Firefighter ruling sparks new heat for employers

The standby arrangements for Belgium’s volunteer firefighters are set to cause new headaches for employers with workers who are paid flat rates for time on-call or when sleeping in the workplace, with a judgement that will affect companies across the European Union. The Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) has ruled that volunteer firefighter Rudy Matzak is a ‘worker’ and that within the meaning of the Working Time Directive his time on standby is ‘working’ time. Under that Directive, ‘working time’ refers to “any period during which the…

Voluntary Workers – Their rights and your responsibilities as an employer

A volunteer is anyone who carries out unpaid work for a charity, fundraising body or voluntary organisation. If you hire volunteers to work for your organisation, there are certain things you need to be aware of. If you happen to be a volunteer, it pays to know your rights, too. We’ve outlined some of the legalities to help you both stay on the right side of the law. Do voluntary workers have a contract? Although voluntary workers don’t have a contract of employment, most voluntary organisations provide volunteers with a…

What can you do if your tenant is subletting?

A quick guide to the legalities If a landlord rents a property directly to a tenant and they decide they wish to let out part or all of the property to another tenant, it’s called subletting. This isn’t always a problem, if the tenant in question has the landlord’s permission to do so. Problems arise, however, when tenants sublet all or part of the rental property without the permission of their landlord. How do landlords know if a tenant is in breach of their rental agreement, and what can landlords…

Common law myths – Your rights as an unmarried couple

In today’s society, it’s increasingly common for couples to live together as ‘common law’ spouses or co-habitees rather than getting married. The danger of this is that many co-habitees believe they have the same protection as a common law husband or wife, which simply isn’t true. In reality, you have very little protection as an unmarried couple should the relationship end or if one of you dies. What are your rights if you break up? If your relationship ends, an unmarried partner who has stayed home to care for children…

Debt collection: How can you protect your business when customers call in the bailiffs?

Disputes between businesses and customers are common. If you can’t agree a settlement, your business may be called to the Small Claims Court or a higher court. If the judge rules against you, and your ex-customer wins either their money back, damages, or both, you’ll need to pay up. If you can’t pay, or won’t pay, it’s likely that the bailiffs will come knocking. So what can you do to help protect your business when this happens? Stopping bailiffs at the door Bailiffs cannot attempt to take control of goods…

Can pre-nup agreements help to save your marriage?

Wedding season is just around the corner, and has an extra buzz thanks to the brace of royal weddings planned for 2018. If you’re tying the knot this year, it’s likely you’ve spent time carefully planning everything from bouquets to bunting. But have you given a second thought to a pre-nuptial agreement? Some couples just don’t want to think about what happens if there isn’t the dreamed of fairy-tale ending. But what if a pre-nup could actually help make your marriage stronger? What can a pre-nup do? A pre-nup is…

Spotlight on equal pay

Equal pay is a legal obligation. In recent months it has hit the headlines, with the BBC notably coming under fire for inequality in pay between the sexes. And you can expect more front pages, as by 4 April 2018 (or 30 March for the public sector) all employers with 250 or more employees are required to report their gender pay gap and bonus data. Why has there been such an emphasis on equal pay recently? Well, because despite the fact that equal pay is a legal obligation, it’s still…

Renting property – Will the slow-down of the housing market have a knock-on effect for landlords and their tenants?

For years, homeowners have come to expect that their property value will increase. But headlines predicting a housing slump are backed by figures that show a sustained slow-down of activity in the housing market and a dip in the rate of growth for house prices too. Could this also have a knock-on effect for rental prices? And what is a ‘fair rent’ for the average property? Is the housing market really slowing down? While the long feared property market crash actually hasn’t happened (and may just be the paranoid reporting…

Making sure the work environment is safe

Winter has slammed into the UK with a vengeance this year, with record snowfalls and Arctic winds blasting the length of Britain. It can be difficult enough trying to get through hazardous weather conditions to reach work on time, but what if when you get there the office is only marginally warmer than the outside temperature? Here’s a quick guide to your employer’s obligations when it comes to creating and maintaining a safe working environment during cold weather. The legal requirements Despite what a lot of people think, there is…

Businesses face bigger penalties on data leaks

Businesses are on final countdown to the introduction of the General Data Protection Regulation in May 2018, bringing with it a tighter rule and greater penalties for data processing, and the outcome of a landmark High Court case has made the preparation even more pressing. The case involved an online leak of payroll data by Andrew Skelton, a disgruntled ex-employee of supermarket chain Morrisons. Skelton received an eight year conviction for offences under the Computer Misuse Act 1990 and the Data Protection Act 1998 (DPA). However, over 5,000 current and…