Branching out and creating your own business is common practice for speech pathologists in Australia. Creating your own speech pathology business may mean that you have greater control over the hours you work and choosing clients and have greater flexibility in how you work. This article outlines essential legal considerations when starting a speech pathology business.

Check Your Restraint of Trade Clause

Are you currently an employee or a contractor to a speech pathology practice? If you are, you should take a look at your contract and specifically review the restraint of trade clause. Restraint of trade clauses, also called non-compete clauses, are designed to stop existing employees competing with their current employer, by prohibiting them from setting up a new practice. Such provisions can apply even after the employment agreement ends. You should, therefore, check the restraint of trade clause in your employment agreement before starting your own business.

For example, a restraint of trade can state that an employee cannot open a speech pathology practice within:

  • a particular geographical radius of the practice they work at; and
  • a specific time period.

A restraint of trade clause may also restrict you from contacting your existing or old clients. To prevent being sued by your old employer for breaching a restraint of trade or contacting your old clients, it is useful to check what exactly your restraint of trade clause says.

Obtain Professional Indemnity Insurance

You should also review your professional indemnity insurance to check that it covers you when starting a new business. Most insurers will require you to pay a higher premium to compensate for the high risk when starting your own business. You may also need to adjust the liability cap to ensure it provides adequate coverage.

Find a Space to Lease

While you may initially start running your business from home, as your business grows, you may need to expand your space. Expanding your offices may require you to deal with landlords or licensors and leasing contracts to lease external space. Before you enter into a lease, you should consider the key factors of the lease. Key factors may include:

  • the length of the lease;
  • who takes care of essentials such as electricity, water and repairs;
  • whether you have an option to renew the lease; and
  • what modifications you have the right to make.

Speaking to a professional leasing lawyer is invaluable in this situation. Without the right lease for your new speech pathology business, you may have to either move after a short period (if the lease is not long enough) or pay for things you thought the landlord was obliged to pay. Therefore, it is important to ensure that the lease suits your needs.

Advertise Your Speech Pathology Business

When starting out on your own, you will quickly realise that advertising your business and spreading the word takes up a significant portion of your time. There are a few factors to remember when promoting your business.

Primarily, it is essential to comply with the Australian Consumer Law (ACL) when advertising. The ACL sets out rules which protect consumers, including provisions that prohibit a business from engaging in misleading and deceptive conduct. Therefore, when advertising your speech pathology business, do not make statements that could mislead or deceive your clients.

Draft Online Legal Documents

Many businesses have an online presence. It is a handy way to provide critical details about you and your business. Most people now check websites before booking services. A website about your business can, therefore, be significant for the growth of your business.

Two essential documents to include on your website are a website privacy policy and a website terms of use. If you collect personal information from potential clients, such as their name or contact details, you should have a privacy policy in place. A privacy policy sets out how your business collects, stores and uses personal information, It also indicates that you take the privacy of your clients seriously.

Website terms of use set out the way in which visitors can and cannot use your website. It may include that users cannot:

  • tamper with your website;
  • copy or plagiarise any of your intellectual property; or
  • use malicious software to hinder or shut down the website.

Key Takeaways

Setting up a speech pathology business is a challenging yet rewarding process. To ensure that you can start practising as soon as possible, you should:

  • check your restraint of trade to ensure you can start your business;
  • obtain appropriate professional indemnity insurance to cover your activities;
  • ensure your leasing contract is flexible for your needs;
  • not mislead or deceive consumers through advertising; and
  • draft online legal documents such as a privacy policy and website terms of use to protect your website.

If you need assistance in setting up your speech pathology business, get in touch with LegalVision’s business lawyers on 1300 544 755 or fill out the form on this page.

Chloe Sevil
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