Posted by Esha Kumar on 20 August 2019
Running any business means you will need well-drafted terms and conditions to cover yourself if you happen to run into some legal trouble.
Especially if your new business is a gym, your terms and conditions need some extra oomph as the risks involved in running a gym are much higher than other types of businesses.
Where Do I Start?
When a customer decides to become a member of your gym, you should provide them with two main documents:
- Terms and Conditions (attached to)
- A Membership Form
Both of these documents are legal essentials when it comes to starting a gym.
Once a customer signs your membership form, they will be bound by all the provisions you decide to include in your terms and conditions.
The agreement will also protect you from any liability if you fall into any trouble with anyone who decides to use your gym.
What Do I Include?
Well drafted business terms and conditions are necessary to protect the relationship between you and your gym members.
Generally, terms and conditions will outline the rules your gym members must follow when using your gym, and they should be attached to any membership form.
These are the five main things you must include when drafting terms and conditions for your gym.
Any set of gym terms and conditions must clearly outline the payment options and obligations of its customers.
This includes how your customers are going to pay for the membership and how their fees will be deducted from their bank account.
There are different methods of payment you can consider, such as direct debit or accept as-you-go payments.
You need to take extra care with direct debit as there are various laws regulating the use of this payment method.
If a member using direct debit decides to cancel or stop their payments, your terms and conditions must provide the steps they should take to do so.
You should also set out a way for your members to dispute any direct debits and what happens if the direct debits fall through.
Sometimes, your gym members might decide to have automatic renewals of their membership.
Make sure this option is clearly spelt out in your gym terms and conditions otherwise their membership contract might be unenforceable.
- Suspension and Termination
Including provisions for suspension and termination in your terms and conditions are very important.
This is because suspension or termination clauses provide options to your members if they want to end their membership.
A suspension clause is handy for your members if they temporarily want a break from the gym for a short period – for example, if they’re going overseas over Christmas.
You can provide an option for your members to suspend their membership for certain time blocks depending on the needs of your business.
A termination clause is required in all gym terms and conditions.
You always need to give your members an “out” if they decide they no longer require your services.
Your termination clause can include different notice periods.
In some instances, you might also require the clients to pay a cancellation fee before they decide to discontinue their membership.
However, there are certain laws around what’s permitted around cancellation fees, so be careful with what you include!
Depending on how you draft up your terms and conditions, you can also include a provision that gives you the right to terminate any customer’s membership if they breach any of the rules and regulations set out in their membership contract.
- Personal Injury
The safety of gym-goers is one of the most important aspects of your gym terms and conditions.
This is because your gym will be likely to have a range of equipment and opportunities that have the potential to injure those who use them.
Although you can never contract out of all safety requirements, a personal injury clause will limit your liability to some extent in case something does go wrong.
Your personal injury clause should say that your gym and its employees won’t be liable for any loss or injury that a member suffers if a member didn’t read health disclaimers the services your gym provides.
A well-drafted personal injury clause will also protect you should any of your customers decide to sue you for any personal damage they have received because of using your gym.
- Refund Policy
As a gym owner, it’s important that you include provisions for refunds.
This is because the Australian Consumer Law (ACL) has mandatory consumer guarantees which you must abide by.
Offering a refund is one of these guarantees.
Refund policies give your gym members the option to have their money returned depending on any breaches of your gym’s terms and conditions.
Depending on your circumstances, some customers might be entitled to a cooling-off period.
This is because when people join your gym, they’re going to be releasing information which is considered as ‘sensitive’.
There may be some members who don’t want their information used for purposes other than using the gym.
In these situations, make sure you have an ‘opt out’ option so members can choose to not have their personal information shared.
What To Take Away…
If you have a gym, or thinking of starting a gym, it’s important that you have well-drafted terms and conditions before you get things off the ground.
There are extra things you need to think about when protecting your business from any liabilities to those who decide to use your gym.
Looking for some guidance? Or are you unsure about where to start? Feel free to contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org, we are happy to help you!