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GUIDE TO LEGAL COMPLIANCE FOR SMALL & MEDIUM ENTERPRISES



Guide to Legal Compliance for Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) & the Sale and Purchase of a Business and the obligations of the old and new Employer within South Africa  

 

Running a successful SME involves juggling various responsibilities, and legal compliance is a crucial yet often overlooked aspect. This document provides comprehensive insights into key compliance areas, regulatory bodies, industry-specific considerations, and the importance of adhering to laws and regulations for the sustained success of SMEs in South Africa. 


Key Compliance Areas: 

 

1.     Company Registration: 

  • Initial step: Registering with the Companies and Intellectual Properties Commission (CIPC). 

  • Compliance focus: Adherence to the Companies Act 2008. 

  • Checklist includes business solvency, liquidity, and timely submission of annual returns. 

  • Non-compliance consequences: Business deregistration. 

 

2.     Labour Laws: 

  • Compliance issues: Basic Conditions of Employment Act, National Minimum Wage, and industry-specific considerations (e.g., Collective Agreement of the National Bargaining Council for Hairdressing, Cosmetology, Beauty, and Skincare Industry - HCSBC). 

  • Registration for UIF and Workmen's Compensation for employee protection. 

  • Uninterrupted operation and growth depend on compliance with Department of Labour (DOL) regulations & HCSBC prescriptions.  


3.     Tax Regulations: 

  • Registration with the South African Revenue Service (SARS). 

  • Importance of Tax Clearance Certificate for business opportunities. 

  • Risk of severe penalties for non-compliance. 

  • Consultation with business tax practitioners is recommended. 

 

Understanding the Importance of Compliance: 

  • Compliance enhances credibility and trustworthiness. 

  • Non-compliance leads to financial implications, penalties, fines, and potential loss of opportunities. 

  • Stakeholders, including investors and customers, value businesses that operate within legal frameworks. 

 

Regulatory Bodies for Compliance: 

  • Companies and Intellectual Properties Commission (CIPC) 

  • Department of Labour (DOL) 

  • National Bargaining Council for Hairdressing, Cosmetology, Beauty, and Skincare Industry (HCSBC) 

  • South African Revenue Service (SARS) 


Industry-Specific Compliance: 

  • Mandatory registration with the National Bargaining Council for Hairdressing, Cosmetology, Beauty, and Skincare Industry (HCSBC). 

  • Zoning laws are considered for businesses in residential areas, requiring a Business Zoning Application. 

 

Human Resources Legislation: 

  • Adherence to various laws, including Basic Conditions of Employment Act, Collective Agreement of the National Bargaining Council, UIF registration, Workmen's Compensation, and Skills Development levy payments. 

  • Understanding these laws is crucial for creating a safe and compliant work environment. 

 

Financial Requirements: 

  • Involves tax and VAT registration, auditing based on the Companies Act, and adherence to the Financial Intelligence Centre Act (FICA) for money laundering controls. 

  • Awareness of these requirements is essential to avoid legal complications. 

 

Transfer of Business Ownership (Section 197): 

  • Protects employees' rights during the sale or purchase of a business. 

  • Ensures continuity of employment status, and benefits, and prevents unfair dismissal or adverse changes to employment conditions. 

 

Buying an Existing Business: 

  • The new owner assumes all rights and obligations concerning employees. 

  • Written agreement detailing terms of transfer necessary. 

 

Selling a Part of a Business: 

  • A new entity formed from the sale becomes the new employer. 

  • Transfer of contracts and the same terms and conditions apply. 


Outsourcing as a Transfer of Business: 

  • Outsourcing can be considered a transfer under relevant legislation. 

  • A thorough assessment is required to determine whether the transfer is a going concern. 


Obligations of the Employer After Transfer: 

  • Joint liability of old and new employers for 12 months in case of dismissal-related payments. 

  • Resignation due to less favourable conditions deemed constructive dismissal. 

  • Dismissal related to the transfer is automatically considered unfair dismissal. 

 

In conclusion, legal compliance is fundamental for SME success. Proactive understanding and adherence to laws empower SMEs to thrive in a legally sound and prosperous manner. Seek professional advice, stay informed, and integrate compliance into fundamental business activities for sustained growth. 

 

Additional Note: When a business is sold as a going concern ('as is'), it refers to a business entity that is operating and generating revenue, with the intention of continuing its operations. All rights and obligations of the old employer and employees are transferred to the new employer, including length of service, unless both parties agree otherwise. 



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