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Cutting red tape for business

The government has published details of its progress in reducing  “red tape”.

The “One-in, One-Out” rule was introduced in April 2011; offsetting the cost to business of new regulation by finding areas to deregulate to at least an equivalent value. It intends to introduce “One-in, Two-out” in January 2013.

Total savings for business from this reduction in red tape is predicted to be £919 million by July 2013.

The government has also set out the dates on which it intends to bring into force some key employment legislation in 2013:

March 2013: Parental leave will increase from 13 weeks for each parent to 18 weeks in respect of each child.

Employer liability for harassment of employees by third parties is to be removed.

April 2013: The 90 day consultation requirement for redundancies involving 100 or more employees is to be reduced to 45 days.

New employment tribunal rules of procedure will be introduced; details of the content of the new rules have yet to be confirmed.

Company law provisions on the buy back of shares are to be simplified.

If you require legal advice or further detail about anything in this article then please contact us

 

Flexible parental leave.

The government has announced a new system of statutory parental rights.

This system (to be introduced in 2015) will to allow working parents to choose how best to balance work and childcare between them.

Parents will be able to share the statutory leave and pay that, at the moment, is only available to mothers.

Flexible parental leave will be available to be taken by each parent consecutively, or by both parents at the same time, as long as the combined amount of leave is no more than the amount jointly available to them both.

Similar principles will apply to statutory flexible parental pay, which will be available as an alternative to statutory maternity pay.

Additional paternity leave and additional paternity pay will be abolished, and there will be no extension to the current statutory paternity rights.

Entitlement to unpaid parental leave will be extended from 13 to 18 weeks per child from March 2013, and from 2015 each parent will be able to exercise this right for children up to the age of 18.

Equal Pay claims – ruling from the Supreme Court

For individuals making an equal pay claim, the time limit for making a claim in an Employment Tribunal is six months from the end of their employment.

However the Supreme Court has ruled that equal pay claims brought in the High Court more than six months after the end of the claimants’ employment (which would have been out of time in an employment tribunal) should not be struck out.

The rationale behind this is that it is not unusual for individuals to find out, well after their employment ceases, that former colleagues in similar roles to the ones they held, have been successful with equal pay claims or have received equal pay settlements. Only then might those individuals realise that they too could have valid equal pay complaints against their former employer; too late to issue tribunal proceedings. The Supreme Court’s decision, confirming that such individuals will be able to pursue their former employers in the civil courts, could lead to a large number of claims.

The Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) have a Statutory Code of Conduct on Equal Pay. The code is available from the EHRC website and gives guidance on the law and good practice for both small and large employers.

It’s write a will week. Do you have one?

Research released this week shows that 58% of UK adults don’t have a will*. And almost a third of those said they’d make one when they ‘get older’*. When you consider over a third of Bright Grey’s life cover claims were for people under 50**, putting off making a will until later could be a huge mistake.

Despite less than half of the population having a will in place, 74% say they would want to leave their money to their loved ones*. Without the right plans in place, this might not happen, and your clients’ children could be left vulnerable.

If you don’t have a will or want to know if your current will is going to leave your assets distributed as per your wishes, speak to one of our asset protections consultants who are happy to help.

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Sources: *unbiased.co.uk, October 2012. **Bright Grey claims statistics, 1 January – 30 June 2012.

Red tape loosened for small business.

From 1 October 2012, many small businesses and small live music venues will be freed from the burdens of unnecessary red tape.

Dozens of regulations will be removed or simplified, giving businesses more freedom to grow.

Changes include:

Removing regulatory burdens from hundreds of venues including pubs and clubs, making it easier for them to stage live music. Live unamplified music performed in any location, and live amplified music in on-licensed premises and workplaces for audiences of up to 200 people will no longer need a specific licence between 8am and 11pm.

Giving more small businesses the flexibility to decide whether or not their company accounts should be audited and greater freedom for firms to determine the most appropriate set of accounting rules for them.

If you require more information regarding HR and Legal Services please contact us.

 

Removing legislation that dictates the precise location and design of no smoking signs in workplaces.

Stakeholder pension designation requirements repealed on 1 October 2012

Pension auto enrollment kicked in for the largest companies on 1 October. The requirement on a UK employer employing five or more employees to designate and facilitate access to a stakeholder pension scheme has been abolished as part of the same legislation.

Transitional provisions allow an employer to continue deducting contributions from the salary of an employee who is an existing member of a stakeholder scheme after 1 October 2012. If an existing member asks his employer to stop the deductions, the employer must tell the employee that it is no longer required by law to deduct contributions and pay these to the scheme on his behalf, but that the employee can still make payments directly to the scheme, provided this is permitted by the scheme rules.

The repeal of the stakeholder requirements has not been aligned with the staging timetable for the new auto-enrolment duties, which do not affect the smallest companies until 2017. The effect of this is that an employer will no longer be obliged to provide access to a pension scheme until it becomes subject to the duty to auto-enrol its eligible jobholders under the legislation staging process.

National Minimum Wage (NMW) – what you should know.

It is that time of year again when the NMW is up for review.  From 1 October 2012 the rates will be as follows:

  •  The standard adult rate (workers aged 21 and over) will be £6.19.
  •  The development rate (workers aged between 18 and 20) will be £4.98 (unchanged from last year).
  •  The young workers rate (workers aged under 18 but above the compulsory school age who are not apprentices) will be £3.68 (unchanged from last year).
  • The rate for apprentices will be £2.65.

From 1 October 2012, the accommodation offset will be £4.82 each day.

As a reminder that the Government takes enforcement seriously we can report that Norman Lamb, Minister for Employment Relations, has publicly named Rita Patel, a Leicester hair and beauty salon owner, for failing to pay £3,361.22 in NMW to a former worker following an investigation by HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC). HMRC enforced the debt through the courts.

Government argues that bad publicity is a deterrent for an employer who would otherwise be tempted not to pay the NMW.

The Dept for Business Innovation and Skills (BIS) introduced a scheme to name employers who flout minimum wage law on 1 January 2011; Mrs Patel is the first employer to be named.

An employer must meet one of seven criteria to be named. The criteria are that there is evidence that the employer:

  • knowingly or deliberately failed to comply with their NMW obligations
  • previously received advice from HMRC about the steps they need to take to ensure future compliance with NMW which they have not complied with
  • failed to take adequate steps to keep or preserve NMW records
  • delayed or obstructed a NMW compliance officer in the performance of their duties
  • refused or neglected to answer a NMW compliance officer’s questions
  • refused or neglected to provide information or produce documents to a NMW compliance officer, or
  • refused or neglected to pay arrears of the NMW to workers, following HMRC intervention, which has resulted in HMRC taking action against the employer to ensure payment of arrears to workers.

HMRC will not refer cases to BIS unless the total arrears owed to workers are at least £2, 000 and the average arrears per worker are at least £500.

Make a Will – Harpenden based Will and Legal Services

Harpenden based legal services firm i-Legal Services can now help you draft a Will which will importantly give you the peace of mind that knowing you have an adequate Will in place provides. Many clients put off making a Will until it’s too late or have misconceptions about where their assets will be transferred to if they die intestate.

Everyone should have a Will, in particular, anyone with dependant relatives, anyone who owns property or owns an asset they wish their family, friends or charities to benefit from. If you don’t make a Will, and therefore at the time of death there is no Will in place you will technically have died intestate. There are specific rules of intestacy which set out who will inherit and by how much if you have not left a valid Will. In the worst case scenarios where relatives cannot be traced, your assets will be taken by the Crown.

The cost of making a simple Will is not as expensive as you may think and the benefit of doing so far out-ways any cost for your relatives and family.

Contact us to make a Will today, we have will advisers in Harpenden and Barnet covering Hertfordshire, London and surrounding areas.

 

Where there’s a will there’s a way.

Where there’s a Will there’s a Way.

The Olympic games are over and what a fantastic event it turned out to be. I was lucky enough to attend a number of events where the organisation and atmosphere were truly spectacular, a far cry from what the merchants of doom had predicted!

The buzz word now is legacy and how the slogan of the games “Inspire a Generation” can be translated from a vision to reality. In the same way we all need to plan our legacy for the future and the starting point is preparing a will.

Why do I need a Will?

The vast majority of people put off making a Will for a variety of reasons, either believing that the people they would wish to inherit will automatically do so, or because they don’t think it is relevant to them at this particular time. The reality is that you can put off making a Will until it is too late and this poses all sorts of problems for the people left behind and could mean that some or all of your inheritance either goes to the wrong person or to the state.

Affording you Peace of Mind

Firstly and most importantly is the peace of mind making a Will provides. Making a Will enables you to plan exactly what will happen to your property (estate) following your demise. This ensures that those you would like to benefit actually do so, in accordance with your wishes and at the same time avoiding any possible disputes between relatives.

Who needs to make a Will?

The answer is Everyone. In particular, anyone with dependant relatives, (children under the age of 18, elderly relatives or relatives with a disability who have special needs), anyone who owns property or has any type of asset which you would wish relatives, friends or charities to benefit from.

But won’t everything go to my husband / wife /civil partner/ parents / children etc automatically?

This is a common misconception and dependant on the size of your estate, there are set rules which will be applied to determine who inherits and how much if you do not make a Will.

So what happens if I don’t make a Will?

This is called having died Intestate. There are specific rules of intestacy which set out who will inherit and by how much if you do not leave a valid will, this may not be what you would have wished and in the worst case scenarios where relatives cannot be traced, your assets will be taken by the Crown.

This all sounds rather complex which is why we set up i-Legal Services to provide legal advice and to assist our clients with planning their legacy in a cost effective way,  in much the same way as Lord Coe has been appointed Legacy Ambassador for London 2012.

If you would like more information regarding making a Will or planning for your legacy, visit www.i-legalservices.co.uk  or ring Sandra Harrington on 020 3131 4670.