Members are entitled to a wealth of free business advice from the IoD’s Information and Advisory Service (IAS). Its experts are always on hand to help, offering intelligence ranging from research on your target market to guidance on recruitment law
On 27 July the Supreme Court ruled that fees for employment tribunals must be scrapped, causing fears among employers of an impending increase in the number of cases brought against them. Defending such a claim could prove hugely disruptive to your business, but did you know that guidance on employment law is one of the many areas in which the IoD’s Information and Advisory Service (IAS) can help you as a member – assistance that’s already covered by your annual subscription fee?
Sara Hanna is a London-based solicitor who has been working with the IAS for the past 20 years. “We have professional advisers ranging from lawyers and HR practitioners to tax and property experts,” she says. “My background is in employment law, combined with corporate law. I get huge satisfaction from being able to assist someone at an early stage – before they do something that they might regret later.”
Help you’re entitled to
“Our experts generally get 24 hours’ notice of what the problem is,” Hanna says. “Members have the choice of meeting us or receiving advice by phone. Obviously, the more complex the issue, the better it is to talk in person. If a member comes in to 116 Pall Mall, they will get 45 minutes’ face time. On a telephone call, it’s half an hour of succinct, precise advice.”
She continues: “A lot of the guidance I provide through the IAS concerns employment rights. Typically, I’ll advise a company that has an issue with a member of staff and needs to ensure that it follows the correct procedures, or it could be an individual who has learnt that their role is at risk of redundancy and wants to find out what rights they have under those circumstances.”
Members are entitled to up to four sessions per calendar year (as opposed to subscription year), notes Hanna, who adds: “You can submit documents of up to 10 pages for us to review and comment on. We cannot draft any documents, but we can say how yours need to be amended.”
Members are also able to call the legal helpline up to 25 times a year, so there’s an obvious benefit in cost alone. “Based on average professional hourly charges, two sessions would more than cover your annual subscription fee,” Hanna says.
So what other services are provided by the IAS as part of your membership entitlement? Here are just five of the areas in which it can help you to grow your business.
1 Providing vital insights for developing a new venture
Whether it’s offering market intelligence, competitor analysis, information about franchising or advice on recruitment law, the Business Information Service can send you the data you need to help you develop your venture from the very start. And, if you need more tailored advice, contact the Directors’ Advisory Service for guidance on tasks such as marketing or raising finance.
“One of the most frequently asked questions will come from someone who might typically have worked in a larger company and is setting out on their own,” Hanna says. “They want to know how they should go about that: should they incorporate a company, should they become a sole trader or should they set up a limited-liability partnership? What are the advantages and disadvantages of those options?”
2 Supplying the documents and facts you need
Should you require a director’s service agreement, a consultancy agreement template or even a social media policy, the Business Information Service can send you a blank standard document as an example, along with notes on how to fill it in.
3 Helping you understand employee tax
The tax helpline can tell you everything you’ll need to know about the subject. Give it a call for answers to your queries about PAYE obligations and much more. The service also covers personal tax advice, so you could also ask about your own situation.
4 Supporting your firm’s overseas expansion
As well as providing rapid answers to questions on personal and business law in the UK, the legal helpline’s team can also advise members on the law in 26 European countries through solicitors qualified in each jurisdiction. If you are looking to establish a European office, this should be your first port of call.
5 Guiding you through difficult times
Perhaps a dispute has arisen with a co-founder, or maybe a rival is infringing your intellectual property rights. Whatever the problem, arrange to speak with a specialist for confidential advice.
“A company might be considering entering a contract and will send us a draft seeking our comments,” Hanna says. “Or maybe it has already entered one and would like to terminate it – how does it go about that within the terms of the contract?”
The adviser can read the relevant background information before advising you on the best steps to take, enabling you to focus on growing your business.
Visit iod.com/information for further details about the IAS. This encompasses the Business Information Service (iod.com/research; firstname.lastname@example.org); the Directors’ Advisory Service (iod.com/advisory; email@example.com); and helplines offering tax advice (iod.com/taxline) and legal guidance (iod.com/lawexpress)
Become a member of the IoD
The IoD has a range of memberships for directors, founders and co-founders, providing all the resources and facilities needed to enhance your business. To find out more about membership offerings and to join today, visit iod.com/membership