News / Press
September 2011 - Agency Workers Regulations 2010: The count down to equal treatment
So, what’s all the fuss about?
Up until now, agency workers often worked under less favourable terms and conditions compared with those recruited directly by the hirer but after 1st October 2011 agency workers who have completed 12 weeks in the same role will be entitled to the same "basic working and employment conditions" to which they would have been entitled had they been directly recruited by the hirer.
If an agency worker considers they have been treated less favourably than someone recruiter directly, they may bring a claim in the employment tribunal. A tribunal can award compensation to the worker if their claim is upheld.
What do employer’s need to know?
That Agency Workers, after a 12 week qualifying period will be entitled to the same basic terms and conditions as someone recruited directly. These terms and conditions include:
o Working time
o Night work
o Rest periods
o Annual leave
Agency Workers will, also, after no qualifying period, be entitled to the same collective facilities and amenities as someone recruited directly. These include:
o Canteen or other facilities
o Workplace crèche
o Transport services
o Staff rooms, prayers rooms, mother and baby rooms and waiting rooms
o Drinks and food machines
The Qualifying Period
Any week, during the whole or part of which an agency worker is engaged on an assignment, is counted as a calendar week when calculating whether an agency worker has completed the12 week qualifying period.
The clock will be reset if:
o The agency worker remains with the same hirer but starts a substantially different new role;
o The agency worker starts a new assignment with a new hirer;
o There is a break of more than 6 weeks between assignments with the same hirer.
The clock will be paused in the following circumstances (i.e. the qualifying period will continue to run rather than be reset after a break):
o A break for any reason which is not more than six calendar weeks;
o A break of up to 28 weeks because the agency worker is incapable of work because of sickness or injury;
o Any break for the purpose of taking leave, including annual leave, to which the agency worker is entitled;
o A break of up to 28 weeks to allow the agency worker to perform jury service;
o A break caused by a planned shutdown of the workplace by the hirer (for example, at Christmas); or
o A break caused by a strike, lock out or other industrial action at the hirer's establishment.
The clock will continue to run during the following break periods, even if the worker is not present:
o Pregnancy, childbirth or maternity and which take place either during pregnancy and for up to 26 weeks after childbirth
o The agency worker takes maternity, adoption or paternity leave.
Rights exempt from the 12 week qualifying period
As mentioned above, there are some rights to equal treatment which agency workers acquire from day one of being engaged on an assignment, effective from 1 October. A hirer must ensure that all its agency workers can access its collective facilities and amenities and that its agency workers have access to information about its job vacancies from the first day of their assignment (regulations 12 and 13).
Anti-avoidance provisions have also been written into the legislation to prevent employers evading the rules. If a structure of assignments develops which is intended to prevent the agency worker from acquiring equal rights, then the agency worker will still be entitled to equal treatment.
Need more help?
If you have any queries about the new regulations and how it will affect your business, including whether you need to make any changes to contracts and policies, contact one of the team at Murray Beith Employment at firstname.lastname@example.org
September 2011 - Tax due on inherited homes must be paid, even when they don't sell
Property pages - Scotsman newspaper
Inheriting a house may expose a person to IHT so how do they pay at a time when buyers are thin on the ground? Graham Scott looks at the options.....
It is now fairly common knowledge that the rate of inheritance tax (i.e. that payable on a person’s estate at death) is 40 per cent. Rising levels of personal wealth, and a failure by government to raise the tax threshold in line with property prices, has left, or will leave, millions of ‘ordinary’ individuals exposed to a levy that, until fairly recently, was considered relevant only to the wealthy.
Financial products such as ISAs and popular people’s shares have all contributed to the increase in personal wealth, but the biggest factor of all has been the rise in residential values, even taking into account the severe downturn in the market since 2008. The biggest single asset bequeathed by most people to beneficiaries (usually though not exclusively their children) is a house, and it is the value of housing that has taken so many estates over the IHT threshold of £325,000 (see note at end.
When the housing market was booming, adult children who were left the family home on the death of their surviving parent, would normally have no difficulty selling the property, quickly and very often at a premium.
But all that has changed. Mortgages are difficult to come by, jobs are being cut and wages kept down, with the result that it is not uncommon for even mainstream properties to take many months, perhaps more than a year, to find a buyer prepared to pay a suitable price. But that won’t stop HMRC wanting its money if the perceived ‘market value’ of the property takes, or helps take, an estate over the IHT threshold
That could put those inheriting in a financial spot if, as is quite common, the deceased parent was ‘asset-rich, cash poor’, which means he or she lived in a prime property but existed on dwindling savings and an annual pension ravaged by the effects of inflation.
So what happens when the value of the late parental home is sufficiently large to make an estate liable for inheritance tax but there is little bequeathed in the form of liquid assets for those inheriting to pay the tax in the short- to-medium term?
Fortunately, HMRC takes what one might be called a relatively benign attitude towards payment of IHT due on property and land (although the tax on ‘moveable’ assets has to be paid in full by no later than six months after the date of death).
People who have not sold a property bequeathed by the time IHT is due can elect to pay the tax in equal annual instalments (plus interest, currently 3 per cent) over a period of 10 years. This is not an open ended commitment, however – the balance of tax owed must be paid in full should the property be sold at a later date. Anyone unable to afford such instalments may be able to obtain a loan secured against thye property from a bank, or they might be able to let out the property in the hope that prices will eventually recover.
Indeed, given the current level of house sales, individuals who are bequeathed a property are increasingly seeking professional advice on the various options open to them. These include weighing up the benefits of ‘riding out’ a depressed market by using the time to carry out a much-needed upgrade; going for a quick sale, albeit at a reduced price, on the basis of ‘cash now’ being preferable to cash at some undetermined future date; or, as already alluded to, taking advantage of a rental market which, at present, seems buoyant.
Although firm evidence is not available, there may also be an emotional dimension in that children are reluctant to let a house with a long-standing family association be sold to total strangers at a discount and are, therefore, prepared to hold out until they secure what would be considered an ‘appropriate’ price for it. However, when a bequeathed property comes as an unexpected ‘windfall’ (e.g.to some distant niece or nephew who barely knew their benefactor) the recipients may be more likely to quickly put the house on the market and settle for the best price available.
Finally, had mum and dad retired to the sun and the home in which they lived out their final years was located in Spain or Portugal, then a bridging loan to pay IHT from a UK bank may be more difficult to obtain, especially given the apparent massive over-supply of flats and villas on the Costas at the present time. Ironically, however, someone who inherits a property on a popular part of the Spanish coast, as opposed to Scotland, could be better off in the long run– as the former is likely to attract as much in rental in a week as the latter does in a month.
How IHT will affect those who inherit assets from a deceased person depends on the marital status of the latter. The £325,000 threshold beyond which the tax becomes payable applies to the estate of someone who is divorced or has never married. If the deceased is a widow or widower and inherited all or much of the estate of his or her spouse, then some (or all) of that spouse’s nil rate band allowance may be available on the second death. At best, the threshold can be doubled to £650,000 (i.e. £325,000 x 2). However, a reputable lawyer would not normally cite potential savings in IHT as a reason in itself for getting married!
For further information please contact Graham Scott on 0131 225 1200.