1.1 describe an organisation’s procedures for raising legal, regulatory and ethical concerns
I am fortunate that at the organisation I work for I have a one-to-one meeting with my line manager at least once every two weeks. This gives me the opportunity to discuss any problems I may have and to report any legal, regulatory and ethical concerns. If I had any major concerns which I felt needed to be addressed immediately, I would notify my line manager who would have a conversation with me in private as soon as possible. My line manager would then help me plan the appropriate steps to be taken to resolve the issue and support me throughout the process.
1.2 explain the scope of legal, regulatory and ethical requirements in sales or marketing
Regardless of the type of organisation, the sales and marketing departments will have an agreed scope of practice in place to meet legal, regulatory and ethical requirements. The scope consists of a range of procedures, actions and processes which are designed to work within laws and regulations but also consider ethicality. In business, a procedure is an established way of doing something, an action is doing something to achieve an aim and a process is a series of actions to achieve an end. For example, in my position, one of the most significant legal requirements applicable to my role would be The Data Protection Act 1998.
All of the potential students which attend one of our Open Events are asked to fill in a form which provides us with their name, the course they’re interested in and their contact details. This enables us to cater our advertisements to each individual. The responsibility of handling their private data involves following certain procedures in order to comply with The Data Protection Act 1998. The procedures would include designing the form so that it only asks for data which is necessary, has a justified reason for the length of time that we keep it for and that the purpose of collecting the data is clearly stated.
The actions for this situation would include ensuring that forms are temporarily kept in a sealed, blacked out box whilst in a public environment. They cannot be left lying around otherwise the potential student is put at risk. Moreover the box cannot be left unattended at any time to prevent the data from being vulnerable to someone else accessing it.
The processes would include saving the data into an encrypted database. The paper forms must then be put into a confidentiality box to be taken away by someone from the Data Protection police. The contents of the database should be checked frequently to ensure that the data has not expired or been used for an alternate purpose than the one intended. Selling on the data, for example, would be a violation of The Data Protection Act 1998 and morally wrong as the person in question could be vulnerable to forms of harassment if their data is not handled with respect.
1.3 explain how the legal, regulatory and ethical requirements relate to the business of selling or marketing
There are many legal, regulatory and ethical requirements which are applicable to the business of selling and marketing. A business will typically disclose their stance on these requirements and the consequences of breaking them in their terms and conditions policy and contracts. For this reason, it is important that businesses ensure that this information is up to date and truthful to protect them legally.
Health and Safety at Work Act
It is in the best interest of the company to secure the health and safety of all their employees while at work. The Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 makes it a legal requirement for companies to undertake a risk assessment of all the facilities that employees use in order to identify and significantly reduce any potential risks. The Act stipulates that safety procedures are displayed in every room and must not be obstructed, workers expected to use chemicals, equipment or machines as a part of their job role must have had the suitable training, where appropriate protective clothing is supplied and all risks are regularly controlled and monitored.
Working Time Directive and employment legislation
People who work in sales and marketing are amongst the workers who are protected by The Working Time Directive 2003. The directive protects an employee’s right not to work more than 48 hours a week, have at least 28 days paid holiday a year and rest breaks. These entitlements are due to proof that overworking can cause major stress, depression and illness. Employment legislation encompasses various other acts alongside The Working Time Directive. It sets the minimum standards that the law expects from employers for their employees. The National Minimum Wage Act 1998 and The Equal Pay Act 1970 are other examples of some of the acts included within employment legislation.
People who work in sales and marketing are not exempt from respecting copyright laws. It is not uncommon for disputes to arise over advertisements, visuals or slogans. Any original piece of work, for example photographs, cannot be stolen or used without the creator’s permission under the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988. Moreover, when businesses purchase a software they must abide by what the license says, including how many people are allowed to use it, using a software on a network or producing copies can violate copyright laws.
The Equality Act 2010 aims to create a fair workplace where no employee is subject to any form of discrimination. It was created to combat mistreatment due to sex, race, age, disability, gender reassignment, religion and belief, sexual orientation, marriage and civil partnership and pregnancy and maternity. The Act is applicable in the workplace, for example, companies can’t screen out people with disabilities who are fully capable of fulfilling the job role.
Data Protection Act
The business of selling and marketing involves collecting and handling customer’s information. Any information which a customer has entrusted to a company must never be passed on to an external company without the customer’s consent and the files where the data is stored must be encrypted. If the data includes contact details and the customer has indicated that they wish to opt out of receiving advertisements, this must be respected, otherwise this may be treated as form of harassment in extreme cases.
The FSA (Financial Services Authority) is an independent, non-governmental body with statutory powers due to the Financial Services and Markets Act 2000. The aim of the organisation is to promote a fair market, prevent retail customers from being exploited and improve the capability and effectiveness of how businesses are run. The FSA has a big role in financial exchanges between the company and the customer to ensure the deal is fair for both parties.
Morals are about making decisions based on the individual’s perception of right and wrong. An example of what most would consider as an action of misconduct would be false advertising. This is typically where claims are made without having any evidence to support them or including misleading content, which the business is aware will lead to dissatisfied customers. Most people would deem this act as especially immoral when targeting vulnerable groups, for example elderly people, by convincing them that they need to sign up to or buy something that they don’t fully understand.
Although politics are very important and raising the profile of the impact they have should be encouraged, most people would agree that businesses shouldn’t express a bias. The issue arises when businesses spread propaganda due to extreme political views to try and influence the outcome of the vote. A lot of people trust big brand names, and may not research the validity of their claims, leading to them basing their own opinions upon lies or exaggeration.
Companies should consider who they purchase their materials from and whether the source is ethical. For example, supporting the excessive or unnecessary consumption of natural resources, the destruction of biodiversity, poor working conditions, child labour and the killing of animals would be considered by the majority as unethical practice.
1.4 describe internal and external sources of information on legal, regulatory and ethical requirements
In the case of someone wanting to source information on legal, regulatory and ethical requirements there are a variety of internal and external options available to them. In most large organisations new staff will receive an introduction and welcome pack which should provide a rough overview of the code of practice, the college’s policies and other general helpful information. Another useful internal resource is the HR department, who will have an open door attitude. The HR department can provide financial advice and guidance, resolving issues with payrolls and pensions. Seeking help through this method guarantees confidentiality, unless there is reason to raise concern.
Usually the most accessible source of information would be the internet. This external source would enable the person in question to obtain extensive information, including information directly from the official government website for the relevant acts and laws. There is a risk with the internet that the information could be false or outdated as anyone is able to publish information online, whether or not it’s factual. Alternatively the company may be a part of a trade association, members will be able to access any documents applicable to their position, including their rights.
1.5 explain how an ‘ethical approach’ affects organisations in the sales or marketing environment
An organisation which takes an ethical approach to their business can reap benefits in the sales or marketing environment. Ethical practice such as fully-refunding customers who have been sold a faulty product or putting a warrantee on a product will make customers happy and want to use the service again, experiencing good service will make a customer more likely to recommend the company to others. Other good practice would be ensuring your email advertisements or website don’t contain any type of virus, that adverts are not constant and that the subject isn’t click bait. This type of ethical practice in business may lead to customers leaving good reviews online, which helps the company establish itself as well-respected and trustworthy.
1.6 explain the importance of contract law in sales
A contract is a legally binding agreement between two or more parties. It documents a deal where both sides have consented that they fully understand what is expected of them to fulfil their side of the agreement and what they expect to receive from the other party. A contractual relationship is protected by law, therefore if one party doesn’t realize their side of the contract, then the other is able to take them to court to settle the issue. Contract law is important in sales as it prevents one company from exploiting or scamming another and losing them money or business intentionally.
To give a customer reassurance, a company can agree to have a cooling off period incorporated into their contract. This is where during an agreed period of time after the sale has been made, the customer is able to cancel their contract without incurring a penalty.
2.1 explain the legal, regulatory and ethical requirements relevant to the role
In my job role a lot of the aforementioned legal, regulatory and ethical requirements are relevant. The company I work for, RNN Group, has a lot of measures in place to help prevent me and all of their other employees from injuring ourselves while at work, which complies with the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974. Employees are visited by the internal Health and Safety Officer, usually within a week of their start date, who checks that computer screens are at the correct height for the individual, that the employee is sat properly with good posture and teaches stretches to prevent repetitive strain injuries.
Copyright laws are very influential to my job as I create promotional material such as e-Shots and blog posts. I’ll often use images to accompany the text, however I have to ensure that I’m abiding by the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988. The majority of the time, especially with e-Shots, I’ll source photos from our own photo library but if I am using a photo from the internet I check that I have permission to and that the creator is properly credited.
RNN Group have a no-tolerance policy for any form of discrimination. They have made this explicitly clear in their contract and welcome pack as well as the consequences an employee would face for excluding a person based on their race for example. They promote ‘The Single Equality Policy’ and ‘the Code of Conduct’ for employees to refer to for a guide on acceptable behaviour in the colleges. Every new staff member is allocated log in details for online Equality & Diversity training to be completed within the first 3 weeks of employment. The company pays for staff members to go on further training to promote equality in the work place. Personally, I had two equality orientated workshops within the first few months of employment with the company.
Another significant legal requirement to my position is the Data Protection Act 1998. Part of my job role includes attending Open Events and signing up potential students, which means they’re entrusting me with their data. I am responsible for making sure the form goes straight into a sealed box at the event. If I am allocated the job of typing up the data into a database then I must dispose of it into the confidentiality box immediately afterwards.
As I produce some of the promotional material, I try to consider ethicality. Although my main aim is to market the colleges to potential students, I try to avoid including any exaggeration. This type of practice is morally right in my opinion, and misleading people may also dissuade them from wanting to study at the college as it impacts our reputation.
2.2 describe the potential consequences of not complying with legal, regulatory or ethical requirements
Health and Safety at Work Act
A business which fails to comply with the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 can face serious repercussions. Depending on the situation, consequences can range from unlimited fines to imprisonment. If a Health and Safety inspector flags a potential risk that hasn’t been suitably assessed then the company will be issued a form of Improvement Notice, which the company must act on before the next inspection. Failure to address the issue may result in a fine or disqualification. In the case of an employee being injured or even killed as a result of the company’s ignorance will have more severe consequences. The Corporate Manslaughter and Corporate Homicide Act 2007 was put in place so that courts would be able to charge companies and organisations for gross breach of duty of care. The maximum penalty for breaching this Act is an unlimited fine and requiring that the company or organisation publicly disclose the details of their conviction.
Working Time Directive and employment legislation
Companies and organisations are responsible for ensuring that they have appropriate systems in place to monitor their employee’s working hours and rest periods. If an employer breaches The Working Time Directive 2003, the employee is able to make a tribunal claim and may be entitled to compensation. The employee will likely be awarded generous compensation if they have suffered a detriment as a result. Companies and organisations can be issued improvement and probation notices.
The maximum penalty for copyright infringement in the UK’s magistrate’s court is imprisonment for 6 months and a fine of up to £50,000. Whereas in the Crown Court the maximum length of imprisonment is 10 years and an unlimited fine. Schools, colleges and universities are very strict in regards to copyright laws because if an education centre submitted work by a student which was heavily plagiarised the institution could face repercussions such as loss of funding, having to pay compensation or losing access to all the resources from that provider.
Every organisation will have similar disciplinary actions in place to tackle breaches of the Equality Act 2010. Depending on the individual situation and the company’s policies, the consequences could vary from the employee having to make a formal apology to the victim to the employee losing their job and being reported to the police.
Data Protection Act
Information Commissioner’s Office or ICO as they are otherwise known, are the public body responsible for enforcing the Data Protection Act 1998. If a person who has not been authorised views private data due to an organisation’s negligence, this is considered a data breach. ICO has the ability to take action against data breaches, they’re able to pursue criminal prosecution for serious offences, take non-criminal enforcement, issue monetary penalties and undertake audits to ensure that companies are complying with the Act.
The FSA strives to protect customers from companies that fail to meet their standards, to enable them to do this they have criminal, civil and regulatory enforcement powers. When necessary the FSA can withdraw a firm’s authorisation, prohibit certain regulated activities, suspend firms, issue fines and make public announcements exposing a company’s bad practice.
Unless an ethical requirement is protected by law, a business can’t face any legal consequences. However if a business is exposed for unethical practice then it will lose customers who don’t want to support the malpractice. With the creation of the internet it’s easier than ever for not only charities and activists to expose wrong doing to large audiences, but social media platforms provide a voice for everyone. If enough awareness is raised then it can damage the reputation of a business and in extreme cases, make it go bust as other businesses won’t want to be affiliated with them. In the UK there are sites where anyone is able to create online petitions and if these receive a certain amount of signatures the issue is raised in parliament, which may lead to politicians deciding to cut down on the type of behaviour.
2.3 explain the importance of working within the limits of the role, responsibilities and authority
RNN Group entrust that I am polite and friendly when I am speaking to anyone on behalf of the group. Even when I carry out my day to day operations such as answering the phones I am a representative of my employer therefore it is important that I help to build a good reputation for the company, especially since it was only recently established. If I was rude or unhelpful to potential students or their families at Open Events for example, then I may discourage them from choosing to study at one of our colleges as they would associate them with their bad experience with me.
My job role involves handling people’s personal data which means I am responsible for following the Data Protection Act 1998. RNN Group have already supported me by paying for me to undertake an online training course which taught me how to work within the limits of the Act. I was also provided with a print out of the overview of it when I started, in case I need a quick reference. I’ve also been shown how to properly use the software where the data is kept and where the internal confidentiality box is.
I am relied upon to keep future projects or campaigns that I am working on or aware of confidential. Revealing aspects of upcoming projects could spoil them and may result in a smaller turn out or a less engaged response. This kind of carelessness could also risk the company losing business with other companies that trust us to maintain secrecy about projects or campaigns that they’re planning, in fear that we’re unreliable.
2.4 explain the process for reporting legal, regulatory and ethical concerns
There are different procedures in place for raising concerns regarding legal, regulatory and ethical issues in every organisation. Initially the employee should notify their line manager in privacy, the line manager should then help the employee to determine the best course of action to be taken. However if the line manager discards the issue then there are alternate ways to raise a concern, if the employee wishes to pursue it, for example the next best person to approach is the person above the line manager or someone in the HR department depending on the issue. If the situation needs to be further escalated then certain businesses will have an anonymous tip line or the problem can always be reported to the relevant government agency.
2.5 explain the importance of clarity of communication with the customer to ensure common understanding of agreements and expectations
Clarity of communication with the customer is crucial to ensure a common understanding of agreements and expectations is achieved. If there are any misconceptions between the company and client then there is the risk of the customer being disappointed with the product or service that they receive. This may lead to the customer not wanting to do business with that company again in the future. In some cases the customer may feel like they’ve been exploited and decide to sue the company for compensation, which would reflect very poorly on the company and may damage their business.
In order to avoid a situation like that, the company should produce a document which outlines the initial plan of who’s been allocated which role on the project, the key milestones and the agreed overall objective. This gives the customer the chance to have a look through the intended plan and familiarize themself with who is best to contact directly for which kind of issue, so any later suggestions or contributions aren’t accidently overlooked. Drafting a rough plan before the project has begun also gives the customer the opportunity to make amendments without it causing grief.