Keeping up with the many laws that govern the way that the sports sector operates can be daunting. Hannah Thomas, solicitor at Markel Law, talks through the various ways that associations can keep up to date.
Sports associations, clubs and leisure centres in the UK are governed by a variety of laws to ensure the safety, wellbeing, and rights of both staff and clients. Staying up to date with legal requirements while running a business can be challenging and Markel has assisted in these situations.
Taking out specialist insurance
Markel offers specialist insurance with expert protection to a wide range of sports clubs and societies. Specialist insurance in most cases includes complimentary free access to the Markel Business Hub to assist your sports club or association with template contracts, health and safety policies and more. Insurance with Markel also includes 24/7 telephone access to a qualified solicitor and tax advisor on the Markel legal and tax advice lines at no additional cost.
Taking advice and getting the right assistance
On the Markel legal and tax advice lines we advise callers in a number of sectors – including the sport sector – on a range of legal, business and tax issues that affect their day-to-day business. This ranges from advice on the individual’s employment status, to issues such as contract terminations for self-employed swimming instructors, compliance with health and safety legislation in the industry and setting up as a sole trader for the first time.
Ensuring compliance with data protection legislation is another aspect that can be overlooked or inadvertently breached. Leisure centres, especially those that maintain membership databases, have to ensure the protection and privacy of personal data.
We have advised on data breach issues, such as inadvertently disclosing other debtor email addresses when chasing outstanding payments for lessons given. We were able to advise, that whilst this disclosure amounted to a data protection breach, the breach was not high risk to others copied into the email and that accordingly there was no requirement to notify the Information Commissioners Office (ICO).
"Markel offers specialist insurance with expert protection to a wide range of sports clubs and societies"
It is an unfortunate fact of running a business that disputes do arise from time to time, including the necessity of handling complaints – e.g., by parents of children who receive sports lessons sometimes reporting unfounded allegations of wrongdoing or unfair treatment. Our advice line has received calls from worried employees concerning claims of safeguarding issues, such as allegations of hitting a child during the course of a lesson or inappropriate conduct.
Our employment advice line solicitors have expertly guided callers through disciplinary and grievance processes and on the fundamental importance of employers carrying out reasonable investigations to establish the facts to avoid unfair dismissals.
Having template documents and guidance at your fingertips
Those who are self-employed will need to ensure they have properly drafted terms and conditions when offering their services to members of the public. Our template contracts on the Markel Business Hub include template terms and conditions and guidance on terms to be given to clients to ensure compliance with consumer legislation.
Employers have access to template employment contracts and letters along with documents and guides to manage the whole employment relationship, from recruiting your first employee, managing holidays and wages, to disciplinary issues and dismissal.
"It’s not just about staying up to date with legal compliance, but also getting assistance with navigating the law"
Often, it’s not just about staying up to date with legal compliance, but also getting assistance with navigating the law, such as in recovering payment for outstanding invoices. With our help and guidance on the advice line and using our suite of precedents on the Markel Business Hub, including letters before action, we have enabled our clients to recover some of these debts using the correct protocols and without the need for court action.
Government and regulatory websites
Official websites are also useful, such as those of Sport England or the UK Gambling Commission (for businesses involved in sports betting), as these often publish guidance, updates, and consultations about upcoming regulatory changes before implementing new legislation. These allow businesses to not only stay informed but also have a say in future regulatory developments.
There are four primary government bodies, including Sports England, that have responsibility for promoting grassroots sport in each constituent part of the UK. Each organisation distributes funds from the UK Government and the National Lottery to achieve this goal. Understandably, sports clubs and associations that receive UK Government and National Lottery funding or grants through these funding bodies need to ensure they comply with their mandatory governance codes and funding criteria. Criteria and guidance is available on the relevant funding body website and they can also assist with applications for funding.
National governing bodies which govern specific sports, such as the Lawn Tennis Association, are also a useful source for staying up to date with legal and business developments that may impact a particular sport, as well as containing resources to help sports clubs and organisations plan and run sports competitions.