Friday, 27 November 2009

Christmas could cost you dearly

Christmas is fast approaching, but Shropshire companies have been warned getting into the festive spirit could cost them dearly.

Our Senior Partner, Graham Davies, said many businesses chose to play Christmas carols in the background in the run-up to the big day. “But it’s not as simple as just putting on a CD of seasonal music and singing along – your company will actually need two licences if you want to play music in the workplace.”

Graham said to play music in a commercial environment, businesses must have licences from both the Performing Rights Society (PRS) and Phonographic Performance Limited (PPL). To find out the accurate price for a licence, companies must apply to both organisations’ websites and the minimum licence length is 30 days.

“It’s important to remember though that as soon as you ask for a quote, you will have alerted them to your intentions and so the risk of receiving a visit from one of their inspectors is much greater.

“And as well as following up licence enquiries from their websites, they actively seek out companies who are flouting the rules. One tactic that may be used is for inspectors to phone a business and see if music is being played in the background, and then check their registers to see if you have a licence.”

Graham said if you are found without a licence, your company will be required to apply for one immediately. “You will have to pay a 50% premium on top of the usual licence fee, and if you refuse to pay, you will risk being prosecuted and fined.

“Some businesses without a licence may be tempted to sit tight, play the music anyway and let the inspectors find them, taking the view that the music will only be playing for a few weeks. But this is a risky strategy that could cost your business dearly in the long term if you are caught and fined.”

Monday, 16 November 2009

Hot topics on the agenda

We've pledged to help Shropshire businesses battle their way through the current economic crisis with a new season of our popular HR and Employment Law in Practice (HELP) forums.

Hosted by our Alpha HR Team, the next event in the programme will be held at our offices at The Foundry, in Euston Way, Telford, on November 24, and will specifically target the challenges companies are now facing.

Emma Palmer, our Alpha Team Manager, said: “At the next session, we’ll be discussing the hottest topics in employment law. In particular, and as a result of requests from local businesses, we’re looking at issues that employers are facing on a daily basis during the current financial climate.”

Topics covered will include: liability for workplace stress; new rights for agency workers; termination payments and Compromise Agreements; pregnancy and maternity rights; and legal representation at internal hearings.

Emma said the HELP forums had been held in both Telford and Shrewsbury for the past four years, and had proved particularly popular with employers who have limited time, but who want to learn as much as they can about the latest issues.

The forums run from 8am to 10am, usually quarterly, and provide employers and HR professionals with an opportunity to exchange ideas and to discuss trends. The events are open to all businesses and any company who would like to attend should contact June Noto on 01952 272222.

Monday, 9 November 2009

Legal team on call - 24 hours a day

We're launching a 24-hour hotline to help companies fight back against the Recession. The service is believed to be the first of its kind in the UK, and companies from all over the country have already signed up.

John Mehtam, who leads our Alpha team, said: “Desperate times can leave businesses feeling as though they’ve got nowhere to turn, and with the credit crunch tightening its grip, we felt we had to act now. Our Alpha project already offers employment law and human resources support to small and medium sized companies, but now we’ll be on call 24-hours a day, seven days a week.

“The telephone hotline advice is a unique service and will ensure that companies who need help have access to urgent advice as and when they need it. For manufacturing companies in particular, who may operate outside of traditional office hours, or those working continental shift patterns or night shifts, this service could prove invaluable.

“A legal practice offering 24-hour advice is virtually unheard of, and given the difficult times many companies are facing, we believe it’s something that will be very popular both locally and regionally.”

John said the hotline would help businesses to make fully-informed decisions which suited the individual circumstances they found themselves in.

The all-in-one Alpha package offers face-to-face legal advice and assistance with HR policies and practices, and legal expenses insurance against fees, costs and tribunal awards. To find out more, email or visit