Enforcement action resumes
Now that coronavirus-related restrictions are starting to be eased, inspectors are heading out again. Who is on their radar?
New energy labels for appliances
There are changes to the energy labels that detail how efficient appliances such as fridges and dishwashers are. What has happened and could it make a difference to your next purchase?
Green legislation weaker after Brexit
The UK has weakened its environmental protection legislation in the aftermath of leaving the EU, according to a new assessment. What has changed, how will it affect your operations, and what should you be aware of?
Committing to safe oil storage
If oil leaks from plant or storage on your premises, it can cause significant environmental damage. It’s therefore important to do what you can to prevent it and prepare to respond to an oil spill. Our policy fits the bill on both accounts.
What to do about sewage overflow
Water companies discharged raw sewage into rivers in England more than 400,000 times in 2020. But it’s not just the utility companies that need to keep an eye on what they are releasing into waterways. What precautions should you take?
Safety and the gig economy
Protests and challenges to employers involved in the gig economy have been in the news. How do health and safety regulations apply to this sector?
Worker fell into inspection pit
Inspection pits in the motor vehicle repair industry are less common than they used to be, but are still in use in some premises. If you have one, you must control the risk of falls. What happened in a 2021 case?
Ten steps to reopening safely after coronavirus lockdown
With the easing of coronavirus restrictions, many businesses are starting to get back to a relatively normal operation. However, you need to do so with caution. We’ve compiled a ten-step plan to keep you on the straight and narrow. What does it include?
£1 million fine for vehicle contact fatality
After a young waste operative was killed on his recycling collection, the employer was prosecuted and fined more than £1m. What happened, and how can you minimise the risks of accidents when working close to vehicles is unavoidable?
What machinery guarding checks are required?
One of our subscribers recently received a visit from an HSE inspector who criticised the firm’s lack of routine checks of machinery guarding. If you were in this position what action would you need to take?
Using compressed gases in catering and leisure
The British Compressed Gases Association has published a new guidance document aimed at those who use gas cylinders in the catering and leisure industries. When might you find this useful and what’s covered?
The power of “without prejudice”
Prior to entering into a settlement agreement, you’ll likely have negotiations with the employee or their legal advisor. Why should every settlement offer that you make be marked “without prejudice”?
Menopausal employee loses discrimination claim
An employee who claimed that she was dismissed because of her menopausal symptoms has lost her discrimination claim despite the tribunal agreeing that she was disabled under the Equality Act 2010. Why did the claim fail?
Furlough and redundancy payments
Where a furloughed employee is made redundant, is their notice pay and any statutory redundancy pay (SRP) entitlement calculated using their normal rate of pay or their furlough pay?
Vaccine adverse reaction and sick pay rights
It’s possible that an employee may experience a reaction after having a COVID-19 vaccine. If they require time off work for this reason, are they automatically entitled to paid time off?
You don’t look the same after lockdown
With the lockdown lifting, your staff are now returning to the workplace. However, you’ve noticed that one employee doesn’t look the same - they’ve let themselves go quite a bit. Why should you raise this with them?
Hire an armed forces veteran, save up to £5,500!
From 6 April 2021 any employer who hires an Armed Forces veteran can have a holiday on some of their employers’ NI contributions. How long is the holiday for and which veterans are eligible for this new scheme?
HMRC warns of SEISS email scam
The fourth SEISS grant has only just opened up for claimants, but already HMRC has issued a warning about an email scam doing the rounds. What should you look out for?
Does your client’s guest house qualify for letting relief?
Since April 2020 there have been restrictions on when letting relief on the disposal of residential property can be claimed. One of your clients is selling their guest house and has asked for advice regarding potential relief. What can you advise?
Using stock-take to cut a client’s tax bill
For retail companies, the end of year stock-take is crucial to getting the corporation tax calculation right. It’s unlikely that you will be involved directly in this exercise, but how can your advice potentially save your clients money?
Tax-efficient will planning with residential property
Your client has a significant property portfolio which provides them with their sole source of income. They want to gift shares in some property to their daughter but retain the income. Can they do this without triggering the reservation of benefit rules?
Defer CGT payment on property
Since April 2020, clients have been required to pay any tax due on disposals of land or property within 30 days of completion. But can they defer the payment until later?
Off-payroll working from 6 April 2021
The long-delayed extension to the off-payroll working rules finally took effect from 6 April 2021. What are the crucial things that clients who provide services through an intermediary, or engage workers that provide services in this way, need to know?
Advising clients on the loss relief extension
Budget 2021 announced a temporary extension to the carry back loss relief rules for both companies and unincorporated businesses. Why is the extension not as generous as it might first appear, and which clients might be better not using it?
Witness attendance at disciplinary hearings
One question that’s often asked is whether witnesses should attend disciplinary hearings and, if they do, whether they can be cross-examined where the evidence conflicts. What is the position here?
Terminating a senior executive or director
Dismissing a senior executive or director can be much more complex than an “ordinary” employee. What specific considerations are there beyond those that apply to all other employee dismissals?
HMRC issues VAT penalty nudge
HMRC has warned businesses that took advantage of the coronavirus VAT deferral scheme last year that a key penalty deadline is looming. What’s the story?
SEISS round four launched
HMRC has published details on the fourth Self-Employment Income Support Scheme (SEISS) grant. You’ve heard that not everyone who qualified for the SEISS before will be eligible this time. Who’s entitled and who’s not?
Using salary sacrifice for a cost-free pay rise
The door on tax saving by salary sacrifice has finally closed. However, that doesn’t mean you can’t use salary sacrifice. In fact, it can provide a cost-free way to give your staff a pay rise. Is this something you can take advantage of?
Home-to-work travel during lockdown
Two of your employees, working from home because of the pandemic, visited the office each week to check security and collect post that hadn’t been redirected. You paid their travel costs but do you need to report this to HMRC?
Increase your net estate by giving to charity
Your will currently includes a few bequests to charities. When discussing it with your solicitor she said that increasing your donations could lower the inheritance tax (IHT) bill and so might leave your beneficiaries better off. How does this work?
Costly multiple SSIP assessments
When Safety Schemes in Procurement (SSIP) was introduced, it was intended to reduce the burden and costs of contractor assessments. Is it working?
Untrained worker struck by disc cutter
A construction company has been heavily fined after a self-employed worker was seriously injured whilst using a petrol powered disc cutter. Why was the firm held responsible?
Novice drivers at greater risk
Inexperienced drivers continue to be over-represented in fatal and serious road accident statistics. What are the latest figures and how should this influence your management of driving activities?
Errors during chemical spill clean up
A global engineering company has appeared in court after four employees were exposed to a hazardous gas during a chemical spill clean up and suffered significant ill health. What were the circumstances of the case?
Update your coronavirus policy
If you put in place a coronavirus health and safety policy in 2020, it might well be out of date given the frequent changes in legislation and official guidance. Use our template to ensure that yours is still relevant.
Lift machinery safety requirements
The Safety Assessment Federation has published a short guide on the safety and security of lift motor rooms. As a result, you could receive a safety wishlist from your lift engineer. What are they likely to request?
Ramadan employment law issues
The 2021 holy month of Ramadan began on 12 April and is due to end on 12 May. If you have Muslim employees, what are the employment law implications?
VAT penalty overhaul confirmed for 2022
Budget 2021 confirmed that the government is pressing ahead with a change to the way penalties for VAT returns filed late will be charged. Should you be worried?
Student loans - what’s new this tax year?
Given the significant amount of money loaned to students undertaking degree level study, repayments are a lifetime commitment. Employers have a key role to play in collecting the repayments. What are the main considerations?
What’s new with pensions?
As another new tax year gets underway, it’s timely to get yourself up to speed on changes to auto-enrolment and workplace pensions generally. What are the key changes to be familiar with this time around?
Sleep-in shifts and the national minimum wage
There’s been legal uncertainty over whether a worker must be paid the national minimum wage (NMW) for the entire duration of a “sleep-in” shift. This issue has now been considered by the Supreme Court. What did it decide?
When does the redundancy notice period start?
You’re just about to notify an employee that they are being made redundant. When an employee is given notice of redundancy, does the redundancy notice period start the very second you tell them or at a different point?
A temporary “act up” or a permanent promotion?
You need an employee to temporarily act up to a more senior position due to another member of staff being absent. If this arrangement goes on for several months, could the employee argue that it’s actually a permanent promotion?
Comments about weight and diet were harassment
An overweight police officer whose boss advised her to “lose weight” and “stop drinking gallons of Coke” has won her claim for harassment at the tribunal. Why were these comments problematic?
£11,600 for writing to employee’s GP
An employee who resigned because her employer wrote to her GP has been awarded over £11,600 by the tribunal. What must be obtained before any contact is made with an employee’s GP?
Return to work is a “serious and imminent danger”
It’s been suggested that employees could potentially dodge an employer’s return to the workplace instruction by saying that it would present a “serious and imminent danger” to their health. Can they rely on this statutory protection or not?
The first questions to ask at a disciplinary hearing
At the start of a disciplinary hearing the chairperson should ask the accused employee certain introductory questions before turning to the specific allegations. What are those questions and why are they so important?
How to avoid race discrimination in recruitment
Now that you must obtain a sponsor licence and pay the Immigration Skills Charge to employ EEA nationals arriving in the UK from 2021 onwards, can you refuse to employ them on the basis that it’s too expensive?
Can staff now return to the office?
With the lockdown rules having been further relaxed from today, 12 April, what’s the current position in England on reopening offices and holding in-person business meetings?
New recovery loan scheme launches
With the coronavirus loan schemes having ended on 31 March 2021, UK businesses can now apply for a new Recovery Loan Scheme. How will this work?
Investigating a company using filleted accounts
Most small companies only submit filleted accounts to Companies House which don’t include a profit and loss. How can you assess the financial risk of doing business with a company by looking at just its balance sheet?
Can you rely on a force majeure clause?
Many businesses have been disrupted by the pandemic leading to suppliers failing to meet demand. What are the implications for your company if it’s unable to meet its contractual obligations - will a force majeure clause help?
Keeping up with coronavirus changes
The pandemic has seen rules changed, deadlines relaxed and wide-ranging alterations to annual to-do lists with which you’re so familiar. What’s the current position?
Poor mileage records lead to tax bill
Generally, it’s not tax efficient for the business to pay for private fuel as it results in a fixed and hefty tax bill. Avoiding this is easy in theory but less so in practice as a recent case shows. What’s the story?
Loss carry back extension
In a bid to provide further aid for businesses struggling during the pandemic, the government has extended the period trading losses can be carried back for tax relief. Can your company take advantage?
Creating your own functions in Excel using LAMBDA
Excel has hundreds of built-in calculations, but it doesn’t have functions for every possible calculation. To overcome this, Microsoft has created LAMBDA to allow you to create your own functions and store them in Excel. How do you do it?
Are formal appeals worth the effort?
The company is in a dispute with HMRC that’s been dragging on for ages and appears to be going nowhere. Is a formal review something to consider or is it a waste of time and money?
Recovery Loan Scheme launched
The Recovery Loan Scheme (RLS) announced in this year’s Budget opened for business on 6 April. What does it offer, who’s eligible and how can you apply?
The one-page business plan
An annual budget plan is more important than ever, yet completing one probably fills you with dread. But it doesn’t have to be long and complicated. Could you cut back the template to just a page?
Company has insufficient cash to purchase its own shares
Our subscriber wants to sell her shares and retire from the company. The trouble is the other shareholders can’t afford to buy her out and, while the company could purchase its own shares, it doesn’t currently have the cash. What’s the solution?
Copyright trolls targeting SMEs
Using what appears to be a “free photo” on your website, or streaming a movie can end up costing your business thousands of pounds if copyright protected material is used without permission. What’s to know and why are SMEs particularly vulnerable?
Do you need to register a modern slavery statement?
In March 2021 the Home Office launched its new online registry for modern slavery statements. Will small and medium-sized businesses be legally required to submit a statement and, if not, should you consider doing it anyway?
Should you offset carbon to get to net zero?
New research shows that more and more SMEs are thinking about a net zero plan. Is this something you should consider too, and if so, should it include carbon offsetting or is this cheating?