Nearly one in six small business owners (14 per cent) say that stress caused by legal matters has led to a physical or mental health condition, according to new research from Direct Line business insurance.
More than four in ten (41 per cent) UK small business owners say they have found staying on top of legal matters stressful, while more than a third (34 per cent) say that they have had sleepless nights.
This is concerning because more than one in ten small business owners say their stress levels are likely to increase, despite the Covid-19 lockdown slowly drawing to a close. As well as this, 13 per cent expect their stress levels to increase over the next 12 months.
The most stressful legal matters causing anxiety among small business owners are:
- Health and safety (28 per cent)
- Late payments and debt recovery (26 per cent)
- Brexit-imposed regulation changes (23 per cent)
- Data protection (GDPR) matters (19 per cent)
- Redundancy or furlough matters (18 per cent)
Small business owners may be increasing the risk of stress by not paying close attention to regulation changes (40 per cent) or underestimating the threat legal matters can present. Over half of these SME owners do not do this because they believe there are no substantial legal risks to their business right now. 17 per cent said that they do not have the time right now to stay up to speed.
When questioned about potential solutions, almost two fifths (37 per cent) of those surveyed said that the ability to call a free helpline and receive legal advice over the phone would make managing legal matters less stressful.
Jane Morgan, SME Product Manager at Direct Line said, “The evidence is clear. Legal matters can have damaging effects on mental health.
“Staying on top of legal matters may seem daunting at first, but with a few simple checks and by accessing the right resources, small business owners can stay one step ahead and avoid sleepless nights.
“Our Legal Essentials offering – with its free, 24/7 legal advice and counselling helpline, provided alongside our legal document and guide service – helps small business owners to stay compliant, giving them the value they need right now, as well as helping to give peace of mind.”
Direct Line’s packaged legal service proposition provides SMEs with DAS Businesslaw, a free legal document and business guide service that comes with any Direct Line business insurance policy. The service, designed to solve everyday legal needs, is provided in partnership with DAS UK, the UK’s leading provider of specialist legal expenses insurance
Direct Line customers also have access to a 24/7 legal advice helpline. Whether SMEs are facing a serious legal issue, or just want to check something with a solicitor, small businesses can consult a team of legal experts whenever they need to.
Small business owners can also access a library of legal templates, tools and guides to help them run their business and stay compliant with the latest regulatory changes. They can use the service to create ready-to-sign contracts, agreements, policies and letters. All documents are developed and regularly updated by legal experts and are customisable.
The service can help in over 23 business areas. These include concerns with business planning and growth, disagreements, late payments and debt recovery, tax, Brexit imposed regulation, health and safety, Covid-19, data security and protection, fundraising, family business matters and sub-contracting.
The legal package is suitable for any SME. The service flexes to meet the needs of small businesses from newly formed sole traders to established Ltd companies or partnerships.