Pet grooming legal issues

Woman cutting small white dog's nails in grooming shop

Some of the key areas where legislation is likely to affect your grooming business are listed below.

What licences does a pet grooming business need?

There are no specific licences that apply to pet grooming establishments. Do be aware though that if you use copyright music in your business - even just background music from a radio in your grooming parlour or mobile van - then you will need a Music Licence from PPL PRS Ltd. There is an annual fee for this which you can pay online on the PPL PRS website.

Selling general insurance

If you advise on, arrange or assist in selling general insurance such as pet insurance, then you must be regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) even if insurance is only a very small part of your business. Businesses whose activities are covered by general insurance regulation need to be either directly authorised by the FCA or an 'appointed representative' of a principal FCA authorised insurer. Contact the FCA for further information.

Animal welfare legislation

You should be aware of animal welfare legislation that is designed to protect animals. The Animal Welfare Act brings together and modernises previous welfare legislation and ensures greater protection for all animals under human care or supervision in England and Wales. You will be responsible for the welfare of any animals you groom while they are in your care. Dog and cat welfare codes of practice exist to provide animal owners and keepers with information on how to meet the welfare needs of their animals, as required under the Act. There is detailed information on legislation covering pet welfare and animal cruelty on the website.

Be aware that careless pet groomers have in the past faced criminal prosecution for acts of negligence and cruelty involving incidents such as burns to animals caused by incorrectly used dryers.

Hazardous substances

As you may be using potentially harmful chemicals, such as organophosphates and carbamates, you should be aware of the Control of Substances Hazardous to Health Regulations (COSHH). The Health and Safety Executive's interactive COSHH Essentials website gives you practical advice to help you control the health risks from chemicals.

Be aware that even relatively mild substances like shampoos and sprays can cause sensitisation and dermatitis over time if used regularly without protection.

Consumer protection

A range of legislation exits to protect consumers and safeguard their rights. This legislation applies to services provided as well as goods sold, and covers matters such as fair trading, honesty, acceptable quality and price information. You can find out more about consumer protection legislation and businesses' legal obligations towards their customers on the Trading Standards Business Companion website.

Health & Safety, fire

You must comply with workplace health and safety and fire safety legislation.

Be aware of the potential hazards of working with animals, such as dog attacks and infections resulting from cat scratches and bites.

If you don't have business premises but you work instead from a mobile grooming parlour you should still take steps to ensure fire safety.

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.

Employment legislation

Anyone employing staff must comply with employment legislation. Important areas of legislation include recruitment, employment contracts, pay, working hours, holidays, employment policies, sickness, maternity, paternity, discrimination, discipline, grievances, dismissals, redundancies and employment tribunals.

Insurance for a pet grooming business

Contact an insurer or insurance broker and explain exactly how your business will operate - they will then explain what insurance cover you must have by law, and other cover you should consider. This might include:

  • liability for animals in your care, including cover for loss (including theft), injury and death
  • employer's liability
  • public liability
  • professional indemnity and cover for breach of professional duty - and for any consequent vet fees
  • premises, premises contents and stock
  • cash
  • business interruption
  • product liability
  • motor insurance

The Pet Industry Federation offers its members access to specially tailored pet industry business insurance services. You can find out more about this and other membership benefits on the Pet Industry Federation website.

When comparing insurance quotes, uncover the differences between policies by using an insurance comparison form.

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