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Yearly Archives: 2015

Working grandparents and Shared Parental Leave

Following the introduction of Shared Parental Leave (SPL) in April 2015, the Government has announced proposals to extend SPL and pay to working grandparents. The proposal stems from the Government’s over-arching aim to increase flexibility and choice in parental leave arrangements and support working parents with the provision of affordable childcare during the first year of their child’s life. In making the proposal to extend SPL, the Government has said that it recognises the crucial role that working grandparents can play in providing childcare and support to their own working children.

SPL was introduced as a means of enabling working mothers to end their maternity leave early in order to share leave and pay with their partner. SPL is currently available only to mothers, fathers, partners and adoptive parents but, by being able to share the SPL with the child’s grandparents, it will provide another option for parents to return to work more quickly. As a helpful by-product, it should also encourage more grandparents to remain in employment, rather than leaving their jobs to help with childcare.

What does this mean for the employer?

Although the extension of SPL has been seen as good news for many working parents, it may be more problematic for employers. With an ageing workforce, the number of working grandparents who may benefit from the proposed extension will be significant: research from the Trade Union Congress indicates that some 7 million grandparents are involved in providing regular childcare to their grandchildren and so allowing their own children to return to work.

If the proposals are implemented, the provisions are likely to be in line with the current statutory SPL scheme and so the entitlement to take SPL will be shared with the child’s eligible grandparents: the grandparents may be able, potentially, to share up to 50 weeks’ SPL. Additionally, eligible grandparents may be able to share up to 37 weeks’ statutory shared parental pay (statutory shared parental pay is currently set at £139.58 a week or 90% of weekly earnings, whichever is the lower). If employers have enhanced provisions for shared parental pay, as they do with, say, maternity pay, they will need to take the same approach with this new entitlement to shared parental pay. This would, of course, add further costs for the employer.

Timescale for new SPL proposal.

As things stand at present, it is intended that the proposal to extend SPL and pay to grandparents will:

• be consulted on during the first half of 2016;
• be brought into effect by 2018; and
• affect working grandparents only.

Employees already have the right to take unpaid emergency leave to care for dependants and to request flexible working provided that they have the required length of service. What do you think the impact of the proposed extension of SPL to grandparents will be for your business?

New Gift Aid Declaration Forms

Gift Aid

HMRC has recently introduced new model wording to be used in Gift Aid Declaration forms from September 2015 onwards. This replaces the previous model wording which may no longer be used after 5 April 2016. The three model forms cover (i) one-off donations; (ii) multiple donations; and (iii) sponsored events. The forms are for use by donors and sponsors of charities or CASCs. Although the content of the forms has changed, the new forms are to be used for the same purposes and in the same way as before. HMRC recommends that the new model wording is used but charities and CASCs may adapt the forms and/or add to the wording, e.g. by adding the logo of, or messages from, the charity/CASC and other details.

What has changed?

The new forms are simpler than the previous versions, and in particular they no longer contain unnecessary references to VAT and Council Tax.

The forms are now worded in a way that demonstrates more clearly the value to the charity or CASC concerned of a Gift Aid claim.

They now also include wording making clear that donors have the responsibility to ensure that they have paid sufficient total tax in the year to cover all their Gift Aid donations, and that they have to pay any shortfall of tax where they have not paid sufficient tax in the year. That responsibility is not a new one, but it was not spelt out in the previous model forms.

Impact and unfairness of claiming back tax from donors

If someone has donated £100 to a charity or CASC under Gift Aid but HMRC finds that they were ineligible to do so under Gift Aid (i.e. they did not pay enough tax to cover the donation), HMRC can claim £25 from him (i.e. the amount of tax which the charity has claimed on that amount), so that the donation will have cost him £125 in total. This is not what he would have expected or intended. The charity will then keep the £100 from the donor and the additional £25 it claimed back from HMRC. If instead the charity had been required to pay back that £25 to HMRC, the donor’s only cost would have been his £100 donation, and the charity would have been no worse off than if the donation of £100 had in the first place not been made under Gift Aid.

This approach by HMRC might be regarded as unfair treatment of donors – many of whom will have donated through Gift Aid when they were taxpayers and then mistakenly made further donations through Gift Aid after they ceased to be taxpayers. Apart from the issue of fairness, if HMRC pursues donors in this way, the effect might be to dissuade some people from making donations who would otherwise have done so, and charities and CASCs would then suffer. Indeed, research carried out for HMRC in 2014 found that serious deterrent messages put off eligible donors.

What will be the effect of these changes?

The Charity Tax Group (“CTG”), which represents the charity sector, had both positive and negative points to make about these changes. The CTG stressed that more needs to be done to promote awareness of the changes and that charities need to ensure that they comply with the requirement to adopt the new model forms. The CTG commented that these new shorter forms are easier for donors to understand and that charities welcomed the new forms – since they are shorter and simpler, they are expected to maximize take up by those donors eligible to use Gift Aid. On the down side, the CTG felt that the new forms’ increased focus on the personal tax status of the donor could have a “chilling effect” on some donors and sponsors.

The Low Incomes Tax Reform Group (“LITRG”), a group independent of HMRC which represents low income donors, was more critical of the new wording. The LITRG called on HMRC not to pursue non-tax paying people for any tax due on donations they make to a charity under Gift Aid, their reason being that it would be fairer for any reimbursement to come instead from the charity. The LITRG’s view was that when a person of limited means makes a donation, the last thing the LITRG wanted was for HMRC to pursue him for tax on the donation. The LITRG highlighted the fact that this creates a moral dilemma for charities and CASCs: although legally entitled to keep the Gift Aid tax amounts reclaimed from HMRC, should charities and CASCs reimburse it rather than letting the donors bear the cost of it? If a charity or CASC does not reimburse it, a donor might cancel the donation itself, seeing it as too risky to donate.

What should charities and CASCs do now?

Since HMRC will not accept the old forms after 5 April 2016, it is important that well before that date all charities and CASCs plan the updating of their Gift Aid Declaration forms, their online and printed statements, fundraising scripts and letters for oral declarations, and use up their existing stocks of printed forms and related material. Existing enduring declarations (i.e. declarations covering all future donations, typically used where the donor makes regular gifts to the charity or CASC) do not have to be renewed, and so there is no need to contact donors to update those forms.

Fit for Work Opens for Business

As of 8 September 2015, employers in England and Wales are able to refer employees to the new Fit for Work occupational health assessment referral service. This is a new Government service that offers a free voluntary occupational health assessment for employees who are off work through illness or injury for at least four weeks.In particular, the service is aimed at small and medium-sized businesses with little or no occupational health support. However, it is also intended to complement existing occupational health provision for larger employers.

Given that 31% of workers are employed by organisations with no occupational health support (YouGov) and around 815,000 working people each year have sickness absence of four weeks or more, the Fit for Work initiative looks to be a useful one.

However, according to the Chartered Institute of Payroll Professionals, only one in four organisations expect to use the service. So, why the reluctance?

Probably for two main reasons: firstly, the service is voluntary and employees can simply refuse to be referred; and, secondly, referrals cannot be made until the sickness absence has lasted for four weeks – a long period of absence for any small or medium-sized undertaking to handle.

Still, given that employers and employees alike have expressed a desire for more support in encouraging employees back to work after prolonged sickness absence, this service – described as ‘free, expert and impartial’ – has to be a step in the right direction in controlling long term sickness absence.

To learn more about changes to the government’s Fit to Work scheme, you can read our newsletter that covers the subject in more detail.

In the meantime, we would love to hear what small business owners think about the changes. So please, contribute to the debate in the comments section below.

By Iain Mackintosh

European Court Rules Mobile Workers Travel Time Counts as Work

Last week, a European Court of Justice (ECJ) decision found that, for workers with no usual place of work, time spent travelling to appointments from home should form part of a worker’s working day. The ruling came about because of an ongoing legal case in Spain involving a company called Tyco, which installs security systems.At present, working time is defined in The Working Time Regulations as:

• Any period during which the worker is working at his or her employer’s disposal and carrying out his or her activity or duties;
• Any period during which he or she is receiving relevant training; and
• Any additional period designated as working time under a relevant agreement.

Working time includes travelling where it is an integral part of the job, e.g. a travelling sales executive or a care worker. This includes travel during normal working hours and travel between sites or clients, since the travelling is an essential part of the work.

The Working Time Directive

The Working Time Directive sets down regulations on matters such as how long employees work, how many breaks they have, and how much holiday they are entitled to. One of its main goals is to ensure that no employee in the EU is obliged to work more than an average of 48 hours a week.

In its ruling, the ECJ said time spent travelling to and from their first and last appointments should be regarded as working time under the European Working Time Directive. The judgment explained that excluding those journeys from working time would be contrary to the objective of protecting the safety and health of workers upheld by EU law.

A groundbreaking decision

This is an important decision for employers with mobile workers, i.e. those without a fixed place of work. Such employers will need to consider how they calculate working time – for example, in relation to the maximum weekly working hours, which could mean that employers will have to ask staff to opt out of the Working Time Directive’s 48-hour working week.

If employers don’t do this, employees could quickly exceed the number of working hours that they are legally allowed to work and employers could find that they are operating illegally and at risk of facing costly claims against them.

Although this case was not concerned with remuneration, there still may be wage implications for employers. For instance, employees may argue that time spent travelling to and from their home for customer visits should count for the calculation of the national minimum wage.

Employers may, therefore, wish to give thought to scheduling the first and last customer visits of the day close to a worker’s home.

Do you employ mobile workers? How will these changes potentially affect your business? Please join the debate in the comments section below.

By Iain Mackintosh

Everything You Need To Know About The Small Business, Enterprise and Employment Act 2015

This blog looks at what the new Act is, its implementation into law, key changes and what you should be doing now to prepare for some of the more significant changes due to take place.

What is the new Act?

The Small Business, Enterprise and Employment Act 2015 received Royal Assent in the last days of the previous parliament. The Act contains a number of measures which together represent significant change for companies and Companies House customers. The Act is being phased in over a nine month period, with the most significant (and controversial) changes due to come into force in 2016.

The government’s stated aim is that the Act should reduce red tape for SME businesses whilst increasing the quality of information on the public register. It also aims to enhance transparency and ensure the UK is seen as a trusted and fair place to do business.

When is it being implemented?

Certain parts of the Act are already in force and the rest will come into effect over the next nine months, with the bulk of the implementation being in 2016. There are, however, certain important changes in relation to the way directors consent to their appointment (as company directors) that are due to come into force on 10 October 2015.

For our updated template material in relation to this new consent procedure, click click here.

What are the key changes?

One of the major changes is that there is to be a register of ‘persons with significant control’ over companies. Private companies must maintain a register of people who hold – directly or indirectly – more than 25 per cent of the shares in a company from April 2016. This information must also be filed with Companies House as of June 2016.

However, for some companies, this register will prove a big and troublesome exercise, and could be said to fly in the face of the government’s red tape challenge and objective of saving time and money for companies.

Another important change is that the requirement to submit an annual return to Companies House will be abolished. Instead, companies will be required to confirm once a year in a ‘confirmation statement’ that the filing of statutory information is up to date and notify of any changes.

Yet there is concern that some companies will confirm everything is up to date without checking to see whether this is actually the case, and over time the quality of the Companies House register may deteriorate. Furthermore, the register may also become progressively harder to use, as the current ‘snapshot’ approach of the annual return is lost.

What should I be doing now?

Simply-Docs has produced a range of documents to cover the parts of the Act that have been implemented already. In addition, we have produced this information page, which includes headline points that SME businesses need to be aware of and their implementation dates.

We will add to our range of documents in due course. as and when other implementation dates approach. However there are some practical steps that companies can take to prepare themselves, particularly in preparation for the new register of ‘persons with significant control’.

This includes finding out who has significant control of the company now, before contacting these people to confirm their shareholding and explain the types of information that they will need to provide to the company going forward. Doing this now will make the whole process of meeting your company’s statutory obligations much easier in 2016.

By Iain Mackintosh

Residential Landlords Watch Out – Section 21 Notices Just Got More Difficult!

On 1 October 2015, significant changes were made to housing law in England (properties in Wales are not affected). The changes which are set out in the Deregulation Act 2015 increase the level of protection afforded to tenants, while placing extra burden on landlords.Buy-to-let investors are still coming to terms with the budget bombshell concerning the reduction of tax relief on mortgage interest payments. How much will these 1 October 2015 changes add to their woes?

What has changed on 1 October?

The most important changes affect landlords’ ability to recover possession of their premises at or after the end of the term of an assured shorthold tenancy. Section 21 of the Housing Act 1988 allows landlords to remove tenants on a ‘no fault’ basis, provided they serve notice correctly and there are no factors that serve to invalidate the notice.

From 1 October there is a longer list of invalidating factors – or, in other words, there are more obstacles in the way of landlords seeking possession. There are also changes to the timing of a Section 21 notice and the timescale for issuing possession proceedings. And there is a new prescribed Section 21 notice which landlords must use.

Readers should note that the changes referred to below only affect tenancies that start on or after 1 October 2015. Tenancies granted before that date are not affected. However, from 1 October 2018, the new provisions will apply to all tenancies, regardless of when they were granted.

Validity of Section 21 Notices

Until 1st October 2015, there were two factors that could invalidate a Section 21 notice: failure to protect the tenant’s deposit in an approved tenancy deposit protection scheme and failure to comply with HMO licensing requirements.

On 1 October, several more restrictions came into play. Landlords are now unable to serve a valid Section 21 notice if:

1. The tenant has made a valid complaint about the condition of the property and, instead of addressing the complaint, the landlord serves a Section 21 notice. This is known as ‘retaliatory eviction’. This restriction comes into play where the local authority has served an improvement notice or an emergency remedial action notice under the Housing Health & Safety Rating System (HHSRS).

2. The landlord has failed to provide the tenant with any of the following: a valid energy performance certificate, a current gas safety certificate or a copy of the publication ‘How to rent: the checklist for renting in England’, published by the Department for Communities and Local Government.

To clarify because this is important: failing to give your tenant a copy of the ‘How to rent’ document means you can’t serve a valid Section 21 Notice!

Timing issues

Prior to 1st October 2015, some landlords and agents liked to issue a Section 21 notice at the start of the tenancy. This was deemed to be unfair to tenants, so from 1st October it is not possible to serve a Section 21 notice in the first four months of a tenancy. Therefore landlords and agents will need to make and keep accurate records if they want to obtain possession at the earliest possible stage – i.e. after six months.

There is also a new deadline for starting possession proceedings if the tenant does not vacate of his or her own accord. Proceedings must be started within six months of the date of service of the Section 21 notice, otherwise a new Section 21 notice must be served.

Prescribed form of Section 21 Notice

A new prescribed form of the Section 21 notice needs to be used to terminate tenancies that start on or after 1 October. Use of the prescribed form is optional for existing tenancies but it is likely that landlords will adopt the new form for all tenancies. From 1 October 2018, the new form must be used for all tenancies.

Any other changes?

As well as the changes to the Housing Act discussed above, landlords and agents need to be aware of the new Smoke and Carbon Monoxide Alarm (England) Regulations 2015 which came into force on 1st October.

Carbon monoxide incidents are more common in rented property than in privately owned homes, and these new regulations are part of a wider effort to improve fire safety in the UK.

The regulations require a smoke alarm to be installed on each storey of premises on which there is a room used wholly or partly as living accommodation (this includes bathrooms and toilets). They also require a carbon monoxide alarm to be present in any room that is used wholly or partly as living accommodation and contains a solid fuel burning combustion appliance. On the first day of a new tenancy, the landlord or their agent must check that each alarm is in proper working order.

Local housing authorities have enforcement powers.

Many properties, particularly those built in recent years, will already be equipped with alarms that comply with the regulations. However, landlords and agents should carry out an audit of their properties to identify deficiencies and remedy as soon as possible.

What should landlords and agents do now?

Landlords and agents should familiarise themselves with the new rules relating to termination of tenancies. A range of new and updated template documents is available on the Simply-docs website.

As we all get to grips with the new regime, we would love to know what landlords and agents think of these changes. Do they strike a fair balance between the interests of landlords and tenants? Will the “how to rent” publication be a useful addition to the tenancy paperwork? Please contribute to the debate in the comments section below!

By Iain Mackintosh

Government Bans Exclusivity Clauses In Zero Hour Contracts

What are zero hour contracts?

The exploitation of workers through the use of zero hour contracts was a hot topic in the General Election and it’s easy to see why.  Zero hour contracts are contracts that do not guarantee a minimum number of hours’ employment and, as of August 2014, a staggering 1.8 million workers were employed on these controversial contracts. This figure, from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) shows that the number of workers on zero hour contracts has increased by more than a quarter from 2013, when figures were first collected.

Who uses zero hour contracts?

Zero hour contacts are particularly popular in the hotel and catering industries where they are used by more than half of businesses. According to the ONS, most workers on zero hour contracts are students or women, and one-third of these workers would like more hours of work compared with just 10% of other people in employment.

It’s easy to see the appeal of zero hours contracts for employers who are afforded greater flexibility in their work force in order to cater for seasonal or fluctuating demand. However, some employees (especially students) like them too and find that zero hour contracts enable them to pursue other interests or commitments alongside a flexible working pattern.

There is general agreement, however, that some employers do not use zero hours contracts in a fair and equitable way. One of the biggest bugbears in this regard is the use of exclusivity clauses in zero hour contracts and a key part of the Conservative Party’s election campaign was a promise to ban such clauses.

Why the fuss about exclusivity?

An exclusivity clause is a contractual clause that prevents workers on zero hour contracts from being able to take work elsewhere, even though the employer does not guarantee any hours of work. As of 26 May 2015, the government finally took some action, bringing into force the much-trailed ban on exclusivity clauses in zero hour contracts.

According to the government, an estimated 125,000 workers in the UK have exclusivity clauses in their zero hour-contracts and so this change could have far-reaching effects.

A proportionate response?

The government’s thinking in banning such exclusivity clauses is that these clauses undermine choice and flexibility for the employee and could constitute an abusive practice on the part of the employer. Neil Carberry of  Confederationof British Industry (CBI) commented: “Banning exclusivity clauses in zero hours contracts is a proportionate response to tackling examples of poor practice”.

As of 26 May, therefore, exclusivity clauses in existing and new contracts will be unenforceable and employers will not be able to rely upon them.

Anti-avoidance measures

The new legislation has, in addition, a section giving the government power to take additional steps to prevent workers on zero hour contracts from being stopped from working for other employers. The law, however, does not give protection from detriment to workers on zero hour contracts and so there are no anti-avoidance measures in place as yet. Watch this space!

By Iain Mackintosh

 

How to Ensure Your Estate Agency Business Complies with Consumer Protection Legislation

A range of consumer protection laws apply to estate agents, lettings agents and property managers. In this blog post we look at the laws that apply and the steps agents and managers can take to ensure compliance.What are the relevant consumer protection laws?

The Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations 2008 prohibit businesses (including estate agents, lettings agents and property managers) from engaging in unfair commercial practices in their dealings with consumers.

Other relevant legislation includes the Unfair Contract Terms Act 1977 and the Unfair Terms in Consumer Contracts Regulations 1999 (both of which outlaw unfair terms in contracts with consumers) and the Supply of Goods and Services Act 1982 (requiring services to be provided with reasonable care and skill).

Agents and managers who breach these laws can face:

•   Criminal penalties (fines or in serious cases imprisonment)
•   Unfair contract terms being unenforceable in the civil courts
•   Action by the Advertising Standards Authority
•   Disciplinary action by their professional body
•   A complaint being made to a redress scheme (Ombudsman)

What do I need to do?

Remember that the laws are relevant to every aspect of the agent’s service, including face-to-face interactions and the preparation of written materials. Therefore estate agents, lettings agents and property managers should take the following practical steps to ensure they are compliant with consumer protection legislation:

•    Make sure written information given to sellers, prospective buyers, landlords and prospective tenants is expressed clearly in plain English and is not capable of misleading them. This applies to contracts with sellers/landlords, particulars provided to buyers/tenants and tenancy agreements and related documentation.
•    Make sure that no relevant information is omitted from contracts, particulars or other documents.
•    Have draft particulars approved (in writing) by sellers and landlords. Draw their attention to the need for particulars to contain complete and accurate information.
•    When handling enquiries, ensure that the information given is clear, complete and accurate.
•    Ensure that sellers, buyers, landlords and tenants are given full details of any fees that will be payable. Make sure this information is provided in an accessible format. Ideally, quote the VAT-inclusive amount.
•    Make sure tenants are fully appraised of all fees, charges and other sums that are payable in addition to the rent (e.g. agent’s fees, cleaning costs, tenancy deposit).
•    Give material information at the appropriate time rather than waiting for the person to request it. For example, if you become aware of new information about a property, tell prospective buyers/tenants at the earliest opportunity.
•    If you spot a problem or a potential problem, e.g. you have concerns about the legal rights of access to a property you are marketing for sale, or there is a maintenance issue at a property you are managing, ensure it is investigated and that appropriate action is taken.
•    Do not act aggressively, e.g. when dealing with difficult tenants.
•    Be professional and act in accordance with the rules of your professional body.
•    Advise sellers, prospective buyers, landlords and prospective tenants of your complaints procedures, including details of any redress scheme to which you belong.

Further Information

The Competition and Markets Authority has published guidance for lettings agents on compliance with consumer protection legislation. See https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/consumer-protection-law-for-lettings-professionals.

Simply-Docs offers a range of professionally drafted template documents to help meet the needs of your estate agency business. Please click here for template terms and conditions, agency appointment forms and complaints handling documents.

By Iain Mackintosh

Increased Rights For Employees Adopting Children from April 2015

New shared parental leave and pay rights apply to the parents of babies due, or children matched for adoption, on or after 5 April 2015.  As of that date, eligible parents of children due to be born or adopted on or after this date, are entitled to a maximum of 52 weeks’ leave and 39 weeks’ statutory pay upon the birth or adoption of the child, which can be shared between both parents.What are the new rights for adopters?

 As a result of this, employees who adopt now benefit from increased rights.

These are:

• Removal of the requirement for 26 weeks’ service before employees become entitled to adoption leave – it becomes instead a ‘day one’ right for which there is no qualifying period

• Both single and joint adopters have the right to attend adoption appointments (paid time off for up to five adoption appointments for the main adopter and unpaid time off for up to two appointments for the secondary adopter) and will be protected from suffering a detriment or being dismissed in relation to exercising that right

• Statutory adoption pay will be brought into line with statutory maternity pay –  the first six weeks will be paid at 90% of the employee’s normal earnings

• Some surrogate parents will become eligible for adoption leave

• Current adoption rights will be extended to couples adopting a child from outside the UK and couples fostering children as part of a Fostering for Adoption placement.

What does this mean for employers?

The changes in respect of legislation relating to adoptions are likely to have a significant impact on employers, who will be required to allow adoption leave in a greater range of circumstances and will also be required to pay their employees more during any period of adoption leave. It is, therefore, particularly important for employers to have detailed policies and procedures in place to deal with these situations fairly and consistently.

For Simply-Docs’ full range of documents for managing the adoption process please click here.

Changes to unpaid parental leave

At the same time as the introduction of Shared Parental Leave and enhanced adoption rights, legislation regarding unpaid parental leave was also changed in favour of the employee.

From 5 April, the right to unpaid parental leave was extended to the parents of any child under the age of 18 years (this was previously available up to the age of five; 18 years in respect of disabled children).

Again, this is likely to have an impact on employers who are now required to allow their employees to take unpaid parental leave for a longer period of time. For the employer, this can be managed more effectively through the use of comprehensive policies that outline the requirements and obligations for unpaid parental leave.

Click here for Simply-Docs’ range of documents on unpaid parental leave.

By Iain Mackintosh

 

 

 

 

Builders And Clients: Are You Prepared For CDM Regulations 2015?

The new Construction Design and Management (CDM) Regulations 2015 are now in force. Statistically there are more injuries and fatalities on smaller, previously unregulated building projects than on larger ones. The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) has decided to address this issue by requiring all projects to have someone overseeing health, safety and welfare in both the pre-start and construction phases.What does the Builder need to know?

From 6th April 2015, every job, including domestic work, will now require a CDM Principal Contractor (PC) who will take overall control for the day-to-day running of the project. This is the same whether you are a building company with in-house tradesmen or a one-man band that brings in traders as needed. Someone will have to be appointed by the client as Principal Contractor.

The builder – now called the Principal Contractor has a range of duties to fulfil on all projects, large or small, including:

•  The builder must prepare a Construction Phase Health and Safety Plan.The builder needs to be certain that the contractors they employ are competent, not only to do their job, but from a health and safety perspective as well. Price is always an important factor, but the Principal Contractor will need to be happy that the chosen subbie is able to carry out their works safely without making shortcuts.

• The Principal Contractor will need to make sure that someone responsible is on site at all times, for example, a trusted sub-contractor foreman. No matter who is left in charge – the Principal Contractor is responsible if they allow shortcuts to   be taken or the agreed procedures to be bypassed.

For more detailed information on the Principal Contractor’s duties please click here for our Simply-Docs information page on Construction (Design & Management) (CDM) Regulations 2015 for Builders.

What does the Client need to know?

Under the regulations, non-domestic clients will have much more direct responsibility than before.  In addition, some building works that you may have assumed would be regarded as “domestic” will now fall within the scope of the regulations. A “non-domestic client” is a person or a company who is having the works done as part of a commercial enterprise. That could be a business building, a new factory or office extension, or a residential or commercial landlord refitting some of their rental properties. Building an office at the end of your garden in order to work from home would make you a non-domestic client. As a rule: if the client will get a business income from the works, they are a non-domestic client.

The practical impact of these regulations is that non-domestic clients will now have even more legal duties in respect of health and safety on-site and more clients will fall into the non-domestic category.

The non-domestic client’s new duties include:

•  The client is now required to make sure that health and safety has been factored into the project, and that sufficient funding has been allowed in the budget for this.

•  The client must appoint, in writing, a Principal Designer (PD) to oversee the design and planning of the project, to put in place all the health and safety procedures, and to create (or at least organise) the Health and Safety File.

•  The client must ensure that both the PD and PC are competent to carry out their role.

If the client doesn’t appoint either a PD or PC, the duties of both will become the client’s by default, so it really is in the client’s best interest to surround themselves with suitably qualified professionals to help them through the process.

The client has many additional duties, for more information on these duties, please click here for our Simply-Docs information page on What Duties Does The Client Have Under The CDM Regulations 2015?

By Iain Mackintosh

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