Hospitality legislation

What to Know about UK Hospitality Legislation in 2024

Like all business sectors in the United Kingdom (UK), hospitality businesses must follow the rules of the land. UK hospitality legislation is important. It is advisable to take adequate measures when starting out your own hospitality venue. However, if careful, restaurants have nothing to fear.

Here’s what to know generally about up-to-date UK hospitality laws, rules, and legal requirements, available twenty-four hours a day to help cover your business needs and ensure you make the most of legislation as smoothly as possible.

For further information on essential national hospitality legislation outside the UK, contact us.  

How Many Hospitality Businesses Are There in the UK?

The British government has stated over 143,000 hospitality business are operating in the UK. It is the fourth largest sector. All hospitality businesses work under the same rules that allow them to stay open and work productively (hospitality brings over £40 billion into the UK economy).

As such, over 143,000 businesses need to be clear on UK hospitality legislation. If you are planning to start up a new restaurant, firstly, our congratulations. However it is all important that new businesses read UK laws comprehensively, ensuring they keep all documentation safe, secure, and ready for inspection. 

What to Consider When Starting Out

This section dives into the ins-and-outs of UK hospitality laws, including links to relevant governmental pages, and providing application forms for licenses. Thankfully, when considering the costs of starting up a restaurant, most of these essential processes are free. 

1. Request Planning Permission

All restaurants need planning consent from the government to operate. UK hospitality and business laws require information on buildings to specify their intended use, specifically speaking, a category known as “Use Class”.

This means that restaurant owners who buy or let a building previously used for other purposes will need to inform the permission authorities available here at the planning portal, which gives relevant building regulations and information. 

2. Apply For a Restaurant Licence

All businesses need a licence to operate — and restaurants are definitely no exception. Hospitality companies that work with food (i.e., selling, cooking, storing, preparing, or distributing food) have to register with a local council at least 28 days before opening for business. This is important, and thankfully easy to do. Simply enter your restaurant’s postcode on the online governmental portal to start your application.

Note that licences vary depending on the type of restaurant. For example, if you’re a restaurant or delicatessen that prepares

  • Meat
  • Dairy
  • Fish 

Apply for a separate licence that tells your local council what foodstuffs your staff are using. 

3. Apply for an Alcohol Licence

Many customers feel that alcohol is an essential part of the hospitality experience. If starting a restaurant that serves meals in the evenings, more customers will expect alcohol to be readily available. 

Local councils provide the necessary licences for premises planning to serve alcohol. Applications need to include the times of the day alcohol will be on offer. Applications need to be displayed for 28 days, somewhere customers can easily see it.

Most importantly, restaurants need to appoint a designated premises supervisor who holds and keeps a personal alcohol licence. These individuals ensure alcohol is sold responsibly, professionally, legally and in restaurants, including other premises such as a bar.

Restaurant owners need to inform their DPS about day-to-day operations. Thankfully, however, a DPS handles the licensing laws and tricky areas of alcohol licensing. As such, DPS officers must hold relevant qualifications with governmental approval. 

Consult the licencing portal to find a list of DPS providers, qualified to carry out and oversee restaurants on alcohol legislation. Display your premises licence when available.

4. Adhere to Health and Safety Regulations

In hospitality, health and safety is a continual concern. All restaurant owners have a legal obligation to keep everyone safe. While on premises, both customers and staff need to be reassured that they’re completely safe and sound. Regulations include

  • Risk assessment, allowing restaurant to identify, assess, and act on potential hazards at work
  • First aid, referring to appointed staff should have training in using first aid kits, including knowing how to react when both staff and guests take ill or suffer an injury on premises
  • Policy regulations, providing advice and legal protection for restaurants to manage health and safety regulations
  • And much more

Health and safety matters require thorough understanding and knowledge to safely implement. The UK government’s health and safety executive provides everything restaurants need to know about their legal duties. 

“Legal Gavel” by blogtrepreneur via Flickr (creative commons 2.0)

Don’t Forget to Display Licences!

It’s very easy to forget this important detail. There are different rules for different licences. Councils, for example, have their own rules on displaying legal licences. However, displaying a sign on the outside of your restaurant is usually the status quo on all legal matters. For advice, refer to the UK government’s licencing legislation.

Where to Find Business Advice

Practical information and professional advice are both available via the web. Relevant websites also contain hotlines and contact information for further help, if needed.

For expert guidance and support, the best commercial body is UK Hospitality. A self-described powerhouse that advocates and protects the commercial interests of businesses, UK Hospitality protects the business interests and communicates industry-wide concerns to the British government. 

Also, local councils across the British isles provide support for everyday matters at home. Councils provide an assortment of business support mechanisms, such as streamlining licensing laws. Local authorities are always available for consultation, and support can be readily found on local governance websites. 

Emergency Hospitality Rules UK

Various hazards can have a big impact on your hospitality business. In a medical emergency, dial 999 for an ambulance, which is on call 24 hours a day. For minor ailments and injuries, your nearest NHS Walk-in centres can provide help.

Preparing for emergencies is an essential part of running a business. Restaurants are legally obliged to have various types of insurance, all available at the Association of British Insurers website.

Previously, we discussed the importance of Health and Safety regulation in hospitality. This is because customers can make injury and illness claims against your business. For example, regarding food-related illnesses, the Consumer Rights Act states that all food should be prepared with reasonable skill and care. Consult the hazards and prepare adequately at

Staffing Hospitality Legislation and Requirements

When it comes to hiring and staffing, the Working Time Regulations act protect the rights of staff members, which ensures:

  • employees do not work an average of 48 hours a week
  • entitlement to 5.6 weeks’ paid leave
  • maintenance of relevant records to display compliance
  • rest period of at least twenty minutes if employees work longer than six hours

Any questions on these types of legal requirements can be emailed to a business support address, providing a quick response service for simple questions about running a hospitality business. 

Disability Access

Under UK equality laws, hospitality businesses must provide adequate access to disabled facilities. Restaurants must be wheelchair accessible and provide adapted toilets. All members of the public have equal access rights to hospitality businesses.

Data Protection and Restaurant Tech

General Data Protection Regulation laws protect both consumers and businesses using restaurant technology. To stay informed on everything you need to know about this topic, Carbonara App provides a free service that is fully GDPR compliant. Businesses that have stayed open for almost a hundred years are now using it to help manage guests.

Now that all the ins-and-outs of legal compliance are covered, why not save money on a free restaurant app? Hospitality businesses in the UK and beyond can set it up in less than five minutes

Disclaimer: The information contained on this webpage is for general purposes only. Food businesses hold sole responsibility in adhering to UK hospitality legislation. Carbonara App assumes no responsibility for any errors, omissions, or inaccuracy of the information provided. Carbonara App does not accept any liability on any business actions or activities that result from information provided.