Tag Archives: contracts

Top tips on hiring freelancers

So many people use freelancers or family members to help grow their business – but are you getting the best out of this arrangement?

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November 22, 2013 · 9:18 am

All that jazz about performance


Classical western music is a complex and rich tradition that relies on:

fixed scales and written compositions

 reproduced by performers who have practised for hours to produce a particular sound.

Large organisations often manage individual performance in a similar way:   

  • Each person is assigned an instrument and given a score to play.


  • The conductor’s/boss’s role is to ensure each player hits the right notes in the right way at the right time.jazz2 - conductor_Page_1 The  same piece is played in the same key every time. Variation is bad – we keep to the score the composer wrote.

Smaller organisations are more nimble:

Created by entrepreneurial bosses who were not happy to play the corporate/classical part they were given, the boss expects their team to know which instruments they are to play and what they should sound like.   Jazz musicians work in a similar way.

  • Each player knows the key the group will play in and knows the rules of jazz.
  • What the players don’t have is a fixed score or a fixed order to play the notes in.

To an outsider jazz can seem like a free for all where anything can happen.  To a jazz musician, jazz is an open system of fundamentals designed to allow the musicians to improvise without losing their way. Each performance is different and each musician changes the sound by the way they play. But it is always jazz.

jazz3Some people are solo artists. They cannot play with an orchestra or a group of jazz musicians. They can only do what they do their way. The group can accompany them as backing musicians and follow their lead, or the solo artist will not play. Many technical experts are solo artists at heart. They want their song played their way according to their definition of excellence.

A lot of the talk around performance management  in business ignores the fact there is no one-size-fits-all solution.   HR people act as if the classical tradition is the only one.

If you feel your organisation is a little more jazz than classical talk to us about creating contracts and handbooks that allow you to improvise around your fundamentals without pinning you down – click here.

If your organisation is full of soloists, you are probably employing lots of freelancers (or people who think they are) – click here.  If they really are your employees but still going their own way – talk to us about ways to bring them back to the fundamentals you require.

Annabel Kaye is Managing Director of Irenicon Ltd, a specialist employment law consultancy.
Tel: 08452 303050 Fax: 08452 303060
You can follow Annabel on Twitter


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Filed under contract, employment law, performance management

Getting to grips with ‘the help’

The natural growth pattern for a start up business is to have one or two unpaid owners who start it, then they get paid (a bit), and then other people start helping in the business.

Family members help out from time to time, some casual workers, some freelancers, even interns and apprentices. Some businesses never get out of the ‘freelance’ mode and take on employed staff.  Some employ people and carry on with a mix.  Very few end up with employed staff only as a business model.

Entrepreneurs cite fear of employment law as one of their key concerns – yet few seem to realise some simple facts:

  1. Calling someone freelance or self employed does not mean they are (we might have thought of that one ourselves if it really worked!)
  2. Self employment does not mean no tax has to be deducted under IR35
  3. Employment tribunals can decide your people are really employed (and trigger claims from the revenue for back tax)
  4. Genuine freelance workers have a full range of discrimination and other employment rights (the main thing they don’t have is unfair dismissal rights)

It can be tempting to take on people as freelance workers and not have to worry about PAYE and tax at the end of the month, but it can mean that you are storing up trouble for the future.   Sometimes it can be better to pay the tax as you go and know you don’t owe the revenue anything later.

New employees have two years before they qualify for unfair dismissal rights, and for some people it can be less worry to take on staff if the work needs to be done regularly or on an ongoing basis.  You really should talk to your accountants about this and tell them honestly how you are working.

Even if freelance workers are the right model for you, you need a proper agreement that not only sets out the relationship so HMRC can see it is not an employment relationship but also deals with:

  1. Who owns copyright – the default is that they will if they are not an employee
  2. Confidentiality and data protection
  3. What happens about confidential information when the contract ends
  4. How they will deal with sending suitably qualified substitutes when they are not available……because if they can’t that may be one indicator that they are not self employed
  5. What equipment they are going to provide
    And there’s more……

There are lots of things the law gives you automatically if you are the boss of an employee that you are going to have to contract for if you are using freelance workers. We come across people who don’t have copyright in their own web sites, who don’t have access to social media followers they paid someone to find and worse.

Ultimately you are in business to get particular things done at a profit. Setting out proper arrangements to manage freelance workers (and staff) are part of the building blocks of that success. Join us for a free teleseminar to discuss managing freelance workers – register via this link.

Annabel Kaye is Managing Director of Irenicon Ltd, a specialist employment law consultancy.

Tel: 08452 303050 Fax: 08452 303060
You can follow Annabel on Twitter

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Filed under employment law, Freelance Workers

As on the dance floor, so in life …… #2

Ballroom dances are highly choreographed – they can look great, but when circumstances change the dancers may be unable to respond quickly. I once saw a ballroom couple run repeatedly into a wall because their choreographed routine had more steps in it than there was room in their dance hall (I am not making this up). Some businesses run like that – so locked down with instructions and manuals that people feel they must run into a wall rather than make an intelligent decision to go round a corner.

An improvised dance form might seem like a recipe for chaos. How does it work if everyone is doing their own thing and making it up as they go along? There are some businesses which are chaotic, with everyone apparently acting fairly randomly – but this doesn’t work for a growing or larger business. Only the tiniest business can run on the basis of no settled routines or procedures at all, and they’re most unlikely to grow.

Improvised dance forms, like Argentine tango, have rules about how to decide what to do and what is the right direction of travel (the “line of dance”). The dancers practice techniques and fundamentals, which allow them to improvise with confidence. When the unexpected happens, the dancers can make intelligent decisions about what to do – and make it look good and feel rewarding.

To the beginner in dance, both choreographed and improvised dances are the same – a mystery they are struggling to understand. To the practitioner they are very different. The choreographed dance can be polished and practiced, but it has a rigidity that sets limits. The improvised dance gives room for the flash of genius, but it tends to be riskier – although when the fundamentals are properly in place, there is an established baseline of competence that pre-empts serious problems.

When you are writing policies, handbooks and contracts you might want to consider how much choreography is needed and how much room for intelligent (and beautiful) improvisation needs to be left.

Talk to us about creating some fundamentals that will allow you to respond to changing circumstances

“As on the dance floor, so in life!”

Christopher Head is a Director of Irenicon Ltd, a specialist employment law consultancy.
Tel: 08452 303050 Fax: 08452 303060 Website : www.irenicon.co.uk

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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


Filed under contract, employment law, pay

Let’s not complicate things

Working through client files I am struck by how organisations struggle with elaborate procedures.

The managers can’t follow elaborate procedures in practice, and often bypass them.

It is tempting for HR to write careful lists of “do’s” and “don’ts”. The guidance notes can be far longer the procedures. They rarely achieve the desired result.

Nothing substitutes for having clear, simple systems which everyone understands. This allows managers to manage their staff.

HR’s proper desire for compliance and clear documentation can be combined with line management’s need for performance and speed.

Properly approached, ‘compliance’ is a productive way to build real performance gains into the people management strategies of your business.

It doesn’t have to be any more complicated than you make it…

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If older workers need to work longer to supplement inadequate pension provisions, we may end up with three or four generations in one workplace, with three genders (according to Europe, there are three genders) and dozens of ethnicities, nationalities and colours, with varying religions and creeds to take into account.

If the world of work is no longer about “master and servant”, with workers turning up routinely to an identifiable location to undertake specific tasks, how is the modern organisation to attract, retain, supervise and reward the workforce of the future, and to what end?

The death knell of capitalism has sounded more than once, but capitalism is unlikely to be a spent force in the foreseeable future. Making a profit is still going to be the number one reason for going into business, but how organisations are to achieve that is an increasing concern.

Younger workers’ motivations are often about belonging to their groups. Increasingly, social entrepreneurs are giving opportunities to individuals who are not motivated by maximising their bonus this quarter. Still, everyone needs some measures of attainment to know how they are doing.

Where does this leave the organisation’s supervisory skills, performance management and equal opportunity policies?

HR have been very much focussed on process in the last few decades. Recently some attempts have been made to arrive at ways of measuring HR’s performance, and at its best HR is a vibrant business partner supporting and developing the people side of the business.

In many organisations HR has been ‘process focussed’ to the point where they are felt to impede the efficacy of the business. Some workplaces seem almost designed to exclude the ordinary manager with complex procedures and processes that only the few in HR and the Union can understand.

Let’s look at the company staff handbook – these days found mostly on the intranet. Often this consists of a collection of policies and prohibitions based on historic problems in the organisation. Occasionally parts have been re-engineered to provide a more accessible tone, but these documents show their origin in the written word. They are often wordy and hard to understand, as the language of ‘equality’ works its way through the lexicon of HR. The modern workforce does not generally read Dickens in its spare time, yet the language of many staff handbooks seems to suggest an expectation of high levels of literacy.

Handbooks and procedures are often now to be found on the intranet and internet. But many workers have no IT access at work. Others don’t read English that well (and that applies to many native-born English people, as well as foreign workers)

Would a twitter handbook be more useful for the modern world? What would HR say?. Using the twitter 140 character limit, what would you come up with?

  • If it’s not yours, don’t touch it, talk about it, or try to take it home. [The multi-purpose equal opportunity and security policy?]
  • Give respect to receive respect – and don’t bad mouth [Dignity at work and harassment policy?]
  • Do it, do it right, and do it on time? [Quality management?]

What would your absolute minimum text include? Let us know your 140 character or less handbook entries suggestions. We offer a bottle of champagne to the entry, in the opinion of Irenicon’s directors that is the funniest and most apt (and publishable!). Deadline 30th June 2009. Entries by email to info@irenicon.co.uk headed twitter handbook.

Annabel Kaye is Managing Director of Irenicon Ltd, a specialist employment law consultancy. Tel: 08452 303050 Fax: 08452 303060 www.irenicon.co.uk twitter/annabelkaye


Filed under contract, employment law, free stuff