June 2018 - MLP Law

The World Cup: Goals For Employers

Just when we thought the football season was over, from Thursday 14 June until Sunday 15 July the 2018 World Cup will be taking place in Russia.

Whilst the majority of the England matches are scheduled to take place from 7 pm on a weekday, there is no doubt many employees will want to be a part of the action and therefore employers need to consider the morning after and employees that work evening shifts. So what can employers do to avoid disruption?

  1. Decide what approach you are going to take

Firstly, decide whether you want to take a formal or informal approach towards employees watching or listening to the matches. Set out in advance your position on any special arrangements for viewing events during work time.

June and July is usually a busy period for employees taking holidays, added to the fact that some employees will want to take time off to watch the World Cup. Employers should consider how they are going to deal with the spike in annual leave requests.

Employers may wish to take a more informal approach and allow decisions to be made at a departmental level, depending on how this will disrupt the department.

  1. Consider flexible arrangements

Employers may want to consider allowing employees to work flexibly, such as allowing them to leave earlier if they come into work earlier. Another option would be to allow for a longer lunch if a match kicks off at 1 pm in exchange for employees working an hour later.

  1. Special arrangements during matches

For matches occurring during working hours, employers could consider making an event of a particular match, for example, allowing games to be shown on communal TV’s, allowing employees to listen to the coverage via radio’s or through their own devices. This may not be possible in every workplace but it may boost staff morale and productivity.

  1. Beware of discrimination risks

World Cup fever can lead to heightened workplace banter. Employers should make employees aware that racism or hostile remarks about a particular country will not be tolerated and will be dealt with under the Company’s disciplinary process. In advance of the tournament, employers should make employees aware of the standards of behaviour expected of them.

Further, employers should be aware that if they offer special arrangements for England fans, then they should also offer the same arrangements to fans from other countries.

  1. Deal with disciplinary issues that arise

Make employees aware of the consequences of calling in sick illegitimately or attending work intoxicated or hungover. Employers should deal with incidents that warrant disciplinary action on a case by case basis.

Employers can use the World Cup as an opportunity to boost employee engagement and morale and careful consideration by employers can avoid headaches whilst the tournament takes place.

If you have any questions about the content of any of this guide, please contact a member of our Employment, HR and Business Immigration team by emailing: employment@mlplaw.co.uk. Alternatively, please call 0161 926 9969.

Don’t forget to follow us on Twitter for important news and updates @HRGuruUK.

Worker or Self-employed? EAT find Addison Lee cyclists to be workers and not self-employed

The latest high profile case brought by individuals challenging the so called “gig economy” has been decided, and again, it has gone against the company concerned, this time Addison Lee. This follows the recent decision in the City Sprint case, which was brought on similar grounds.

“Gig economy” jobs are those in which companies, typically in courier or delivery industries, engage the people who work for them on a job-by-job basis and class them as self-employed. This practice denies the individuals certain key employment rights such as national minimum wage, sick pay and holiday pay.

In this latest case of Addison Lee Ltd v Gascoigne, the Employment Appeal Tribunal (EAT) upheld the Employment Tribunal’s decision that their cyclist couriers are workers and not self-employed contractors. This follows a number of other high profile worker status cases brought against companies such as Uber and Deliveroo and enforces the trend for tribunals to favour worker status.

The EAT made this finding despite the fact that there was a clause in the contract between the individuals and Addison Lee that said the couriers were under “no obligation to provide the services to Addison Lee or any customer at any time for a minimum number of hours’ and that there is ‘no obligation on Addison Lee to provide you with a minimum amount of work, or any work at all’.

On the basis of this clause, Addison Lee argued that its couriers were  not workers because they were under no legal obligation to work, they could decide whether or not to accept jobs presented to them and there were no real consequences if the couriers did not accept jobs.

The EAT disagreed and decided that when the courier is logged in to the Addison Lee app to seek work there is mutuality of obligation and a contract is in place between the courier and Addison Lee including an obligation for them to offer work and for the courier to accept it.

The Employment Tribunal was able to reach this finding because it has the power to look beyond the contractual documentation and consider the reality of how working relationships operate in practice. In this case, the Employment Tribunal placed particular emphasis on the control Addison Lee had over the couriers.

Does this mean all couriers are now workers?  

It is important to remember that all employment status cases are decided on the individual facts of the case at hand. This does not mean that all couriers will be classed as workers. The tribunal will consider the details of each arrangement and how it works in practice. A key factor, in this case, was that Addison Lee couriers could not provide a substitute whereas, in a previous case, Deliveroo couriers could, meaning that Deliveroo couriers were more likely to be considered as self-employed.

The issue of employment status is due to be reviewed by the Supreme Court in a case brought against Pimlico Plumbers. It is likely that the judgment will provide new guidance on the law. In 2017 the Taylor Review into modern working practices made recommendations and highlighted the issues around what constitutes self-employed.

If you think your business may be affected by this decision, our employment team would be happy to discuss with you further. Please contact us on 0161 926 9969 or by email at employment@mlplaw.co.uk.

Summer is here: 5 Employment issues all employers face over summer

Summer has landed and temperatures are set to soar. But as employers know, summer can bring with it a number of employment issues. We’ve set out the 5 most common below:

1. Competing Holiday Requests
Employers are generally not under an obligation to agree to requests from employees to take holidays at a specific time. If employees submit competing holiday requests, managers should prioritise these in a way which is fair and consistent. The simplest way to do this is to deal with them on a first come first served basis.
To avoid holiday requests on short notice, employers should make it clear that holiday requests must be made with sufficient notice, as set out in a specific holiday policy or the contract of employment.

2. Unauthorised Time Off
What if an employee requests holiday that is rejected but takes time off anyway or an employee pulls a sickie to have a day in the sun? Employers should not jump to conclusions but should instead carry out an investigation to establish the reason for the absence. If there is no credible explanation, disciplinary action may be justified.

3. Office Temperature
The Workplace (Health, Safety and Welfare) Regulations 1992 state that office temperatures should be reasonable. There is no maximum temperature and a reasonable temperature depends on the work place and work carried out by the employees.

4. Dress Code
Employers may wish to adopt a more relaxed dress code during the summer months, particularly if temperatures soar. How relaxed this is will depend on the roles performed. If an employee is in a customer facing role, a certain level of presentation will need to be maintained. Likewise, employers will need to consider health and safety where employees are required to wear protective clothing, irrespective of the temperature. As always, employers should also ensure they treat all groups of employees fairly and equally.

5. Summer Work Experience
Summer is a time when many employers offer work experience opportunities to youngsters and those who are of compulsory school age who do not need to be paid. However, you still need to be mindful of your obligations, particularly in relation to health and safety. Employers may also need to obtain approvals from the relevant local authority or school governing body before a child takes part in any work experience.

If you would like to discuss any issues raised in this blog, please feel free to get in touch with our Employment Law experts by telephone on 0161 926 9969, email on employment@mlplaw.co.uk and don’t forget to follow us on Twitter @HRGuruUK.

A coffee with Stephen Attree

The legal industry has experienced a period of flux in recent years, all thanks to technological advances, an increasingly savvy client base and non-traditional alternatives appearing on the market.

As such, MLP Law are challenging the way legal services are delivered. They realise it’s no longer enough to be legally minded and technically excellent. Clients need business advisors who can understand their business and work with them at each stage of their business journey. This new approach has already benefitted many of MLP Law’s clients.

In this interview, Managing Partner, Stephen Attree, explains why MLP Law are different and what they are doing to ensure they stay one step ahead and how they are consistently looking to improve the service their clients receive.

  1. How is the legal industry changing?

“As technology and communication methods are changing the way our clients do business is changing, technology is enabling and demanding that we work in different ways with our clients. Clients rightly expect professional advisers who are accessible, responsive and provide plain, straight forward advice.

This is why we created MLP Flex, a bespoke offering providing legal services to businesses and business owners on a retained, fixed agreed monthly fee. Doing away with hourly charges, as we understand that the needs of a business changes as it grows and evolves.

At MLP, our growth is coming from a number of different areas, though predominantly in linking our day to day work with clients to their longer term goals and objectives. Our approach means we connect and do more for existing clients. New clients that we engage with appreciate the different approach we take, which is based on building long term sustainable relationships.”

  1. What are MLP doing to change it?

“We take the time at the start of our relationships to understand clients longer term ambitions and goals. This enables us to set out a long term programme of support, covered under a tailored retainer model that works for the client. The benefits of MLP Flex are that it gives businesses certainty, by having lawyers at the end of the phone to support whatever immediate needs they may have, working to longer term goals, without having to worry about additional costs and charges. No nasty surprises.

We’ve invested in providing new services such as Building and Construction legal support and Business Immigration, having identified additional need from our clients in these areas. In addition our teams are growing across Dispute Resolution, Employment and HR, Corporate and Commercial and Private Client (wills, trusts and wealth planning).”

  1. What is the feedback from business leaders?

“The flexibility of our MLP Flex model is very well received. Understandably some clients still utilise the one-off ‘as you go’ model though we’re finding more and more businesses and business leaders are choosing MLP Flex as they benefit from the certainty provided.

MLP Flex clients tell us they value that they can simply pick up the phone and speak to a lawyer with relevant experience, without worrying about cost. This helps them to be better informed and supports quicker decision making, nipping potential issues in the bud quickly and effectively.

We believe that we’ll never leave a client with a problem, we’ll always offer a solution.”

  1. Is it really different?

“Yes, we believe it is. A truly client focussed approach – we don’t just pay lip service to it, we practice and demonstrate the client is front and centre of everything we do. We’ve removed barriers between teams, as the client doesn’t need to be, and isn’t, interested in internal processes to monitor team and individual billings (that exist in every other law firm) – they want the right advice provided at the right time by the right people.

That’s what a tailor made solution under MLP flex provides.”

  1. How does it work?

“From the first introductory meeting and throughout our relationship with the client, we’re learning about them to understand what their medium and long term goals are. We work with clients to agree where they are currently on their journey to allow us to work with them to plan out the next steps. We have a range of proprietary tools that help us assess clients immediate, medium and long term needs – fully aligned with their goals.

We work with clients to keep them up to date, on a regular basis which helps keep their business on track. Using whichever methods they prefer – either our client portal, telephone, video calls, emails, meetings – we seek to deliver what is needed, when it is needed it and how they need it.”

  1. How do you believe the development of AI (Artificial Intelligence) will affect the legal services sector?

“Clients tell us that they want legal advice aligned to their business. That takes not only a good understanding of the company and its goals and issues but also sound commercial acumen of the legal team. Yes AI is changing and shaping the way some legal services are delivered but that won’t replace real people providing proactive, relevant and easy to apply advice, people who can guide clients along the way is what helps businesses get on with their core competencies to reach their ambitions – and that’s what MLP Flex does.”

  1. How does your recruitment process support your company vision?

“We invest significant time and resource into understanding the values of our people and how they relate to enabling superior service for our clients – MLP people are immersed in commerce, understanding the business environment our clients operate in. By approaching their work with enthusiasm, and the belief that they strive to provide the highest level of service (amazing their clients with speed of response, following through and doing what they promise to do) and, yes, they know their stuff of course!”

To find out more about MLP Flex and how it could benefit your business , get in touch with MLP Law today on 0161 926 9969 or email hello@mlplaw.co.uk you find out more about MLP Law and MLP Flex by visiting our website www.mlplaw.co.uk

The Importance of Health and Welfare Lasting Powers of Attorney

A Lasting Power of Attorney (LPA) is a legal document that allows any individual to choose a trusted friend, relative or professional to act on their behalf as an attorney to make decisions about important matters if the individual loses capacity. There are two different types of LPA; one for Health and Welfare matters, and one for Property and Financial Affairs. It is really important for everyone to think about having both types of LPAs.

The practical benefits of having an LPA for Property and Financial Affairs are that it gives greater flexibility for your attorneys to set up direct debits to pay bills, manage bank accounts, deal with investments or deal with the paperwork associated with the sale of a property. Lots of people initially feel cautious about signing an LPA for Property and Financial Affairs, but the attorney will only be able to deal with the finances if they have clear instructions from you or if a doctor says you lack capacity.
LPAs for Health and Welfare are equally as important, if not more so. People often think that your next of kin have the right to make decisions about your Health and Welfare, but this is not the case. Your attorneys are the only people with the legal right to make decisions about your Health and Welfare and, in the absence of an LPA for Health and Welfare, Doctors will be able to make overriding decisions that your family may not agree are in your best interests

You must have an LPA appointing your husband, wife, civil partner, children or other family members as attorneys to ensure that they can carry out your wishes in relation to Health and Welfare matters if you ever lose capacity. This will cover a wide range of decisions including what medical treatment you receive, who looks after you, whether you move into a care home and even more day to day matters such as what you eat or wear.

The LPA for Health and Welfare also includes a specific instruction relating to life sustaining treatment. It is very important to think about this because the Court of Protection has recently ruled that Doctors do not require legal permission to end care for patients in a permanent vegetative state. This means that if doctors believe that it is in the individual’s best interests to stop care (including removal of food and drink), and if there is no attorney appointed, then Doctors could withdraw treatment without consulting with the Court even if that is not what your family would want to happen for you.

Doctors and Nurses are faced with people lacking capacity on a daily basis. It has become increasingly difficult for them to check every decision relating to Health and Welfare with family members. This is may be due to lack of time, resources, urgency or if there are complex family relationships. Doctors and Nurses will therefore be able to make decisions without checking with family members (including spouses) about Health and Welfare. It is therefore essential that you have an LPA in place appointing your next of kin as attorneys for Health and Welfare to ensure that they carry out your wishes if you ever lose capacity.

Taking Altrincham into the Future

As Altrincham goes from strength to strength, MLP Law are pleased to be active members of Altrincham’s BID program, through our Head of Finance Operations Director Leanne Sodergren becoming a BID Ambassador.
In this post Leanne explains what it means for her and MLP Law to be involved in Altrincham BID;

What is the BID?

Altrincham BID is Altrincham’s Business Improvement District. There are over 200 BIDs operating around the UK, from small shopping parades to city centres. The first BID started in 2005 and is still running. In Altrincham, the BID was voted for by the local businesses in the area of which there are over 500. Each business pays a levy and it has a 5-year term before having to be voted for again.

Over the last 15 years that I have been working in MLP, I have seen the town centre decline but now a combination of factors, such as major investment in the Interchange, improvements to public realm, the revamped Altrincham Market and the BID (now in its third year), there have been massive improvements. Altrincham has a great high street, independent retailers, bars and of course the buzzling Market House. The BID also put together events to bring new customers into the town centre and together, this combination of factors really have put Altrincham on the map!

Why did you become an Ambassador?

The BID plays a key role in Altrincham and I wanted to see how I could get involved. Altrincham is once again an area to be proud of, somewhere I can take clients/suppliers out for a meal/drink etc. I want to be a real part of this and as an Ambassador and Director at MLP, I really want to push the importance of the BID to all businesses in the area expressing just how they can help the town thrive and grow.

The 3 main areas BID are working on is:

  • Experience Altrincham – Giving more reasons to visit and creating a strong and stylish consumer identity for Altrincham; delivering a high quality cultural offer through events and festivals to attract and retain visitors;
  • Business Altrincham – Improving working life for businesses in Altrincham; creating a responsible business community that can influence change in the town through proactive leadership;
  • Rediscovering Altrincham – Putting the heart back into Altrincham to ensure that shoppers and local residents feel welcome in the town and to provide them with reasons to keep coming back.
What it means for MLP and the local area?

By having a town to be proud of, it will help us to attract and retain talented lawyers and legal support staff, improve safety and provide great transport links for both our staff and visitors.

Who else is involved?

I attend an Ambassadors meeting once a month which predominantly represents the professional services, along with representatives from 14 other businesses in Altrincham, including Randalls; Altrincham and Sale Chamber of Commerce; Marks and Spencer; Santander; Traders Tiki Bar & The Green Room; Stamford Quarter Shopping Centre.