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As we slowly approach the date for our ‘new normal’, business owners who will reopen or those who have been trading return to their usual premises, we advise you to follow our ORE framework Open, Review and Excel.  

The ORE Framework!

ORE is a framework for reopening your business, even if you have not been shut down, but merely trading in a different location or in a different way.   

As you contemplate opening your business, we recommend you consider what your business will look like post-lockdown, with the information at hand.  You will need to consider how to manage the bumps of public health orders, Privacy and Data Collection, Covid Safety Plans, employment law changes, different rules in different States and any new legislation that is passed.

You can see why we are questioning the model under which you will open your business as it certainly won’t be business as usual for a while.

Once you have established your model for return you need to start reviewing a range of business matters.  Following is a list of areas that we advise you to consider.

Business Structure

Is your Sole Proprietor/Trader, Partnership or Company the best structure moving forward?  For example, if you were a Company, employing staff and you have had to standdown those employees, is it best to become a Sole Trader until such time as you rebuild your business.  This is a time to reflect, review and change the way you forward to maximise opportunities.

Key Contracts and Agreements

Some of your key contracts and agreements that need to be reviewed, include:

  • Partnership Agreement
  • Supplier Agreement
  • Service Agreement
  • Trading Terms
  • Employment Agreement
  • Website Terms & Conditions 
  • Social Media Policy
  • Estate Plan, including Company Power of Attorney.

While your customers and suppliers may have been understanding during lockdown, we will be entering a period of constrained economic activity.  People and other businesses will experience cashflow issues and their expectations of your ability to deliver will be high.  Therefore, you need to consider breach of contract issues, such as:

Force majeure; Frustration; and Impossibility.

Ecommerce Security Measures

As we rebuild, we need to curb our enthusiasm and passion for our business when we market and advertise.  Do not make misleading claims on your website or social media platforms that you cannot live up too.

Make sure your staff are using 2 Factor Authentication and password systems, with the latter changed regularly.  We anticipate a rise in scam mail and attempting to access systems as people find themselves in lesser economic conditions.

Remember to protect customer information and let customers know that you have a robust Privacy Policy available on your website.  They will also appreciate that you have Website Terms & Conditions, particularly if you buy and sell online.  It is a selling point.

You can also spell out how you manage information in a Customer Charter which you have on your website.  Some aspects of the customer charter may be on invoices. 

Intellectual Property

In tough times, your competitors may take shortcuts.  We advise you to protect your IP assets that you worked hard to build using the legal protections below:

  • Trademarks
  • Patents
  • Copyright
  • Contracts
  • Reviews.

After the 2020 lockdowns we represented a range of businesses who had their website, process and business assets plagiarized and reformed.  The cost of recovery from this is much higher than the cost of protecting your assets in the first place.

Employment Law Changes 

Key information for managing employment matters will be found in the Public Health Orders and employment law updates.  

  • Work from Home – are you covered?
  • Impacts on Workers Compensation
  • Flexible work arrangements
  • Vaccination of employees and sub-contractors. 

Work Health & Safety

Before your re-open review WHS in your industry specific area.  You can do this on the Safe Work Australia site.

Some key areas of this site for you are:

  • Vaccination
  • Location set-up & maintenance
  • Employee access
  • Visitor Access.

A Checklist to Exist Lockdown

As part of ORE, we recommend as a minimum you use the following checklist:

If you require assistance with any area of the checklist, we can run a Legal HealthCheck on your business.

You can contact us on our webpage, or phone 02 8858 3211