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Dates for your diary – crucial news for small businesses

It's going to be a busy, challenging but ultimately beneficial year ahead for small businesses as a rolling programme of legal changes come into force during 2016.

The Small Business Enterprise and Employment Act 2015 received Royal Assent on 26 March 2015. Some reforms have already happened but many are due to be implemented in stages over the coming year.

The Act is wide ranging but one of its key aims is to cut red tape and improve the quality of information on public record to enhance transparency and therefore trust in UK companies.

What's happening when? Key changes and expected dates to be aware of include:

April 2016 - A new requirement for companies to create and maintain a public register of Persons with Significant Control, known as a PSC register.

This change is designed to promote transparency by preventing anyone with a beneficial shares interest from 'hiding behind' a nominee shareholder. Significant Control is deemed to be held by anyone, directly or indirectly, with more than 25% of the shares or voting rights in a company or the right to appoint the majority of the board of directors or otherwise significantly influence or control the company.

June 2016 - All PSC registers to be filed at Companies House

June 2016 - The Annual return is replaced by an annual Confirmation Statement ("Check and Confirm"). Every UK company must in every 12 month period confirm that all information held at Companies House (including PSC details) is accurate and up to date. The default period after which a company will no longer be deemed to be in good standing is reduced from 28 days to 14.

October 2016 - Abolition of corporate directors. Unless an exemption applies, companies will no longer be allowed to appoint new corporate directors and any existing corporate directors will cease to hold the role after a grace period of 12 months. Any further appointments will be void and liable for a penalty.

What's already happened? Up and running reforms include:

Zero hours contracts - Employers are now no longer allowed to insert exclusivity clauses in zero hours contracts to try to prevent people from working for a competitor.

National minimum wage - The maximum penalty for underpayment of the minimum wage will be amended in line with the Government's introduction of the National Living Wage this April which increases the wage floor of employees aged 25 and over. Article Get ready for the new National Living Wage provides more information.

For more information contact Bridget Juckes or Joanne Turner