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Other Issues

Other Issues

What are the Working Time Regulations?

The basic rights and protections that the Regulations provide are:

  • a limit of an average of 48 hours a week which a worker can be required to work (though workers can choose to work more if they want to).
  • a limit of an average of 8 hours work in 24 which night workers can be required to work.
  • a right for night workers to receive free health assessments.
  • a right to 11 hours rest a day.
  • a right to a day off each week.
  • a right to an in-work rest break if the working day is longer than six hours.
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The basics of holiday rights

There is a minimum right to paid holiday, but your employer may offer more than this. The main things you should know about holiday rights are that:

  • you are entitled to a minimum of 5.6 weeks paid annual leave (28 days for someone working five days a week)
  • part-time workers are entitled to the same level of holiday pro rata (so 5.6 times your usual working week, eg 22.4 days for someone working four days a week)
  • you start building up holiday as soon as you start work
  • your employer can control when you take your holiday
  • you get paid your normal pay for your holiday
  • when you finish a job, you get paid for any holiday you have not taken
  • bank and public holidays can be included in your minimum entitlement
  • you continue to be entitled to your holiday leave throughout your ordinary and additional maternity leave and paternity and adoption leave
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What are the National Minimum wage amounts?

The rates set are based on the recommendations of the independent Low Pay Commission. There are different levels of NMW, depending on your age and whether you are an apprentice. The current rates are:

  • £6.19 - the main rate for workers aged 21 and over
  • £4.98 - the 18-20 rate
  • £3.68 - the 16-17 rate for workers above school leaving age but under 18
  • £2.65 - the apprentice rate, for apprentices under 19 or 19 or over and in the first year of their apprenticeship

The age at which you become entitled to the main rate was reduced from 22 to 21 on 1 October 2010. The apprentice rate was introduced on the same date.

If you are of compulsory school age you are not entitled to the NMW. Some of your other employment rights are also different.

Development rate

The development rate for workers age 22 and over was abolished for pay reference periods starting on or after 1 October 2006. From that date, all workers aged 22 and over who qualify for the national minimum wage will be entitled to the main rate of national minimum wage. This applies even where the worker was previously in receipt of the development rate for those aged 22 and over and had been receiving that rate for less than six months.

Compulsory school age

In England and Wales: a person is no longer of compulsory school age after the last Friday of June of the school year in which their 16th birthday occurs.

In Scotland: pupils whose 16th birthday falls between 1 March and 30 September may not leave before the 31 May of that year. Pupils aged 16 on or between 1 October and the last day of February may not leave until the start of the Christmas holidays in that school year.

In Northern Ireland: a person is no longer of compulsory school age after the 30th June of the school year in which their 16th birthday occurs.

Accommodation offset

If your employer provides you with accommodation, they can count some of its value towards National Minimum Wage (NMW) pay. This is called the accommodation offset. Your employer cannot count more than the accommodation offset rate which is in force at any given time.

From 1 October 2012, the maximum amount your employer can count towards NMW pay as an accommodation offset is:

  • £4.82 a day
  • £33.74 a week

It makes no difference whether:

  • your employer takes rent out of your wages
  • you have to pay rent to your employer after receiving your wages
  • your employer simply provides the accommodation as part of a package

In all cases, the accommodation offset rate is the most your employer can count towards NMW pay. It also makes no difference whether you could have chosen not to occupy the accommodation. If you do choose to occupy it, the accommodation offset applies.

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How does the Data Protection Act (DPA) affect my business?

Click Here to view and download the DPA guide for Small Businesses

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I am a company director, what are my responsibilities?

Every company director has a personal responsibility to ensure that statutory documents are delivered to the Registrar as and when required by the Act. In particular:

  • accounts (only for limited companies);
  • annual returns;
  • notice of change of directors or secretaries or in their particulars; and
  • notice of change of registered office. Find out more
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What details are required on a company's letterhead?

The full company name, registered number, registered office address and place of registration (e.g. registered in England and Wales) must be shown on all business letters, order forms and websites.

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What is the best way to plan for my Retirement?

Everyone hopes to maintain the same standard of living in retirement as they presently enjoy while working, but to achieve this requires considerable forward planning. Here are some important questions you need to ask yourself:

Exit strategies

If you are in business, the first thing you need to consider is your exit strategy. Will you withdraw from the business, leaving it for the next generation, or will you hope to sell the business? If you intend to hand the business over, do you have a workable succession plan? If you intend to sell, how will you value the business, find a suitable buyer, etc.? Are you aware of all the tax implications of the timing of disposals?

Savings and investments

Do you have the right balance between savings and investments, and between high and low risk exposures?

Life assurance and long-term care

Do you have adequate life assurance, and have you made provision for long-term care and medical insurance for you and your spouse in your later years.

We can help you answer all these questions and recommend solutions tailored to your particular needs.

Pension provision

Have you made adequate pension provision, and do you have the right type of pension? Are you aware of all the pension possibilities open to business owners and directors? Are you making full use of all your allowances?

Estate planning

Not a pleasant thought, but we must make adequate provision for family and friends who survive us. The legislation that governs passing on your estate to your chosen beneficiaries requires you to plan well in advance.

Since none of us knows when we shall die, this means making the necessary provisions now. The earlier you make the arrangements, the greater your chance of taking full advantage of the tax opportunities available and thereby maximizing the amount that goes to your beneficiaries. After all, the thought that a substantial slice of the wealth you have worked so hard to accumulate will end up in the Government's coffers is quite demoralizing!

It is equally important when planning to transfer your estate that you make adequate provision for yourself and your spouse in your later years. Striking this balance calls for considerable skill and foresight - and a detailed knowledge of the tax regime.

We provide a discrete estate planning service that includes:

  • Help with drafting and reviewing your will
  • Making full use of exemptions and lower tax rates on lifetime transfers
  • Optimising lifetime transfers between spouses
  • Transferring business property
  • Transferring assets into trust
  • Arranging adequate life assurance to cover potential inheritance tax liabilities
  • We strongly advise you to begin your estate planning right away
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