Monthly Archives: January 2010

No staff, no employment law problems? Think again!

Do you think employment law is nothing to do with you?

Don’t have any staff?The tax man may want tax from you

Think again:

You might find yourself having an uncomfortable session with the tax man.

 

  • You can be liable for tax and national insurance for self-employed workers
  • You don’t automatically own the copyright in designs produced by sub contractors
  • You can be liable for injury to contractors as well as staff
  • Workers have discrimination and other statutory rights even if they are self-employed
  • ………… and there is more

Entrepreneurs tend to start with very informal business structures and then things grow over time.  It is easy to imagine that having good relationships with the people around you means you won’t run into trouble.

Sometimes that works, but other times it is a disaster – when the relationship breaks down there is nothing to protect you from harm.   It’s heartbreaking when we hear from people who say “I trusted them” and there is no agreement to set out who is doing what.   Even large business can have blind spots when it comes to freelance workers.

We have come across businesses who did not own their own website or designs in their own work. We have worked with others who spend months tolerating behaviours they could have put a stop to right away.   We know of others hit with tax bills going years back because they couldn’t meet the current IR35 test and owe tax to the revenue (talk to your accountant about this)

We are not trying to frighten you, but it is a good idea to get real at an early stage.

If you want to think about this in terms of your own business, check our regular free teleseminars on managing freelance workers.  http://koffeeklatch.co.uk/category/events/

If you are using freelance workers and have no agreements in place check out our agreements and guidance.  Designed using more than 30 years of experience in what can and does go wrong – save yourself the experience and set it up right! http://koffeeklatch.co.uk/category/contracts/.

Annabel Kaye is Managing Director of Irenicon Ltd, a specialist employment law consultancy. You can follow Annabel on twitter – http://twitter.com/AnnabelKaye

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Filed under contract, employment law, free stuff

In the midnight hour

Legal time does not work the same as any other time.  A legal calendar for obvious reasons has to be more precise than we normally are.   Here are some things that trip people up all the time and create some interesting results.

1.       Notice

If I give you notice today, it will start to run at midnight – in other words, whatever time today I give you notice, today won’t count (it is in effect day zero when calculating length of notice) .  Technically anyone given a week’s notice on Monday is therefore employment until midnight the following Monday (and entitled to pay for that day).  Similarly a month’s notice given on 1st of a month expires at the end of the 1st not the end of the last day of the month.

Why do we care?  Well people who want all their money care because they can claim an extra day.  Employers who get this wrong care because they have to pay an extra day’s pay if they are working on the wrong basis.    Anyone giving statutory notice of their intention to take leave or require an employee to take leave on specific dates will need to allow for this………the list goes on.

2.       When is a day not a day?

A day starts immediately after midnight but if you are calculating statutory sick pay, the first three days are normally waiting days and do not attract statutory sick pay.  Thus anyone who is off sick from Monday to Friday is entitled to two day’s statutory sick pay in their first week of absence.

3.       When does a week start?

What day of the week is the first day of the week?  For many this is a religious question and depends on when a particular religion’s Sabbath is. However, in the UK a week (unless otherwise specified) starts on a Sunday and ends on a Saturday.

4.       How many hours can someone work in a week?

Lots of people believe the 48 hour limit under working time means people can’t work more than 48 hours in a week (unless opted out).   In reality it is an average, so as long as the average hours over 17 weeks (if no other period is agreed) do not exceed 48 hours, employees can work more than 48 hours in any given week.

5.       How long is a year?

52 weeks?  12 months?  Not always.   For the purpose of calculating qualifying service for unfair dismissal a year can include an extra week for statutory notice (after four week’s service statutory notice entitlement is one week).  Unless an individual is summarily dismissed for gross misconduct, they are entitled to add on that extra week (in order to claim unfair dismissal) even if they received  money in lieu of notice.  So, sometimes a year is 51 weeks long.  Similarly two years is 103 week’s long.

In the mad world of employment law, few things are what you might expect and it may already be far later than you think.

Annabel Kaye is Managing Director of Irenicon Ltd, a specialist employment law consultancy.   Tel: 08452 303050  Fax: 08452 303060  Website : www.irenicon.co.uk.  You can follow Annabel on twitter – http://twitter.com/AnnabelKaye

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Filed under employment law

Can an employer make an employee take a day as holiday?

Many employers have been asking staff to take a day’s holiday if they could not come in because of the snow. There have been a lot of misleading headlines about holiday and absence. Here are some useful facts.

  1. An employer cannot make someone go to work
  2. There is no general legal entitlement to be paid for days not worked and many contracts/staff handbooks specifically say employees won’t be paid for absence except under the sickness, holiday or parental leave scheme
  3. Employers who keep the workplace open may ask absent employees to chose to take holiday IF they want to be paid (as opposed to unpaid leave is there is no underlying entitlement to be paid in any event)
  4. There is a difference between absence and pay – not all absences trigger a right to be paid
  5. Under the Working Time Regulations, employers may specify in advance that annual leave must be taken on days they chose. To do this they must specify date(s) in advance and give relevant notice – twice as many days in advance (of the first day of leave) as the number of days to be taken. So even one day’s leave requires two (full) days notice. This device does not usually cover shut downs needed at short notice
  6. Some employers have their own rules for specifying leave dates that may over ride these rules
  7. Parents taking time off to look after their children have no general right to be paid
  8. Some employers are offering additional hours to catch up on the backlog and to help employees catch up on pay
  9. Many employers are paying people who attended work on the basis of a full day even if they arrived late or went early (though not all are obliged to do so)
  10. The 48 hour working maximum under working time regulations is an average, not an absolute ceiling, so workers can work longer hours to get things back to normal

Annabel Kaye is Managing Director of Irenicon Ltd, a specialist employment law consultancy.   Tel: 08452 303050  Fax: 08452 303060  Website : www.irenicon.co.uk.  You can follow Annabel on twitter – http://twitter.com/AnnabelKaye

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Filed under contract, employment law, pay