Thursday, 14 December 2006

HELPing hand in Shrewsbury

Businesses in Shrewsbury were so impressed with an interactive law forum held in Telford – they’ve asked for their own.

The HR and Employment Law in Practice forum, otherwise known as HELP, is organised by Martin-Kaye Solicitors, in Telford, and has been running for the past 12 months.

Now, as a result of customer demand, the law firm has joined forces with National Westminster Bank to organise a series of similar sessions in Shrewsbury.

Graham Davies, senior partner at Martin-Kaye, said: “We aim not just to tell people about what’s happening in Employment Law, but to offer them a chance to network with other employers and Human Resources people to discuss local trends.

“We knew the sessions were effective, and that we were generating a lot of interest, and it’s excellent news that businesses in Shrewsbury are keen to hear more about the advice we have to offer.

The first Shrewsbury workshop was held at The Lord Hill Hotel in the town, with many major local business names attending, and more companies are already showing an interest in the next event.

Brian Seadon, Senior Manager (Commercial Banking) from NatWest, said: “Employment Law is something all businesses have to grapple with and it is vital they get expert advice.

“We are pleased to be able to be part of these forums to help them find that support, and to offer added value to our services.”

The team is now planning to run the Shrewsbury forum for at least the next 12 months, and the sessions will be held every other month.

Pic: At the first Shrewsbury Help forum are, from left, John Mehtam (Martin-Kaye Employment Law Specialist), Brian Seadon (NatWest Bank), Graham Davies (Martin-Kaye Senior Partner), and Adele Robinshaw (NatWest Bank)

Monday, 20 November 2006

Telford lawyer is promoted

A Telford lawyer has been promoted thanks to his innovative and dynamic approach to supporting companies through the minefield of Employment Law.

John Mehtam, of Martin-Kaye Solicitors, at The Foundry, in Euston Way, has been named as a new Associate with the firm.

He has worked with the company for two years as an Assistant Solicitor, and has developed a reputation as one of the most well-respected voices on Employment Law in the region.

“I have specialised in Employment Law for over ten years, working in-house for large PLCs, national legal practices and public sector organisations in Birmingham.

“I decided to join Martin-Kaye as they have a reputation for taking a positive and forward-thinking approach, and they also encourage and reward staff who are keen to suggest ideas on how the company should move forward.

“To be named as a new Associate is a great honour, and I’m really pleased my efforts have been recognised in such a way.”

Senior Partner, Graham Davies, said: “John has been a remarkable success since he joined us. He has helped to set up a number of independent human resources and employment law networks, and has hosted many popular presentations.

“We are very happy to recognise such a talented lawyer who we believe will be a key player in the development of this practice.”

Pic: John Mehtam – the latest Associate at Martin-Kaye Solicitors

Friday, 3 November 2006

Seminar brings change in divorce advice

Financial advisers from across Shropshire are set to change their approach to divorce following the first seminar of its kind in the county.

Nadia Davis, who leads the Family Team at Martin-Kaye Solicitors, in Telford, organised the event following a number of high profile divorce settlements this year.

“We have all seen the headlines in the press about celebrity break-ups and the arguments over divorce settlements which may run into millions of pounds.

“And two landmark decisions in the House of Lords have also changed the law which covers the awards given to wives,” said Nadia.

“So we decided it was important to help people who are involved in financial advice, such as accountants, bankers, and independent advisers, to understand the changes.”

The “Digging for Gold” seminar was held at the company’s headquarters, at The Foundry, in Euston Way, and was attended by more than 40 local bankers and finance experts.

“The feedback has been excellent, and many of the people who took part said the information we gave them will definitely change their approach when they give advice to wealthy clients in the future.

“We’re very pleased that our experience of advising people and guiding them through complex divorce and relationship problems, in particular wealthy individuals and business people, has proved valuable to so many people.

“The Law in this area is very complex and sometimes unpredictable, and our advice aims to help people understand how their assets can be legitimately protected.”


Pic: At the Digging for Gold seminar are, from left, Louise McCabe, Nadia Davis (Martin-Kaye Solicitors), and Sue Hodgson (Martin-Kaye Solicitors)

Tuesday, 31 October 2006

Helping the elderly face legal issues

Elderly residents in Shropshire nursing homes are being invited to sit down for a cup of tea and a slice of – legal advice.

The scheme has been launched by Martin-Kaye Solicitors, of The Foundry, in Euston Way, Telford, in the wake of increasing concerns about the cost of care.

Fiona Macnamara, from the firm’s Family Team, specialises in issues which affect elderly people, and she has been visiting local nursing homes for an informal chat.

“More and more elderly people are facing the prospect of having to sell their family home to pay for their care, and it’s clear that families are extremely concerned about how they can protect the assets their relative has worked for all their life,” said Fiona.

“We decided to organise a series of coffee mornings at the invitation of several local nursing homes, in order to give residents and their families the opportunity to raise any questions or concerns in a relaxed atmosphere.

“The majority of questions are about wills, estate planning and inheritance tax, and of course about how to deal with the increasing costs families are facing to make sure their relatives are well cared for.

“I don’t make a formal presentation, as it wouldn’t be appropriate, but really it’s just a chat in a comfortable environment which is designed to help put people’s minds at ease.

“We also provide the refreshments for the get-together, to make sure there is no cost to the nursing homes we visit.”

Fiona is currently planning a new round of visits, and is keen to hear from nursing homes who think they would benefit from a similar event.

Pic: Fiona Macnamara (Martin-Kaye Solicitors) with Betty Rawlins and Richard Hughes, at the latest coffee morning and advice session held at Hallcroft Close, Newport

Monday, 16 October 2006

Check the Small Print

Shropshire employers are being warned to check the small print when it comes to terminating staff contracts.

John Mehtam, Employment Law Specialist at Martin-Kaye Solicitors in Telford, said employees leaving a company were often asked to sign a written contract detailing the terms and conditions of their departure.

“The problem is that many companies rely on a standard agreement which applies to all employees.

“This is a dangerous policy, as a general agreement may not provide the level of protection you need for your company.

“Loopholes may mean former employees could start unfair dismissal proceedings, even though they have signed the agreement and banked the severance cheque.”

John said a correctly drafted agreement was essential or companies could face a difficult time.

“Each agreement must be countersigned by a solicitor, and on average I am seeing between five and ten employees a month who have received these documents.

“Many of the agreements have been drafted without legal advice, and in light of some of the latest court judgements, they appear to be almost worthless.

“They need to be drafted carefully, and should set out the individual circumstances for each employee, as well as detailing the legislation covering the termination.”

Friday, 13 October 2006

On Tee for Charity

Financial advisers from across Shropshire are set to learn more about how to protect their clients from crippling divorce settlements.

Nadia Davis, who leads the Family Team at Martin-Kaye Solicitors, is hosting a seminar at the company’s headquarters at The Foundry, in Euston Way, Telford, on October 26.

“This year has seen some high profile divorce settlements running into millions of pounds, and professional people need to be aware of what kind of impact divorce can have on their business,” said Nadia.

“The landmark cases have changed the way settlements are dealt with, and this has led to the phrase ‘digging for gold’, or ‘greedy wife syndrome’.

“We have decided to invite representatives from the accounting, banking and financial services sectors to our seminar, and share our knowledge to help them learn more about the consequences divorce can have on a person’s finances

“By providing them with key information on this ever-changing subject, we hope it will put the financial specialists at a distinct advantage when they are dealing with clients who are dealing with the fall-out following the breakdown of a relationship.

“Our Family Team have been advising people and guiding them through complex divorce and relationship problems for many years, and in particular, wealthy individuals and business people.

“The Law in this area is very complex and sometimes unpredictable, and the two landmark decisions this year have made legal history, moving the goalposts yet again.

“Our seminar will explain how assets can be legitimately protected, and we will also be sharing information which we are sure will be of benefit to clients in the future.”

Sunday, 1 October 2006

Newsletter Number 14

Issue 14 Front CoverIssue 14 Seal of approval for new office

Our new multi-million pound offices have been officially opened by the "Voice of UK Business".

» Read more

Friday, 29 September 2006

"Digging for Gold" Warning

Financial advisers from across Shropshire are set to learn more about how to protect their clients from crippling divorce settlements.

Nadia Davis, who leads the Family Team at Martin-Kaye Solicitors, is hosting a seminar at the company’s headquarters at The Foundry, in Euston Way, Telford, on October 26.

“This year has seen some high profile divorce settlements running into millions of pounds, and professional people need to be aware of what kind of impact divorce can have on their business,” said Nadia.

“The landmark cases have changed the way settlements are dealt with, and this has led to the phrase ‘digging for gold’, or ‘greedy wife syndrome’.

“We have decided to invite representatives from the accounting, banking and financial services sectors to our seminar, and share our knowledge to help them learn more about the consequences divorce can have on a person’s finances

“By providing them with key information on this ever-changing subject, we hope it will put the financial specialists at a distinct advantage when they are dealing with clients who are dealing with the fall-out following the breakdown of a relationship.

“Our Family Team have been advising people and guiding them through complex divorce and relationship problems for many years, and in particular, wealthy individuals and business people.

“The Law in this area is very complex and sometimes unpredictable, and the two landmark decisions this year have made legal history, moving the goalposts yet again.

“Our seminar will explain how assets can be legitimately protected, and we will also be sharing information which we are sure will be of benefit to clients in the future.”

Bullying must be stopped

Shropshire employers must protect their staff from bullying in the workplace or face substantial compensation claims.

The warning comes from John Mehtam, Employment Law Specialist at Martin-Kaye Solicitors, in Telford.

“There have been several high profile cases lately where employers were found to be guilty of failing to protect staff from ongoing bullying, and the employees involved have received large amounts of compensation.


“It’s important that employers are on their guard for any signs of bullying in the workplace, as cases like this raise the profile of the issue, and it’s likely that there will be an increase in the number of claims against company bosses.”

John said under The Protection from Harassment Act 1997, employees also now had more time to launch a case.

“Under discrimination laws, employees have to bring a claim within three months of leaving their job, and for many people this is just too soon and they feel unable to take action because they are mentally and emotionally drained.

“But under the 1997 Act, employees have up to six years to bring a claim, and so employers may find that an incident they thought had been forgotten rears its ugly head in the future.”

John said employers should take steps within the workplace to try to avoid such incidents occurring in the first place.

“Try to create a working environment where it’s clear to everyone that bullying is not tolerated, and train your management staff to make sure they realise such behaviour is just unacceptable.

“If your workforce are constantly at odds with each other, and working in a difficult environment where they don’t feel comfortable, your business will soon start to suffer.
“Tackle bullying before it starts, and you should be able to protect your staff and your company, and ensure your business remains competitive and successful at the same time.”

Friday, 22 September 2006

Overtime ban for Shropshire workers

Shropshire employees will now be banned from choosing how much overtime they want to work, according to a European Union ruling.

John Mehtam, Employment Law Specialist at Martin-Kaye Solicitors, in Telford, said the guidelines had been issued by the European Court of Justice.

“The Department of Trade and Industry tried to give British employees the freedom to choose their hours of work, while still respecting the EU’s working time directive.

“But this decision means thousands of workers will no longer have the option to work more than 13 hours in a day, or work through all seven days of the week.”

Currently, the employment rules in Britain state that employers must make sure workers can take their rest, but they are not required to make sure they do.

“The court ruling said the British guidelines were incompatible with the European rules, as rest periods were considered essential to protect workers’ health and safety.

“So now, British employers must ensure workers take at least 11 hours of consecutive rest in any 24 hours, and no less than 24 hours’ consecutive rest in any seven days.”

John said several categories of employee were exempt from rules, including most managers and executives, emergency services, and workers in vital public services.

“The ruling means that businesses must ensure the welfare of their staff is paramount, and that they insist their workers stick to the rules – no matter how keen they are to work extra hours.”

Wednesday, 23 August 2006

Getting the balance right

A Telford solicitor has warned that taking steps to prevent overseas workers coming to Britain to fill skills gaps could create problems for the UK economy.

John Mehtam, Employment Law Specialist at Martin-Kaye Solicitors, in Euston Way, said: "It's all a question of balance - and often workers from overseas are meeting the skills needs of UK businesses as they cannot find staff with the appropriate skills over here.

"There has been a lot of media coverage of the fact that more than 427,000 Eastern Europeans have come to work in Britain since the expansion of the European Union.

"Research commissioned by the Government had previously estimated the number of annual applications from the eight former Communist countries who joined the EU in May 2004 would be no more than five to 13,000.

"And obviously there are now concerns that with Romania and Bulgaria's expected accession to the EU in January, even more people will be seeking work in the UK.

"But there are restrictions already in place which have been designed to protect workers in the UK, and which employers must adhere to, or they can face tough fines."

John said overseas nationals were free to enter, stay and work in the UK including those from the European Economic Area, certain Commonwealth citizens, and overseas nationals with settled status.

"Some people can come to the UK without a work permit to work in certain occupations, such as trainee nurses, au pairs and private servants, or for a fixed time.

"But all other overseas workers must have a work permit from the Home Office, an immigration employment document, or other specific permission to work here."

John said the Asylum and Immigration Act 1996 ruled that employers would be committing a criminal offence if they employed someone who did not have permission to work here.

"And despite the rumours that overseas workers are doing the jobs for less money than their UK counterparts, the salary paid to an immigrant worker has to be at least equal and broadly the same as a UK worker would receive, or the work permit will be refused.

"It's clear that no-one wants to see a flood of overseas workers descending on the UK jobs market at the expense of UK workers, but it's also clear that in some businesses, they bring in valuable skills that cannot be found here at home."

Tuesday, 22 August 2006

Multi-national staff at law firm

A Telford law firm which has always been proud of its international links now has a truly multi-national workforce too.

Martin-Kaye Solicitors, based at The Foundry, in Euston Way, has welcomed three new employees from different corners of the world.

Senior Partner, Graham Davies, said: "We are already a founder member of IAG International, which is a networking group of lawyers, accountants, tax advisers, and other professionals from across the world.

"And now we're delighted to unveil our newest recruits to our team, who all have an international background."

Silvia Guillen, who is originally from Gran Canaria, qualified as a Spanish Lawyer in 1996, and after passing the Qualified Lawyer's Transfer Test, she also became a qualified solicitor in English Law in 2003.

"With so many people keen to buy holiday homes abroad, particularly in Spain, her background will help us to ensure our clients receive the very best advice from a lawyer who has experienced Spanish property law first hand," said Graham.

Lana Perkins is the second new face, and she is from Tallinn, in Estonia. She studied Law at the International University of Social Sciences, in Tallinn, and came to England when she married her husband who is from Shrewsbury.

"The legal profession has always been my passion, and I have found the people here to be very friendly and professional," she said.

Amanda Hunter, from Ontario, in Canada, joined Martin-Kaye Solicitors originally as a secretary and is now working towards a Legal Executive qualification as a member of the Commercial Property Team.

"It was always my aim to live and work in the UK by the time I was 25, as I just felt a real connection to England every time I visited, and I'm really pleased to have achieved my dream."

Nita is a new partner

Telford law firm, Martin-Kaye Solicitors, has appointed a new Partner.

Nita Patel, leads the private property department at the practice based at The Foundry, in Euston Way.

She has been with the company for over five years and is responsible for running the department handling all private property matters.

"I am extremely pleased to be recognised in such a way, and I'm really looking forward to being closely involved in developing the systems and strategies that will take the company into the future with confidence."

Nita studied Law at Westminster University in London, and trained with a city law firm where she specialised in property law.

After working with various firms in London and Buckinghamshire to widen her experience, she moved to the West Midlands six years ago.

"I manage a team of 35 employees, and my aim is to ensure our department continues to play a leading role in the property industry on a national scale.

"Being a Partner will give me an incredible opportunity to help build on Martin-Kaye's already strong reputation, and it's an achievement of which I am very proud."

Senior Partner Graham Davies said: "At Martin-Kaye, we believe in encouraging our employees to grow with the company.

"Nita is a perfect example of someone who has made the most of their time with us, maximising all the opportunities she has been given. Her appointment as a new Partner is testimony to the hard work she has put in."

Friday, 11 August 2006

Paternity leave nightmare

Small businesses in Shropshire could face a nightmare situation when new paternity leave rules are introduced next year.

John Mehtam, the Employment Law Specialist at Martin-Kaye Solicitors, in Euston Way, Telford, said the Work and Families Act 2006 could bring real difficulties for business owners.

"The rules extend the right for employees to request flexible working hours if they are caring for an adult and, from April next year, paid maternity leave will increase from six to nine months.

"Employers will also have to allow any unused maternity leave to be transferred to the baby's father and they will be able to take it as paternity leave.

"But this will create even more administration for small business owners, on top of the already huge demands they are facing on a day-to-day basis.

"Obviously it's good news for parents as they will have even greater choices when it comes to caring for their children, but the rules could well create a nightmare situation for small companies."

John said it could be particularly difficult for firms to make a thorough check on each family's circumstances, to ensure the system was not being abused.

"If, for example, the parents have separated, and the mother is with a new partner, then feasibly two men could claim paternity leave for the same child - how can an employer check if this is the case?

"The Government has warned that companies who don't comply with the new rules could face fines, but it will be incredibly difficult for employers to administer this scheme.

"It seems that a lot of responsibility will fall on small companies who already find it difficult to keep up with the ever-increasing legislation in the workplace, and it's a burden they could well do without."

Consultation on the proposed new laws has now ended, but employers are still waiting for the final details of the scheme to be confirmed.

Wednesday, 19 July 2006

New Partnership at Martin-Kaye

A Shropshire law firm has named a new Partner as part of an ongoing major restructure.

Martin-Kaye Solicitors, in Euston Way, Telford, is celebrating its 21st year in business, and has marked the anniversary with a move to multi-million pound new premises

Now Nadia Davis, who leads the Family Team, has been named as a new Partner at the firm, as part of the new-look organisation.

"I'm absolutely delighted to have been made a Partner, and to have the opportunity to play a part in the future plans of one of the most dynamic and fastest growing businesses in the area," said Nadia.

"I'm also proud for my team as the news shows their hard work and specialist skills have been recognised by the firm as an important element in its long-term strategy."

Nadia trained and qualified as a solicitor with Herbert Wilkes (now The Wilkes Partnership) in Birmingham, which is one of the largest commercial firms in the city.

"I then decided to specialise in Family and Matrimonial work, and moved to Brendan Fleming in Birmingham, where I managed one of their branch offices. I joined Martin-Kaye in 1999 as head of the Family Team, and was made an Associate in 2002.

"During the time I have been with the firm, the type of work we are involved in has become more and more specialised.

"We now have a very high level of expertise in dealing with financial settlements alongside divorce, and are regularly dealing with large assets and complex financial matters involving businesses and family trusts."

Senior Partner, Graham Davies, said Nadia had been named a Partner after showing commitment and dedication which set the Family Team apart from other practices.

"Nadia has shown great leadership in her role as head of the Family Team, and we are sure her skills and expertise will prove invaluable in helping us to shape the services we offer in the future."

Redundancies on the rise

A Telford solicitor has warned that more and more companies are facing the dilemma of staff redundancies.

John Mehtam, the Employment Law specialist, at Martin-Kaye Solicitors, in Euston Way, Telford, said the past six months had seen a dramatic increase in the number of workers being laid off.

“Even this week, there have been two major announcements in Telford, with almost 500 civil servants losing their jobs at the Defence Logistics Organisation in Sapphire House, and over 100 jobs going at British Sugar in Allscott.

“And these decisions echo the worrying trend we have seen in other local companies, particularly in the manufacturing sector where redundancies are becoming much more common.”

John said employers facing tough decisions must take care though, as there were a number of pitfalls they could encounter, which could lead to costly tribunal claims.

“Any companies currently considering redundancies, restructuring or down-sizing their operation must ensure they consult their staff fully at every step in the process.

“It’s also important to use a fair selection policy when it comes to choosing who will lose their job - consider a last in, first out policy, or assess each candidate against a series of requirements and award them points for their relevant skills.

“You should also consider all the alternatives before you decide to announce redundancies. Maybe you could reduce staff hours, redeploy a number of employees, or even introduce temporary lay-offs.

“But if you really do have no other option, make sure you follow the strict statutory dismissal rules, and keep a detailed paper trail of all your actions.

“Take legal advice at the earliest opportunity, and this should help you to avoid the dangers during what is always an extremely stressful time for both employees and employers.”

Wednesday, 5 July 2006

Redundancies on the rise

A Telford solicitor has warned that more and more companies are facing the dilemma of staff redundancies.

John Mehtam, the Employment Law specialist, at Martin-Kaye Solicitors, in Euston Way, Telford, said the past six months had seen a dramatic increase in the number of workers being laid off.

“Even this week, there have been two major announcements in Telford, with almost 500 civil servants losing their jobs at the Defence Logistics Organisation in Sapphire House, and over 100 jobs going at British Sugar in Allscott.

“And these decisions echo the worrying trend we have seen in other local companies, particularly in the manufacturing sector where redundancies are becoming much more common.”

John said employers facing tough decisions must take care though, as there were a number of pitfalls they could encounter, which could lead to costly tribunal claims.

“Any companies currently considering redundancies, restructuring or down-sizing their operation must ensure they consult their staff fully at every step in the process.

“It’s also important to use a fair selection policy when it comes to choosing who will lose their job - consider a last in, first out policy, or assess each candidate against a series of requirements and award them points for their relevant skills.

“You should also consider all the alternatives before you decide to announce redundancies. Maybe you could reduce staff hours, redeploy a number of employees, or even introduce temporary lay-offs.

“But if you really do have no other option, make sure you follow the strict statutory dismissal rules, and keep a detailed paper trail of all your actions.

“Take legal advice at the earliest opportunity, and this should help you to avoid the dangers during what is always an extremely stressful time for both employees and employers.”

Saturday, 1 July 2006

Newsletter Number 13

Issue 12 Front CoverIssue 13
We're almost there

Work on our new £3 million purpose-built offices at Euston Way is almost complete, and the exciting prospect of a new home is looming.

» Read more

Thursday, 22 June 2006

Business deals success

A Telford law firm is developing a growing reputation for handling high profile international deals.

Martin-Kaye Solicitors, of Euston Way, has a specialist team of commercial lawyers who have seen a massive increase in business over the past 12 months.

Stuart Haynes, who leads the team, said: “It has been an extremely busy year for us as we have dealt with an unusually high number of business acquisitions, all with international connections.

“The increase in business is a direct result of the reputation we are building for our high quality services, and our specialised knowledge.”

The firm has worked closely with other lawyers and professional advisers across the world to secure the deals, and is also a founder member of the Integrated Advisory Group (IAG) International organisation - a business networking group with worldwide membership.

Martin-Kaye’s latest deals have included the Busch Group acquisition of Graham Vacuum Technology, of Congleton. The international vacuum pump manufacturer has more than 1700 employees working in 43 manufacturing and operations facilities across the world, including one in Telford.

“We acted for Busch, and worked closely with the company to ensure the deal progressed as quickly and efficiently as possible.

“The commitment shown by our team during a highly pressurised and crucial time was second to none,” said Stuart.

Martin-Kaye Solicitors also helped to secure a multi-million pound deal involving Copperweld Inc, which has a bimetallics plant in Telford.

“Copperweld was acquired by Atlas Tubes, which is based in America, in a deal worth over $350 million, and we worked closely with legal teams from Detroit, Toronto and Chicago to ensure it went ahead.”

Another key deal which the firm was involved in was the merger of a UK distributor and its Canadian parent manufacturing company, and the team has recently completed joint ventures in India and Singapore. Negotiations are also ongoing over more deals in Singapore, as well as in China, Poland and the USA.

“It is clear that our reputation for handling international matters is growing, and we believe our experience means we can offer international legal advice that sets us apart from our competitors.”

Thursday, 8 June 2006

Nita is the jewel in the crown

A Telford solicitor has been recognised in a glittering ceremony to mark the contribution made by Asian people to British society.

Nita Patel, who is a partner at Martin-Kaye Solicitors, in Euston Way, Telford, was shortlisted in the Professional Excellence category of the Lloyds TSB Asian Jewel Awards.

“I was really pleased to make the final four in this tough category which aims to recognise the achievements of Asian men and women in all areas of professional practice across Britain,” said Nita.

“It was a fantastic evening, held in Birmingham, and I am just honoured to have been in such amazing company."

The Professional Excellence Jewel Award category was set up to increase awareness and praise the outstanding achievements being made by British Asian professionals in the business and corporate sector throughout the UK.

Judges said it identified Asians whose managerial skills, professionalism, and pursuit of best practice were integral to the development and progress of public and private sector organisations.

Martin-Kaye Senior Partner, Graham Davies, said: “Nita joined our practice in 2001, and was made an Associate in January 2003.

“She specialises in private property work, and since joining has increased revenue by, among other things, introducing products previously not used by the firm.

“Her managerial skills, determination to succeed, and professionalism has led to her developing a reputation as an influential and determined character at Martin-Kaye, and resulted in her appointment as the first female Asian member of the Senior Management Team.

“We’re delighted her contribution to our company has been recognised on such a high profile stage, and that she was shortlisted for such an important award.”

Chairman of the Institute of Asian Professionals, Khalid Darr, said: “Essentially, the Lloyds TSB Asian Jewel Awards concentrate on the positive, on the way that Asian people have successfully integrated into British society, and are now making a highly valuable contribution to the social and economic fabric of this country.

“We have found enormous goodwill on the part of business, industry and the public sector to take part in this valuable and highly appreciated celebration of success.”

Monday, 22 May 2006

Don't fear age rules

Shropshire employers who treat their staff fairly need not fear new rules on age discrimination.

The new legislation takes effect on October 1, and bans most forms of age discrimination in the workplace, as well as setting the national retirement age at 65.

But John Mehtam, of Martin-Kaye Solicitors, in Euston Way, Telford, said in reality, the new guidelines should cause few problems for companies where people were already treated fairly and with consideration.

“Many companies are concerned about the new rules, and the penalties are certainly severe if firms fail to stick to the criteria.

“But if employers act now and ensure they get the right advice on just how the rules must be implemented, most right-thinking companies should find they have very few changes to make.”

John said ACAS, the conciliation service had issued new guidance on the legislation, to try to reassure employers.

“It takes companies through every possible situation where age discrimination could crop up, from first recruiting staff, to promoting them, training, discipline, and rewards, through to retirement.

“The guidance includes suggestions such as removing age or date of birth requests from application forms, and avoiding words such as energetic, young or mature when advertising for new staff.

“And employers will also have to ensure ageist jokes are banned from the workplace to avoid any possible harassment claims.

“But in companies where employees are already treated with respect, many of these new rules are probably already being followed - the new legislation is merely formalising the situation.

“Employers should not be facing the start of October with dread, but taking every opportunity to find out all they can before the deadline comes round, and so make sure they are well prepared in advance.”

Thursday, 18 May 2006

More rights for temporary staff

Shropshire companies must take care when it comes to employing temporary staff, a local solicitor has warned.

John Mehtam, of Martin-Kaye Solicitors, in Euston Way, Telford, said recent court judgements had strengthened the rights of such employees, which could cause real problems.

“This new position may make it very difficult for employers who want to go through agencies and take on temporary workers.

“There is always the risk, particularly where someone has worked for your company for a considerable length of time on a temporary basis, that the court may decide you have an implied contract of employment with them.

“This means they could be entitled to employment rights where previously these were limited.

“So you will no longer be free to take people on as temporary workers and be fully confident that you won’t be found liable for unfair dismissal if the relationship comes to an end.

“This is despite the fact that the law actually says unfair dismissal claims can only be brought by employees with a contract.”

John said employers would need to be extremely careful and define the relationship with the temporary or contract worker as soon as possible.

“You will need to agree at the outset that there will be no possibility of a contract between your company and the temporary worker, no matter how the situation develops or how long they work for you.

“In this way, you should be able to protect your company and still reap the benefits of employing temporary staff when you need them.”

Wednesday, 17 May 2006

Get your game plan ready

Shropshire employers are being urged to draw up a game plan well in advance of the forthcoming football World Cup.

John Mehtam, Employment Law Specialist at Martin-Kaye Solicitors, in Euston Way, Telford, said many companies were likely to face staffing issues during the tournament.

“It’s clear that companies should be prepared for unauthorised absences, particularly on the days of the biggest matches.

“After all, there are 64 matches altogether, all of which will be covered on television and in other media, which could prove too much of a temptation for your staff.”

John said employees should of course use their annual leave to watch football, but this would be impractical as not everyone could be away from the workplace at the same time.

“There are ways you can tackle the issue though, and if you can prove they took unauthorised time off just to watch a match, you could issue disciplinary warnings.

“But a more sensible approach may be to take the initiative, and be flexible, which will lead to more harmony in the workplace.

“Why not give your staff the opportunity to watch the England games on the television in the office rest area?

“Make it clear that this is open to everyone, and stress that if they take unauthorised leave rather than sticking to the agreed arrangement, they will face tough disciplinary action.

“You could then either ask staff to make up the time they spent watching the match, or let them take it at your expense - think of the benefits of that in motivational terms, and after all, it’s only 90 minutes.

“The World Cup is set to be an inevitable distraction for a large number of employees in all kinds of workplaces this summer, but it doesn’t have to be a difficult problem.

“Be pro-active and draw up your game plan well in advance so that everyone knows where they stand - and you may even find the tournament brings out a team spirit you’ve never seen before, particularly if England do well.”

Wednesday, 26 April 2006

Encourage sick staff back to work

Shropshire companies should work hard to rehabilitate staff who have been off long-term sick, a local solicitor has said.

John Mehtam is the Employment Law Specialist at Martin-Kaye Solicitors, in Euston Way, Telford, and said making an effort with staff who have been absent for a long time could bring real dividends.

“Encouraging a sick employee back to work earlier will mean you can reduce the unnecessary cost of finding someone else to do their job temporarily, and it also helps to motivate the employee.”

He said that long-term sickness absence was reported to cost UK business over £3.8 billion every year.

“But by making the effort to rehabilitate your sick staff, you really can help your business and the employee at the same time.”

John said research had shown that where companies did not attempt to rehabilitate their staff, 80 per cent of people on long-term sickness never returned to work.

“And yet if you do work together, you can reduce the unnecessary costs of recruiting a temporary replacement, avoid disability claims as you will be seen to have tried to make reasonable adjustments, and increase the productivity - an employee who returns part-time is better than not at all.”

Employers should work on a rehabilitation programme, to help the employee return to work as smoothly as possible.

“Stay in touch with the employee to stop them feeling isolated, and also to keep up to date with how their health is progressing.

“With their permission, contact their doctor, and ask if a phased return may be possible, perhaps part-time or with changes to their duties.

“And after consulting their doctor, work with the employee to produce a plan setting out duties and working hours, which may need to be changed in the short-term, and also allow for regular progress meetings.”

John said after a trial period on the amended terms, progress should be measured to see if the employee is able to return full-time, or if the current arrangement needs to go on longer.

“If it’s clear that the arrangement has not, and will not, work, it should be safe to dismiss the person on medical grounds - but keep good records of the reasonable actions you have taken to try to help them return to work, to avoid a disability discrimination claim.”

What's the risk with health and safety?

Companies in Shropshire must take the health and safety of their staff seriously if they are to avoid potential legal action, according to a Telford solicitor.

John Mehtam, the Employment Law Specialist at Martin-Kaye Solicitors, in Euston Way, said employers who were well prepared were more likely to avoid accidents on their premises.

"There has been a lot of talk in the media about a so-called 'compensation culture', where the slightest incident brings a claim against your company.

"But in reality, many claimants fail to realise that an injury isn't enough - to succeed with a claim, they will be required to prove it's your company's fault."

John said many companies worried about receiving random inspections from the Health and Safety Executive.

"They generally tend to concentrate on businesses which are more high risk from a health and safety point of view, such as the construction industry or companies with a previous history of problems.

"Your company is really most at risk of an inspection following an accident where someone is injured, or if an employee you have dismissed decides to report you."

Companies who employ five or more staff are required to have a written health and safety policy, which should set out how you approach the issues at work and what you expect of your staff.

"You should also carry out risk assessments, which need not be complicated, although if your workplace has a lot of hazards, such as open machinery, more detail will be required."

John said it was important to remember that visitors to your premises, as well as staff, could be at risk.

"Look for obvious hazards and decide who may be harmed and how; evaluate the risks and assess whether there are enough precautions in place; record your decisions; and review your assessments regularly.

"By making good use of a sensible health and safety policy, you can protect your staff, your visitors, and of course, your company as a whole."

Tuesday, 25 April 2006

More protections for part time workers

Shropshire employers are being warned they must not discriminate between full-time and part-time workers.

The warning comes from John Mehtam, who is the Employment Law Specialist at Martin-Kaye Solicitors, in Euston Way, Telford.

He said a landmark case in the House of Lords should prove extremely helpful to part-time employees fighting to receive equal rights to their full-time colleagues.

“The case involved a group of part-time firefighters and was the first test of the Part-Time Workers (Prevention of Less Favourable Treatment) Regulations 2000,” said John.

The Fire Brigades Union had argued that under the regulations, the part-time firefighters, who also had other jobs, were not being treated equally.

They were not allowed to join the pension scheme, and received less favourable sick pay and acting-up pay.

“The Court of Appeal backed the claim that both retained and full-time firefighters are employed under the same type of contract, but said those working full-time obviously carried out additional work.

“But it’s clear that their work is substantially the same and all tasks carried out by the firefighters, whether they are part-time or full-time are essential to the overall service they deliver.

“As a result of these decisions, employers will not now be able to treat part-timers differently, and many will have to reconsider the terms and conditions they offer.

“They will also be unable to dismiss part-timers’ claims just by comparing them to the additional work carried out by people working longer hours.

“Employers must beware that this ruling paves the way for far greater protection for part-time employees, and creates a real chance for them to be treated equally in the workplace.”

Monday, 24 April 2006

Firms should reclaim domain names

companies will now find it easier to reclaim website names which include their title or trademark, thanks to a High Court ruling.

Tom Esler, who leads the Dispute Resolution Team, at Martin-Kaye Solicitors, in Euston Way, Telford, said the ruling was a great step forward.

“Previously many people thought if a website name was registered, even though it was not being used, there was little the trademark owner could do.

“But this new ruling will make it much easier for companies to take possession of a website name which has been registered by someone else, even if there is no evidence that anyone is trying to use it unlawfully.”

Tom said the judge had ruled that holding the domain name without a good reason meant the third party company possessed “an instrument of fraud”, and he insisted it be assigned to its lawful owner.

“The third party company had registered the domain name the same day that the new company had been formed, and so a large volume of emails, potentially confidential and sensitive, could have been received and read.”

He said usually companies who were concerned about domain names which could be confused with their firm initially took a cautious approach to the problem.

“It’s usual to write to the third party company and explain they shouldn’t use the website address as it would be breaching the trademark rules.

“Due to previous legal rulings, they cannot offer it to another business or try to sell it back to the company which owns the trademark, so the simple solution is for them to give it back, and many did just that.

“Now with the backing of this latest ruling, it will be possible to insist that they return the domain name to the rightful owner.

“This is a major step forward in ensuring that doing business in cyber space adheres to rules that would apply in a more general day-to-day setting.”

Tom said if any company was concerned that a website address containing their title or trademark was being used by someone else, they should seek legal advice.

“It’s important to ensure you follow the procedures correctly in order to protect the interests of your business.”

Saturday, 1 April 2006

Newsletter Number 12

Issue 12 Front CoverIssue 12
Double success at Martin-Kaye

We’re celebrating a double success after securing two awards for the quality of our services.

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Tuesday, 17 January 2006

Threat to sunshine homes

Shropshire holidaymakers who own properties in Spain could face the threat of a demolition order, a solicitor has warned.

Silvia Guillen, of Martin-Kaye Solicitors, in Euston Way, Telford, is qualified in both UK and Spanish property law, and said many investors had been caught up in an illegal scam.

“There have been many reported cases of corrupt city planning, where overseas investors have bought holiday homes which are now threatened with demolition.

“This is because the properties have been built in unauthorised areas, without the correct licences or planning permission, and now many people fear their dream of a home in the sun may be under threat.”

But Silvia said judges in Spain assessed each case individually, and took into consideration that the buyers had probably purchased the house in “good faith”, believing that the land registry was correct.

“The Council of Public Works and Transport of Andalusia suggested modifying the General Urban Development Plan, which would protect around 85% of the properties built illegally, with only 15% needing to be demolished.

“The properties ordered for demolition would be likely to be any that have been built in green zones, school areas or other city development zones.”

Silvia said many judges were resisting the call for demolition orders to be placed, particularly when the buyers had already moved in to the property.

“This is not only because they are concerned about the buyers who purchased the properties in good faith, but also because they fear they could face huge compensation claims from the people who lose their homes.

“If the buyers are true victims of city-planning fraud, it’s clear that the judges should not make a demolition order. They should punish the people who have knowingly taken money from these British holidaymakers such as the constructors, promoters, civil employees, and politicians.

“There are a great number of cases where properties built without a licence have been sold to overseas holidaymakers, and they were told the documents were in order, or at worst, they would only face a fine to put the situation right

“Holidaymakers looking for a home in the sun must be protected from this illegal scam, and it’s vital they find the right professional advice to help their case before they commit to a purchase.”

Sunday, 1 January 2006

Newsletter Number 11

Issue 12 Front CoverIssue 11
Martin-Kaye stands out from the crowd

Many high profile companies and organisations have been continually impressed with the wide range of expertise our Commercial Department can offer all under one roof.

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