Guide

Starting a business from your home

Last updated: 31 July 2017

Regulations

There are some regulations you may need to follow when you run a business from home including:

Health and Safety

Following health and safety regulations keeps you, your employees, visiting customers and suppliers safe.

You'll need to manage health and safety as you would with any other business. You can get guidance from the advice centre Healthy Working Lives.

If you have fewer than five employees you don't have to write down a risk assessment for your health and safety policy.

There's more information on Health and Safety Executive's (HSE) health and safety made simple guide.

Fire safety risk assessment

If you run a business from your home you should consider the potential fire risk to yourself, employees and neighbours.

Your home office might be subject to fire safety law if:

  • part of your home is substantially used for business even if you have no employees
  • a room/rooms are made available to paying guests on a commercial basis e.g. a guest house or bed and breakfast
  • there has been a "change of use" in respect of building regulation

Properties used for registered child-minding are also subject to fire safety law.

If fire safety legislation applies to your property, the Scottish Government's Fire Safety Guidance Leaflet and FireLaw webpages have further information.

If it doesn't apply to your home, you could organise a home fire safety visit from the Fire and Rescue Service. They can give advice on assessing risk to your home, business and neighbourhood. 

Food Safety

Many small food businesses need to register with the local council and some may require approval before starting.

Guidance is available from the Food Standards Scotland.

Your council's Environmental Health Service can help with any queries.

Waste Management

As a business, you have a legal responsibility to make sure you produce, store, transport and get rid of your business waste without harming the environment. This is called your 'duty of care'.

Further information

The NetRegs website has information to help small businesses understand their responsibilities and where to find advice.

SEPA's website has useful guidelines if your business produces food waste.

The Resource Efficient Scotland programme offers free support to help you reduce costs.

Trading Standards

Trading Standards can provide advice and information on legislation you may need to be aware of. This is to help protect you and your customers.

Find your nearest Trading Standards office.

Further information

Business Companion has information for businesses and members of the public who want to know about trading standards and consumer protection legislation.

Other regulations that could apply

Your local council is responsible for a range of services that your business may need to use or know about. For example licensing for businesses including boarding kennels and certain types of therapies like acupuncture.

The Business Gateway website has further information about on its guide to local council services.

Responsibilities if you employ people

Home-based businesses are allowed to employ staff. Taking on a member of staff means there will be some legal responsibilities in relation to contracts.

You'll also have responsibilities for your employees' health and safety. The Health and Safety Executive's Health and Safety Made Simple guide has information to help you.

ACAS is an organisation that provides employers and employees with:

  • information
  • advice
  • training
  • conciliation
  • other services to help prevent or resolve workplace problems

The ACAS publications section of its website has free guidance on employment matters including:

  • templates for letters
  • forms and checklists
  • helping to save time and get it right when hiring
  • managing or disciplining staff

HMRC's Becoming an Employer guide explains what taxes you need to think about.

Starting a business from your home
Regulations