News Archive for February, 2018

Parental Bereavement Bill Published

Under the law as it stands, employers are not required to give paid leave to grieving parents. Section 57A(1) of the Employment Rights Act 1996 gives employees the right to take a reasonable amount of time off to take action which is necessary for dependants – for example, if they are ill or injured – and Section 57A(1)(c) of the Act specifically refers to action which is necessary 'in consequence of the death of a dependant'.

n a 2004 case (Forster v Cartwright Black Solicitors), the Employment Appeal Tribunal ruled that Section 57A(1)(c) does not cover sickness absence due to grief. The relevant wording of the Act refers to the numerous arrangements that have  the death, making funeral arrangements, applying for a grant of probate etc. It does not extend to compassionate leave as a result of bereavement.

In July 2017, a Private Members' Bill, the Parental Bereavement (Leave and Pay) Bill 2017-19, was introduced into Parliament by Kevin Hollinrake MP. The Bill, which has now been published, is being supported by the Government and received its second reading in Parliament on 20 October 2017.

Scheduled to come into force in 2020, the Bill will give employees who lose a child under 18 the right to two weeks' paid leave. Employees who lose a child will also be entitled to statutory parental bereavement pay if they have at least 26 weeks' continuous service. Employers will be able to recover some or all of the cost of this from the Government.

The Bill's progress can be followed on the UK Parliamentwebsite at http://bit.ly/2hJjGr0

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Posted by Peter Nicholas on Monday, February 26, 2018 at 12:30 PM

New National Minimum Wage Rates

The Government has accepted the Low Pay Commission's recommended rates for the National Living Wage (NLW) and the National Minimum Wage (NMW) that will come into effect on 1 April 2018:
- The NLW, which applies to those aged 25 and over, will increase from £7.50 to £7.83 per hour;
- The NMW for 21- to 24-year-olds will increase from £7.05 to £7.38 per hour;
- The NMW for 18- to 20-year-olds will increase from £5.60 to £5.90 per hour;
- The NMW for 16- and 17-year-olds will increase from £4.05 to £4.20 per hour; and
- The apprentice rate of the NMW, which applies toapprentices aged under 19 or those aged 19 or over and in the first year of their apprenticeship, will increase from £3.50 to £3.70 per hour.

The accommodation offset will increase from £6.40 to £7.00 per day for each day during the pay period

Posted by Peter Nicholas on Monday, February 26, 2018 at 11:41 AM

Problems Using Family and Friends as Executors

When you appoint a solicitor to be the executor of your will, you can be assured that they will understand their duties and can be relied upon to comply with them.

However, as a High Court case showed, the same sadly cannot always be said of friends or family members who are chosen to perform the role.

The case concerned a woman who died in her 70s, leaving an estate valued at more than £240,000 that was left in equal shares to a friend and a neighbour. Her will appointed the neighbour's boyfriend as her executor. The principal asset of the estate was her home, which was later sold by the executor, realising a net sum of about £220,000.

Half of that sum should have been distributed to the friend in accordance with the pensioner's will, but she did not receive any money.

After taking legal advice, she launched proceedings and a judge ordered the boyfriend's removal as executor. The friend replaced him as administrator of the estate.  He was also ordered to pay her the money due to her and to disclose documents relating to the whereabouts of the missing funds. He failed to comply with the orders and only at the eleventh hour did he disclose a bank statement, which revealed that all but £1,300 of the proceeds of the house sale had been spent on supporting his own lifestyle.

In cases such as this, it is rare for the lost funds to be recovered. Our experts in this area will be happy to act
as executors to ensure everything is dealt with properly, or to advise executors who are concerned about their responsibilities.

Posted by Peter Nicholas on Wednesday, February 21, 2018 at 11:48 AM

Onerous Leasehold Terms to be Banned

Following an outcry over the terms that apply to the purchase of new leasehold properties in some circumstances, the Government conducted a public consultation. This has now reported and legislation is expected soon to deal with the abuses identified.

Many unfair practices were reported as the sale of new properties on a leasehold, rather than freehold, basis has proliferated and some of the leases contain onerous terms that apply in the long run. Describing the practices as 'practically feudal and entirely unjustifiable', the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government decided to end them 'once and for all'.

Legislation will be brought forward as soon as possible to put a stop to the sale of leaseholds over new-build houses or existing freehold houses, except in exceptional circumstances.

In addition, the ground rents on newly established leases of houses and flats will be set at zero and the Government is looking at ways owners of leasehold properties with escalating ground rents can be protected and have the right to acquire the freehold.

If you have bought a property on a leasehold and discovered later that there were onerous terms of which you were not aware, contact us for advice.

Posted by Peter Nicholas on Wednesday, February 21, 2018 at 11:42 AM