Industry sector: Retail and wholesale

Milk round: Legal matters


Food safety

All businesses in the food sector must comply with strict food safety legislation. Before you open, you must register your business with the local authority environmental health department. If you plan to operate from a depot or dairy, your local environmental health officer will be able to give you advice and guidance as to what you should install to make sure your operating areas are hygienic and how to comply with the requirements of the Food Safety Act and Food Hygiene Regulations.

Food waste

If your business produces food waste you must make sure that you dispose of it correctly. It mustn't contaminate the environment and it can't be fed to livestock. If you use a waste carrier to get rid of your waste you'll need to make sure they're properly authorised. You can find out more about your responsibilities on the Gov.uk website.

Carrier bag charge

Retailers in Wales and Scotland must charge customers at least 5 pence if they supply them with a single-use carrier bag. This applies to all types of single-use bag, whether they are made of plastic, paper or plant-based starch. In Northern Ireland retailers must charge customers a 5 pence levy on all bags with a retail price of less than 20 pence (including any bags that would otherwise be free of charge), whether they are single-use or reusable. You can get detailed guidance about when the charge applies and your legal responsibilities as a retailer on the Welsh Government Carrier Bag Charge, Zero Waste Scotland and NI Direct websites.

A 5 pence charge was introduced in England from October 2015, but small and medium-sized businesses (those with fewer than 250 employees) are exempt.

Employment matters

Anyone employing staff must comply with employment legislation. Important pieces of legislation which you must be aware of include:

  • The Employment Rights Act
  • The National Minimum Wage Act
  • The Working Time Regulations

The employing people section of the Gov.uk website includes information and guidance on all aspects of employment legislation. Information for businesses in Northern Ireland is available on the NI Business Info website.

Data protection

Any business that keeps computerised records of customers' personal details, or uses a CCTV system, may need to register with the Information Commissioner. Contact the Information Commissioner's Office (ICO), Wycliffe House, Water Lane, Wilmslow, Cheshire SK9 5AF.

Health and safety

The Health and Safety at Work Act and the numerous regulations made under it cover all aspects of health and safety at all business premises. Employers have a duty to ensure the health and safety at work of all their employees. Those with five or more employees must prepare a written health and safety policy statement.

Further information and guidance leaflets on all aspects of health and safety are available on the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) and Health and Safety Executive Northern Ireland (HSENI) websites and from your local authority environmental health department.