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Getting the Legal Side of Your Freelance Business Right

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Preparing to establish yourself as a freelance HR professional business involves meticulous groundwork and thorough preparation. 

Unlike freelance writers or graphic designers who can start small and gradually build their client base, freelance HR professionals need to lay a solid foundation before launching their independent venture to be taken seriously and ensure compliance with legal requirements.

Understanding and addressing legal issues is crucial to get right from the outset. In today’s workplace, human resources play a critical role, and HR professionals are expected to stay constantly updated with HR laws and regulations. 

From the intricacies of hiring and firing to navigating workplace safety regulations, GDPR compliance, and managing employee benefits and compensation, there is a wealth of knowledge to absorb in order to be effective in your role.

Being well-prepared for legal challenges is vital for safeguarding yourself as a freelance HR professional. However, it is equally important to proactively stay on top of legal issues that may impact your day-to-day work. In this article, we will explore the legal aspects of running your freelance HR business.

The Importance of HR Legal Compliance

HR legal compliance encompasses the framework that governs the work environment, aiming to protect both employees and employers. 

Every business has a duty to operate within the boundaries of HR legal compliance, and as an HR consultant, it becomes your responsibility to ensure adherence to these regulations. 

Non-compliance can lead to penalties, fines, and other legal consequences.

Consequently, you must understand the policies and procedures necessary to keep your clients and your business in compliance with the law. 

Compliance issues span various areas, including employee benefits and compensation, health and safety, workplace discrimination, confidentiality, and employee rights as defined by current legislation. Even seemingly simple tasks like advertising job positions come with a multitude of equality laws that must be strictly adhered to.

The Impact on Your HR Consultancy

The impact on your HR consultancy will extend beyond just understanding legalities when you initially establish your business. Throughout your freelance career, staying well-informed about any changes in the law and updating policies and compliance measures will be essential. 

While some companies might outsource legal matters to specialised firms, as the frontline communicator and educator within your clients’ organisations, you will need to possess comprehensive knowledge of the law and work in tandem with legal professionals. 

It takes a thorough understanding of legal nuances to recognise when to seek guidance, so relying solely on a client’s solicitor is not a prudent approach.

Managing the Legal Side of Your HR Consultancy

Effectively managing the legal aspects of your HR freelancing business may initially seem overwhelming for an individual starting out. 

Prior to venturing into your own business, you likely acquired extensive experience and training in HR management, providing you with a solid foundation for your new venture.

However, staying abreast of changes in laws and effectively guiding clients through these changes will now be your responsibility. 

Unlike working in a large company with established structures for training and knowledge refreshment, you must proactively manage these aspects independently.

To prevent complacency, which can jeopardise your clients’ businesses and damage your reputation as a freelancer, it is crucial to establish practices that keep you informed of legal changes. 

Proactivity is key, so dedicate daily time to reading industry journals and staying informed. 

As a consultant, your role entails anticipating changes that will affect your clients and helping shape their internal policies and procedures to accommodate those changes.

Creating a checklist of laws and conducting regular compliance audits can be immensely helpful. 

Implementing these practices from the start will save you from significant headaches down the road.

In large companies, professionals often work as part of a team, allowing for the assignment of policies to individuals who assume ownership and promote responsibility.

However, as a freelancer operating outside the client’s organisation, you need to collaborate with company leaders to delegate responsibilities within the organisation and establish clear lines of communication. 

Since you cannot be physically present to monitor policy implementation, obtaining buy-in and establishing effective communication channels are crucial to ensuring your responsibilities are met.

Taking responsibility for your own learning and setting aside dedicated training days to stay updated is equally important. 

Attending webinars, conferences, and networking events will help you stay attuned to the evolving landscape of HR law and other pertinent human resources issues.

Starting your freelance career on a strong foundation and staying up-to-date will help you attract clients and gain their trust. 

Continuously updating your knowledge and skills will prevent costly mistakes that could harm your reputation and compromise your fledgling freelance services. 

While liability insurance provides some protection during unforeseen circumstances, it is always best to prioritise avoiding errors that could tarnish your professional image.

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