Posted by Hillary Griffin

Tax Manager - DSG

Thu 08th, Oct

Making the most of the Annual Investment Allowance

The Annual Investment Allowance (“AIA”) was introduced in 2008 to give businesses 100% relief for certain types of capital expenditure in the year of acquisition. In subsequent years the level of the Allowance has fluctuated from £25,000 to £500,000, which has made it difficult for businesses to know how much tax relief they will obtain when planning major capital expenditure projects. In the Summer Budget in July, George Osborne announced that the AIA would be reduced from £500,000 to £200,000 from 1 January 2016, but would then remain unchanged for the life of this Parliament.

What expenditure qualifies?

The AIA may claimed on the following types of expenditure:
 Plant and equipment.
 Commercial vehicles.
 Fixtures and fittings.
 Integral features of a building, such as; heating and electrical systems, air conditioning and cold water installation.

Expenditure on cars does not qualify, nor does expenditure on structural alterations to a building.

What happens if my business’s year end is not 31 December?

If the business’s year end is 31 December, the transition to the new rate of AIA is straightforward, as the AIA for the year to 31 December 2015 will be £500,000 and for the year to 31 December 2016, £200,000.

However, if, for example, the year end is 31 March, a time apportionment calculation is necessary:

9 months to 31 December 2015 £500,000 * 9/12 £375,000
3 months to 31 March 2016 £200,000 * 3/12 £50,000
AIA for the year £425,000

Does it matter when the expenditure is incurred?

Yes, it does, and this is where planning will be beneficial. Whilst the business could spend £425,000 in the 9 months to 31 December 2015 and claim AIA on the full amount, it can only spend £50,000 in the 3 months to 31 March. If the business has not yet used its AIA for the period, but plans significant capital expenditure in the next few months, it will be worth advancing the expenditure so that is before 31 December.

Expenditure is treated as incurred when it is invoiced, provided that there are no extended credit terms. There are special rules for hire purchase contracts and further advice should be sought if expenditure on hire purchase is being made close to 31 December.

For more tax tips and help with any further issues

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Phil Bird from The PC Support Group gives his top tips on preventing slow computers

Posted by Phil Bird

Managing Director, The PC Support Group

Thu 08th, Oct

Do you have slow computers, frustrating you/your staff; affecting productivity and therefore profitability? Want a quick, simple, cheap or free tip to make them run faster?

The two most common causes of slowdown are:

•  Every time you/a member of staff loads a program, file, or webpage, the PC’s software registry is updated with new instructions needed to operate that item. However, when the item is removed, these instructions usually remain on the PC causing significant slow down.

•  Spyware and viruses that are loaded on your computer without your knowledge/permission.

You probably know you should never download screensavers, emoticons, films, etc from unknown sources; nor open any email attachments unless you know and trust the sender 100%.

Unfortunately – this also applies to software sold online that purports to “Clean Up” your PC” and makes claims like “literally only takes 5 minutes”, “Your computer instantly restored and automatic system clean-ups keep it running like new”, “protect you against viruses and attack from malicious files, ensuring it runs smoothly all of the time”.

Read what SafeBro.com say about one such TYPICAL download …

“Nasty rogue infection that works as a double agent. On one hand, it pretends to be a powerful system optimization and antivirus software that would fix your computer, but, in reality, it brings in viruses and steals your money.  Associated with cyber crooks who create fake programs to trick users. Once this software is installed, it alerts you of several viruses detected on your machine (even if there is no virus). After a while, it will force you to buy the full/professional version in order to remove the viruses from your computer. That is the actual target of this nasty program. We recommend you to uninstall as soon as possible and do not purchase it on any condition. Please note: Manual removal may cause damages to your system if you do any mistake. Use this method only if you understand what you are about to do”.

Not a great picture is it?

It may cost a little more to ensure you use the right software to protect your systems and use qualified, knowledgeable engineers to resolve problems but ultimately it could save you thousands or even save your business.

At The PC Support Group, every computer we look after is subject to a remote weekly health check that includes:

•   Spyware protection and Anti-Virus check

•   Check for early warning signs of problems

•   Removal of unnecessary temporary files that can choke your system

•   Organisation of disk drives to prevent your computers from slowing down

Call us on 03300 886116 if you want your business critical IT System to be in SAFE hands! We’re here to help!

Want to find out more about keeping your PC protected?

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Posted by Jonathan Davies

MJF Accountancy Ltd

  • T: 0151 724 3960
Thu 01st, Oct

I was recently lucky enough to attend an event with Chris Hoy who, with 6 gold medals, is Great Britain’s most successful ever Olympian. He told us his story and there were lots of areas that can be applied by business owners.

I want to be Olympic champion

For me, the most useful was his discussion on goals and planning. When he was 16, the coach at his cycling club asked all the cyclists what their goals were. Despite not being the best cyclist in his country, city, or even the club, Chris said he wanted to be Olympic champion in 10 years.

While some of the others laughed, Chris and the coach started to pull together a plan. There was a long-term goal, but with steps mapped out.

Chris has followed this approach throughout his career. A plan is put in place and then all of the steps meticulously planned. This allows him to focus on one small thing at a time, knowing it’s all leading to the ultimate goal.

For example, he talked about his training camp in Australia, where he’d get up, have breakfast, cycle to the track, train until he was physically sick, cycle back, have lunch, etc, etc. He said that the only way he could carry on was by focusing on one thing at a time and doing it. If he was doing 2 hours of hard training and also thinking about doing it again that afternoon, he’d have given up! He just had to focus, do it, and then move on to the next step, knowing it all fitted the big plan and the ultimate goal to get a gold medal.

This is a massive lesson for business owners – have a long-term goal and a plan to achieve it.

There’s no use complaining

Another lesson from Chris’s talk was that, when things happen that are out of your control, there’s no use complaining. You just need to knuckle down and get on with it. If you need to, you’ll have to change your plans and adapt.

2 years into training for the Beijing Olympics, Chris’s discipline was actually removed from the Olympics. He knew that there was nothing he could do to change this so, instead of moaning, he adapted and trained for a different event - the keirin….and ended up with 3 gold medals in Beijing.

How often, as entrepreneurs, do we find ourselves complaining about the recession, government, competition, etc? If we’re going to succeed, it’s all down to us!

The small things matter

Chris also spoke about how the team looked at every minute detail that they could do better. By increasing the effectiveness of each small thing by 1%, the cumulative effect could be massive. This was a key factor in a sport where fractions of a second could make all the difference. In fact, Chris won one of his gold medals by one hundredth of a second!

As an entrepreneur, the smallest details can really matter in a crowded marketplace. Our potential customers have so much choice, we need to make sure they choose us.

Inspiration

And, last but not least, Chris told us how he was inspired to ride his bike by ET!

Do you want a Liverpool accountant who looks forwards instead of backwards? Contact Jonathan

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Posted by Paul Walsh

Partner at Hill Dickinson

Wed 30th, Sep

Although alliance contracting has been used in the UK over the past 15 years, it has never quite won the affections of contracting parties here which has been achieved in other jurisdictions.  However, recent trends suggest that the move towards alliance contracting is gaining momentum. Network Rail has already moved to the alliance model for major infrastructure works and the Department of Health has used the alliance model for a major IT and services outsourcing project for the NHS.

Overview of alliance contracting

Alliance contracting offers a different approach to co-operation between clients and contractors compared with traditional forms of contract. Also known as “collaborative contracting”, it is a delivery framework for large multidisciplinary projects, focusing on a co-operative process which aims to promote openness, trust, risk and responsibility sharing, innovation, high performance and the alignment of commercial interests between parties who aim to deliver a project in a collaborative and constructive way.

It seems the current legal and regulatory environment in some sectors may be moving towards a partnering approach to contracting. The new EU Procurement Directive which was implemented in the UK earlier this year introduced the concept of “Innovation Partnerships”. This allows public authorities to call for tenders to solve a specific problem without pre-empting the solution, encouraging tenderers to come up with innovative solutions in alliance with the authority. The NHS (Procurement, Patient Choice and Competition) Regulations 2013 require commissioners to contract with the most capable providers and, in the wake of the Health and Social Care Act 2012, they are now seeking to implement a partnership approach to commissioning clinical services to overcome some of the constraints associated with traditional contracting.

The growth of alliance contracting resulted from dissatisfaction within the oil industry with delays in delivery together with escalating costs. This led to parties being caught up in litigation for years and their lawyers trying to account for every eventuality in increasingly long and complicated contracts.  It emerged in the 1990’s, seeking to promote collaborative working and since then, alliance contracting has become widely used in projects in the Asia-Pacific region, most notably in construction projects in Australia and New Zealand.  The results have often been impressive and include reductions in costs, fewer delays and excellent health and safety records.

How does alliance contracting compare with traditional forms of contract?

Businesses should be aware of how the structure of an alliance contract differs from traditional forms of contract and the associated benefits and risks:

  • Flexibility

Flexibility underpins the alliance model, which allows the contract and parties to adapt easily to the changes that become necessary on large scale, multidisciplinary projects enabling the parties to  address complex design, construction and environmental issues that may not be evident at the outset of the project. This is perhaps the key advantage of the alliance model.  By contrast, change is not easily accommodated in traditional contracting.

Change and innovation in delivery are expected under the alliance model and timescales and termination rights are flexible.  There is also a flexible attitude to negotiations, the object of which is to build a relationship between parties who have entered into a long term partnership.

A potential risk associated with this focus on outcome as opposed to process is greater uncertainty, particularly in terms of timing and budget.  However a unified cost structure as well as enhanced project synchronisation is designed to counter this uncertainty and achieve completion on time and within budget.

  • Collaboration

The alliance model is based on one unified agreement under which all parties share the benefits and risks.  This can be contrasted with traditional contracting models where each party operates under its own separate contract containing separate objectives.

In an alliance, any “gain” or “pain” is linked with good or poor performance overall and not to the performance of individual parties.  The idea is to create an integrated structure whereby multiple suppliers work together under one central alliance in order to deliver the project as a whole.

The advantage of the collaborative framework is the promotion of a set of shared values leading to unanimous and principle-based decision making.  This is supported by a number of good faith obligations such as co-operation and communication between the parties and requiring the parties to act fairly, honestly, transparently and with integrity in relation to the delivery of the project. The combined expertise of the parties can further the interests of the project as a whole and mitigate risk.

The potential drawback is that the success of the project depends on personal commitment and trusting relationships which may be difficult to develop.  Parties will also have their own commercial drivers which may dictate how they get involved in collective decision making.  Having said this, these risks are also present in traditional forms of contracting, regardless of how well drafted the relevant clauses may be.

  • Dispute resolution and risk allocation

There is a no fault, no blame attitude to disputes whereby each party is released from liability in respect of the project (except in the case of “wilful default” or the occurrence of an insolvency event).  Conversely, traditional contracts expect disputes and seek to provide for fault and risk allocation at the outset.

The shift away from fault allocation and adversarial dispute resolution methods in the alliance model is considered to promote a forum for the effective resolution of disagreements amicably and on a cost-effective basis,  although sometimes an ultimate deadlock breaker is appointed.

This should mean that parties can focus on promoting active project management to prevent problems escalating, as opposed to “reactive” management when problems arise.  Despite this, there is a risk of legal uncertainty, including lack of precedent, as to the enforceability of “no blame” provisions.  The extent to which such risks may be mitigated through the use of commonly used standard forms and clear KPI’s remains to be seen and this will be the subject of a future blog post.

  • Alignment of interests

The interests of the parties in an alliance are aligned to the same commercial outcomes under one overarching performance framework whereas traditional models encourage parties to look after their own interests under their separate respective contracts.

As the parties are encouraged to act in the best interests of the project as a whole, alliancing has the potential to reduce costs and project duration, and improve the quality of deliverables.  By contrast, it is generally acknowledged that fixed price contracts have the disadvantage of requiring suppliers to include a “risk value” in their contracts which can result in higher upfront pricing.  Alliance contracts address this by providing an incentive to work together through a shared reward painshare and gainshare scheme which rewards the value to the alliance performance. There is of course a risk of higher initial investment, for example, in terms of developing new processes, training and team building.  On simple projects where the management is unlikely to change, the upfront costs may never be offset.

However, proponents of alliancing believe that value for money will be achieved over time through a series of projects, and improvements will be felt with continued progression.  Businesses can therefore ensure that the cost saving benefits outweigh the initial cost of moving to the alliance model, taking into account the size and potential recurrence of the project.

 

This article was first published by Practical Law Construction as part of their construction blog series. Read more here

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Posted by Dan Reilly

Director at Ruler Analytics and Epic New Media

Tue 29th, Sep

People used to say that pay-per-click was the short-term solution to traffic, while search engine optimisation was the long-term solution. Perhaps, people still do. But a shift in the type of devices people are using to search Google and changes in the way Google ranks sites these last few years has made a case for SEO and PPC being used side-by-side, with a view to a long-term partnership.

Pay-per-click

PPC is one of the most lucrative opportunities for all businesses operating online, no matter their niche or how competitive the market is. In theory, so long as you have the budget, you can compete against multi-nationals and corporate giants.

Search engine optimisation

SEO is a tougher nut to crack. It takes time, patience and significant investment to get solid rankings, rankings that will get a ROI. But should SEO pay off, you will have an auto pilot lead generation platform which has the potential to outperform PPC.

How PPC and SEO work together

1) PPC informs and optimises SEO: 

Due to the power of each of these platforms, we see them as the perfect partnership. Take for example, this scenario: a start-up in a highly competitive market has a couple of thousand pounds to spend on online marketing. The start-up is at an immediate disadvantage because their website is new, without the clout (trust and page rank etc) of more established competitors. So competing organically is off the cards, at least for now. PPC therefore is the ideal solution, as it will allow the start-up to bid for relevant keywords. But the optimisation of pages for PPC and the bidding of keywords will focus and mould the start-up’s SEO strategy at the same time, killing two birds with one stone

2) With PPC you can offset the price of organic search

SEO rankings receive a higher click through rate than PPC listings. So if an organic position were to decline, businesses can still increase their click-through rate and offset the price of organic search. This strategy is particularly useful for websites that receive an automatic or manual Google penalty, or for websites that struggle to maintain their organic positions due to strong competition. It’s also useful if you hold rankings that fluctuate wildly, PPC can balance this out and ensure you still receive very relevant and targeted traffic to your website.

SEO and PPC working together – examples

A Google search for “4K LED TV” brings up an organic result for John Lewis and a paid result for John Lewis (imaged above) – this retail giant is increasing their click-through rates for this keyword by using SEO and PPC together.

A Google search for “Memory foam mattress” brings up an organic result for Amazon and a paid result for Amazon. Like John Lewis, Amazon is increasing their click-through rates.

There are millions more examples of companies doing this.

Takeaway

If you really want to grow your business online, you need to fully capitalise on the platforms available to you. Google is HUGE, and by using SEO and PPC together, you can increase your click-through rates dramatically while informing and optimising each strategy. 

Ready to launch a new project? Get started today

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Posted by Thomas Sutherland

Employment & HR - Morecrofts

Thu 24th, Sep

How does the famous FRIENDS TV show theme tune go?  ‘I’ll be there for you, when the rain starts to pour. I’ll be there for you, like I’ve been there before…’  Naturally, being a massive FRIENDS fan, I just had to get part of the theme tune in there when using the show as the subject for a blog.  

Whilst it would be ironic to quote Chandler’s famous line to Rachel of “I’m not so good with the advice… Can I interest you in a sarcastic comment?”, I’ll do my best to stay on track.  So, in all seriousness, what could happen if friends fall out at work and could you even be sacked for it?

Well, let’s explore the question further.  And to do so, let’s look at the rather unusual case of Mealing v Edmonds t/a The Gatehouse Diner. 

In this case, a very small employer had to deal with a tricky problem.  Namely, what to do with two former friends who had fallen out with each other so badly they struggled to even speak to each other.  Things got to such an extreme stage that the employer was forced to initiate disciplinary action against both of them.

Importantly, one employee’s behaviour improved after the disciplinary meeting (we’ll call this employee ‘Phoebe’).  Phoebe told her employer that she would speak to her colleague in future.  Unfortunately, the other employee (whom we will name ‘Monica’) merely stated that she would ‘think about it’ and continued to refuse to speak to Phoebe.

Due to Monica’s utter refusal to speak to Phoebe, and the negative atmosphere this caused in the workplace, she was eventually dismissed on grounds of her behaviour towards Phoebe.  A further consideration of the employer in doing so was finding out about a series of abusive text messages sent to Phoebe by Monica.  These text messages used foul language and made clear that Monica would not try to maintain a professional relationship with Phoebe as requested by her employer.  

In light of the facts, and despite the employer’s procedure being technically flawed, the tribunal ruled that Monica’s behaviour was so poor that she should not receive any compensation.  In particular, the tribunal rejected Monica’s argument that it was unfair for the employer to dismiss her and not Phoebe as well.  This was primarily because Phoebe’s behaviour had improved following the discussion with her employer, whilst Monica’s had not.

It is important to note various specific circumstances of the case, one of the main ones being that the business was a small, cosy diner in which each employee had close proximity to another.  This meant that a problem in individual working relationships would have a big effect on customer service, as well as workplace morale and productivity.

At the end of the day, an employee is never going to be sacked for simply falling out with a colleague.  It is the ongoing effects of the falling out on the workplace which is crucial.  Therefore, unless the falling out has a major effect on the running of the business, colleagues will still have to work with those individuals they are not especially keen on!  

But don’t worry, there’s always that FRIENDS boxset and an accompanying cuppa when you get home…

Does your business need mediation services? Contact Morecrofts now.

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Posted by Stephen Sykes

Principal Consultant, Emansys Chair of Energy & Environment Member Forum

Mon 14th, Sep

I’ve taken advantage of the usual summer lull, working with Graeme Moore, a very bright and able intern from University of Liverpool, to update the Merseyside Environmental Trust’s (MET) website and two publications “Your Environmental Policy” and “Your Environmental Checklist”, both initially written for community organisations with a view to giving them a broader appeal and relevance. As we now head into autumn, it’s time to look forward, particularly to the imminent publication of the revision to ISO 14001: 2015. 

Over the past few months we have also been looking at how we can use the Chamber’s Member Forum on Energy & Environment (formally the Energy & Environment Committee) to not only raise awareness of issues which impact directly on businesses across the city region, but also encourage more members to become involved and have their say. So what better way to kick off the new look forum than with a presentation from Ray Mooney of Certification Body SGS UK Ltd to advise us of the changes and the implications of revision to ISO 14001:2015.   As a small taster of what Ray may have in store for us, here are a few headlines regarding ISO 14001:2015.

The new requirements can be split into 5 key categories:

Organisational Context – demonstrating that the organisation has a high-level understanding of the important issues that can affect, either positively or negatively, its ability to achieve the intended outcomes of its Environmental Management System (EMS).

Leadership – the need for management to be engaged in the operation of the EMS and include environmental performance as a factor when making strategic business decisions.

Risk – focus should not just be on environmental risks, but also the uncertainty associated with threats and opportunities from climate change, resource scarcity, new processes and materials.

Communication – having equal emphasis on external and internal communications is vital which should include communicating consistent and reliable information externally with your green message to the forefront in your marketing materials, and encouraging customers to adopt a similar ethos.

Monitoring – an emphasis on the need for evaluation in addition to the current requirements for measurement and analysis.

To find out more join us at the Members Forum on Wednesday 16th September at 10.00am (please contact jessica.flaherty@liverpoolchamber.org.uk to register). 

This has been a busy summer, on both a political and social level, with a range of issues emerging to which the government will need to find solutions. As a Member of the Chamber you can help to influence both the debate and actions going forward, so if there are issues you would like to raise for future Forum meetings, please contact myself or Michelle Cameron at the Chamber (michelle.cameron@liverpoolchamber.org.uk

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Alice Creswell-Hogg from Sellick Partnership talks about her year as an Apprentice

Posted by Alice Creswell-Hogg

Apprentice Administrator - Sellick Partnership

Mon 07th, Sep

A year ago this month I started my apprenticeship with Sellick Partnership  after interviewing with a wide range of businesses from investment banks to recruitment agencies around Liverpool city centre.

The last 12 months have been a learning curve for myself and it has been much more than just an opportunity to gain some work experience and a qualification it has developed into a career I want to pursue. In my first blog for Sellick Partnership I discussed my reasoning for choosing to do an apprenticeship over going to university and I still think that if someone asked me if I had made the right decision the answer would still be yes.

Through completing my apprenticeship I have come to realise and appreciate just how valuable the past year has been and I’m here to share the reasons why:

Transferable skills: In the past 12 months I have learnt and continue to learn new skills as well as developed my already existing skill set. For example, a main part of my role as an administrator is formatting CVs. You may be thinking “how is formatting CVs a transferrable skill?”, but CV formatting requires a high attention to detail, a skill most job advertisements stress is an important requirement to the employer. Although I would have learnt transferable skills at university, the list of transferable skills I have learnt during my time at Sellick Partnership is a lengthy one and some of which I wouldn’t have learnt at university.

Work experience: Nowadays the majority of students have a part time job alongside studying at university however this job usually isn’t relevant to their desired career or degree. My time at Sellick Partnership has allowed me to gain insight into a sector I never really knew a lot about but was of interest to myself and it actually turned out that it’s a sector I would like a career in. Apprenticeships are a fantastic way to get your foot in the door in the industries and sectors you are interested in and provide a great base of relevant work experience for you to build on, not to mention a qualification to go with it.

Qualifications: The qualification you receive depends on the type of apprenticeship that you do, starting off with a qualification that is the equivalent to a GCSE all the way to one which is equivalent to a foundation degree. Not only do these qualifications demonstrate that you are academically capable but that you have the practical experience and ability to compliment your knowledge of the qualification.

Network and connections: The famous saying “It’s not what you know but who you know” is a popular debate and apprenticeships are a great way to build a foundation network of individuals and companies in your desired career field. I for one can back up that the people you network with when doing an apprenticeship, whether it be colleagues or clients, have a wealth of knowledge, a large breadth of skills and a great network which you can benefit from in order to develop your career. Throughout my apprenticeship at Sellick I have worked with people who all have different levels of experience from a number of years to a number of months from a variety of backgrounds who I have learnt from in one way or another.

So if you’ve recently received your GCSE and A-Level results and not sure what to do next I would highly recommend doing an apprenticeships. If you are considering an apprenticeship my top tips would be firstly choose something that you’re interested in and secondly pick the right company, something which I cannot stress enough. If you’re considering hiring an apprentice but not sure how valuable it would be to them you can see from this blog post just how valuable I have found it and I’m sure they will too. 

To hire/become an Apprentice

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Zee Hussain explains what businesses can learn from the Chelsea medics row.

Posted by Zee Hussain

Employment Partner - Colemans-ctts

Mon 07th, Sep

Chelsea FC Manager Jose Mourinho hit the headlines recently as a result of his actions towards team doctor Eva Carneiro and physio Jon Fearn, who were both heavily criticised for running on to the pitch towards the end of the Chelsea v Swansea game on 8 August to treat one of the players, Eden Hazard.

The views of Mourinho were that Carneiro and Fearn had acted to the detriment of the game and Mourinho wasn’t shy in showing his fury regarding their actions. A substantial change to both roles were made following the game, which became clear to the public when neither parties were present on the bench at the match between Chelsea and Manchester City on 16 August 2015.


This raises the question of how such actions by a manager can lead to issues from an employment law perspective. Here I will flag the potential issues that can arise from demoting an employee.

Potential breach of contract

When an employer demotes an employee without warrant or by failing their HR procedures, this can lead to a breach of an employee’s contract. When considering demoting an employee, the employer must consider the seriousness of the employee’s actions, whether a demotion is reasonable and a proportionate sanction in such circumstances, and whether the employer has the contractual right to demote an employee. 

In absence of an express right to demote an employee, the employer can seek agreement from an employee to accept the demotion. This agreement should be in writing. In circumstances where an employer could justify dismissing the employee but is willing to give the employee a ‘second chance’, demotion could be put to the employee as an alternative to dismissal. 

What to check

An employer should check their disciplinary procedures. Sometimes such policies are contained within the employee’s contract of employment, or can be found in a separate handbook. 

If your disciplinary policy/employment contract is silent on demotion, it is advisable to include a section on demotion as an option available to the employer when dealing with a disciplinary matter. 

In the High Court case of Smith v Housing Trust [2013], for example, it was ruled that an employer had committed a breach of the employee’s contract where they demoted an employee as a consequence of the employee posting a controversial comment on his Facebook profile regarding same sex marriages in a church. This case illustrates the importance of assessing the facts fully before making a decision to demote an employee.

Constructive dismissals

This is where an employer has committed a breach of the employee’s contract of employment. The breach is so serious that it entitles the employee to regard themselves as released from their obligations owed under such contract and permits the employee to resign from their position without providing notice. Care must, therefore, be taken when demoting an employee, so as not to give rise for a claim for constructive dismissal. 

A demotion can happen without the employer deeming it formally to be as such, an example of this could be, where the employee’s job title has not been changed but their role in practice has changed so severely for it to feel like they have been demoted. 

Where an employer intends to change an employee’s role substantially, the key to achieving this goal, without falling foul of the rules, is to communicate the change and reasons for it with the employee and to be clear in your own mind that the reason for making such change is justified and is in line with the company’s policies and procedures.

In the Northern Ireland Tribunal case Druse v Newry & Mourne District Citizens Advice Bureau, an award of over £40,000.00 was made to an employee who claimed that the employer had sought to unilaterally impose a new job description on him several times, which would have resulted in significant changes to the employee’s role. It was ruled that the employer had constructively dismissed the employee in these circumstances.

It remains to be seen what the Mourinho fiasco will unveil, however, in this instance he doesn’t appear to have been the perfect role model for an employer. Just remember that consistency, communication, clarity and compliance with contracts/policies are all key when considering demoting an employee. The benefits in return can be significant.

For the original blog on Fresh Business Thinking

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Posted by Phil Bird

Managing Director, The PC Support Group

Fri 04th, Sep

Managing IT systems is all about thinking ahead and preventing problems BEFORE they cause major problems, but unfortunately things still occasionally go wrong and yesterday one of our clients had a major incident. Yes I admit no IT support company can prevent everything in advance! Not even our robust processes and powerful support management software.

However, it’s during these times that IT support teams are really tested; how quickly and professionally can they respond?

We tend to focus on the following areas:

  1. Risk Reduction -What do we need to do immediately to ensure that the issue doesn’t impact the business further?
  2. Business continuity – what can we do to ensure the individual or business can continue to operate as close to 100% effectiveness?
  3. Communication – ensure that all parties are kept up to date throughout the period of the issue
  4. Diagnosis – Quickly and calmly get to the root cause of the issue. All too often IT support departments take the “try this, try that” approach, particularly if they panic during a major event.
  5. Fix and test – Don’t just fix the problem; make sure it’s fixed by testing
  6. Confirmation – Is the customer happy that everything is now working perfectly again
  7. Review – What can we learn from this experience? Can we improve our knowledge, systems or processes to avoid or reduce the risk of this reoccurring, or does the customer need to change anything?

I was therefore delighted that following the incident with our customer we received the following glowing report:

“Just wanted to express my thanks for the way the team at The PC Support Group responded to our urgent problem today.

From Scott who took the initial call and very quickly realised that we had a serious problem and escalated the event, to Steve for taking charge and coordinating the effort and for Andy who was hands on working on our servers, and additionally  anyone else I was unaware of,  many thanks."

It appears our processes work!

If you want to know more please email us on info@pcsupportgroup.com or call us on 03300 886 116. 

Find out more information here.

 

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