Helpful Guides

The Legal Requirements of Setting Up an Office in the UK

By wizu | 15 December 2022

Opening an office in the US may not cost too much, and there are no minimum capital requirements. However, business owners need to comply with certain regulations and requirements to ensure that everything is done correctly and legally.

  • Legal Requirements for Setting Up an Office
  • In the UK, you must follow these legal requirements to set up an office:
  • Office space must be 5 sq m (11 cubic feet) for each employee
  • Minimum requirement of employer’s liability insurance
  • Need to comply with occupational health guidelines covering things such as fire safety, first aid, and air quality
  • Occupational Health guidelines you need to know include British Standards BS3044 and The Workplace Health Safety & Welfare Regulations 1992
  • Employment law aspects such as recruitment, contracts, leave, and anti-discrimination must be set up by the company’s HR department
  • Businesses must be registered—it’s necessary to choose a company structure to formalise the legal status of a person’s business
  • Know about applicable taxes to work them into your profitability assessment
  • UK business taxes include corporation tax, business tax, and VAT
  • Register with HM Revenue and Customers and comply with all filing deadlines
  • Some companies may be asked to file annual accounts with Companies House
  • Office-based businesses don’t need a licence to operate, except in certain categories
  • Data protection – you can find legislation covering this, including the Privacy and Electronic Communications Act and GDPR.


Closer Look at the Legal Requirements for Setting Up an Office in the UK

In this section, we’ll take a closer look at each of the legal requirements above. It’s essential to know and understand the regulations involved with opening a new office in the UK.


Workspace Requirements

There are legal requirements for office space per person in the UK. When searching for an office, it’s important to keep in mind that UK law defines the minimum space per employee that your workspace needs to have. This is currently 5 sq m or 11 cubic feet.

Insurance Requirements for UK Office-Based Businesses

In the UK, office-based businesses must also cover their employees with employers’ liability insurance. Other types of insurance are not a legal requirement; however, it may be a good idea to invest in them to ensure you have all the necessary coverage for your business. But make sure to have employers’ liability, or your business will not be legal.


Occupational Health & Safety Guidelines

In addition to the above, it’s also necessary to comply with occupational health & safety guidelines. These are based on fire safety, first aid, and equipment inspection & testing, ventilation, temperature, and risk assessments.

There are many factors that come into play when ensuring the work environment is safe and healthy for employees. Doing so means boosting productivity and employee wellbeing.

There are two sets of OH&S guidelines you need to know:

  • British Standards BS3044, which deals with the selection of office furniture and workstation equipment
  • The Workplace Health Safety & Welfare Regulations 1992


Human Resources

An office-based business owner also needs to be familiar with employment laws that deal with recruitment practices, contracts, working hours, fair dismissal, rest periods, breaks, paid holidays, statutory paid and unpaid leave, minimum wage, flexible work arrangements, equal opportunities, and anti-discrimination policies.

HR issues in the UK are governed by:

  • The Employment Rights Act 1996
  • The Trade Union & Labor Relations Act 1992
  • The Equality Act 2010


Business Operations


Business Registration in the UK

Businesses must be registered in the UK:

It’s necessary to choose a company structure to formalise the legal status of the business

Sole traders, partnerships, or limited companies are the most common for SMEs. Each one comes with different advantages, liabilities, reporting requirements, and obligations. So, it’s essential to talk with someone who is an expert in setting up and registering a business in the UK in order to choose the best legal entity for your business.

Which entity to choose for your business? Let’s take a look.

Sole traders: this is the easiest business to register; however, you’re personally responsible for your company’s debts. You also have some accounting responsibilities.

Limited companies: this type of company keeps its finances separate from your personal finances.; however, there are more reporting and managing responsibilities.

Partnerships: this is the easiest way for 2 or more people to run a business together. You share in the responsibility for the company’s debts, and you have accounting responsibilities.


Taxes & Financial Reporting to Open an Office in the UK

No matter if you choose to file your own returns or have an accountant do it on your behalf, it’s necessary to know and understand the applicable taxes so that you can work these into your profitability assessment.

  • UK business taxes can include:
  • Corporation tax
  • Business rates
  • VAT
  • It’s also necessary to register with HM Revenue and Customers and comply with tax filing deadlines

Depending on the company’s structure, you may be asked to file annual accounts with Companies House.


Licensing Requirements for Office-Based Businesses in the UK

Office-based businesses don’t need a licence to operate, except if they are in sectors such as catering, gambling, child care, import/export, or financial services.


Data Protection Rules When Setting Up an Office in the UK

There are also regulations on how data on employees, customers, and suppliers is collected, handled, and stored. Ensure all marketing campaigns and communications abide by the regulations to avoid being fined. The main pieces of legislation are the Privacy and Electronic Communications Act and GDPR (4,5)

Large and SME companies have the legal responsibility to keep personal data safe and provide a clear policy on how that data will be handled and why.

So, it’s essential to have a clear Privacy Policy and keep it up-to-date and accessible to ensure employees are aware of how their personal data will be stored, for what purpose, and how long it will be kept.


Concluding Thoughts

Is there any way to avoid all of these complicated rules and laws? Fortunately, you can avoid all the hassle by taking a serviced office.

A serviced office offers you a flexible contract and a space you can rent for a short or long period, whichever is better for your business. Everything’s usually included in one monthly bill, too. What’s more, your business will have access to rock-solid connectivity, climate control, and much more!

Is this the right answer for your business? It’s best to visit a serviced office provider to see if this is the right answer for starting your business!

Our locations

Iconic buildings, Prime locations, Beautiful design.

Match your business personality with design-led workspace that makes a splash with clients. Our fantastic buildings in the north of England are fit for every task, and you’ll love the impression they leave. Take a look – no two are the same.

Explore all Wizu locations

Portland House

New Bridge St W,
Newcastle, NE1 8AL Explore this location

Leeming Building

Ludgate Hill,
Leeds, LS2 7HZ Explore this location

Number 32

32 Park Cross Street,
Leeds, LS1 2QH Explore this location

Park Place

46 Park Place,
Leeds LS1 2RY Explore this location

Park Court

1 Park Court,
Leeds LS1 2QH Explore this location

Richmond House

Lawnswood Business Park,
Leeds LS16 6QY Explore this location

Eyre Street

32 Eyre St,
Sheffield, S1 4QZ Explore this location

Royal House

110 Station Parade,
Harrogate, HG1 1EP Explore this location

Beck Mill

Reva Syke Road,
Bradford, BD14 6QY Explore this location

W Regent Street

2 West Regent St,
Glasgow, G2 1RW Explore this location