Tuesday, 28 April 2015

Is employers liability insurance legally required?

What is employers liability insurance?

Employers’ liability insurance protects employers from liabilities such as staff illness or injury at work.

Is employers liability insurance legally required?

A recent survey on 1,507 SME's from Aviva has revealed that 11% or 1 in 10 SME's are unaware that employers' liability insurance is a legal requirement. Further results showed that SME's only believed it was only a legal requirement if the business had more than 1 employee. In addition to this, figures from the Health and Safety Executive suggested that employers without the liability insurance are at “risk of fines of £2,500 for every day the business is not properly insured”.

Out of the 1,507 SME's studied, 29% were confident they had the right cover whilst 12% admitted to not having any business insurance at all. Aviva also went on to discover that the priority of having business insurance differed depending on how long the business had been running. A quarter of SME's who have been operating for less than a year, had no insurance, whilst 5% of businesses which have been operating for around 8-10 years had none.

The managing director of commercial lines at Aviva, Angus Eaton has argued that "SMEs need a strong understanding of their legal obligations and how they can protect their business and employees to keep it trading. One claim without adequate cover could easily be enough to put severe financial pressure on an organisation or even close it down completely.”

Looking to protect your business should a claim arise?

MTA Business Legal Advance is an upfront membership club which allows you to protect your business and access immediate legal assistance when you need it most. Your business could encounter a legal issues at any time, whether it be an HR issue, employment contract or trading dispute, a regulatory, property management or office premises problem.

Who would you call for immediate legal assistance? How would you pay?

With MTA Business Legal Advance membership you have instant access to legal advice across all our services and peace of mind that your costs will be less if you need to use a Solicitor.

Find out more at business.legal-advance.co.uk or simply call us 0208 437 0880.

Wednesday, 22 April 2015

Landlords to register deposits or risk facing a fine

Buy-to-let investors have until the 23rd June to register for an official deposit scheme or face a fine of £3,600. Thousands of landlords could face a penalty if they fail to register their tenants deposits. This warning comes as the government runs a 90 day amnesty for buy-to-let investors who have not put theirs tenants deposits into an official scheme.

If a landlord fails to register by the 23rd June, the fine will be unlimited. The fine is calculated by tripling the initial deposit. The average initial tenant deposit is £1,200. Despite legislation enforced in 2007, it is estimated that around 1 in 3 of the 1.5 million private landlords in England and Wales, are not registered with a deposit protection service.

It is important to note however that not all landlords fall under this scope of legislation. For instance, arrangements which are different to a tenancy, including lodgers and university lets are excluded. All landlords which have an 'assured short hold tenancy' agreement must register with a government backed scheme.

As well as potentially receiving a penalty fare due to a failure to register, landlords will also face being powerless if the tenant wishes to leave at the end of their contract. This is also the case if the tenant wished to raise a dispute with the landlord.

Introduced in April 2007, deposit protection was set up as a compulsory scheme eight years ago to mediate disputes at the end of the tenancy.

Richard Lambert of the National Landlords Association has suggested that "there are now a large number of deposits that need protecting despite not previously needing to be, and it’s likely that many landlords won’t even be aware of what they need to do". In addition to this, he has also highlighted that "landlords who still hold a deposit should protect it if they haven't already done so, which will ensure that you can legally regain possession of a property [if you need to]." 

Do I need to register with a deposit scheme?

Buy-to-let properties which have an 'assured short hold tenancy' contract in place should have the tenants deposit protected within a government approved scheme. There are however certain exceptions such as a university hall of residence or a lodger renting a room in the landlord's home.

Landlords have 30 days from receiving the deposit to register it with one of the following:
  • Deposit Protection Service
  • MyDeposits
  • Tenancy Deposit Scheme
In the case of a dispute between landlord and tenant, the deposit will be protected in the scheme until the issue is sorted out.

Tuesday, 14 April 2015

Employment law changes for 2015

Commencing April this year significant changes will be made to employment law in the UK. Specific changes will apply to family leave. As an employer and an employee, here are the main main changes you will need to be aware of.

Shared parental leave

If you are expecting a child on or after the 5th April 2015, a shared parental leave and pay will be available. SPL enables the mother to take the first two weeks off after the birth. The rest of the mothers leave and pay can then be shared between the parents, either in turns or at the same time. This equates to 50 weeks leave and 37 paid leave available to be shared.

Additional paternity leave

Additional paternity leave has been replaced by SPL where the child is expected on or after the 5th April 2015.

Adoption leave

Adoption pay has increased to match maternity pay. The main adopter will now receive 90% of pay for 6 weeks and then the basic rate for 33 weeks. Adoptive parents are no longer required to have 26 weeks service in order to benefit from adoption leave and pay.

A single adopter will also be able to attend up to 5 adoption appointments as payable. However with joint adopters, one parent will be able to attend up to 5 appointments with pay, whilst the other parent can attend 2 appointments unpaid. Each appointment can last up to 6.5 hours. Adoptive parents are also entitled to SPL.

Surrogate parents

Prior to this change, surrogate parents had no rights to any statutory leave or pay. However, from 5th April 2015, the main new parent in the surrogacy arrangement will be able to take adoption pay and leave. Both parents will also be able to take SPL. The birth mother retains the right to maternity leave and pay.

Extended parental leave

Parents with 1 year's employment are entitled to up to 18 weeks of unpaid leave, if the child is under the age of 18. This right also applies to adoptive parents.

Tribunal awards

Tribunal compensation limits have risen in line with inflation. The maximum compensatory award for an unfair dismissal is £78,335 or 52 weeks pay if less. Awards for a weeks pay for unfair dismissal and statutory redundancy payments will increase to £475. The maximum basic award or statutory redundancy payment will increase to £14,250.

Statutory payment rates

As from the 5th April, statutory adoption, paternity, additional paternity and shared parental pay will be £139.58 per week.  From 6 April, statutory sick pay will be £88.45 per week.

If you would like any further information or advice regarding changes to employment law simply visit us online or call us on 0208 437 0731 to speak with one of our employment law experts.

Tuesday, 7 April 2015

Small Business, Enterprise and Employment Act

Small Business, Enterprise and Employment Act is the first ever SBEE Act to become an official law after receiving Royal Assent. This Act will enable businesses to get improved access to finance and put an end to zero hours exclusivity clauses.

Business secretary Vince Cable has suggested that "The Small Business Act will create the right environment for small businesses to continue to thrive by giving them greater access to finance to help them innovate and grow, and make it easier for them to export goods and services made in Britain." Cable has also argued that the Act means that firms that do not play by the rules will not be able to hide. This will mean that companies will not be able to abuse zero hour contracts or not pay minimum wage.

The Act focuses on the following key areas:

  • Access to finance
  • Regulatory reform
  • Public sector procurement
  • Childcare and schooling
  • Company transparency
  • Company filing requirements
  • Directors’ disqualification
  • Insolvency
  • Employment
  • Pubs Code Adjudicator and Pubs Code
  • Education evaluation
The Act now means that when businesses try to access finance, banks are required to pass on details on any small or medium sized business they decline for a loan to online platforms. This will then mean that they can be matched with other alternative finance providers.

In addition to this, Business Minister Matthew Hancock has added that "the bill had taken radical action on prompt payment to end the late payment culture where the largest companies will now have to report on payment practices twice a year." As a result, this Act will enable businesses to start up more easily and grow more rapidly than before.

The Small Business, Enterprise and Employment Act 2015 was passed on 27 March.

Thursday, 2 April 2015

What you need to consider when making a Will

When it comes to making or in some cases changing your Will, there are many things you need to consider. Discussing your Will with a qualified solicitor will also help you to ensure that your estate goes to exactly to who you want it to after your death. Prior to seeing your solicitor you should perhaps consider the following:

Who are the executors and trustees of your Will?

Always think carefully about who you would like to be your executor and trustees to your Will.

An executor is responsible for dealing with your affairs and implementing the terms of your Will. Your executor is also usually appointed to be trustee of your assets whilst your affairs are still being sorted. Full names and addresses should be given to your solicitor.

Do you have any children?

If you have any children under the age of 16, you should consider carefully as to who is going to look after them should you pass away. Guardians can also be appointed in your Will. Full names and addresses should be given to your solicitor.

Do you want to give any specific gifts or items?

Always consider whether you would like to gift money or a specific item to a particular person named in your Will. Make a list of the items and the amount of money you would like to gift as well as the names of the beneficiaries. Please note that all these details should be given to the solicitor.

Whats going to happen to your residuary estate?

The residuary estate is the remainder of your assets/property once any liabilities have been paid off as well as when any gifts or money have been given. Always give careful consideration as to who you would like to receive this. If you are intending to give to a minor child, any funds will need to be held in a trust by your chosen executor until they reach a particular age. This is usually between 18 and 25.

How much inheritance tax needs to be paid?

It is important to note that the current inheritance tax threshold is £325,000, although there are exemptions and reliefs available which can help reduce the amount of tax payable. Make a list of your assets and their value. This list should be given to your solicitor so that they can advise you on the best way to reduce inheritance tax.

Register you Will

Once your Will has been signed and dated, you should ask your solicitor about registering your Will. Once your Will is registered, it will protect you should it get accidentally lost or destroyed.

Where can I store my Will safely?

It is very important to store your Will in a safe place. Your executors should also be aware as to where your Will is being stored.

If you are thinking of storing your Will, we would suggest an online option as it will protect you should your home flood or should you become a victim of theft. My Online Vault is a fully secure, protected and interactive document management system where you store your documents online within your own online vault. Find out more here.

Do I need to review my Will?

Yes it is recommended that you review your Will at least every 3 years, although this should be done more frequently should your family or financial circumstances change. Depending on your situation a Will can either be changed via a codicil or it may need to be renewed altogether. Your solicitor will be able to advise you on this and what is best for your situation.

Do you want to leave money to charity?

Through your Will you can leave gifts to your chosen charity. Anything left to charity is exempt from inheritance tax. Whatever your charity, make sure it is clear in your Will and your solicitor is made aware.

If your thinking of making a Will, MTA Solicitors can help you! To find out how our dedicated team of Wills and probate solicitors can help you with your Will or protecting your estate simply click here. Alternatively, you can call us on 0208 437 0731.

Tuesday, 31 March 2015

The importance of ‘terms and conditions’ in business

Many small businesses and startups feel that setting out good terms and conditions is not a priority. However, getting it right can ensure that your businesses cash flow stays healthy. When starting a business, the never-ending list of things to do can seem daunting, leaving many elements to go unnoticed. Many startups focus on ensuring that their product is market ready, sourcing customers and marketing the product. Sorting out terms and conditions is definitely not at the top of the to-do list.

However neglecting this vital step in your to-do list can impact your cash flow through delayed payments as well as having to pay for materials before you have even taken any payments. The long-term effect of this could lead to unnecessary money and time being spent on debt collections.

Late payments within small business are now a common occurrence as customers often deprioritise bills from smaller companies. However with the right terms and conditions in place, your business can be assured that it gets paid first. Getting your terms and conditions right equals no more excuses!

Protecting your business is essential. Terms and conditions should be specific and never vague to avoid uncertainty and any misunderstandings. Covering yourself will help to ensure that clients have no opportunity to go back on their word.  Putting your terms and conditions in writing is an absolute must! Without any written agreement, there is no proof and without proof late payments can occur.

The founder of Enterprise Nation, Emma Jones has argued that “essentially, having terms and conditions protects you as a business. Terms and conditions certainly have an important role to play when it comes to two parties (customer/supplier, joint venture partners) understanding their duties, rights, roles and responsibilities."

So what should terms and conditions include?

Emma Jones also goes on to state that terms and conditions can also save a lot of money by addressing all issues at the outset. This in turn avoids disputes later on about what might or might not have been agreed." Points which should be included in your businesses terms and condition vary depending on your type of business, however you should consider including:

·         Clear description of products/services provided

·         Setting out late payment terms (deadlines)

·         Guarantees/warranties offered

·         Delivery times

·         Queries?

·         What happens if either party fail to deliver, pay or terminate contract

·         Terms of the agreement

·         Notice required

·         Law governing the contract

It is important to note that there is no legal requirement to include terms and conditions on your company’s invoices. However many print their terms on the back to avoid any potential disputes or late payments.

If you have an existing business or are a startup, LawStore Business can help you! LawStore Business provides legal packages for businesses at affordable prices. Our cost effective, fixed fee solutions enable business to focus on their marketing and customers while we do the rest.
Our packages can also be bespoke and tailored to your business’s needs. Our services include:

·         Terms and conditions
·         Privacy policy
·         Contract of sale
·         Company formation
·         Legal advice

If you are a medium, large sized or fast growth company that needs more extensive assistance, our team can work with you to put together a bespoke, fixed fee package tailored to you and your business. To find out more about making a tailor made package for you and your business simply call us on 0845 603 6544 or contact us online today!

If you would prefer to use one of our existing packages simply click here.

Tuesday, 24 March 2015

Compensation: Airlines threatened with legal action

Three of some of the biggest airlines could end up in court if they fail to 'shape up' over flight delay claims. Legal action could soon be taken against the airlines Jet2, Wizz Air and Aer Lingus who are not abiding by consumer law. This threat comes as the above airlines fail in the handling of passengers affected by flight disruption. As well as failing to alter their policies despite extensive discussions, according to the Civil Aviation Authority.

The CAA, has claimed that both Jet2 and Wizz Air have "failed to satisfy the regulator that they are consistently paying compensation for disruption caused by technical faults, despite a Court of Appeal ruling clarifying that airlines must do so."

In addition to this, the CAA has also claimed that the same two airlines are also imposing a 2 year time limit on passengers who wish to take a compensation claim to court. This is despite the Court of Appeal ruling that passengers should receive up to 6 years in order to make a claim in court.

Further failures also exist with Jet2 and Aer Lingus who have failed to give satisfactory evidence that they 'proactively' provide passengers with information regarding their rights when disruption occurs. The information provided to customers regarding flight disruption should be in line with the requirements set out in the European regulation.

If these airlines fail to comply, the CAA will launch enforcement action and will seek a court order against them. However, Jet2 have suggested that these claims are 'materially inaccurate' and that "Jet.com is paying compensation for disruption caused by technical faults in line with the landmark Huzar ruling and have already confirmed this to the CAA." Compensation received by passengers is up to 400 euros (£289) per a person, with the average fare equating to £80.

In addition to this a spokeswoman added, "Airlines are entitled to limit to two years the period in which claims can be made by contractual limitations and these have been upheld by the court on a number of occasions. Jet2.com strictly abides by court decisions and is acting in accordance with the law, not contrary to it. No enforcement action has been taken. The CAA is obligated to consult with Jet2.com before considering enforcement action. This process has not started. Given the misapprehensions of the CAA, Jet2.com expects that following the mandatory consultation process the CAA will not wish to take the matter any further."

This failure to comply with consumer law comes as passengers who suffer with long delays bare witness to airlines employing various tactics in order to avoid paying out compensation. Rather than airlines admitting to a technical fault, many passengers will receive a letter stating that the delay was caused by a 'hidden manufacturing defect'. Others have argued that they are simply ignored by airlines who fail to give a response.

Under EU Regulation 261/2004, passengers are entitled to £465 in compensation if their flights lands more than 3 hours late. However, claims cannot be made due to 'extraordinary circumstances' such as bad weather or crew strikes.

Prior to this change, airlines would refuse to pay out for delays caused by a technical fault. However last year, 2 Supreme Court rulings and a 6 year legal battles opened the floodgates to 2 million holidaymakers to make claims. As a result, the court declared that airlines should pay out when a delay is caused by a technical fault. This change could see airlines fitting a bill of around £3.89 billion for cases dating back 6 years.

If your thinking of making a claim for a delayed or cancelled flight, MTA Solicitors can help you! At MTA Solicitors we have experts in travel compensation who can help put things in motion for you. Know your rights and get refunded. We work on a No Win No Fee basis for flight compensation claims.

To find out more simply visit us online today or call us on 0208 313 7804 to speak with a member of our civil litigation team.