There’s no denying that the world of work has changed enormously in the last two years, with coronavirus accelerating changes in remote work, e-commerce and automation.
Did you know that 25% of more employees than previous have switched up their occupations and their working contracts? It’s quite different, isn’t it?
This is why more than ever, you need to make sure you’re having a look at the different types of legal documents your business (and you) use to make sure you’re keeping up with legal changes.
Everyone deals with their businesses and personal legalities every now and then, but the start of the year is the perfect time to re-visit and revise your legal documents.
This can seem like a big task, especially if you don’t know what legal documents to revise, but don’t worry, this is where we’re stepping in to help.
In this post, we will cover the essential legal documents that you and your business should review and revise so your business is keeping up with the ever-changing business trends.
Does this sound like something you want for your business?
Legal documents for business
There are many reasons why so many businesses are updating their policies and why you should consider revising your business’s Privacy Policies. To keep it nice and simple, updates need to be made because:
- You would like to inform your consumers, suppliers or contractors of changes made to how you collect, use and respect information data;
- You would like to comply with Australian Federal laws on privacy and increased enforcement of privacy laws; or
2. Confidentiality Agreements
As your company grows or changes, it would be wise to create or revise your businesses Confidentiality Agreements at the beginning of the year.
Confidentiality Agreements are legal documents that you can use to disclose private or sensitive information to another party while legally forbidding the other receiving party from disclosing that information to any other person or entity.
If you’re wondering why your business should update its Confidentiality Agreement, here are a few reasons:
- If you expect your employees to have access to sensitive information this year, why not make sure your business’s information is kept safe by updating your Confidentiality Agreement
- You would like to (or need to) disclose new confidential information
- Your business has new trade secrets, and you want to stop this information from falling into the wrong hands
- You would like to (or need to) disclose confidential information
- Keeping up with legislative requirements under the Privacy Act 1988
So if you’ve been reluctant to hire new employees or enter into contracts with other businesses because you haven’t updated your Confidentiality Agreement, why not do it now to give yourself peace of mind.
If you need some help reviewing your Confidentiality Agreement, hire Lawpath lawyers who are certified legal practitioners or create your own customisable Confidentiality Agreement ready for use in under 5 minutes.
3. Non-Disclosure Agreements
Non-Disclosure Agreements are two-way legal documents that your business can use to disclose confidential information to a receiving party while legally forbidding either party from disclosing that information to any third parties, be it a person or entity.
Non-Compete Agreements are similar legal documents that will protect your business from having its information exploited by an employee seeking a competitive advantage.
Reasons why you should update your Non-Disclosure or Non-Compete legal documents:
- Prevent a situation where employees with access to your business’ private information use the information to start their own competing business in the same industry;
- You want to disclose new confidential information in negotiation and want it not to be in the public domain;
- You want to place new restrictions on the use of confidential information;
- You want to access new confidential information from a new business you want to join forces with; or
- You want to protect confidential information, including customer lists and trade secrets.
If you don’t want to worry about your employees possibly using your confidential information for their own purposes, consider revising your existing Non-Disclosure or Non-Compete agreement so that your private information is protected.
4. Website Terms and Conditions of Use
Were you a business owner disrupted by Covid-19 and decided to move your business online? Well, you’re not.
A changed-post pandemic landscape of the Australian workforce saw an increase in the e-commerce industry, with nearly half of small businesses in Australia pivoting their approach in response to the pandemic. Crazy? Or crazy good?
I would go with the latter because Australian e-commerce saw an increase in online shopping of over 55% in December 2020. This is excellent news for small businesses like yourself who decided to shift to an online business model or plan to head in that direction.
But what does this mean for your business legally? Well, if you’re a business that is providing a service or a good online or plan to do it in the near future, you must have terms that outline how your services and goods will be delivered to customers.
Your Website Terms And Conditions of Use needs to include how users can use your website, what is prohibited and a disclaimer to limit your liability for your website.
So if you have an online store selling goods and services on your website, you are required by Australian Consumer Law to keep your terms and conditions updated.
Don’t know where to start? Have a look at our Website Terms and Conditions of Use to specifically design the perfect legal documents to meet the needs of businesses selling, delivering or advertising services online.
5. Employment Agreements and Contracts
Did you know that part-time employment has risen steadily to account for nearly one-third of total employment?
Could it be that your business is contributing to the percentage? If it is, we’re sure that your business, like so many other businesses, had to consider the legal implications the changes had on your employees’ contracts and agreements.
In recent times did you ask yourself:
- Are any employees at high risk of having Covid-19? Do I have any clauses in their employment contracts to help?
- Do I need to reduce the number of staff members in my business?
- Should I hire more employees to keep up with demand?
- Do the current employment contracts allow me to reduce employee positions from full-time to part-time or part-time to casual hours?
- Do I need to offer casual employees who have worked for my business for longer than 1 year a permanent position?
- Will the current contracts I have in place for my employees allow them to work from home?
If you asked yourself any of the questions above, it’s the best time to ensure that your employee’s contracts reflect the changes in today’s workplace landscape.
An employment contract is a written or verbal agreement (legal documents) between you and your employee that sets out the terms and conditions of your employee. But before you revise and alter the terms of an employment contract, you need to let your affected employee know first.
If you want to change your employees’ contract’s terms and conditions the right way, it’s best to seek legal advice from an employment lawyer if you need assistance.
6. Working from Home Policy
Working from home is becoming an increasingly popular work arrangement in today’s employment environment. Research proves it — 41% of Australians are now working from home?
This number can continue to rise, so if you’re one of the many businesses allowing their employees to work from home, it’s essential to make sure that your Working from Home Policy is up to date.
Your Working from Home legal documents should not replace your employees exisiting employee contracts but work alongside them to provide flexibility and clarity in the rise of the remote work environment.
So if you haven’t made it clear to your employees:
- Their eligibility to work from home;
- The responsibilities and guidelines they must follow;
- Their obligations around taking personal leave; and
- The return of company property in the event of an employee ceases employment
It’s now the best time to update your policy. If this is something that you haven’t done for your employees yet, or you’re considering it, have a look at our Working From Home Policy to get started.
7. Workplace Health and Safety Policies
Every business should have a Work Health and Safety Policy (WHS).
WHS Policies are legal documents of rules or guidelines that communicate your businesses standards and expectations regarding how your employees should behave and conduct themselves.
But when was the last time you updated your business’s WHS Policy (Work Health and Safety)? If you can’t remember, that means it’s been too long.
Let me make this simple for you. If the following things have changed in your business, it’s time for you to revise and review your WHS Policy:
- Regulations on health and safety are updated, and new laws are enacted;
- Your business offers new products and services;
- You have introduced new technologies and procedures;
- Your business has shrunk or grown;
- You’ve decided to outsource or insource specific requirements;
- More and more employees are working from home; or
- You want to make sure that your business complies with current legal requirements.
Your WHS Policy will need to cover these changes and any new arrangements or responsibilities you have to keep people safe.
So whether you need new workplace policies and just want to update your old ones, we’ve got the template for your small business.
Our templates are fully customisable to suit your business to a tea. Plus, our lawyers are always happy to help you write your provisions, give you the guidance you need or review your policies.
8. Services Agreement
Have you ever thought about updating your business’s Services Agreement? If you haven’t, we think it’s time.
A Services Agreement sets out the terms and conditions between you as the service provider and the recipient of your services.
Suppose your business is providing services or looking to provide services to another entity. In that case, you need to set out the terms and conditions of those services and update them regularly.
Why should you update regularly? Well, think about this. Have you made changes to any of the following things:
- Provision of services/service delivery;
- Payment, Fees & Expenses;
- Warranty, alterations and rejection of services;
- Confidentiality / Confidential Information (prevent reverse engineering);
- Copyright and intellectual property rights (i.e. logos, licenses);
- Protection of personal information
- Non-solicitation of personnel and clients;
- Limitation of liability and waivers.
If you’ve ticked off any of the things listed above, it’s time for you to update your Services Agreement to ensure that you avoid any disputes arising with the recipients of your services.
To make sure you’re legally covered, why not use our Services Agreement document to set out the relationship between you, the service provider, and the individuals receiving the services.
9. Shareholders Agreement
A Shareholders Agreement will help you govern the relationship between your company’s shareholders. Although you and your partners are on good terms now, sometimes running a company will put a strain on that relationship.
A Shareholders Agreement helps protect your interests in these situations and is; therefore, a legal contract entered into and agreed upon by all shareholders of a company outlining the original intentions of the parties.
But it’s important to note it’s not uncommon for businesses like yours to develop over time. Things change, expectations change, so your shareholder’s agreement must reflect these alterations.
In light of that, it’s a good idea to regularly review your Shareholders Agreement to see whether any new provisions need to be added or whether any changes need to be made to address changing circumstances appropriately.
Changes to Shareholders Agreements are easier to agree upon if it’s regularly reviewed rather than leaving the review to a dispute. So if you want to make sure it doesn’t get to that stage, why not seek legal advice and ensure that your agreement is changed correctly to maximise the security and protection of your business.
10. Contractor Agreement
Do you commonly hire a contractor for that specialised, hard-to-find talent to complete short-term work for your business?
If you’re nodding your head, it’s probably a great time for you to review the existing contract you have in place when you hire contractors.
Why is this the case? Just imagine your business has introduced the following changes:
- You want to charge more or less for the contractor’s services;
- You want to introduce certain restrains in the agreement. For example, you wish to restrain the contractor from working elsewhere, for example, a competitor, while working for your company;
- In cases where a dispute arises, do you have the most up-to-date procedures in place to resolve the dispute?
- Are your relevant termination procedures up to date?
These are just a few of the reasons why your Contractor Agreement should be up to date.
So if you’re planning to utilise contractors in the future, make sure you do it now and hire a lawyer if you need assistance in making the changes.
11. Heads of Agreement
Have you ever thought about entering into an agreement with another entity in the near future?
If this sounds like something you want to do this year, you need to make sure that you have an updated Heads of Agreement.
A Heads of Agreement works as an ‘agreement to agree’, and sets out the main terms and conditions of an agreement between parties before they enter into a contract.
If it’s been some time if you’ve looked at your business’s Heads of Agreement and you’re looking to make an agreement with another business soon, it’s vital that the following details are up to date:
- Details of the proposed formal agreement;
- Obligations of both parties;
- Consideration for the proposed agreement; and
- Options to include clauses for confidentiality, intellectual property, non-solicitation and/or exclusivity obligations.
If you want to get one ready now or customise your existing agreement, have a look at our customisable legal documents that can be ready to use in under 10min.
12. Social Media Policy
Maybe you heard about it in the news (or perhaps you saw it on social media)…
An ABC journalist was fired after sharing an article on Instagram which had the potential to defame the company.
An Australian man was fired for ranting about his boss on Facebook.
The list goes on…
The use of social media in the workplace has taken off in recent years, and employers like yourself need to keep up.
Employees have easier access to the internet, and with the popularity of smartphones, it is not surprising that new legal issues are constantly emerging.
To manage these legal risks, you need to make sure your Social Media Policy is up to date.
A Social Media Policy sets out the responsibilities that an employee must follow when dealing with social media. This includes both during and outside work hours.
So if you want your workers to be aware of the importance of appropriate behaviour on work or personal social media accounts or you want to update the list of social media accounts your employees are allowed to use, such as adding Tiktok to the list, make sure update your Social Media Policy.
If you don’t currently have one, why not consider introducing one in your business today
Legal documents for personal use
13. Changes to your Will
Your Will could be one of the most important documents you’ll ever write.
A Will is an essential legal document that communicates your wishes concerning your estate. It ensures your interests and those of the people you care about are protected and taken care of according to your wishes.
The clarity in documenting your distribution of estate prevents potential conflict about any property and/or residual property that might arise.
But the issue is after you’re finished writing it, you’ll probably place it somewhere for safekeeping and never look at it ever again.
Now there’s a big problem with that. Why might you ask? Well, things change. Your finances change, your assets may be different, your loved one leave, and new people enter your life.
These types of things often need to be updated in your Will. But the sad reality is that many people forget to do this, but we are here to remind you.
Here is a list of things that need updating in your Will today:
- You have relocated – If you have moved to a different state, this needs to be updated in your Will.
- New people in your life – Married or you have a child.
- You have separated from your partner.
- Changes in your assets – the value of your assets may have significantly increased or decreased.
- A beneficiary listed in your Will has died.
- Change of executor.
When circumstances like this arise in life, you should revise your Will to ensure that you, and your family, are prepared for whatever may come in the future.
It is recommended that you hire a lawyer to make amendments to your will to ensure that it’s legally valid.
14. Rent Reduction Agreement
Did you know that on the 14th of July 2021, the NSW Government enacted the Retail and Other Commercial Leases (COVID-19) Regulation 2021 to help out business owners with rent reduction due to the impact of Covid-19?
Yes, this is real and great news for business owners.
Property owners are required to offer tenants rent relief. So if you’re a business owner who is experiencing financial hardship and you wish to request a rent reduction for a period of time, a Rent Reduction Agreement can help you.
These legal documents are designed for business owners to negotiate a temporary reduction in rent for their leased premises.
For example, if you were to negotiate a 10% reduction on your face rent of $75,000, you would pay 90% of the face rent each month and save $7,500 per month, which adds up to $450,000 over a five-year lease.
If you are looking for professional or legal assistance with rent abatement and lease incentives, it is always a good idea to consult a commercial lease lawyer for further advice.
15. Change of Name
Have you recently gotten married or changed any part of your name officially on the Registry?
If you have, you need to make sure that your name has officially transferred to areas of your work or personal life, including your mailing address, work, medical records and financial organisations.
It’s important to do this right away if you wish to enter into agreements with businesses in the future or wish to venture into a new field of work. Notification of Change Name legal documents can help you do this with ease.
It is a document that you send to businesses and personal contacts, notifying them of your official name change. This letter is sent to update personal records externally to maintain consistency with the Registry.
If you send the announcement to your business contacts, it usually needs to be sent with proof of your legal name change to avoid fraudulent activity and identity impersonation.
Have a look at our Notification of Change Name to get started.
To ensure that you and your employees tackle this year without a hitch, review your legal documents regularly to remain in compliance with changes to government regulations.
Take the time now before it gets jam-packed to implement the tips above, so you know that your business will go in the right direction. Once again, below are the things to focus on:
- Confidentiality Agreements
- Non-Disclosure Agreements
- Website Terms and Conditions of Use
- Employment Agreements and Contracts
- Working from Home Policy
- Workplace Health and Safety Policies
- Services Agreement
- Shareholders Agreement
- Contractor Agreement
- Heads of Agreement
- Social Media Policy
- Changes to your Will
- Rent Reduction Agreement
- Change of Name Legal Documents
Did you enjoy what you just read? Why not hire a lawyer to learn more about how to keep your business legally ready.