date to remain compliant.

Do I need planning permission?

While you investigate whether there is a need for a license from the local authority, also ask them if you need planning permission. Working from home or changing the use of a building can both require planning consent, even if you are not changing the physical building.

You can be fined if you set up a business at home without permission. If your work leads to extra foot traffic and a lack of parking, excess noise, etc. your neighbors may end up reporting you.

Ask the Local Planning or Building Control Office about the plans for your business as soon as you can. Planning consent can take time if it is needed and may cost some money, so it is good to have this figured out early on. 

Employing staff

If you’re going to take on staff you will need to ensure that you comply with certain pieces of employment legislation. Here’s what you need to establish.

Carry out applicant checks 

As an employer, it’s your legal responsibility to make sure you check that any staff has the right to work in the UK. Depending on which sector you work in you may also need to undertake a criminal records check known as a DBS check. Failure to do so can lead to you and your business being liable for a civil penalty.

Register with the HMRC as an employer 

You usually need to register with HMRC within 4-weeks of taking on your first employee. You’ll be responsible for deducting any tax and National Insurance contributions from your staff’s pay. You’ll also be responsible for paying any remaining employee or business taxes at the end of the year if you do not plan accordingly.

National minimum wage 

You must make sure that all staff is paid at least the current national minimum wage per hour for all the hours that they work. The rate does depend on each employees’ age and if they’re an acting apprentice.

Pensions auto-enrolment 

As an employer, you must enroll all eligible staff into a workplace pension scheme. There are different pension types that either require you or the government to add a specific matching dollar value to each employee pension. In most automatic enrollment schemes, employees will make contributions based on total earnings, including:

salary or wagesbonuses and commissionovertimestatutory sick paystatutory maternity, paternity, or adoption pay

Statement of employment 

You will need to issue all staff, who will be with you for more than a month, with a written statement of employment. This document sets out the conditions of their employment, such as hours and pay, and must be given to staff within 8-weeks of their start date. In addition, staff should be given a contract (which can be incorporated with the statement of employment).

The contract sets out details of their rights, responsibilities, and working conditions. Make sure the contract is clear on which terms are contractual and which are not, as this will affect how you can make any changes in the future.

Employers liability insurance 

We mentioned this before, but if you employ staff other than direct family members then you need to take out employers liability insurance. This type of insurance will cover will protect you from claims made by employees if they are injured or fall ill at the workplace.

Health and safety 

All employers are required to provide a safe working environment for their staff. If you have more than 5 staff you will need to have a formal written Health & Safety policy. This includes a safe place to work, safe access to work, safe systems of work, safe equipment procedures, safe interactions between workers, and protection from risks of injury.

Legislation that may affect your business

Legislations are rules and regulations that you must adhere to whilst running your business. I have not listed all of them as not all will apply to every business, but you will need to identify the ones that apply to you. We will touch on the more common ones, but to explore more legislation please visit www.legislation.gov.uk.

Employment law

Employment law is there to protect the rights of employees and their health and safety. We will touch on the main laws to consider for those employing staff.

Health and Safety at Work Act of 1974

Premises and machinery must be safe and not affect the health of workers. If you employ 5 or more staff you need to have a written health and safety policy and conduct risk assessments which need to be documented and communicated to the employees.

Equal Pay Act of 1970 

Employees must be paid equally to those who do work of the same value regardless of their sex.

Sex Discrimination Act of 1975 

Employees cannot be discriminated at any stage of recruitment, training, or employment.

Race Relations Act of 1976

It is illegal to discriminate against a person because of their color, race, or ethnic group.

Employment Protection Act of 1978

Employers must provide employees with a written contract of employment. This is to protect them from unfair dismissal and gives them the right to redundancy pay should their job no longer be required after 2-years.

Consumer Protection

Consumer Protection rights are there to protect customers from unfair business practices.

Sale and Supply of Goods Act 

Goods must be of a decent standard. This applies to any goods that are identified and agreed to be purchased by consumers.

Trade Descriptions Act 

Goods and services must be as advertised and you must not give misleading information.

Distance Selling Act 

Some selling methods, such as online shopping, require you to allow a ‘cooling-off’ period, during which time a customer can change their mind about a purchase and obtain a refund. 

Data Protection Act/GDPR

This will apply to anyone that needs to take any customer details, so it will apply to the majority of businesses. You’ll want to make sure you fully understand the extent of these protections and can check the Information Commissioner’s Office for specifics.

Develop internal legal documents

Developing internal legal documents helps to instill confidence in your business for the benefit of everyone — your customers, employees, and potential investors.

Privacy policy

A privacy policy is a statement that tells your customers how their data will be collected, used, stored, and protected. It should also detail if there may be a need to share any personal information.

Company handbook

Your company handbook is something you will probably change and add to as your business grows. In short, it is really a book to summarise how you do things in your business. It needs to be made available to staff at all times — you could either give everyone a copy or make it otherwise easily available for reference. Here’s what to include.

Your company mission statement

Your employees want to know the goals and reasons for your company’s existence. This is where your mission statement comes into play. Generally, it should include the history of your company, the vision, and the goals you want to achieve.

Your company’s policies 

Your company policies are typically extensions of required legal stipulations along with any additional company-specific policies. This can be anything that is important such as having a clear desk policy outside of office hours to help protect data or even just the way you want staff to answer the phone.

Human resources and legal information related to employment

If you don’t have an HR department to help you outline every policy, you’ll need to address the following:

Joining the company Employee benefitsWorking hours Annual Leave and sickness absenceAbsence management –policy for managing short and long-term absence and requirements for reportingBribery, confidentiality, whistleblowing, and data protectionEqual opportunities and bullying and harassment policiesIT rules (including areas such as social media use both inside and outside of work)Your Health and Safety policy including how you intend for you and your staff to implement this Disciplinary/Grievance proceduresFlexible family-friendly legislation policiesCapability and performance management targets and proceduresTermination of employment including retirement and redundancy

It is a good idea not to make any company policies contractual for staff so you can amend the staff policies in the employee handbook at any time.

Retaining legal counsel

It is useful to have a solicitor on retainer so that you can get advice whenever you need it. When starting and operating a small business you probably won’t need a solicitor often, but having phone support available for when you do will be beneficial.

There are large national organizations that offer this service such as Peninsula Group Limited, but you may prefer to ask a local solicitor or a more friendly and personal service.

Why develop a legal action plan?

Incorporating a legal action plan into your larger business plan may be necessary when pitching to investors or applying for funding. It’s also valuable to incorporate specific legal steps into your milestones to better use as a management tool.

Now, this guide has covered a lot of different legal components, so you may find it easier to write a separate legal action plan. Since Employment Law is such a large part of legal planning, if you do not plan to hire any staff and will operate by yourself, you might just need a simple legal checklist.

In any case, be sure that you have some sort of plan in place to be sure you address everything.

Don’t get overwhelmed by legal requirements

This all may seem daunting as there is so much to think about, but I hope that this guide helps you to plan and meet your legal obligations. It is best to start off small but keep the big picture in mind. Keep referring back to your traditional business plan so as not to lose sight of what you dreamed of.

If you ever have questions or concerns about specific legal requirements, check the official UK government website or reach out directly to a legal expert for assistance. Best of luck with your new venture!

Editors’ Note: This article is purely informational and should not be taken as legal advice. If you have questions regarding specific laws, licensing or protections contact your preferred legal counsel. 

Original Source: articles.bplans.com

Future Group founder Kishore Biyani on Wednesday said the homegrown retail major lost nearly Rs 7,000 crore revenue in first three-four months of the COVID-19 pandemic due to closing of stores, which led him to sell his business to Reliance Industries.

In August this year, billionaire Mukesh Ambani's Reliance Industries announced acquisition of retail and wholesale business and the logistics and warehousing business from the Future Group as going concerns on a slump sale basis for Rs 24,713 crore.

"We got into a trap to be very honest with COVID-19. In the first 3-4 months, we lost nearly Rs 7,000 crore of revenue, Biyani said at the Phygital Retail Convention.

There was no way the company could have survived losing such an amount, he said, adding the problem is rent doesn't stop, interest (on debt) doesn't stop .

"We did too many acquisitions in the last six-seven years… I thought there was no other answer but to exit," he stated.

He said for retailers the worst is yet to come.

"We have designed business to be profitable at 90 percent of our targets. In any scenario… we will not be able to touch 70-80 percent (of target)… If you look at long-term planning 5 to 10 years — it will not be easy for physical stores," he said.

Through the deal made in August with Reliance Industries, the Ambani led firm will acquire Future Retail, which owns BigBazaar that sells everything from groceries to cosmetics and apparel, and Future Lifestyle Fashions Ltd that operates fashion discount chain Brand Factory.

reliance industries mukesh ambani

Image: Flickr

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While Reliance will take over Future Consumer, which sells food, home, and personal care products, Future Group's financial and insurance business is not part of the deal.

Future Retail operated 1,550 stores. Its flagship brands BigBazaar, FBB and Foodhall, Easyday, Heritage Fresh and WHSmith. Future Lifestyle Fashion operates 354 stores.

Investment from Reliance would help Future's founder Biyani pare debt.

Last week, US online retailer Amazon slapped a legal notice on Future Group, alleging that the retailer's Rs 24,713 crore asset sale to Reliance Industries violated an agreement with the ecommerce giant.

"We have initiated steps to enforce our contractual rights," a spokesperson for the Seattle-based ecommerce giant said. "As the matter is sub-judice, we can't provide details."

Amazon last year bought a 49 percent stake in one of Future's unlisted firms, Future Coupons Ltd, with the right to buy into flagship Future Retail after a period between 3 and 10 years. Future Coupons owns a 7.3 percent stake in Future Retail.

In August this year, Future reached an agreement to sell its retail, wholesale, logistics and warehousing units to Reliance.

The deal is awaiting regulatory approvals.

Edited by Megha Reddy

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Original Source: yourstory.com