News Archive for October, 2014

Inheritance Laws Simplified

New laws simplifying what happens when someone dies without leaving a will came into force on 1st October this year.

Trina Wilkins, a solicitor specialising in contested inheritance and property cases at DPA Law, said, “The changes to the law are designed to speed up and modernise the process of dividing the money, property and other assets of a person who dies without a will (intestate)”.

The reforms bring the law into line with the expectations of modern society and will make the process easier to manage for relatives and friends.

The changes, made in the new Inheritance and Trustees’ Powers Act, include:

• When someone who has no children dies intestate, their whole estate will pass to their spouse. Before today’s changes a complex set of rules has been used which also, in some circumstances, allocated parts of the estate to other family members.
• When someone dies intestate and they do have children, the way their estate is split between their spouse and children will be simplified. This has also previously been subject to a complex set of rules.
• Closing a loophole to make sure children who are adopted don’t lose their inheritance after their parent’s death.

If you would like assistance in relation to your will, or the death of someone who died intestate, call Trina Wilkins or Anthony Davies at DPA Law on 01554 749144, or visit  dpalaw.co.uk for further information.

Posted by Peter Nicholas on Monday, October 20, 2014 at 12:17 PM

When Does an Undertaking Transfer? EAT Gives Guidance

The question of exactly when one business transfers its undertaking to another under the Transfer of
Undertakings (Protection of Employment) Regulations 2006 (TUPE) can have major financial consequences. Now the Employment Appeal Tribunal (EAT) has given important guidance on the issue (Housing Maintenance Solutions Limited v McAteer and Others).

Company A had provided, under contract, repair and maintenance services to a housing association. The latter decided to bring those services in-house and established a corporate vehicle for that purpose (company B). The majority of company A's workforce had moved to company B. Prior to being made redundant by company A on 9 June 2011, the employees had been reassured by company B that they would be taken on.

However, the transfer did not go as smoothly as hoped. Company B was not ready to start trading on that date and there was a lapse of some days, until 1 July, before the majority of the employees moved to their new employer.

A large number of employees launched proceedings, alleging unfair dismissal on 9 June 2011 and unlawful deductions from wages between 9 June and 30 June 2011.

An issue arose as to the moment at which a transfer of undertakings had taken place and whether company A or B, or both of them, should be the target of the proceedings.

The Employment Tribunal (ET) ruled that company B had assumed responsibility for the employees' employment on 9 June and that was therefore the date on which the undertaking had been transferred. In overturning that decision, however, the EAT found that the ET had erred in principle in treating the alleged date on which company B had accepted responsibility as their employer as determinative of the date on which the undertaking was transferred.

In returning the case to a different ET for a fresh decision on the date of transfer, the EAT held that the relevant date was that on which company B took over company A's former business activities. Whether that date fell on 9 June or 1 July, or some date in between, would have to be reconsidered on the evidence.

Failure to comply with the TUPE provisions can be very expensive for businesses and it is important to take advice at the beginning of the process. We can guide you through the purchase or sale of a business.

Posted by Peter Nicholas on Wednesday, October 08, 2014 at 02:44 PM

Time Off to Accompany a Pregnant Woman to Ante-Natal Appointments

From 1 October 2014, an expectant father or the partner (including a same-sex partner) of a pregnant woman is entitled to take unpaid time off work to accompany the woman to up to two of her ante-natal appointments. The time off is capped at six and a half hours for each appointment.

The Department for Business, Innovation and Skills has guidance for employers on the new right in the form of frequently asked questions. This can befound on the Government website www.gov.uk.

We can advise you to ensure your contracts of employment are compliant.

Posted by Peter Nicholas on Wednesday, October 08, 2014 at 02:41 PM

eats-ruling-strengthens-whistleblowers-rights

In a decision which significantly strengthens the hand of workplace whistleblowers, and self-employed people in particular, the Employment Appeal Tribunal (EAT) has ruled that a health and safety consultant was a legally protected 'worker' despite not having the benefit of an employment contract (Keppel Seghers UK Limited v Hinds).

It was common ground that it is a prerequisite for obtaining work as a health and safety consultant within the construction and civil engineering industry that such services are provided through a company. In this case, the consultant's engagement by an energy recovery business had been arranged by an employment agency and he had provided his services through a one-man company.  He had no direct contractual relationship with the business.

After he launched Employment Tribunal (ET) proceedings, claiming that he had been subjected to detrimental treatment for making a protected disclosure, he faced arguments that he did not fit the definition of a 'worker' within the meaning of the Employment Rights Act 1996 (ERA), Section 43K of which provides for an extension to the meaning of a 'worker' for the purposes of the protection afforded in respect of protected disclosures.Those submissions did not persuade the ET and the consultant was permitted to proceed with his claim.

 In dismissing the business's appeal, the EAT noted that Section 43K of the ERA was explicitly introduced for the purpose of providing protection for whistleblowers and others who are not formally employed. Given that background, a 'purposive construction' should be adopted as it was the will of Parliament that such protection should be afforded, rather than denied,wherever that could properly be achieved. It was the business that largely dictated the termsand conditions under which the consultant worked.

He had been 'sourced' as an individual who met the business's requirements; he had viewed himself as an integral part of the company's workforce and he did not have the right to nominate another person to work in his place.  The ruling has opened the way for the consultant to pursue his whistleblowing claim to a full hearing. The law protecting whistleblowers is robust.

For advice on dealing with the issues that arise on the making of a protected disclosure, contact us.

Posted by Peter Nicholas on Wednesday, October 08, 2014 at 02:22 PM