#Warwickshire -based Solavia Fine Glassware wins the #SBS award from Theo Paphitis from BBC’s Dragons Den.

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Warwickshire based online business, Solavia Fine Glassware has received
a business boost from Retail Entrepreneur Theo Paphitis.   In June,  Solavia Fine Glassware, tweeted Theo about their business during ‘Small Business Sunday’ (#SBS) and was one of six weekly winners to be recognised by Theo. The weekly initiative, set up by Theo in 2010, now has 1700 #SBS winners and supports small businesses in the UK.

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Solavia Fine Glassware is an independent family business specialising in handmade glassware. The company prides itself on excellent customer service whilst providing quality items, not only to individuals but also to businesses such as one of Gordon Ramsay’s London restaurants, Estee Lauder and Harrods.

The company is grateful to Theo and his team for promoting their business and as a result giving them the opportunity for greater brand awareness. They look forward to the benefits that #SBS may provide in the near future

For further information about Solavia Fine Glassware visit www.solavia.co.uk or call for personalised advice and customer assistance

 

TUDOR WORLD HALLOWEEN 2016

Stratford upon Avon’s most haunted building!

Tudor World museum sits in the dead centre of Stratford upon Avon and continues its long history of celebrating Halloween (one of the longest running in Stratford) with lots of activities for young and old alike. Yet it has long been known as a haunted building and much favoured by the local covens, well before the cult TV programme Most Haunted investigated the building and Derek Acorah become possessed by one of the spirits or even before author Terry Deary described it as “the most haunted house in England” on the Horrible Histories guide to Stratford. Sightings of ghosts and weird happenings have been seen recorded throughout the centuries, right up to the present day: including a little girl from the 16th century and a serial killer from the 18th century within the ancient building.

This year’s celebrations are therefore sure to be as ‘active’ and fun as ever! During the day the Halloween Quiz for children includes a brilliant black witch’s hat and at night a family friendly ghost tour for children with Mr G Buster and spooky tours for the adults through the building’s labyrinth of shadowy hallways, all by the lantern light of the Barber Surgeons. On All Hallows Eve itself braver members of the public can even be involved in a real séance and call out “is there anybody there?”

Are you brave enough to visit this famously haunted building at 40 Sheep Street, Stratford upon Avon, over the Halloween?

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Saturday 22nd to Monday 31st October from 10.30am a Halloween Quiz will be available for the children and includes a free witch’s hat on completion (subject to availability).

Saturday 29th October the family friendly ghost tour takes place at 5.30-6.00pm @ £13.50 for two adults and two children.  Places are limited and sold out early last year!

Saturday 29th October and Monday 31st October Ghost tours with the Barber Surgeons at 6pm, 7pm, 8pm, 9pm @ £7.50 per adult (free badge for those dressed in costume!)

Monday 31st October the Seance Experience will occur, where members of the public can be involved in real séance (over 18s only) at 10pm until midnight @ £20pp, including light refreshments.

For more information visit: www.tudorworld.com or ring 01789 298070 for further info, to book or for interviews.

 

On All Hallow’s Eve, when the veil between this world and the next is said to be the thinnest, Tudor World in Stratford upon Avon, will be conducting a Halloween Seance. The Seance Experience will start at 10pm and end around the ‘witching hour’.

The evening will consist of various experiments and ‘calling out’ to the spirit. The evening ends with a gathering in the dedicated Seance Room. Once in the Seance Room, the room will be plunged into darkness and the participants will hold hands and ask spirits to appear! For the really brave, there is a ‘spirit cabinet’ for anyone who wants a ‘lone vigil’. The evening is a serious affair and nothing is faked, any ‘activity’ will be real.

Tudor World, once known as the Falstaff Experience has a long tradition of ghostly sightings and appearing on such shows as Most Haunted and in Terry Deary’s Horrible History book, in which he described the property as ‘The Most Haunted House in England’. The historic building, parts of which date back to the 12th century is said to have many resident spirits– from 1000 year old spirit who walk around wearing a hooded cloak and had red eyes, to an 18th century serial killer to a little serving girl from the 16th century and even the troops from the Civil War are said to march through near the time of the Battle of Edgehill in October 1642.

Over Halloween Tudor World will also be having a quiz, which includes an amazing witch’s hat prize for every child during the day, as well as spooky ghost tours at night.

For further info, contact Janet or John Ford on 01789 298070 or visit www.tudorworld.com.

 

 

 

The Gift of Time

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Time is something most of us feel we need more of. A Coventry-based babysitting agency, EvaSitters, has solved the problem for many of us. Babysitting gift vouchers are now available to buy for your friends and family, allowing parents to have time for other activities without worrying about childcare. The vouchers offer at least three hours of pre-paid evening babysitting to the recipient, so you no longer have to feel guilty about being unable to babysit for your family or friends! The ‘gift of time’ is a thoughtful present parents will appreciate on special occasions and all year round.

Most people will agree that childcare is a big cause of concern in today’s society, especially where both parents work. Evasitters’ staff are all interviewed face-to-face, screened thoroughly and paid by EvaSitters, so parents do not have to worry about all that. All good parents will agree that their children are their most valuable possessions, so they cannot afford to be careless about childcare. EvaSitters provides police-checked, experienced and caring babysitters to homes in Coventry, Warwickshire, Birmingham, Leicester and surrounding areas, even at short notice, with no membership, booking or registration fees.

Everyone knows that good, reliable childcare is priceless. Having a babysitter or nanny that really gets your children and ensures that they are safe and happy allows you to get on with life without guilt or worry. Although, parents will be willing to pay anything for such a reliable and necessary service, EvaSitters charges the same affordable hourly rate for any day of the week, and parents can get a discount with multiple bookings. For parents on the go, there is also an Evasitters phone app, available for free download from www.evasitters.co.uk .

The founder of EvaSitters, Dr Afiniki Akanet, a medical doctor, explains why she set up the company: “I wanted to provide an easy-to-book online babysitting service which allows parents, like me, to have time away from home when required, while also providing flexible well-paid work for eligible UK residents. Having no membership, booking or registration fees, allows parents to use our service regularly or occasionally without penalty. Because of the large amount of daytime childcare providers, such as nurseries and childminders, EvaSitters specialises in providing childcare after 6pm and at weekends.”

Settlement Agreements – What? When? Why? Who? What to watch out for !

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Settlement agreements (formerly known as compromise agreements) are a widely used methods of settling employment claims with an exiting employee. It gives both the employer and employee certainty going forward and enables both parties to move on after the employee exits. They are sanctioned by the Employment Rights Act 1996 (ERA 1996) and in particular s203 sets out the criteria that must be used in order to make the agreement valid and therefore enforceable. Under s111A ERA 1996 now they can be used more widely to exit employees without the need for a dispute to have already occurred as was formerly the case.

 

Is this a licence to exit employees as their face no longer fits or a genuine move to avoid costly litigation for both employees and employers alike?

 

What are they? They are a contract between an exiting employee and the employer that gives the employee an exit package in return for signing away their employment rights, excluding accrued pension rights and latent/unknown personal injury claims. It is a legal requirement that the employee obtains independent legal advice on the agreement with the employer paying for those legal fees.

 

Such agreements are so widely used now that many see them as simple with previous templates regularly used. They are however far from simple and previous examples should never be used as some of the following issues show.

 

When? Before you even broach the subject of giving an exiting employee a settlement agreement, you need to know the mere suggestion or offering of the agreement could, in certain circumstances give the employee a constructive dismissal claim. These circumstances have been limited via the insertion of s111A into the Employment Rights Act 1996 enabling confidential pre-termination settlement agreements, but this does not give blanket protection.

 

Specifically, s111A ERA 1996 gives employers protection from constructive dismissal claims when they enter into confidential discussions about the termination of employment. It will be a brave employer who enters into such discussions without first having taken employment advice. It is similar to “the without prejudice rule” but also very different. It’s applicability will depend on the individual circumstances of the case, hence the need for advice, but in general terms there must be no “improper behaviour” to render it fair and the employee must be given at least 10 days to consider the offer and take advice. The associated ACAS code details “improper behaviour” and gives examples of what may be considered as such.

 

Prior to the insertion of S111A offering a settlement agreement in circumstances where there was no genuine inter party dispute, where effectively the employer was saying “you are going no matter what”, gave rise to a constructive dismissal claim, subject to the qualifying period of employment to access future losses etc. Even if an employee does not have the 2 years qualifying service they could still bring a constructive dismissal claim, typically where they are seeking wrongful dismissal damages but also release from post termination restrictive covenants. Under s111A a settlement agreement can be offered where there is no dispute at all. Sometimes this can mean the settlement agreement appears to come out of the blue for the employee, which can bring with its own problems such as unreasonable expectations etc.

 

How? Often a formerly used agreement is reused for a subsequent employee. However did you know that often doing this enables the solicitor advising the employee on it to know the circumstances of the previously exited employee, risking a breach of confidentiality on the part of the Company. Each agreement, to be binding, must be tailored to the specific employee and their circumstances. Blanket claims lists, which we see all too commonly have been held to be uneforceable.  There must be a clause that refers to the specific claims that the employee is raising and then settling and it must cross refer to the appropriate in date legislation. Simply using an old agreement is likely to mean the employee’s specific claims are not addressed and render it unenforceable. Information may be left in the agreement used that refers to the last exiting employee thereby potentially risking the confidentiality of that last exiting employee as well as risking its enforceability.

 

Each set of circumstances where such an agreement is needed will be different and the employee will be different maybe having different priorities, such as a reference. They can be tailored to address specific problems too. For example, if you have a messy exit of an employee but want to address gossip amidst the workforce an agreed announcement that goes out can be agreed. The confidentiality clauses stop the employee from talking about matters but speculation is often rife, especially in acromonious exits and you don’t want employee’s to think the Company will always settle. An agreed anouncement allows you to control what is said to other staff, customers and suppliers and gives the employee something to say when asked why they left – leaving it open often does more damage than good.

 

The employee will also need to explain why they left to future employers, recruitment agencies and their family so a blanket confidentially clause is a practical nonsense. It needs to address such realities.

 

Is there an agreed reference? What if the person giving a reference leaves?

 

Has the notice pay been properly dealt with. Has pay in lieu of notice (a PILON) been taxed or not taxed properly? Have a number of payments been lumped together risking the whole payment being judged as taxable? Are contractual elements split out and treated appropriately for tax? An agreement to breach where there is no PILON clause still renders the notice payment taxable too, which is one that often catches people out. There are specific rules under s401-403 of ITEPA 2003 as to what makes a payment up to £30,000 genuinely tax-free.

 

Have you covered off the pension? Do you need to make a statement as to the leaving status of the employee in relation to shares or share options? What about expense claims not yet submitted?

 

Have restrictive covenants been dealt with in an appropriate manner? Are existing ones enforceable and are new one’s validly stated with separate consideration? This can be an ideal time to put in covenants if they were previously missed or the contract predated their inclusion. If there aren’t well drafted enforceable restrictive covenants then there is nothing to stop those exiting employees from setting up around the corner and poaching all of your staff, customers and work. If the employee’s claims include breach of contract then any restrictive covenants in a contract would fall away. The settlement agreement is a place you can put such restrictions in or restate existing ones to get them back in. As the employee takes advice upon the settlement agreement it also makes any stated restrictive covenants more robust with a greater chance of enforceability.

 

Who? As you know the employee needs to make sure they take proper advice on the terms and effect of the settlemement agreement, which is a requirement of s203 ERA 1996. Unfortunately lots of solicitors sign off settlement agreements without knowing very much about employment law, as it is seen as a quick rubber stamping exercise. It is far from that. The solicitor needs to advise on what claims the employee could have and to quantify those claims to then assess whether the payments the employee is receiving are fair or not. The solicitor needs to advise on the terms including the taxable status of the payments and possible tax liability. They will need to know the impact caused by the different stated reasons for termination and advise on the post termination restrictions. If the employee hasn’t had proper advice does that cause doubt on the enforceability of the agreement? Possibly. One option could be to provide an exiting employee with a list of known employment solicitors so you know there are going to an expert, which will make negotiating any final parts much more sensible for the Company too. In a mass settlement agreement exercise, perhaps with multiple redundancies where there are enhanced payments a solicitor can come into your offices and see multiple employees so you are not then renegotiating the same agreement with multipole different sets of solicitors.

 

Therefore you can see as a Company there are many issues to consider relating to settlement agreements.

 

For further details or if you have or need a settlement agreement please contact Natalie Roach Oak Employment Solicitors on 01869 277692 or Natalie@oakemploymentsolicitors.co.uk.

 

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The tricky issue of holiday pay!!!

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Holiday and holiday pay is a very emotive issue for employees and employers alike. For employees it’s a well earned break from their hard work for employers, it’s a cost and an operational issue. There have been many recent changes in the law, which have changed the holiday pay landscape – so here are the things that as an employer you need to know.

Holiday entitlement is rooted in the Working Time Directive and the subsequent Regulations, which gives employees/workers 5.6 paid weeks holiday per year (which includes Statutory Bank Holidays) based on full time hours, for part time workers this is pro rata’d. Paid holiday applies to both employees and workers.

However, there is a difference between the two, which says the first 20 days holiday must be paid with all the additions but the rest doesn’t have to. It then becomes even more complicated when you try to work out what the employee is due by way pay. What is their regular pay? Is it calculated to include overtime – guaranteed or non-guaranteed? What about commission? What happens if the employee is on long term sick that crosses over holiday years? These are not easy questions!

Overtime

A few years ago a decision in the Employment Appeal Tribunal changed things and led to back pay for incorrectly calculated holiday pay only being claimed for up to 2 years (it was 6 years).  The case also said that as well as guaranteed overtime, non-guaranteed overtime pay should be included in the holiday pay calculation where it is part of “normal pay” but that a gap of more than 3 months breaks a series of holiday pay underpayments. What is non-guaranteed overtime is still undefined but in essence this is where the Employer is not obliged to offer overtime, but if they do, the employee/worker is obliged to do it. There is then a further complication because the Working Time Directive, which gave all UK employees and workers the right to paid holiday, only gives the right for 20 days paid holiday. The Regulations that followed increased paid holiday to 5.6 weeks. However….  we have a gap between the two –the right to overtime, guaranteed and non-guaranteed applies to the first 20 days holiday not the full 5.6 weeks !


Commission

Then came a more recent case, which established that regular commission payments and allowances, which are “intrinsically linked” to performing the role (such as flying time for pilots), should be included when calculating holiday pay. So, holiday pay should include allowances and commission. Again, this decision applies to the first 20 days holiday under the Working Time Directive not the full 5.6 weeks under the later Regulations. This could change however so watch this space.

Travel Time

The earlier case also decided that travel time, that is not part of the workers usual commute to work should also be considered when calculating holiday pay, but again only applies to the first 20 days not the full 5.6 weeks. So what does that mean. If Fred lives in Bicester but works in Oxford – his normal commute to and from work is not covered. However, if he is then working at a client’s everyday for 12 weeks in London and is paid by the hour, which includes travel time to and from clients, this extra time will need to be included if in week 13 he has some holiday. For example, it may add an extra 11/2 hours pay a day to the calculation.

 

Rolled up holiday pay.

This is deemed unlawful. The premise is that holiday is a health and safety provision so the emphasis is on employees/workers having a break not on them getting paid holiday pay per se.

 

Long term sickness

If an employee/worker is on long term sick then their holiday continues to accrue until they return to work or choose to take it. This then carries over year on year (subject to the 2 year rule above to claim unpaid accrued holiday – although it may also possibly be claimed as a disability discrimination reasonable adjustment but that’s a whole other story!).

 


So how is holiday pay to be calculated?

  • Statutory holiday pay is based on a week’s pay. If there is no set weeks’ pay then:
  • The calculation for annual leave is the average pay earned over a 12-week reference period. This applies to non-regular working patterns and shift patterns. This is over 12 paid weeks so if the person only works two weeks a month you go back for 12 paid weeks, in effect over 24 weeks in this example. If the person has only worked less than 12 weeks, for example 4 weeks, then its calculated based on those 4 weeks. This includes “allowances, overtime, travel time and commission now too!

Many contracts may refer to the employee/worker just getting basic pay for any holiday taken. This can only apply to any holiday over the first 20 days but that may well change. So…. If you give your employees/workers 5.6 weeks pay plus bank holidays you must pay the first 20 days as holiday with overtime (guaranteed and non guaranteed and commission and any travel time etc.) then the rest after the first 20 days can then be based on their contractual terms. However beware  – contract terms can be changed by custom and practice, so if you have always calculated it all on the higher basis you can’t just change it now!

If you have any questions on this or any other areas of HR or employment law please do not hesitate to contact our Natalie Roach on 01869 277692 or Natalie@oakemploymentsolicitors.co.uk

 

 

It’s time to get sharing again !

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As young children we are always encouraged to share our things but now us grown ups can be sharers too! Matt Dredger has developed an innovative way to connect people and get them sharing.

Borroclub is an online platform that allows the public to load up items they are willing to let others to borrow.  They can earn money from this and in turn borrowers can save money.  Matt came up with the idea for Borroclub as he was trying to clear out his garage one day, but couldn’t move for the ladders, tools, roof box and other costly items that were blocking his path.  When he thought about how many times he had actually used each thing he could count it up on just the one hand.

“I was reluctant to get rid of my things as they had cost so much in the first place and might be needed again in the future but I also thought it was quite wasteful.  I was sure that I wasn’t alone in doing this.

The beauty of sharing is that people can try out a product before deciding to invest in it themselves.  Camping is a classic example, where a lot of kit is needed but could be an expensive outlay if your first trip ends up as your last trip.  Or avoid costly purchases altogether by just borrowing an item for the short time that you need it, be it for a DIY job, holiday or even a party,” enthuses Matt.

People have recently borrowed a candy floss machine (great for kids parties or PTA events!) car trailers, and bicycle.

It’s a really simple process you can post your items at no cost and you simply state how much you want per day for your item and a reasonable security deposit value and that’s it.  When somebody wants to borrow the item the borrower pays your fees and small fee to Borroclub and Borroclub holds onto those funds until the item has been returned, only once the owner confirms safe return Borroclub then pays the owner of the item their money and refunds the security deposit.

And best of all it’s tax free due to a recent announcement in the latest budget.

So if you have something sitting around in your home, don’t delay get it on Borroclub and you could be earning some extra cash.  Alternatively if you want something and don’t have it, then take a look at www.borroclub.co.uk and borro it…don’t buy it!

It’s a great idea and importantly it helps our planet by reducing waste by reducing the need to manufacture a new item.

Contact:        Matt Dredger
Position:       Owner
Tel No:          0800 689 0695
Email:               matt@borroclub.co.uk
Facebook:       https://www.facebook.com/borroclub?ref=hl
Twitter:           @borroclub

Free Treatments for Deserving Dads at Amethyst Centre in Coventry

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It’s Fathers Day on Sunday! To celebrate, we at the Centre have decided to give one lucky Deserving Dad a free treatment with us here in Coventry. It’s completely free to enter too!

All you have to do is to tell us your Deserving Dad’s name, why he deserves a free treatment, and your contact details. Just email us at hello@amethystcentre.com or telephone us on 024 7644 0186 by 5pm on Friday.

The lucky Deserving Dad will be contacted on Saturday 18th June and the treatment must be taken at the Amethyst Centre by Friday 1st June.

Treatments available include: Reiki, Angelic Reiki, Atlantean Healing, Crystal Healing, Aromatherapy.

Please spread the word of this beautiful, kind and absolutely FREE offer from our staff to Dads in Coventry!

Oh and one last thing. If you enter the competition, we will send out some distance Reiki healing to everyone who enters, and their Dads too.